John Ball founded Triple Q in 1997; his brother Tim Ball recently joined the company as co-owner. “We are a foundations company, and we’ve poured concrete for many years,” Tim Ball says. “I think they [concrete structures] have a real place in today’s market. We feel these concrete structures are very appealing for use in double houses — situations where you are caring for older people in your home or the kids are moving back home.”
Ball has completed several above-ground pours with TCB Walls Inc. in Florida. Back in Ohio, Triple Q used the EASI-WALL System, available through Precise Forms, Inc., to finish its first insulated foundation and above-grade concrete project — a home for the owners’ parents and grandmother. It is a 3,800-square-foot, one-story, full basement home with a four-car attached garage. This includes a room under the front porch and a 10-foot-tall walkout from the basement.
Triple Q first excavated the site for the basement, then poured the footers and put in the gravel. After completing those steps, they went on to set the form, using a five- to six-man crew.
It took a day per floor to set the foam and about four days per floor to install the electric, set the panels and pour it. The EASI-WALL System comes with the rebar attached to the foam, so the electrical conduits can be attached directly to the rebar and installed as the wall panels are set.
A sharpened flat wall tie with a handle was used to push the wall ties through the foam.
To complete the interior walls, a light cementitious material will be used followed by a light coating of drywall mud that will be rolled on and sanded. After those steps, the walls will be ready for paint. The exterior will be standard stucco.
With the EASI-WALL System, the insulation is in the middle of the concrete wall. Ball prefers this compared to the systems that use it on the outside wall because he doesn’t have to worry about bug infiltration or denting which can result in cracks leading to water infiltration.
Ball chose this system because of its energy efficiency and green characteristics. He believes it will work with the home’s other green features to recude energy costs, including radiant heat in the floors, sprayed insulation in the attic and double-paned windows.
There are other benefits to concrete homes, too. “When you have two families living in the same house it will help with sound proofing,” Ball says. “It will also help with tornadoes or wind. There was a tornado within a mile that went through where we were building and tore off the tar paper, but other than that it didn’t damage anything.”
Study measures insulated concrete against wood frame home
Eric Barton, President of Biltmore Insulated Concrete, Inc. out of Highland Park, Ill., has been involved with the building industry for 25 years. His work in continuing education for building sciences and an interest in airtight construction led him to ICFs (insulating concrete forms), a building material he has been using since 2006.
Through Barton’s involvement with the U.S. Green Building Council’s residential building committee, he was chosen to take the lead on an ICF construction project for the 2010 Greenbuild show in Chicago. The concrete home is part of the Greenbuild Legacy Community Project case study which compares two Habitat for Humanity homes built with the same floor plan — one with a wood framed hybrid construction and open cell spray foam insulation (built 25 percent above 2009 IECC code requirements) and the other with ICFs. Both homes were built with the same windows, doors and mechanical systems and both are going after LEED for Homes Gold certification. Barton’s ICF home also earned an Honorable Mention from the Concrete Foundations Association (CFA) Project of the Year Awards.
The Greenbuild Legacy Community Project will compare the homes on two fronts: air tightness with a blower door test and energy performance by tracking energy bills in both homes for one year. The blower door test was completed this spring. Results showed that while the ICF wall has an R Value of 24.63 and the framed hybrid wall has an R Value of 20.31 (2009 IECC code wall has an R Value of 16.17), the ICF wall tested 2.3 times tighter in the blower door test. Results of the energy bill tracking and the entire study will be released in the spring of 2012.