Wow, what a Monday. QE3. 3 people! I rarely bother see movies when they get to 3’s. I always figure they’ve worn what ever premise started the enterprise a little thin by the time they get past 2. I’ll be the first to admit economics was not a subject I took many classes in. If there’s a reasonable argument for it, I’ll listen. But, 3?! Color me skeptical.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
So, let’s do something different today. Let’s talk some hands on, practical nuts and bolts. Or as the title suggests, Insulated Concrete Forms.
Insulating Concrete Form (ICF) is a system of formwork for concrete that stays in place as permanent building insulation for energy-efficient, cast-in-place, reinforced concrete walls, floors, and roofs. The forms are interlocking modular units that are dry-stacked (without mortar) and filled with concrete. The forms lock together somewhat like Lego bricks and serve to create a form for the structural walls or floors of a building. ICF construction is becoming increasingly commonplace for both low rise commercial and residential construction as more stringent energy efficiency and natural disaster resistant building codes are adopted. Thank you wiki.
This is how the doom-stead was built.
There are many different materials and routes you can go with doomsteads. Along a continuum from cheap to expensive and easy to hard. Your doomstead should be built to survive in your microclimate, not mine. That said, hopefully this is useful to someone.
Some of the reasons why we chose ICF:
- It was accepted in the county’s building codes. If you’ve never fought to get building codes changed, you’re in for an eye opening experience.
- Quick construction. When paperwork bogs you down until fall, it’s nice to know you still have enough time to get your doomstead enclosed before the winter snow halts everything.
- Capable of holding up berms and a green roof. We knew we wanted those features, as cheap temperature and tornado protection. (Bonus radiation protection too!)
- Low upkeep costs. With the whole structure made of concrete, there is no wood to rot, or serve as home to bugs.
- It’s cheap to heat. Yay for buried concrete, cold Iowa winters are made bearable with minimum cost.
Other methods we looked at included adobe – from what we read, adobe doesn’t do so great with the amount of rain that we get here in Iowa. Rammed earth, had the problem with moisture and temperature range, with the added bonus of not being approved for residential dwellings in our county. Strawbale – also has problems with moisture, as it’s usually covered in adobe. Stick frame is cheap and traditional, it but would blow away with the first tornado. We’d have to dig a cellar to make it safe, and why build two separate ways, for one building, that’s just added complexity.
- Plan your structure. Think modular and rectangular.
- Dig your hole. This part can be done DIY. Have fun with it!
- Lay foundation tile, footings, per your local standards.
- Pour foundation.
- Hire a crew to put together your insulation forms. This is amazingly low tech. The local crew in our area is 3 guys with big ladders, and they snap the forms together with little plastic pieces; like adult sized Legos.
- Pour walls.
- Build brace for the ceiling pour. This part can be tricky, we had to do our own engineering because there wasn’t a local engineer who had ever done anything like this and wanted to open themselves up to the liability. We ended up with a bracing of 2×4’s every three feet, or something ridiculous like that. Totally overbuilt, but we knew if the roof pour cracked or warped, we were screwed. So, we erred on the side of overbuilt. And the roof pour went great. :-D
- finish the exterior. Berm or brick, whatever.
It worked well for us. Any other ICF’ers out there? Sound off with comments or questions.
– Calamity Jane