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Chadbag's House Construction


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I've talked about our plams to build a home and that I was doing the contracting myself as owner / builder (with a home builder contractor (friend of family -- but doing it as a real job with their supervisor) helping watch over things and arrange stuff I can't or don't want to do).  We got the hole dug and footings poured in July and the ICF (insulated concrete forms -- we are using Nudura -- nudura.com) blocks -- at least the first shipment -- was supposed to arrive by end of July.  For various reasons the ICF didn't show up until the end of August.  It took 3 days to get all the blocks moved off the side of the street and down into the hole (a whole 53' trailer packed to the brim worth).  The 3rd day I bribed a bunch of neighborhood guys with pizza and soda and snacks to help us move the bundles and we got the last 30% done in 75 min...


Anyway, I (and my family) are laying out the blocks but I have framers lined up to do the internal framing, floors, roof, etc. and we'll have trades come in and do the plumbing and electrical and wallboard and painting etc.  The first layer of blocks took a lot of time -- you had to lay out, measure, measure again, etc.  We had to put rebar in under the bottom and pull it up into a plastic web that is part of the blocks and zip tie it in.  And then measure again as things move.  I ended up putting an extra bar of rebar on the bottom from what the plans said as I misunderstood the plans notes.  The architect wanted a bar at the bottom of the first layer and then one bar at the top of each layer after that.  I thought he wanted an extra bar on the bottom, based on his notes and what I had learned from the Nudura installer course.  Anyway, and extra bar of steel along the bottom of the basement wall, ie, main wall acting as the foundation, is not a problem, but it took a lot more time and effort.  To help keeps things straight I decided to build some bracing to screw into the side of the blocks so we spent a week doing that.  All said and done it took several weeks to get the first layer done and all filled with rebar etc.  The second layer was then done and this past weekend we finished the 3rd layer, except for about 50-60 linear feet worth.  My son and I usually spend an hour or two at lunch and then I spend some time in the evening during the week and we also work all day Saturday.  I finished up most of the 3rd layer earlier this week and my son and I finished the last couple blocks this afternoon.  (We also had T-joints to do and stuff like that).  This evening I went back and started laying rebar in the top of the 3rd layer -- wherever I could put whole 20' pieces, plus the 90 deg corner bend pieces we had mass produced last weekend.  The wife was there to help with some of it this evening.  So we got a lot of the rebar placed that didn't need to be cut to length.  I then got about 50' or 60' linear worth of the 4th layer of blocks placed.  We have not clipped them together and need to give each one a heavy tap with the mallet to make sure it is locked into the one below.  The top is too high to do it without a ladder so we'll clip them later.    I'm arranging some heavy duty bracing with build in scaffolding arms to support the walls (mainly for the concrete pour and after the pour until the floor joists etc are installed to provide the box-strength of the whole structure) and help us go higher but I am not sure when it will be delivered -- I have to arrange a crane tomorrow to help lift the crates full of these bracing supports/scaffolding (4 crates at about 1700lbs each) off the trailer and into the hole.  Also need to find some scaffolding boards to rent (the guy who rents the ICF bracing/scaffolding supports doesn't do the wood for liability reasons).  So we'll be using some ladders until we get that all set up to go higher.  Our 4th layer is just a little over 6' off the footing so kind of hard to work in the top of it without a ladder.  Need to keep going with ladder so we don't lose time until we have the other stuff.


Here are some pics of what it looks like from when we finished tonight.  It was dusk and low light so the pics are not so good...



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Wow chad, wow! What an undertaking!

Extra rebar is never a mistake. My Dad and I did a huge cement patio and retain wall on a hillside to support it when I was a kid. My dad and I poured the retaining wall by hand and framed and rebarred the patio (like 35’ x 75”) ourselves and used like 3x the rebar the engineer said to use as we got a lot of extra odds and ends from a couple of construction sites. As you say it was tedious to wire it all up, but the patio has not shifted or cracked in 45 years on a good hillside that’s seen damage to neighbor’s foundations and driveways and survived a few california earthquakes without a crack.


doing a project like things with your family is wonderful. I treasure the construction projects I did with my dad and it taught me so many valuable lessons from problem solving to getting a job done.


kudos to you.



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That's nice....well worth the effort especially when the family is involved.......Solidifies "Our Home"



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Friday afternoon and yesterday we got a lot done.  We finished (almost) the 5th layer, and got the first block of the 5th layer placed.  Ther is still one wall and corners associated with that wall on the 4th level that need blocks.  I should get that finished tomorrow.  My son cut all the rebar that we need, and standard 20' bars won't work, for the 5th level.   


A neighbor on the street we are building on came bother Friday and Saturday and spent several hours helping put up blocks.  The first day he helped put up the blocks that did not need to be cut to shape.  The second day I showed him how it worked cutting them etc and how they needed to line up, and he and my wife worked as one team, and I worked with my daughter as a second team while we filled in all the odd sized slots, and my son was cutting rebar.


On the fourth row, we still need to install the T-straps on the T intersections (the metal straps you see at T joints that pull the base of the T up against the cross of the T.  And we need to use the mallet to make sure the 4th layer is clipped in well to the 4rd layer (we hand forced the joints so far) and then put clips between adjoining blocks.  The top of the 4th layer is about the 6' 1" line above the footing so is hard to get to without assistance.  Until I get the support posts w/ scaffolding delivered and installed, we are making do with ladders.  We started on one wall using ladders to get higher than the top so we could use the mallet to make sure they are connected, then install the clips.  Then we also will put in the rebar and the next block right away while we are there, so we'll do several steps ate each segment at once while we have the ladders there.


Here are some pic I took this afternoon of it, as it was too dark when we finished last night to get any pics.




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3 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

Wow! That's impressive. You're doing it yourself. How do those blocks work? Do you remove the blue part after the concrete is poured?


Thanks.   No, these are called ICF -- insulated concrete forms.  The foam is the houses insulation and acts as the form and the insulation (this company, called Nudura, from Canada, is that green/blue color -- others with similar products are usually white).  So the foam stays and you just attach your internal wallboard and external siding (siding/stucco/brick facade -- whatever you want) to the outside.  There are plastic webs embedded every 8" which provide a place to screw stuff in like siding etc.


I have a contractor who will do the internal framing and the main floor and roof etc.  And of course the electrician and plumber will do their parts, etc.  We're just doing the foam part, as well as the pipes in the floor for heating, hanging cabinets, etc.   


It is slower going than I had imagined (after taking the installer class) and it didn't help that the blocks were a month late getting delivered.  But we'll pull through and get it done 🙂


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