Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

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  1. #1
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    Hi all!
    Long time lurker, First time poster here.

    I was going to set up a blog to keep track of my progress as time went, but I figured a forum would be a better(more social) option.

    After about a year of planning and council approval etc, we are finally ready to build our first new house.
    Over the years my wife and I have renovated a few houses, but never built something from scratch.

    The plan:
    Build a nice house as an owner builder that we will be able to live in for at least 15 years.

    Here are a few images of the plan, I hope they make sense, i drew them myself!









    The Timeline:
    None!
    Well, I say none, but i have been told by the Mrs that if I haven't got it completed in 18 months, I will be hiring some help!

    The budget:
    None!
    Again, I say none, but that doesn't mean that we are going to go stupid, it more means "It will cost what it costs".
    I figure having a budget and set timeline will just cause far to much stress that I definitely do not need.

    As far as progress goes thus far, there isnt alot, which I suppose is good as I havent got alot of photos and haven't really documented much.
    I have a Reconyx H600 turning up today(hopefully) so I will be able to have a time lapse video of the entire build... To the Benny Hill song obviously

    Here is what has happened thus far, I will update with the photos I have taken on Monday.


    I've had a site scrape done. The Bobcat driver had it finished far faster that I had expected, so I figured while he was there, he could try and dig out some of the softer soil where the hole for the garage is going.
    This didn't end well.. Less than 20 minutes in he hit a sharp rock and blew a tyre!

    Two days later he came back with a 5 tonne excavator to excavate the garage and dig the footing for the garage... This didn't end well either...
    He hit large rocks that he couldn't break.. or even budge for the matter.
    He spent 9 hours doing what he could, and then called it quits. Hopefully I have a 16 tonne excavator with a rock breaker coming next week some time.
    The wind was insane, I spent most of the day with a hose trying(failing) to stop the dust could from engulfing mos of the neighborhood!
    The dirt here is either rock, or fine dust, nothing that I would actually call soil.

    All of the dirt(rock!) from the hole has been dumped at the front of the block. There will be a retaining wall at the front in an attempt to level the block a little.. Not sure how this is going to turn out just yet.

    I will update on Monday and will try to update every Monday all going well.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the forum JChilds. Will watch your WIP with interest.

  3. #3
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    Welcome to the forum. I look forward to seeing ongoing photos of your build.

    If I could put my two cents in, I'd like to make a comment about your ensuite. It's a massive room and the shower looks quite small. Have you considered making that end of the room a full wet area, with the bath and a huge walk-in shower behind a glass partition? I always think that if you have the space, an enormous shower for two is the only way to go. Perhaps delete the door from the living room into the ensuite, which will give you a bit more flexibility with the bathroom layout.

    Also...what have you used to draw the plans? They look great and overall I like the layout.
    I am not responsible for anything that Moondog says!

  4. #4
    Owner Builder Belair_Boy's Avatar
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    G'day JChilds

    Great to see another ICF owner builder on the forum, I look forward to seeing your progress photos.

    It looks like a big house and an interesting design, what type of foundations are you using?
    There are plenty more questions I could ask but I am sure they will all be answered in time as the build progresses.

    Good luck with the big excavator and rock breaker, bigger is better when it comes to serious earth moving.

    I am more than happy to share my ICF building experience with you if I can be of help in any way.

    Happy building.
    Tools are good, more tools are better!

  5. #5
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    Thanks guys!

    If anyone can see a better way to do something please say so.
    Only the ICF walls are "set in stone" everything else is just there to please the council.

    I used Chief Architect to draw the plans.

    Belair Boy, I have been following your build for a long time now!
    "interesting design" haha, I don't like that word, you never know if it's good or bad.

    I will be using strip footings for some, piers for others, and slab for others.. Just to confuse things!
    Ask any question you want. They may make me think of something I could do better.

  6. #6
    Owner Builder Belair_Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JChilds View Post
    "interesting design" haha, I don't like that word, you never know if it's good or bad.
    LOL ..... A bit like "may you live in interesting times"
    It is always good to see a house design that is not the standard project home. I am sure you spent endless hours drawing and re drawing floor plans until you came up with the one you are happy with ( I know we did). I don't believe you can ever get it 100% right, but hopefully with careful thought it will be 80-90%. Using non load bearing partition walls inside gives some flexibility but there is always the temptation to keep tweaking the layout.

    Does the garage below extend the full 18m depth of the house (looks like it does because of the stairs)?
    If so this will be a big space and a perfect location for a workshop.

    Are you planning to pump fill your walls, it would be a massive task to hand mix and fill otherwise?
    Although the Thermacell website says you don't need bracing IMHO I would suggest you do.

    All the best.
    Tools are good, more tools are better!

  7. #7
    House Husband - 1K Club Member
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    Ditto to Belair,
    The more ICF the merrier
    Bracing is something I would also not do without......
    A bit of wind.... skewhiff walls.... not a good look....
    I'll be watching on with interest too

  8. #8
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    Welcome to the forums
    I too have a comment on the plans although I do like the basic layout.
    With a big house like that I would have made the entrance doorway a double and used that entry area as a "Statement" making it a little bigger; I love big rooms and integrated kitchen and living areas; so I would have used the entry way as a combined greeting and visitor storage area. Personal preference but I would have put the office and the third toilet at the front of the house with a doorway connecting your "Business space" from the rest of the house. Partly that is slight paranoia on my part as it would enable me to keep salespeople etc away from my own private space
    "A big boy did it and ran away"

    Legal disclaimer denying responsibility to be inserted here.

  9. #9
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    Default Where is North?

    Even though you're using ICF, with its massive insulating properties, have you considered all your passive solar principles as well?

    I have some ideas about your ensuite bathroom and might sketch it. Overall, I'm not a fan of corner shower trays, especially where there is a lot of room to rattle around. Your ensuite is massive! Even though it faces the front of the house, the enormous window somewhat limits your layout.
    I am not responsible for anything that Moondog says!

  10. #10
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    Replying from phone so not a long reply.

    Yes garage is 18m long

    Entrance isn't going to look like it does on the plan. Will be large double doors.
    Going to attempt no bracing first, I helped another guy build with thermacell with no bracing and it was ok if you didn't do massive heights in one go.
    The toilet in the hallway has to go there. Long story. The infinity pool isn't on the plans either.
    As for passive solar, not a lot of thought has gone into to.
    Every window in the house was planned for certain views which I will take photos of as we go.
    The we suite layout isn't final I just had to show that I was having shower bath and toilet.
    Please feel free to show me a different way. I am open to any input.
    The window in the ensuite can be changed. But the plan is to have that window with that glass that clouds when you apply power.

    I hope that answers all questions.
    I will answer pm's tomorrow when I am at a PC.



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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JChilds View Post
    The window in the ensuite can be changed. But the plan is to have that window with that glass that clouds when you apply power.
    How about a highlight window with glass blocks?
    I am not responsible for anything that Moondog says!

  12. #12
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    I really dislike glass bricks.
    To me they scream 1970


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  13. #13
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    I should also note.
    Windows are double glazed thermally broken and argon filled.


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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JChilds View Post
    I really dislike glass bricks.
    To me they scream 1970


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    I'm so old that I actually put a whole internal wall of them in a house I built way back in 1986. They have their place today but understand that they aren't for everyone. Argon filled, thermally broken double glazed is excellent.
    I am not responsible for anything that Moondog says!

  15. #15
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    Sorry to those trying to pm me. Didn't realise there is a 5 message limit on here. Is that just for new people or everyone?


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  16. #16
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    Photo of the guy doing the site scrape: .. Looks level, doesn't it? Over 1.2m drop from back to front of just the stripped part.


    Photo of the guy excavating the garage:


    Photo of excavation down to hard rocks... Deceiving photo, the top left of that hole is actually 1.9m deep..:


    My Reconyx HC600 camera set up on a movable pole. Not happy with the location yet, I have a short test time lapse video of it but nothing worth uploading. Hopefully I will have a nice one by next Monday:

  17. #17
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    Default Way to go JC - lookin' good!

    Hi JChilds,

    Great to follow you progress, I'm about to embark on a ICF build in the ACT so I'm keen to read up on those going the same route. Tho' mine is going to be about a third the size of yours.

    Hope it all goes well!

    Prickles
    Last edited by Prickles; 10th Feb 2014 at 07:02 PM. Reason: Yet another Typo...

  18. #18
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    Hi prickles.
    Ours is a little big but I don't mind.
    I'm only 1.5hours from Canberra. Feel free to come out once walls start going up to have a look.
    I never turn away free labour. Lol


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    Happy to donate a day's work in return for some 'hands-on' with the ICF, (especially if you are using the blocks). Give me a few days warning and I'll be there.

  20. #20
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    It will be a little while yet. Looks like the big excavator with rock breaker can't come till the end of next week.... Maybe
    I would guess about 4 weeks before any walls start at all


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    may I suggest you buy a rock breaker/demo hammer. I even use mine for digging fence posts and holes to plant trees. ground here (even where there arent too many rocks gets mighty hard in summer.)

    I do feel your pain. Got a 9 tonne backhoe in to dig my stump holes. this big Case thing At times guy needed every bit of it to get thru some of the rock to drill 450 mm holes.
    When I die, bury me in the hardware store

  22. #22
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    Hi jatt
    I have a jack hammer (a big old one) and it isn't interested in breaking them.
    I might see what I can do about getting a newer one


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  23. #23
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    Monday Upate!:

    Not much has happened this week..

    The reo arrived sorry about the poor quality)





    And the guy with large excavator has decided not to come.

    I have another guy who I am waiting for a call back from, but its not looking good.

    At this stage I am probably going to go the (not so smart) route of hiring a 1.8t excavator with a rock breaker and spending a week doing it myself.

    I put up an Oztrail gazebo and put a couple of chairs under it so there is somewhere to sit other than in the ute when I eat lunch.

    Thats about it. Not a very productive week at all!

    Hopefully this week will be better.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JChilds View Post
    Not a very productive week at all!
    Welcome to my world.

    Bushfires last weekend, floods this week.

    I think the 1.8 excavator with a rock breaker will be on the small side and be slow going but it is better than watching your reo rust away while you wait.

    Have you thought about trenching in your sewer, water and power while you have machines on site. You can build an outback dunny for next to nothing (somewhere else to sit after eating your lunch).
    Tools are good, more tools are better!

  25. #25
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    Ok, There has been some progress!!

    We had a far bit of rain here, and there was a mudslide on-site.. and then off-site...
    Nothing a few hours with a shovel couldn't fix. I have a really good neighbor which is nice.



    And then.. Excavation started!

    Here is where we started this time:


    16t excavator with 1.5t rock breaker turned up.


    He spent an entire day breaking rock very very slowly ( hard rock)
    I was standing under the excavator arm when I took this photo and I am 6'3". It is a big rock breaker


    That night we marked out the footings( we had to do this on two separate occasions)
    I can't be the only who thinks these footings are insane ( 1.9m wide and 600mm deep in some places)
    We did it the first time to just give them an idea where they would be so they could have a plan of attack.


    On the second day, I got the 5t excavator back also to clear while the big excavator broke the rocks.


    This is a photo of the 5t excavator operator holding a 4m staff against the hole... It is alot deeper than it looks in any of these photos


    And for no reason at all, here is a photo of my father in law standing in the hole being a goof!
    This is taken before the footing excavation had started!


    Here is a pic after we had put crusher dust down in the footings to level everything out ( extremely hard for them to be accurate when dealing with rocks like this)


    This next picture is a panoramic photo of the site. It is large ( 10mb) so I suggest Right-Click Save-As...
    http://www.noexcuse.com.au/house/IMG_0455.JPG

    We also cut down a tree at the front of the block and put in a power pole, but I will update with that next week as I don't have those photos with me at the moment.

    And now for the promised time lapse video. I am not happy with the location of the camera and will be changing it this week.
    And I do apologize for the times when nothing happening in the camera view.. There is still alot of things going on though, I promise!

    It is uploading now and will be done in 10 min or so... Here is the video link:



  26. #26
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    It's looking good, you must be pleased to be getting some traction again.

    Cheers

  27. #27
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    Hopefully later this week I'll be able to start on the reo for the footings.
    It's great to get things going, but it seems there is always something to do somewhere else than the house!


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  28. #28
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    Ok. What a crap couple of weeks.
    Not going well. The rain has ended in multiple mud slides into the footings ( after 2000kg or reo has been welded inside the footings so it can't be taken out)
    I like the rain, just not right now. Haha

    I'm going to cut all the reo out tomorrow and cut up some ply and brace all the walls so this doesn't happen again.


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  29. #29
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    Looking good, love the timelapse

  30. #30
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    How are things going? I hope you have managed to get out of the ground.
    Tools are good, more tools are better!

  31. #31
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    How is it going now James. Its looking a lot better on the ground than the Plans I saw last year. I thought it one of the major milestones when I stopped digging towards China and started filling in holes, at least I was heading for the stars D Keep it up, its looking good.

    Cheers
    Denis

  32. #32
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    Default Thermacell ICF Build - Regional NSW

    Hi guys. Been a while!
    Lots of things have been going wrong, but there has been progress! I'll update with more details and photos tonight!


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