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Monolitic Foot

Build Planning
You've probably seen from the lot layout page that the idea is to place two structures on the lot.  I would prefer not to have to pay a lot for the utilities for these structures, so the goal is energy efficiency.   This section should be interesting. High R-Value structures, low air infiltration,  and research into alternate energy methods.  This won't be anything too extreme, but it will be interesting.
Cabin/Garage [TOP]
With all the recreation, it will require a lot of recreational equipment.  The one reason for not owning snowmobiles to this point has been the lack of storage space.  Here is a 3-bay garage...

...which will be complemented by a 2-bay basement access garage in the cabin.  That should provide me with plenty of storage for snowmobiles, ATV's, personal water craft, a boat... oh yeah, and to park a car, and park a guest car.

Monolithic Footing [TOP]
Since I'm going to be doing a lot of this work myself, traditional footings can be the most difficult thing to deal with.  It requires a lot of board feet of 2x12 (expensive) lumber.  If you do footings for a living, great!  Use them over and over.  This is a one-time deal for me.  So once I'm done, the best I can do is try to wash the concrete off the wood and use it somewhere in my construction.  Problem is, there aren't many places to use 2x12's, especially in my project.

After doing some research I found a product called Fastfoot by Fab-Form.  In keeping with the whole green construction theme, their moniker is "Foundations for a green future".

As you can see below, this is a pretty revolutionary product.  It's a plastic material designed to stay in place.  You use 2x4 wood lumber to staple the plastic against.  After you're done, you pull the 2x4's off and use them in your home construction.  Now 2x4's can be used everywhere.  Most walls are made from 2x4's.  Also, the plastic protects the 2x4 wood, so no concrete ever even touches it!

A traditional footing used with 2x12 wood as forms..

I did more research and found another very cool option combining the use of ICF's with the FastFoot product. It's called a Monolithic Pour.  Usually in construction you will lay your footings, pour concrete in the forms, screed (smooth) the top of the concrete to be as level as possible before it cures.  At that point you set your wall forms on top of the footing and hope that everything is level enough to work.  Usually it's not and you wind up using foam to fill in gaps between the top of the footing and the block, or cutting away pieces of the ICF where the footing is too high.  This also creates a smooth surface that will be a weak point as well as a point where water can more easily enter the structure.

The answer would be to be able to pour the footing and the wall at the same time.  This would create an extremely strong footing to wall connection (no cold joint at all), and allow for no water to be able to enter.

The picture to the left shows a cross section of the monolithic footing/ICF setup.  Pour concrete to fill up the footing, all the way up into the ICF.

My first consideration is that I will do both structures completely out of ICF's. (Insulated Concrete Forms).

You stack 'em up like Lego blocks with a piece of rebar on each course, then fill them up with concrete.

When I built our current home, I used ICF's for the foundation.  It allowed me to do the work myself (no forms needed) and since I had some friends help, I was able to do a 10 foot basement for the same cost and having a contractor do a form-based 8-foot basement.

The benefits are that you don't need to insulate when you go to finish the basement.  You just screw the drywall into the plastic connectors which hold the ICF together.

At the time I was aware that you could build you whole home out of ICF's but went with a traditional stick construction.

For this project I analyzed the situation: The benefits of doing your whole home out of ICF's would be
1) Incredible thermal mass - often credited with an equivalent R-Value in the 50+ range.
2) Nearly a perfect air-tight envelope.  There will be no air infiltration because the home has no seams or gaps from wood framing.
3) Sound deadening - Very little sound will make it through all that concrete (STC of 46)
4) Bullet resistant.  There isn't much available to the public that will make it through 6 inches of concrete.
5) Green building.  No wood is used in the construction of your walls.

SIP's (structural insulated panels) were another consideration.  They have a lot of great benefits.

A SIP is foam sandwiched between two pieces of OSB (Oriented Strand Board).  OSB is an engineered wood.  The walls get placed instead of framed.

Benefits to the use of SIP's include:
1) Faster construction (compared to traditional framing).
2) High R-Value over stick framing.
3) No use of the traditional stick framing.
4) Tight envelope (less air infiltration).

When it comes to insulation, SIP's are great.  The R-Value for a 6.5" wall is an actual rating of R-25 with a realized value of R-38.  If you look at a SIP as thick as the ICF (8.25"), it's very similar to an ICF in thermal performance, with an actual value of R-33 and a performance of R-50.

The reasons that an ICF appeals more to me for this project is because the ICF's offer a significant thermal mass due to the concrete and they are bullet-resistant.  The noise reduction from an ICF is also appealing, as well as the reduced use of wood in the manufacturing.

I am very interested in using SIP's for my roof structure rather than using a traditional truss system.  Especially for the apartment/garage since the living space is mostly in the roof.  A SIP roof will offer better use of space due to the insulation being sandwiched between the OSB, and it will provide a much more air tight roof.