Author Topic: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?  (Read 1829 times)

maxpower

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Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« on: June 01, 2016, 09:45:57 AM »
Hey All,
I'm general contracting my own home. It's 24x30' with a full basement (though a 4' wall on one side).

I'm trying to decide whether to go with a concrete block basement + 2" foam board on the exterior, or if I should go with insulated concrete forms (ICFs).

My bids so far are telling me:
$10,075 for block plus 2" foam
$13,050 for ICFs

Feasibly, I could set up and pour ICFs myself, yes? Additionally, I wouldn't have to frame in the basement walls with 2x4s if I go the ICF route (since the sheetrock can be screwed right to the ICF walls).

Anyone have any experience with such things?

pbkmaine

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2016, 10:05:36 AM »
http://www.ana-white.com/2013/03/momplex/building-momplex-icf-presentation

If you scroll through, there's a detailed explanation of how they DIYed the ICF.

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2016, 10:14:18 AM »
I'm a home improvement 'aficionado', and have experience with a 70 year old leaky cinder block crawlspace on an inclined lot. 

#1:  DRAINAGE is the key - before you build the foundation, make sure you have a plan for draining that hillside with French drains, and a sump pit / sump pump beneath the basement floor.

#2:  Because DRAINAGE... (see #1) think of water seeking the downhill side of your lot.  More insidious than air, it *WILL* find a way to leech through those cinder blocks. 

For me, the extra $3K for a unified barrier, with proper rubberized wrap on the outside, and angled French drains on 3 sides would be totally worth the extra $$.   Extra insulation value for the basement, extra drainage protection, and (see #1 above)



Jeremy E.

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2016, 10:25:30 AM »
Hey All,
I'm general contracting my own home. It's 24x30' with a full basement (though a 4' wall on one side).

I'm trying to decide whether to go with a concrete block basement + 2" foam board on the exterior, or if I should go with insulated concrete forms (ICFs).

My bids so far are telling me:
$10,075 for block plus 2" foam
$13,050 for ICFs

Feasibly, I could set up and pour ICFs myself, yes? Additionally, I wouldn't have to frame in the basement walls with 2x4s if I go the ICF route (since the sheetrock can be screwed right to the ICF walls).

Anyone have any experience with such things?
myself I went the old route of making the concrete forms, I did it myself and it took quite a while. Between placing the vertical rebar, horizontal rebar and having to tie it to the vertical rebar, placing tons of shoes, dieseling up all the form boards and putting them in place, beating 2 bys into place, and getting everything to line up right and level, it was a huge pain in the ass and I wish I had done ICFs, I was thinking the Apex Blocks look cool, but Iím not sure if they are still being made. I estimated the Apex blocks to cost about $13.33/foot for 8í high for just the forms. Depending on what you do, also look into Helix Micro Rebar. Depending on if you will be in your basement daily, consider putting radiant heat in the floor. Also consider having a majority of your windows facing south for efficiency, especially if you use a lot of heat in the winter (assuming you are in the northern hemisphere). Hopefully you can take into consideration some of the things Iím kicking myself for not looking into.

maxpower

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2016, 10:44:53 AM »
@pbkmaine, Thanks! That's a helpful link!

@Mother Fussbudget, I'm on it! Either route I go will be incorporating those drainage elements.

@Jeremy E., Thanks for the insight! We're definitely going with radiant in floor heat. We're also doing our best to build to take advantage of solar gain. I think, you're right, if the battle were between traditional poured or ICFs the winner is clear!

Seems to me that, were I to read up on installation best practices, ICFs are likely the way to do this. Although I did have the good fortune to witness a corner blowing out of an ICF pour once... the stuff of nightmares! :)

Rightflyer

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2016, 10:51:17 AM »
We built our own house 4 years ago.

We used ICF for the foundation/walkout.

Would absolutely do it again.

However, save yourself a lot trouble and get a contractor in to do the ICF...it is not as simple as you might think.
Not saying it isn't doable by a competent DIYer but it is going to need some skills and knowledge.

I've done (and am happy) doing excavation, footings (forming and pouring), framing, electrical, (some) plumbing, drywall, burying services (water/electrical), windows/doors, floors, trim...
BUT...
I still haven't worked up the courage to pour a basement myself. If you make a mistake it will follow you all the way to the roof line.

Good luck with your project...looks similar to our place.

Six is having problems adjusting to his clone status.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2016, 11:19:09 AM »
For only a $3k difference, I would go with the ICF.

Also, make sure you make the ceilings higher (9 feet instead of 8), so you can really use this space.
We live in our basement (setup as a family room and office). The 8 foot ceiling are a little low.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2016, 11:21:05 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

soccerluvof4

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2016, 06:55:52 AM »
For only a $3k difference, I would go with the ICF.

Also, make sure you make the ceilings higher (9 feet instead of 8), so you can really use this space.
We live in our basement (setup as a family room and office). The 8 foot ceiling are a little low.




Agreed ^ I did ten foot ceilings in the last house we built and never felt like it ever was a basement with all we were able to do with walk out and windows etc... One thing I miss about the house we downsized into only having 8' finished ceilings though still nice.
" In life you don't get what you deserve you get what you negotiate"

maxpower

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2016, 06:22:58 AM »
Alright, definitely leaning towards ICF. Two questions:

1. Where do you get them? Looks like there are a number of different brands/types

2. I've never lived in a space with more than 8' ceilings. What's the benefit of higher ceilings? (other than more space to heat!)

Ishmael

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2016, 06:40:07 AM »
If you're planning on finishing the basement, or if there is a reasonable possibility, then from what I know*, absolutely go with ICFs.

Haven't tried to do them myself, so can't comment on the workload.

However, there's an important note that I was told about - trying to troubleshoot a leak in an ICF house is very, very difficult. If the water leaks in around a window or something, it can wick its way horizontally along between the foam and concrete to another place entirely, and you're left with guesswork as to where the water is coming in.  With stickframing, it's generally a lot easier - the leak is somewhere directly above where you see the water.

This really applies more to a whole house made with ICFs, as basement leaks act this way anyways, but just thought I'd mention it. This by no means means avoiding them - they are great, especially for noise! - but just take that extra effort to ensure that proper techniques and care is followed to keep water out in the first place, which should be done normally anyway.

*I'm not a professional builder, but I have them as friends and family, and have discussed this with them.

Ishmael

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2016, 06:42:17 AM »
Alright, definitely leaning towards ICF. Two questions:

1. Where do you get them? Looks like there are a number of different brands/types

2. I've never lived in a space with more than 8' ceilings. What's the benefit of higher ceilings? (other than more space to heat!)
2. I have 8.5' ceilings on the ground floor of my 2-story house. I curse that extra step nearly every day...

(Interestly, the upper floor is only 7.5', so the original builders just stole the 6" from the upper floor.)

maxpower

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2016, 07:03:38 AM »
@Ishmael, thanks for that! I'd read about the leak issues as well. I've been looking into waterproofing measures, and it sounds like that will end up being about as much work as the wall itself! For example (from here):

Waterproofing membrane
Detailing materials for treating cold joints, transitions, penetrations and repair areas
Protection course that is chemical resistant, protects the waterproofing material from backfill damage, and guards against root penetration from plants.
Prefabricated drainage board which protects the waterproofing but most importantly, relieves hydrostatic water pressure off of the wall by directing it to the footing drain and away from the structure, either through a sump system or to daylight.
A footing drainage system

Ishmael

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2016, 07:32:13 AM »
That article confuses me a little, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I don't believe ICFs below grade are really any different than blocks or full concrete below grade - leaks can happen, and to prevent them you have to ensure you have good drainage away from the foundation, so water isn't trying to press it's way in in the first place, because:

Neither concrete, nor expanded polystyrene (the foam used in all the ICFs systems I've seen) are waterproof on their own. Even spray foam isn't a water barrier. Sure, concrete has a certain resistance to water, so you don't automatically get infiltration after a rain, for example, but repairing damaged ICF panels as a way to help prevent water infiltration doesn't seem to make sense to me.

Applying some type of waterproof membrane to the outside of a basement wall is something I've seen recommended by builders as a backup, but drainage is far more important from what I know.

My comment was really directed more about sealing around windows, septic pipes, holes for various utilities, etc.

And I'm no expert, just relating some thoughts. I hope they are helpful.

nubeta

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Re: Building My Own Home: Block basment or ICF?
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2017, 06:17:55 PM »
We built our own house 4 years ago.

We used ICF for the foundation/walkout.

Would absolutely do it again.

However, save yourself a lot trouble and get a contractor in to do the ICF...it is not as simple as you might think.
Not saying it isn't doable by a competent DIYer but it is going to need some skills and knowledge.

I've done (and am happy) doing excavation, footings (forming and pouring), framing, electrical, (some) plumbing, drywall, burying services (water/electrical), windows/doors, floors, trim...
BUT...
I still haven't worked up the courage to pour a basement myself. If you make a mistake it will follow you all the way to the roof line.

Good luck with your project...looks similar to our place.

Ohh its very difficult to lay the "LEGO" like blocks around the perimeter they must be extremely heavy and complex? That require a contractor aka few rednecks at $20 -50 an hour to walk around drink beer and tell you ohhh we'll get it done we are professionals.

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Go buy a 90degree laser $150 lay the block (where ever u buy block from they GIVE YOU FREE BRACING to use, at least in my area) brace the wall call concrete pour done

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simple as 1 2 3

questions in process? ask your inspector, after all his job to provide accurate information in the building process thats up to code. I actually dont understand why some people ask dumb questions here on the forum when you got a local inspector a phone call away that will answer any questing you have after all you did pay for a building permit its their job to assist you. to make sure your up to code to comply.