• 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. ringtail's Avatar
      ringtail -
      My God man ! What a mission. Love it.
    1. sundancewfs's Avatar
      sundancewfs -
      Nice winch ;-)
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by sundancewfs View Post
      Nice winch ;-)
      After your vote of confidence and months of eBay bidding I managed to score one for myself at a bargain price.
      It does the concrete lifting well and lifted the steel beams (temporary upper level concrete support), back last year, easily without the use of the additional pulley. I will take some photos of the "crane" I built to hang the winch off when I use it to lift my timber rafters.
      Time will tell how long it lasts but it has already paid for itself saving me lugging buckets of concrete up the stairs.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Reasonable progress has been made in the last month.
      The 3rd course of blocks were placed on the upper level walls and some bracing fitted around the larger window positions.
      Temporary power was run to the middle and upper level which should save a bit of time from constantly feeding an extension cord down 3 levels.
      My nephew had a free day from school so I jumped at the chance of some extra help to fill the remaining first course blocks and up to course 3 (sill height) on the west window, 12 mixes saw this completed.
      Reinforcing between the third and fourth course was placed in half the walls where the large windows are located.
      I had my mates around for another day of mixing to fill to sill height for the remaining 3 windows. As this only took 15 mixes we had time to move the lounge rafters from the lower level to the middle level where they can be worked on.
      I made 4 shutters for the larger windows to permit the mullion walls between them to be filled and then repositioned for the wall filling.
      The middle level sewer trench has been finally back filled and a day with my nephews had 12 mixes in the window mullions and the ensuite window sill.


      Third row of blocks in place ready to be stuck down.


      Bracing in place for the filling of course 2 and 3 up to sill height for the 3 east windows


      Blocks filled to row 3 and the mullion walls being placed


      After my wife stood in the ensuite and stated "this is not how I imagined it" in reference to the window above the bath and the following discussion, it was decided that the window was to be enlarged by lowering it down to the second course (from the fifth course as originally planned) to sit just above the bath. Luckily it is easy to make changes while the walls are still polystyrene blocks and the offending third course removed.

      The discussion is now how to obscure the window (which was to be glass blocks .... thanks JChilds .... we are now looking at switchable privacy glass) while in the ensuite but see out while sitting in the bath. All suggestions considered.

      After the remaining two courses of the mullion walls have been filled it will be time to tackle the exposed timber beam and rafters for the lounge roof .... serious woodwork to follow.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Winter has started to show itself and some heavy downpours have caused the flooding of the middle and lower levels. Unfortunately this will continue until the roof is on. Thankfully I have enough dry areas and things to go on with while it is raining.
      Three more shutters have been made to block off the remaining wall openings and the window lintel over the front doorway put in.
      All the rafters for the lounge roof have been sorted, had the top face planed and all sides given their first sanding.


      The ICF lintel over the front door window in place and shuttered ready to fill


      Reo view of the ICF lintel, N16 bottom and N12 top, ligatures at 150 mm centers.


      Window mullions and lintel ready and waiting on a fine day and some friends to help me fill them


      A couple of extra saw horses were made, inspiration from Uncle Knackers but a few more angles used.
      If you have a compound miter saw you might as well use use it.


      All 14 rafters sorted and ordered according to the amount of bend. The best was about 7mm from straight, measured at the center of the bend, and the worst 30mm. This is over 4 metres. They were set with all the curves in the same direction and the best ones in the middle and progressively getting worse. A couple with defects were selected to go up against the wall so to hide the problem side.
      Each rafter weights about 108 kg (I put one on a set of bathroom scales) so moving them around is not a simple matter.


      The router with the planing bit was put back into action. This time some longer steel SHS used as the universal column I used previously was too short. A saddle with a slot in it was made up to allow the router to slide along the steel beams. This creates the top face and the reference for all other measurements.


      After a going over with the belt sander and an 80 grit belt.


      All 14 rafters planed and sanded ready to have the end profiles cut.
      The sawhorses mentioned previously have the other 5 rafters on them, all 500+ kg of them.
    1. Gaza's Avatar
      Gaza -
      Very nice
      Wat timber ? Was it milled off trees on your property


      Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gaza View Post
      What timber ? Was it milled off trees on your property
      G'day Gaza

      The timber is narrow leaf red iron bark (Eucalyptus crebra).
      It came from Queensland and was milled specifically for my project.
      I wish I had timber like this on my property but it is predominantly grey box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) around here.
    1. Gaza's Avatar
      Gaza -
      Surprised you didn't get it dressed From mill to save time


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      All the timbers were milled and dressed while still green, over three years ago.
      At around an inch a year the rafters should be seasoned now but the main beam may still have a little drying out to go.

      Although the top face of the rafters was reasonably true I still had to machine off up to 4 mm in places to get them flat. I plan to sit the ceiling directly on top of the rafters and wanted them as true as possible to avoid gaps. The other faces of the rafters are just as they come and add to the character of natural timber.
    1. ringtail's Avatar
      ringtail -
      Quote Originally Posted by Belair_Boy View Post
      G'day Gaza

      The timber is narrow leaf red iron bark (Eucalyptus crebra).
      It came from Queensland and was milled specifically for my project.

      Of course it came from QLD. Doesn't everything good from from QLD ? Apart from Clive
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by ringtail View Post
      Doesn't everything good come from QLD ?
      We make a good drop of red here in SA
    1. ringtail's Avatar
      ringtail -
      Can't build a house with it though
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Where does the time go? It has been ages since my last posting so it is about time I uploaded some more photos.
      It has been a rather wet and cold winter and I am happy to have some warmer days again.
      The main progress has been the lifting of the timber beam for the lounge roof. A lot of time was put into the preparation of the beam and rafters with the hope it will all go together smoothly.

      But first back to where I left off.
      The remaining block fill of the front door window lintel and window mullions was completed with help from another local ICF builder who is just about to start his owner builder journey and was looking for some hands on experience. All help is gratefully received


      While block filling I filled up to the veranda bracket set into the wall as this section has the webs cut out and was a potential for a blowout. The homemade clamp supports the block where the web has been removed.


      Here the section of wall between the windows has been filled to course eight. I tried something different here, using duct tape to keep the top of the blocks clean, a simple idea which worked well. Usually I use two metal channels sitting over the top of the block edges while filling to keep the notches clean, but where there are short intersecting walls the duct tape method is better.


      Three wall sections filled to course eight and some potential weak corners and intersections taken care of at the same time. Using the vibrator makes for easy consolidation of the concrete but did cause a problem when stripping off the window shutters. The steel uprights of the shutters have a rounded corner which form an undercut with the formply. When vibrating a small amount of slurry found its way into this undercut and when the shutters were stripped, corner sections of the polystyrene broke off. As the shutters will only have to be used once more I can take them apart next time and avoid the problem.


      This is the vibrator bought off eBay and has worked well so far. I expect the drill portion to fail due to the harsh environment but hopefully it will last out the build.
      A point to note for potential buyers is that the nose thread is left hand and it took me a little while to work this out.

      While in concrete mode and with the scaffold still in position I completed the gable over the front door. Having used up all my full 240 blocks, I scrounged up enough off cut ends to finish the job.


      The entrance void with the scaffold and shutters removed.


      With the scaffold on the move the angular 170 blocks for the gable end of the AV room were cut and stuck into place. This is still to be filled with concrete.

      OK back to wood work.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -

      A jig was used to rough out the pockets for the rafters to sit in. Not having a datum surface to work off made working on the beam a time consuming process as all measurements had to be taken back to a center line and level.


      Rafter pockets roughed in and ready for chiseling out for each individual rafter size and orientation.


      With all the pockets cut another jig was used to help drill the holes through the beam for the threaded rod which will secure the rafters. A spade bit on the end of a drill extension worked very well and I was happy with the performance of the Irwin Speedbor Blue Groove spade bit in the hard timber.

      Due to the bow in the beam, each rafter is a different length and any error in length will, in turn, affect the height of the rafter at the wall/lintel end.
      At the moment all rafters have been cut using theoretical measurements with a little allowance on the horizontal seat for fine tuning as they go up.


      The plumb cut of the rafter. At least I have the top face of the rafters as a datum.


      The horizontal seat cut with a little allowance for adjustment. As the rafters do not have parallel sides the seat will have to be referenced to the top face and finished with the router and another jig.


      How things looked before the beam went up.


      An extension was needed for the gantry to get the extra height for lifting the beam into its brackets. No paint for this one as it only needed to be used once.


      Gantry moved into position, checking clearances, prior to lifting the beam.


      Beam moved into position on the scissor lift in preparation for raising.


      Ready to lift. I needed to use the 1 tonne chain block at the start and then take over with the 2 tonne as they both only have a 3 m lift.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -

      Half way, changed over to the 2 tonne block. Even though there was enough weight in the gantry to balance out the cantilever of the lifting point I put a couple of big concrete counterweights on the outer edge.


      Full height ready to be swung round over the brackets.


      In place and ready to crack open the champagne. The beam was supposed to drop into the brackets but I didn't take into account of the bow and it was a little tight. Noting some grease and some gentle persuasion with a sledge hammer couldn't fix. Well it isn't supposed to come out anyway.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      With the gantry out of the lounge room and the beam wrapped up, the stacker door steel lintel could be put back into position. There is only just enough room on the balcony for the gantry and not enough clearance to allow me to lift the lintel with the cantilever (and I needed to cut off the height extension anyway) so I opted to use the winch crane. I will use this to lift the rafters so it needed to be set up anyway.


      I use my pallet lifter to move it around and in this instance I am using the 1 tonne chain block rather than take the winch off the girder trolly.


      Lintel in position and ready to lift. ...... the first time. I was a little short on lift height and had to raise the top section to give me some more clearance.


      Telescopic section raised and ready to lift again. .... for the second time. The lintel had been up before but this was prior to pouring the upper level suspended slab. With the slab in place, the lintel was now a little long on one end, so down again and a bit cut off the end.


      Third time and all was good. Laser leveled and ready to grout into position.


      Offending end that needed cutting, grouted in.


      With the beam in place and bolted through the bracket, the chimney could be built up another two courses and filled up to the top of the bracket. A bit of shuttering was needed here as the blocks could not be fitted right up to the bracket.


      Beam and lintel up ready for some more chimney building to get it to full upper level ICF wall height.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      While all the beam and rafter work was going on, the structural insulating panels SIP's for the lounge ceiling/roof structure were also being constructed.
      Thanks to Matt Callisto and the boys at Magtech, 8 mm magnesium oxide board (mgo), 85 mm of Neopor EPS and 12 mm of mgo were laminated together into 12 panels 3900 x 1200


      The panels at Magtech ready to be cut to width and have a timber reinforcing edge fixed down each side. Due to the length, there is a join in the mgo board and the EPS core, which although staggered, needed to be strengthened for ease of handling and to increase the compressive strength along the edges where the counter battens will be fixed.

      I then laminated 6mm hoop pine plywood to the 8mm mgo board side which will form the finished ceiling to the lounge.


      The first 6 panels at the block ready to me moved inside for sanding and sealing prior to be lifted onto the rafters. The panels are over length at the moment but the extra length will form eaves until cut off when the roof structure is completed. The 200 mm strips of ply (overhanging the panel) have been trimmed back and sit above the lintel so wont be seen. They are only there to keep the panels a consistent thickness.

      The panels are about 130kg or so and will need a bit of clever lifting to get them into position without damaging the ply ceiling surface.
      Originally I was going to paint on a waterproof membrane to the top mgo board surface to keep the rain out until the roof goes on but at a cost of near $1000 to do the job properly a tarp has been purchased to do the job instead.
    1. Armers's Avatar
      Armers -
      Hows yours going Belairboy!?
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      Hows yours going Belairboy!?
      Things have been going reasonably well the last couple of weeks except for a surprise water bill of $600 for 150kl water usage

      My water usage is always very low (being a building site) and so I made a quick trip back to the block and sure enough the meter was slowly ticking over .... bugger .... a leak. I turned the water off at the meter but the reading was much higher than on the bill. On closer inspection of the bill, I discovered the reading was taken 6 weeks prior to the bill being issued, another 300kl lost since then This is going to mean another $1000 for water use when the next bill arrives. I am very frustrated that SA Water had a reading with excessive and uncharacteristically high usage but did not let me know for 6 weeks.

      I was also shocked at the thought of my unbroken run of 40mm blueline from the meter to the house having a leak. A continuous piece of pipe was used and carefully bedded in sand for the very purpose of never having to see it again. It has been in the ground for over 3 years so why a sudden leak and where in the nearly 200m of pipe was the problem? The water appeared to be coming to the surface where the trench left the driveway dropped down a metre or so and headed towards the boundary. I dug a test hole here and sure enough the bedding sand was running with water.
      The thought of having to dig up the drive looking for the leak was not a happy one but I dug another hole about 8m up the drive at a point I knew the pipe would be. Amazingly the sand was dry here so I felt confident I had just narrowed the search down to a short section. The lower hole was enlarged into a trench following the pipe and within 2m I had found the leak. Small mercy I guess.


      A small pinhole had formed in a dent under the pipe. The only thing we can attribute it to is a damaged point on the pipe, maybe done with a forklift tine when it was being unloaded at some time, weakening the pipe and then a moment of higher pressure or hydraulic shock causing the hole to form. Both my plumber and myself must have missed it when the pipe was being laid.


      It was decided to use a welded joint instead of a mechanical one as the cost to hire the welding unit was minimal and I definitely didn't want to see the pipe again. The two electrodes on top of the fitting attach to cables from the welding unit which supplies the 40V for 60 seconds as specified on the coupling. An element in the fitting melts the pipe to the fitting and a permanent joint is formed.


      While I had the plumber and the pipe welding unit on site, I used another welded fitting at the house main supply ball valve and finally mounted the water manifold (made about 6 months ago) to the wall under the house. The REHAU pipe leaving the manifold is the temporary supply the toilet and sink.

      I have found out that I can claim 50% of 300kl once in 10 years for a water leak so I am going to try and get $500 knocked off my next bill.
    1. Belair_Boy's Avatar
      Belair_Boy -
      I have had a permit to burn on my property for the last few weeks so have been busy clearing up prior to the bush fire season.
      Some progress has been made on the house however and the chimney is now up to the upper level wall height.


      Course 6 wall reo taken through the chimney to tie the two together.


      The walls adjacent to the chimney are stacked to full height (9 courses, 2.7m) and the bond beam reinforcing is in place.
      I will place another two courses of blocks on the chimney to tie in the top reo leaving another 2m left to do after the upper level walls have been poured. I also need to extend the N16 corner reo up to full chimney height, just as it was getting easy to thread the blocks on too.


      All the upper level braces are in place and fixed down, along with the work platform. The edge form shutters for the upper level floor slab have also been stripped off as I needed the form ply for the platforms.


      The third course horizontal reinforcing in place around the ensuite ready for more blocks.

      A couple more days with the brush cutter and most of the pre-summer cleanup will be taken care of. A day to get the chimney sorted and I will be back to ICF block laying to complete the upper level walls. There are 10 ICF lintels to support and one steel lintel over the Juliet balcony, so it is not just a matter of "lego" block stacking, unfortunately.