The Construction of a High Performance Home: Week 2

Posted by Tim Biebel on Feb 13, 2017 6:07:05 PM

Insulated Concrete Forms High Performance Homes

Winter has returned with a vengeance, which only adds to my already growing disdain for it. February is the worst. Next month, March will be the worst.

Construction during the winter can be like running an uphill marathon. Twice. Everything takes longer than it should, and the coffee gets cold way too quickly. Cold coffee is awful. I’m not sure how coffee relates to running a marathon, but it remains true that cold coffee is awful.

Last week I delivered coffee and donuts to the concrete crew on Wednesday, the day they started forming the insulated concrete forms (ICFs) that will become the basement walls. Surprisingly, all the donuts made it from the store to the jobsite. Between the ice storms and snow storms of the last week, we were happy to have any work completed on site.

The crew managed to form three courses high of ICFs by week’s end despite the delays due to bad weather. Each ICF “Lego block’ is eighteen inches in height for a total of fifty-four inches total so far. The finished height from the concrete footing will be 8’3”, so they have two and a half more rows to go before they complete forming for this high performance home.

Not only do the ICFs provide great insulation for a basement, they also aid in pouring concrete in the winter as the built-in insulation will keep the concrete from freezing before it has a chance to set up. The top of the wall will be covered with insulated blankets. By the time the walls are finally poured, the blankets will know their way around the top of the wall as they spend every night there already to keep the snow from filling up the wall cavity. This morning there was a foot of fresh snow on the blankets. Last week it was six inches. Before that it was ice. April can’t come soon enough.

Not to be deterred by the evils of February, we continue working in our shop while we wait for the concrete work to be completed. By the end of the week, the majority of the house and garage walls had been framed on our framing table and stacked up in the yard. When the time is right, we will truck them to the site and set them in place with our Lull Forklift.

Exterior walls high performance Home

Other than the added time to truck and offload them, this is a great way to build walls, especially in the winter. The environment is controlled (heated, even!) and they can be built on a table that is waist high. It’s easier on backs and the walls don’t freeze to the table overnight.

This week the plan is to pour the basement walls, install the waterproof membrane, and partially backfill the foundation. Hopefully the weather will allow us to accomplish our goal. 

Click here to read week 1 update.

Click here to read week 3 update. 

Here are some pictures from last week:

Insulated Concrete Form Foundation

Insulated Concrete Form Foundation Vermont Winter

Insulated Concrete Form Foundation Vermont

Exterior Walls, High Performance Home

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Tim Biebel

by Tim Biebel

Tim Biebel is Vice President of Prudent Living, a leading net zero and energy efficiency building company located in Windsor, VT.

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