Friday, September 28, 2012

Digging is done!

Alright Well after 5 months of planning we have finally started. My father-in-law and I came across a great deal on a 1978 Caterpillar 941b Trackloader. We Started to dig the basement out with this machine and then called in some help to finish the dig. The first real problem for this build turned out to be the lack of slope we had to work with. I love to walk into a house level, or at least close to level.  Unfortunately  this house is going to stick up higher than I wanted, do to where the lateral lines will have to be for the septic system. I will make the best of it with backfill though. The next few days will be setting the foundation forms and getting it inspected. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Planning Completed

My wife and I have been looking for a way out of the city for several years now. We knew we wanted at least 3 acres (preferably 5-20). We finally had enough money saved up to start our search for a new home. We looked at several houses that were in our price range. They all were either older homes or they were the standard 3 bedroom 2 bath spec houses that were built fast and furious before the great recession. I have a lot of "things" I wanted in a house. I wanted a garden on the south side of the house, that means no driveways taking up valuable growing space. I wanted most of our windows to end up on the south and east side of the house to take advantage of the south sun. I wanted the west and north sides to have few windows to keep the hot west summer sun out and the north wind.  My wife wanted lots of windows in the kitchen. All these "wants" really started to limit us. During our search a family member came to us and offered us a great deal on 3 acres of land. Our thinking was that we could build a house with all the little things we wanted and make it more energy efficient than any of the spec built houses out there. After living in a 1920's house for the past 6 years insulation was a huge priority for us. Our little old house is drafty and cold/hot.
I have kept my eye on alternative building techniques for the past several years. My top 3 were: Strawbale, SIP, and ICF. Ultimatly we decided on ICF for the strength and longevity. After talking to several builders and companies I choose to go with TF Systems for our ICF walls. There were several builders in our area that use TF Systems. I also find the vertical ICF system to have many advantages over the traditional lego block ICF. The TF Systems pricing was also better than all the other companies excluding Quadlock. I think the savings I would have seen with the quadlock system would have quickly been eaten up in the extra labor they take to install. Here is a video of another brand of vertical ICF block compared to traditional ICF blocks:

Ultimatly I would have gone with any of the systems out there if I could find an installer that could give me a competitive price. I received many bids, one was $75000 for just the walls (Alternative Energy Construction - Mike Kirkpatrick)! I had read that ICF was competitive with stick framed 2x6. Ultimately I found some one who was relatively new to the ICF world but not new to concrete. His name is John Mills with Diamond Construction. His bid came in less than half of my bid From Mike. At this point I would recommend John to any one looking for an affordable way to get into an ICF home. TF Systems will send company reps out to make sure all is going properly during the set up and the forms and they will also be here during the pour. John will be doing the footing, ICF walls, Basement and garage floor and the framing.

I contacted several lumber companies and I cannot believe how terribly put together some of my bids were. Hermman Lumber in Springfield and Tanco Lumber in Branson were absolutly terrible. My most complete bid was from Meeks in Nixa MO. I dealt with Tom and he has been very helpful through the whole process.

I have been working on getting all my bids into a spread sheet and it was clear that our $130,000 target price was going to get blown out of the water. I am fairly confident that this house will come in around $180,000. That is way more than we wanted to spend but it will be a quality house when we are finished. We won't be finishing the basement right away to save a little money upfront.