Monthly Archives: March 2015

ICF is complete!

March 24, 2015

I hit a milestone this last week and finally have finished laying all of the Durisol ICF blocks.  I generally finished off row 9 last Friday, the majority of the required cut blocks for that row on Saturday afternoon, and the last few blocks above the basement doors yesterday.  Friday the blocks were saturated from recent rains so I was again slogging 100lb blocks around all day.  I am thrilled that this step is behind me and I can now move on to completing the required forming for the top curb of the foundation.

I have scheduled the Structural inspection of the form work for April 7 which is when the engineer who will be doing the site inspections on behalf of Tacoma will be in town (he works and resides on Vancouver Island).  I chose Brian Lange from Stantec, because he used to work with Nathan at Tacoma and would be used to Tacoma’s design style.  I also felt it would be difficult to find someone local that would even be willing to do this kind of work if they were not the primary designers of the structure.  I just have to schedule inspections when Brian is planning on being on the mainland to save some travel costs.  Hopefully we will be able to pour on the 10th or 13th.

I have also been working on the HRV and general venting supply.  I worked most of the weekend on the drawings trying to find places to route the required ducts. I also had a meeting with David Hill from Eneready on Monday.  David is one of the top ventilation experts in the country and it was a huge benefit to be able to pick his brain regarding the ventilation needed for the wood and metal shops.

On the way back I picked up the plywood needed to form the top curb of the foundation and some 2×6 studs that I will use now for the cross bracing needed to plumb the foundation walls prior to pour. I have also taken delivery of my first load of Roxul Comfortboard IS that will be used for the foundation insulation. I will use this first bit as inserts in my top curb to prevent thermal bridging as the foundation nears the surface and projects above (see drawing S12).

I have also completed my testing of the Soprema foundation waterproofing membranes and have settled on the Torch on Assembly per below.

Fig 1: Foundation Waterproofing Solution Step 1 - Fastfoot is stapled to ICF at base of foundation wall. Step 2 - A Sopralene Flam Stick Membrane is applied to the ICF lapping over the Fastfoot by at least 2" Step 3 - Colphene Torch'N Stick is applied to the balance of the ICF wall lapping over the Flam Stick. Step 4 - Torch the surface of the Torch'N Stick to adhere the Roxul Insulation.

Fig 1: Foundation Waterproofing Solution
Step 1 – Fastfoot is stapled to ICF at base of foundation wall.
Step 2 – A Sopralene Flam Stick Membrane strip is applied to the ICF (don’t forget the primer) lapping over the Fastfoot by at least 2″ (this is a combined peel and stick and torch on membrane.  The bottom side is peel and stick and the top side accepts a torch to seal to the Torch’N Stick membrane).
Step 3 – Colphene Torch’N Stick is applied to the balance of the ICF wall (don’t forget the primer) lapping over the Flam Stick.
Step 4 – Torch the surface of the Torch’N Stick to adhere the Roxul Insulation (hold in place till backfill).

Fig 2: The Torch'N Stick had a strong cohesive failure when removed meaning that it was pulling away lots of the ICF fibres with it.

Fig 2: The Torch’N Stick had a strong cohesive failure when removed meaning that it was pulling away lots of the ICF fibres with it.

Fig 3: The other option was the COlphene 3000 Peel and Stick membrane. But even with primer, it had a very poor bond and failed mainly in an adhesive manner (two surfaces pull apart at interface with very little damage to either material).

Fig 3: The other option was the Colphene 3000 Peel and Stick membrane. But even with primer, it had a very poor bond and failed mainly in an adhesive manner (two surfaces pull apart at interface with very little damage to either material).

I also finished the two door bucks for the basement doors through the ICF.  I lined all side of the opening with Roxul to reduce the thermal bridging between the foundation and the door installation. I will try to post THERM files for this at a later date.

Fig 4: Two inches of Roxul line the rough openings.

Fig 4: Two inches of Roxul line the rough openings.

Fig 5: Rough opening is capped off with a 2x10 and 2x4 assembly that is then toe-screwed to the 2x4's that defined the openings.

Fig 5: Rough opening is capped off with a 2×10 and 2×4 assembly that is then toe-screwed to the 2×4’s that defined the openings.

Fig 5: Top of buck utilizes a 2x4 rib on its side to provide added strength.  This too had 2" of Roxul placed above before being covered with ICF Block (will provide photos of rebar lintel once complete)

Fig 5: Top of buck utilizes a 2×4 rib on its side to provide added strength. This too had 2″ of Roxul placed above before being covered with ICF Block (will provide photos of rebar lintel once complete)

The rest of the week will involve dropping in the vertical rebar and starting the forming of the top curb.

Thanks for visiting!

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for our own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”
—Marie Curie (1867-1934) Chemist, Physicist, Nobel Prize Winner

Top ↑

Altitude Sickness

March 15, 2015

This last week has been a mixed bag of activities.  I started Monday with the raising of the scaffold to the final pouring height, which will also be used to place the last two rows of blocks and to form the top of foundation wall curb.  I have been working on it all week and had the basic structure in place by Friday afternoon.

By WorkSafe standards, you do not need a guard rail if less than 10′ off the ground, but I am installing one anyway.  I have a healthy fear of heights if there is a strong fall hazard.  I even get nervous if I look out a cantilevered window in a very tall building.  So, when I was standing on the newly raised planks, I felt very uneasy at the much higher altitude.  As soon as I installed a partial guard rail, I was at ease again, so I will spend Monday putting up a guard all the way around the perimeter.  I am sure it will also make the placers more at ease which in the end will make everyone safer.

I do however continue to be amazed at the amount of time the scaffolding is taking me.  It clearly takes more time doing it as one person, but I am also making them REALLY sturdy due to my discomforts up high.  The task is also incorporating the bracing that will be needed to plumb the walls prior to the pour, which adds to the volume and complexity of the system.

Scaffold is not at pouring height

Scaffold is now at pouring height

Finally, I could have completed the task faster if I had gone out and bought longer wood, but I have been using salvaged wood up to this point and indeed I bought the first dimensional lumber only this week.  I picked up some 10′ 2×4’s and boy is there a big difference in quality between what was in the 60 year old house and the new lumber.  Out of 30 pcs, there was not one with four corners.  Each piece had heart wood on one side and bark on one corner.  They were clearly cut from fairly small pine trees that would only yield 2-4 pieces of lumber per diameter.  What was scary is that I lost count at over 30 year rings on these small trees.  Not sure how sustainable the timber industry is if after 30 years the trees are only 6″-8″ in diameter after that period of time.

These studs were cut from a 30+ year old tree which was still small enough to only provide two studs per diameter.

These studs were cut from a 30+ year old tree which was still small enough to only provide two studs per diameter.

I also spent some time this week designing the routes for the HRV supply and exhaust ducts.  This has proved to be a very difficult task.  I have 12″ TriForce Open Web floor trusses which allow for only 7.25″ openings for ducts, so I am using 7″ trunks (which was close enough to the ideal 8″ to keep the HRV designer happy).  But with these sizes, there is no way to route both ducts and plumbing in the same bays or to intersect these two systems.  I am just about finished a design and have been able to route this all without any significant bulkheads.  I have been fortunate in this regard and have been able to utilize a couple of dropped ceilings to run the intersecting services.  My advise would be deeper floor trusses if you can at all swing it.  I was restricted in my need to meet my local Municipal max roof height requirements of 26′ from grade.

This leads me to the final significant task of the week.  There has been a snafu I have been aware of since we finished digging the pit and installed the storm sump late last summer. We are too low!

Top of sump is my allowable grade based on a mistake in the survey.  I will now need to regrade the property as well as part of my neighbours front sidewalk

Top of sump is my allowable grade based on a mistake in the survey. I will now need to regrade the property as well as part of my neighbour’s front sidewalk

In North Vancouver, your max roof height is measured from grade, and grade is determined by taking the lower of the averages of the front two sides of the house being torn down, from the averages of the back two corners. The problem is that when the property was surveyed, there had already been some activity around the property to salvage plant material.  The result was that the surveyors were measuring a localized depression and I ended up with an average at the back of the house that was a full 12″-16″ below what the previous finished grade was.

I have been ignoring the problem because I was fairly sure that the District would not play ball. But as I am coming down to the end of the foundation forming, this would be the last opportunity to address.  I tried with the building department and no-go.  They will only go by the survey.  I then tried the Planning department and still no go.  I would have to go back to Council for a revised Building Height Variance which would take months.  It is sad that we could not come to a common sense solution to this and that the process is so rigid instead of concentrating on the spirit of why a rule was created in the first place.  Even the surveyor (after referring to my and their photos) confirmed that their measurement points clearly did not represent the true grade and they will now look much more carefully at this issue in the future and advise their clients accordingly.

My advise to you as an owner builder or even regular builder – plant flowers gardens at the 4 corners of the house being torn down to establish whatever grade you are after before calling in the surveyor.  I will now have to figure out a grading with Ron as we will have a shared sidewalk and cannot incorporate a retaining wall.  Good thing I have a great neighbour.

Saturday raised a 3 Pump Alarm due to extreme rainfall.  Was all cleared out in a couple of hours

Saturday raised a 3 Pump Alarm due to extreme rainfall. Was all cleared out in a couple of hours

Final excitement of the week was a fire that started in the truck.  A patch chord used to charge up a jump pack shorted out and lit up while I was driving.  Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on my mood of the day), it was easy to put out and did not damage the truck.

Final excitement of the week was a fire that started in the truck. A patch chord used to charge up a jump pack shorted out and lit up while I was driving. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on my mood of the day), it was easy to put out and did not damage the truck.

Top ↑

7 of 9

March 5, 2015

While 7 of 9 was my favourite crew member on Star Trek, it also represents my progress to date on the ICF courses.  I have row 7 about 75% complete and then will only have two more rows of ICF to place before starting on the top curb with all of the insulation inserts to prevent thermal bridging where the foundation transitions to above grade (see S12).

The installation of the ICF has been going very well.  For one, I am able to do this all on my own which is a miracle. The Decompression treatments on my back have worked wonders.  In November, I was having to take days off at a time after really easy work and now I am lifting 60-100 lb blocks all day with minimal discomfort.

60-100 lbs you say – aren’t these blocks supposed to be just under 50 lbs?  Yup – when they are DRY!  The stock pile by the road has been covered with plastic for a couple of months at least.  They were wet when I covered them up, and there has not been much air movement or sun over the winter, but I suspect the problem is actually the plastic.  It is called Heavy Poly and is made by Duchesne (there site does not provide specs).  I suspect it is far from moisture impermeable and is actually allowing diffusion of any pooled water to flow into the block below.  The end result was that the blocks were saturated and HEAVY!  I weighed one today that had already been sitting out and draining for a day, and it was still 84 lbs. I have since removed all of the plastic which will allow air flow and solar gain.  It is supposed to be dry for the next week and by then I will have the blocks in place.

IMG_0829

My legs have recovered from the stair workout I am now getting every day, but today I was overall just beat.  I donated blood last night and I think it took a little out of me considering the type of work I am doing right now.  The movement of the blocks from the road to the pit scaffold via the bridge and tower has been working very well but is still a LOT of work.  I am looking forward to some down time this weekend.  I am averaging 50+ ascents each and every day (ie. climbing 50 flights of stairs a day). There is 13 stairs (or a standard flight) and that is just the stairs, it does not take into account going up and down the ladder from the scaffold to the pit floor or climbing all over the scaffold all day. If someone wants a cheep exercise routine, hang out with me for an hour.  Its free but I may make you move a block or two 🙂

Ron (neighbour) had an awesome idea to place a 2x4 stringer across the stair treads to allow the dolley to come down.  I supplemented it with side bumpers and it works like a charm!

Ron (neighbour) had an awesome idea to place a 2×4 stringer across the stair treads to allow the dolley to come down. I supplemented it with side bumpers and it works like a charm!

Blackberry has been thrilled with the sky-bridge and has spent hours at site on several days (I would hardly see her all day previous).

Initial Inspection

IMG-20150301-00865

Ensuring basement walkout door is at right elevation (off by 3/8″)

 

Providing Inspection Report

Providing Inspection Report

Favourite Hang Out

Favourite Hang Out

My building envelope engineer has provided his general blessing of my basement waterproofing plans.  I am just trying to finalize what membrane I want to use, Colphene 3000 (a peel and stick), or Colphene Torch’N Stick (a torch-on with a torch off top surface that would allow the adhesion of the mineral wool insulation). My preference is the Torch’N Stick as long as it adheres well to the ICF and the intermediary Flam Stick membrane sticks well to the FastFoot membrane. The torch on option would simplify the insulation installation and would also be a more durable membrane, due to reinforcement, over the Peel and Stick.  I have samples coming tomorrow including some primer to use on the 3000 sample I already have on site (the Peel and Stick without primer did not adhere well to the ICF).

I also met with Patrick Summer on Wednesday to discuss the HRV system and the ducting requirements.  Patrick will design the system and I will install it.  He will then come back and commission it.  There will be some challenges to find places to route the ducts needed in my generally 2×4 wall construction dwelling.  But our meeting was fruitful and I will create the basic plans showing the needed duct routing, as I am the most familiar with the dwelling and its framing.

The final two rows of ICF will take a substantially longer time as they involve closing off the lintels above the two basement doorways.  I believe this requires the cutting and modification of blocks, but I need to review the Durisol manual this weekend for the game plan for next week.

I have just uploaded the Feb – Roving Cam time lapse if anyone wants to catch up.

Thanks for visiting.

Top ↑