• ICF house build in Adelaide

    G'day everyone.
    I am an owner builder in Adelaide, building a large ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) house, using a system from Danish Constructions Insulbrick
    After seeing sundancewfs ICF extension project thread I thought I better start my own rather than hijack his.
    I will start with a few pictures of the work to date and go from there.
    If anyone has any comments or questions I will be happy to discuss them with you.
    So here goes.




    The start of the first slab, sewer trench cut and mid level main beam (27/8/2007)


    Bottom level slab (2/10/2007)


    First two beams in place, formwork stripped off drop piers, first row of blocks started


    Walls up to row 5 ready to be poured (6/6/2008)


    Ready for pour to full height (2/10/2008)


    Veranda columns and beams up (3/11/2008)


    Dwarf walls, ready for Bondek between slab on ground and suspended slab.


    I am true owner builder and I am doing as much of the construction myself as I can. These are the braces I made (50 of them) to hold the ICF in place until the concrete has been poured and set. They have already be hired out to 3 other jobs since my pour, so they are now paying for themselves. The material cost to make them was less than the hire cost in the first place so I think the time was well spent.


    Lifting steel beams using a 2 tonne chain block and a gantry frame that will eventually be cut down into veranda columns.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: ICF house build in Adelaide started by Belair_Boy View original post
    Comments 115 Comments
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by shauck View Post
      What you've done so far would probably break me
      This last pour nearly broke me, well the preparation anyway.
      Even though I had a week before the pour there is always a big list of things that still need to be done. Luckily the pour was delayed by a day because I was not able to get the service I required from the concrete supplier on the Thursday so it all happened on the 1st, which gave me an extra day. The girls barely saw me that week but I managed to get all the important things done. Come the day of the pour I was totally exhausted due to long hours and sleepless nights, I must be getting old.

      Fully recovered now, so time for some pictures.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      I had been worrying about the stair balustrade posts, specifically the method of fixing them to the slab. Originally I was going to have a balustrade of vertical steel rods with a timber rail but the design has changed and will now have glass infill panels. This means the posts will be doing all the work of holding everything together and need to be solidly fixed. My first thought was to fix steel posts to the wall and steel channel below and cast them into the slab but the risk of things not being exactly where I wanted them and not having any adjustment was a concern. I opted to cast metal brackets into the slab giving me a plate to weld the columns onto.


      Four brackets for the stair balustrade posts to fix to plus three threaded rods for the balcony intermediate balustrade posts.


      The brackets in position giving a plate at the surface of the slab. The top hat shaped ones bolt to the top of the wall below and straddle a reo bar cranked out of the wall. Murphy was in fine form here. Ideally it would have been much easier to put the brackets in before the reo and bondek went down but I managed to get in there with the small angle grinder and the multi function tool.


      The shutters in place on the front of the lintel with their associated bracing.
      A timber strip has been fixed along the bottom front edge forming a drip groove above each door opening (can be just seen in the photo).


      At this point I knew the concrete would stay on the formwork and not end up on the ground.


      One of the threaded rod (M24) brackets fixed to the wall below (12mm dia x 100mm ankascrews). Once cast in it wont be going anywhere.
      A drip groove strip is still to be fixed to the timber forming the lip of the balcony.


      Timber was screwed to the top edge of the formply edge shutters to pull it into line and give me a firm straight edge.
      Polystyrene strips (35mm thick) were glued (gun foam) into position around the outer edges of the slab giving me a continuous outer skin of polystyrene.
      This insulates the thermal mass of the slab from the outside and also gives a uniform material to render.

      I still had setdown frames to make, penetrations to set out, formwork to clean and extra safety rails to put in but the pour was going to happen.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -

      The morning of the pour, the first truck has arrived and the pump guys are getting the concrete into the pipes.


      The balcony and ensuite shower setdowns have already been poured and it is time to fill the lintel.


      The bathroom shower setdown formwork in place, lintel full and a good 200mm of concrete over the off form garage section.
      The concrete is being placed for the bathroom setdown (-25mm)


      Setdown shutters in place for the ensuite shower (-50mm) and balcony (-25mm to -30mm on outer edge)
      Placing concrete for the rest of the ensuite setdown.


      Bathroom setdown shutter in place and rest of the off form slab being filled.


      Off form section finished and nicely floated off.
      There is a section of slab 200mm wide at finished floor level around the outside edge of the setdowns for the wall blocks to sit on.


      Ensuite setdown in place and just waiting for the balance to arrive.


      By 1:30pm the setdown shutters had been removed and the troweling machine was in action.


      All the hard work payed off. Time for the beer and BBQ.


      All wrapped up and curing nicely.
      The proof of the pudding will be when the shutters are stripped off but I am quietly confident that there was sufficient vibration and care in placement that I will end up with a good finish.
    1. DuckCommander's Avatar
      DuckCommander -
      Beautiful work Belair. I've been enjoying your handiwork and keeping us updated.
      What's the slab span? 6m or so? Nearly 300mm deep?
      20's @ 200 seems high unless you're throwing some good weight on it.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by DuckCommander View Post
      What's the slab span?
      G'day DC, thanks for the positive comments

      The slab span is approximately 10 m in the long direction, 6.8 m in the short direction and 300 mm thick.
      With no columns or beams underneath, the reinforced concrete is doing all the work.
      There are only bedrooms, bathroom etc above but I wanted a firm feeling floor with little bounce.
      After all the props have been stripped out I will let you know how successful it is.
      Nothing is perfectly ridged but it will hopefully feel solid and not too lively.
    1. sundancewfs's Avatar
      sundancewfs -
      So..... moving in for Christmas?



      Great work Belair! It's looking spectacular!
    1. Cecile's Avatar
      Cecile -
      I just thought that you should have contacted Grand Designs Australia to follow your build! Amazing stuff happening there.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by sundancewfs View Post
      So..... moving in for Christmas?
      LOL ...... ....... Hang on .... you didn't specify which year .... so Yes, we will be moving in before Christmas
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cecile View Post
      I just thought that you should have contacted Grand Designs Australia to follow your build! Amazing stuff happening there.
      Thanks Cecile, actually we did apply to go on Grand Designs Australia when it started and got to the second round of selection but they decided not to go with our project. I think it was because we had already started building. We hadn't started on the actual "house" but most of the lower level was done. Maybe they thought progress was going too slow and needed projects that could be shown in the first couple of seasons? In hindsight I am glad we didn't get on the show. I am sure the chance of things going wrong is proportional to the number of cameras and onlookers.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      While waiting for the slab to strengthen I got on with the brush cutting of the block, tree trimming and associated summer cleanup. While in the cleaning mindset I decided to back fill the middle level sewer trench that has been open for so long.

      Last weekend the 28 days for the slab curing were up so a promise of beer and lunch had a couple of my mates round to help strip the formwork.
      I hired a Genie lift to make lowering the steel beams easier and less back breaking (no time to make one )
      All went well and after a full day of hard work all but a few small bits of formwork had been removed with no voids or exposed reinforcing showing.
      Everything looks good and the only small fault I can see is where the guys on the vibrators let the ends touch the form ply and damaged the surface.
      A quick touch with the grinder will take off the rough spots and I will be able to paint the under side of the slab with ceiling white.

      The off form slab feels nice and solid with very little detectable bounce so I am very happy with the outcome.
      I now have about 70 sq m of clear space undercover and have to resist filling it with stuff and loosing a good work area.

      I will be spending the rest of the time before Christmas finishing off the trench and doing general clean up so I can start the upper level walls in the new year.

      I will post some photos soon so stay tuned.

      PS. I now have a lot of Acrow props and Shore frames sitting around and not earning their keep.
      If there is anyone in Adelaide who needs some for a current or upcoming project I would be happy to hire them out at a good rate.
      If you are interested just drop me a message and we can discuss details.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Photos after the [S]strippers[/S] [S]stripping[/S] the formwork had been removed.


      The reinforced concrete lintel over the garage openings, shutter removed but props still in place.
      The daggy bits either end are just where the concrete seeped between the shutter and the end of the ICF block.


      View from the kitchen/meals towards the laundry.


      Passage, looking towards the kitchen. The 25mm change in level of the Bondek (to allow for the bathroom set down above) can be seen.


      Garage looking North East.


      Garage looking North West.


      Underside of the off form slab with one of the cast in electrical junction boxs for the lights.
      The rust marks are from where the reo was sitting on the form ply before being chaired and has transferred to the concrete.
      Texta and pencil lines also transferred from the form ply to the concrete.


      Underside of lintel with the drip groove visible.
      I am going to put a small chamfer on the inside and outside corners with the diamond cup disk to clean up the edge.


      I have filled the the end sewer trench on the middle level cut (where it meets the drop to the lower level cut) with no fines concrete to prevent all the backfill being washed out.
      It should be permeable enough to stop the trench becoming waterlogged.
    1. president_ltd's Avatar
      president_ltd -
      [posted to both ICF extension project & ICF house build in Adelaide]

      Hi sundancewfs & Belair_Boy:
      I'm sure I'm not the only one that really enjoys seeing progress on each of these and would love to know how they are proceeding (no matter how slow or more whoa than go.)

      Any updates or, pictures for us ICF tragics??
      Would love to hear how well the build in Melbourne stood up in the last couple of weeks' hot weather.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      G'day president_ltd, sundance and everyone else who looks forward to updates on the Belair house.

      With Christmas out of the way it has been a gradual return to work on the house.
      Unfortunately I have only managed to put in 8 days work in the last month (due to family and other commitments) but with any luck this will improve.

      The middle level sewer trench is 60% backfilled but I need to do some more jack hammering to finish it off. The recent very hot weather has put this down the priority list!
      A day with Terry and his 1.8 tonne excavator saw a big improvement. In the end, about 5 truck loads of waste concrete, rock and dirt were cleaned up from around the house site and made the place look a lot neater.

      With the place a lot neater it was time to crack on with the upper level.
      As this level is rather straightforward with only one size of block (200 mm) being used and the walls being just the perimeter and one dividing it into two sections it will be a good indication of the speed (or otherwise) of ICF, or so I keep telling my wife.

      After cleaning up a few rough / high spots on the slab with the diamond cup disk the wall positions were measured and marked out, diagonals checked and chalk lines snapped.
      The position of the 100 vertical bars were marked out to coincide with the ICF block cavities (200mm spacing) and 16mm diameter holes 150mm deep were drilled into the slab. It was [S]carefully measurement[/S] luck that I only hit reinforcing on about 5 occasions. I decided to chemically anchor the vertical bars in this time rather than hammer in a short starter bar and then wire on the vertical bar. This is a quicker method and although I went through 6.5 tubes of Kemfast chemical anchor resin, as luck would have it, Scrooz had a good deal on them before Christmas. I also saved about 30m of N12 reo rod in the process.
      Buy Screws, Bolts, Fasteners, Fixings and Tools Online at Scrooz - Australia's Biggest Online Fasteners Store

      With the bars set and straightened, laying of the blocks commenced. As previously, I am laying the first two courses of blocks, sticking them down and hand filling the first course with concrete. Conduit for power to the upper level was placed in holes drilled through the slab in strategic places where they coincide with the ICF walls. The rest of the cabling will be bought up in the timber stud walls and can be left until a later date.

      A veranda on the East side of the building will attach to the house at this level and brackets to accept the beams are needed. I have started fabricating these and when galvanised will be bolted to the slab and set into the ICF walls.

      As of yesterday, the first two courses of blocks are ready to be stuck down once the veranda brackets are in place.


      Vertical bars in place.


      First two courses of blocks laid out. There is nothing like nice clean new blocks to show the yellowing of the old ones.
      The bars are at 800mm spacing, with two bars at window openings and the end of walls.


      View of the first two courses of blocks from the southeast side.


      Wall dividing the kids section of the house from ours. One of the power risers can be seen here.


      Reverse side of the wall where the power conduit has been taken through the wall and a wall box positioned for the adjacent room.

      PS. I have started using photobucket for my photos so hopefully there won't be any problems. Please let me know if there is.
    1. old1955's Avatar
      old1955 -
      Belair_Boy,

      Glad to see the thread kicking in again.
    1. SlowMick's Avatar
      SlowMick -
      good to see you are still progressing belair_boy. love this thread and the work in it.
    1. sundancewfs's Avatar
      sundancewfs -
      I hope your all staying safe and well with all the fires Belair.....
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by sundancewfs View Post
      I hope your all staying safe and well with all the fires Belair.....
      Thanks Sundance.
      It has been a wild week in terms of weather. We had very strong winds Monday, which combined with the hot dry weeks previously, saw a lot of trees and large branches come down. I lost two large trees on the block, but luckily they didn't hit anything (missed the 15 kl poly tank by about 1m). My mother also had a large branch down in her back garden and we had one at the cottage. I think all of my neighbors also lost a tree or two. I spent 3 days of last week on the chainsaw so not too much house building done.
      All the new upper level ICF blocks were blown about but as the vertical bar spacing is closer than the block length, they were contained and didn't end up in the creek.

      Yesterday saw the first Catastrophic bushfire danger day of this summer and we evacuated when a fire broke out in the Belair national park less than 8km from us. Fortunately the CFS was able to get it under control and the winds didn't pick up in the evening. It was a wake up call for everyone and a trial run of our bushfire survival plan.

      Hopefully next week will be less dramatic.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      I did manage to weld up some brackets when I wasn't clearing up after the winds.


      The three brackets are for connecting the veranda beams to the house. They fix to the upper level slab and will be cast into the wall.
      The stack of "cubes" is to form a cable duct through the wall under the stair landing. I have one more bracket for the water supply manifold to fabricate before I take the lot off to be hot dipped galvanised.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      After flooding rains had been added to the extreme weather events and the resultant cleanups taken care of, work has been progressing steadily.


      Brackets returned from the galvanisers.


      The water manifold bracket with the supply valve and external (garden) taps isolation valve ready to be fixed to the wall and plumbed in.
      I have a continuous 200m length of poly pipe from the meter on the boundary to the house and then separate runs to external garden taps.
      The main isolation valve allows me to turn off the water without the hike down the drive to the meter and I can also isolate the garden taps at the house as required.


      One of the three veranda beam brackets being fixed to the slab. Threaded rod chemically anchored into the slab.


      The three brackets in position to take the East side veranda rafters. They will be cast into the concrete of the wall.


      Shutters in position for the cavity slider door opening between the two section of the upper level.


      The first two courses of blocks stuck down with polyurethane foam ready for the first course to be hand filled.


      To avoid having to carry all the concrete up the stairs in a bucket I set up a winch system using the gantry, a couple of shore frames, the balcony beam for the master bedroom, a girder trolly and an electric winch. A 70 liter laundry trough bought on eBay provided a "bucket" big enough to take a mixer load of concrete at a time.


      The concrete was mixed, wheeled to the trough in the wheelbarrow, tipped in, winched up and pulled across to the waiting trolly. With the trough unhooked, it could be wheeled to the section of wall to be filled and shoveled out. The process worked as well as I could have hoped for and in one day, with help from a couple of mates, 44 loads of concrete were mixed and placed.


      A bracket had to be fabricated to adapt the winch to the girder trolly but it will be very useful in the future so worth a coat of paint when time permits.

      Another 7 mixer loads of concrete will complete the filling of the first course (we ran out of cement) and then bracing and more block laying.
      I used an electric concrete vibrator (another eBay special) this time and it made things a lot easier than repeated poking with a broom handle as I have done in the past.
      I feel the ICF blocks need to be well stuck down to prevent the vibrator forcing concrete under the blocks and lifting them, but as I do this to keep the first course in place it worked a treat.
    1. Moondog55's Avatar
      Moondog55 -
      " I love your work"
      "Magnifico" "Bravo" etc etc