Laying Blocks

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Fire-Man, Nov 10, 2005.

  1. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have 1280 blocks that will be delivered next Tuesday to do my foundation for my cabin. Across the back and down one side on a down hill slope there will be 5 blocks high that dirt will be against---I will go 2 blocks higher for a total of 7 blocks above the concrete footing. I am going to use gutters on the roof so water will not dump on that side. How important will it be to seal/waterproof the blocks that has the dirt against them. There will not be a basement under the house but I am planning to make a drain ditch with rocks and drain pipe so if any water did get under it will drain out the front. There also will be several vents installed in the blocks. To clear up the "Down Hill Slope". This cabin is being built on the side of a hill, but the Peak of the hill is about 30ft off the back side, beyond that point any water would go away from the cabin------------------so what water I will have to deal with after the gutters are installed will be what ever it rains in the 30 ft area x the width of the cabin--------Not like being on the side of a mountain with the peak a mile away--LOL. What would you use to seal the blocks. Thanks Randy
     
  2. raymilosh

    raymilosh Well-Known Member

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    I'd say in general, take the best advice and do a good job with high quality material. I say that having NOT done it.
    I did a good job with the french drain...gravel right up to the surface and a properly sloped bottom, guttered the roof water away, diverted water away from the uphill side using swales, but didn't seal the blocks as well as I should have. I am still trying to figure out how to dry out the forever musty crawlspace, even when it's dry outside.

    My advice is to see what happens to the "cut" when it rains and during the wet winter. If water never seeps out of the wall and the footing trench stays dry you'll likely be alright with doing it cheaply. If the hill does seep water, however, use that rubber sheeting. it's expensive, but i hear it works.

    A dry crawlspace can be used as a root cellar, food storage, lumber storage, etc. A wet one isn't suitable for anything but making your house get mildewy in summer.
    ray
     

  3. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Fireman
    Raymilosh is correct. It is critical that you seal the outside below grade surface. You can use bituthene by Grace, Inc. or even asphalt emulsion. Bituthene is the best you can get and you pay for it. The asphalt is a lot cheaper and used by most where moisture isn't much of a problem. The emulsion is not fun.

    Don't insulate the inside, as it will prevent the block from properly releasing moisture wicked from the soil. This creates an environment favorable to mold growth.

    I didn't understand the significance of your vents to a crawl space. I believe the recent belief that you need so many per linear foot of wall has been shown to be more of a problem than a cure.


    1280 block will do a very large space, especially a cabin. 1280 block / 7 courses = 182 blocks per course>> x 1.3 ft per block ~ 240 ft divided by 4 walls ~ about 60x60. I forgot about piers, if you make them from block. It's still a very large cabin.

    Will you be using drystack? It'll save you time and money. Tio Ed is the experienced member.

    I'm not sure about insulating the outside surface of the block in your locale. You might call locally and ask because it might be sealed and count as a vapor barrier. It could be about the same price as the bituthene and add insulation to boot.
    Good luck
    post your progress
    take pictures/
    Gary
     
  4. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    Can you use drystack for a walk-out basement? Where can I find more information?
     
  5. joaniebalonie

    joaniebalonie Well-Known Member

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    hi gobug (et al),
    are you talking about something like 'jumbo brick'? we've researched a lot ...adobe, stick, straw bale and decided to use that (it's been used in europe like, forever!). it's a honeycomb thing and you stack the brick, no studs, insulation, sheetrock. it's r31, ecologically sound, fast, breathable, sound proof, mold proof, termite proof. it's not any cheaper than stick construction, but it's fast and you only need 2 coats of stucco outside, and one plaster inside. where in colorado are you? we're central southern, and love it!
     
  6. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

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    I find this quite interesting as I am going to (note that I said *I WILL*) build my own home soon. I am currently getting the land cleared and such. My intentions, same as yours, are to build it as I can afford it, so I am learning each aspect of the building process as I go. And I am also doing it all myself....or at least as much as I can! Being 5'5" and 130# has only slight disadvantages....

    I have a stupid question, though. You put the rebar in your foundation so that it lines up with the holes in the cement blocks. How do you know how far apart to put it? I'm sure I could figure it out if I thought about it, but is there a set figure that you used?? Is there a trick to getting the rebar to stand upright in the wet cement? (gosh...I'm sure showing my ignorance now, aren't I???)
     
  7. Tio Ed

    Tio Ed Active Member

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    Showing your ignorance? Hmmmmm...you're determined to take your future into your own hands, want to escape indentured servitude to a mortgage banker and are unafraid to take a gamble on your own gumption - I'd say you're displaying an admirable amount of courage taking the steps to gather the info you need and you're to be commended.

    Rebar pins (sections about 36" long) will stand upright in wet cement mixed correctly for a footing and will set into place just fine. As for the spacing and all, that really puzzled us, too. Here's a little real-world DIY for you: The limited amount of info on the dry stack technique that we can find mentions using rebar pins, but no info on *how* you get this done. DIY solution? Plunge in and figure it out as you go. We had the slab contractor place the pins, which he did but only approximately 48" apart - it was never measured. Of course, it didn't take long when laying out the blocks for the all-important first course to notice that we didn't have exact fits. Herein lies the beauty of dry-stack - there are enough different-length CMUs available of the same width that we could mix and match the 4, 8 and 16" blocks to juggle where the block cores would line up over the rebar pins (there are enough irregularities in block dimensions to make a big difference). Even better, we figured out that when faced with a gap which a regular block won't cover, we could use duct tape and pieces of aluminum flashing to make temporary "forms" by enclosing the space to be filled and then pouring wet cement into it thereby casting a custom-sized cement block in place to fill the gap. When the cement set, we pulled off the temporary tape and flashing forms and there is our solution. This is an example of how user-friendly this construction is. The CMUs themselves are irregular in dimensions to enough of a degree that you won't be able to get a precision-fit. The workaround for this is improvising solutions such as casting odd sized blocks in-place or using washers as shims in problem spots (pennies work great, too, and are actually cheaper than the washers which cost 2 or 3 cents apiece).

    Sorry for the length here, but as has been noted by other posters on this thread, it's hard to find "real world" DIY info on this technique. I also want everyone to see how easy and achievable this construction methodology is. After all, if a lifelong musician and an actress with no construction experience to speak of can pull this off, so can almost anyone who isn't afraid of failure or hard work in pursuit of a magnificent obsession.

    Best regards to all,

    Tio Ed
    Austin, Texas
    El Rey de Sweat Equity
     
  8. tiogacounty

    tiogacounty Well-Known Member

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    Fireman, I have built a few buildings with both traditional and surface bonded blocks. I learned a few things along the way that may help. First, in your case, I would do surface bonding, it is a lot easier and results in a strong attractive "plastered" look. Second, don't loose too much sleep over rebar placement when you stub short bars up from the footer. If you hit a block web, take a 3' piece of 3/4" steel pipe and use it to bend an offset in the rod. Bend it by sliding the pipe over the rod and pulling. it helps to brace the bottom of the pipe with your foot. If the rod still hits a web, carefully remove a bit if the web with a hammer and fill the adjoining areas with mortar. Last if you want a really effective waterproofing that easy to apply do a search on Thoro-Seal. This is a powdered masonary sealer that is mixed with water and a bonding agent. It is applied with a whitewash brush and will make a waterproof wall. I built a house, with a full basement, in a very wet area. One spring the ground water rose to within 18" of the surface. The house was literally sitting in 7' of water. It got about a 1/4" of water on the cellar floor. This was water that shot up through joints in the floor. The outside of the wall had two coats of Thoro-Seal. Adjoining homes lost washers, dryers, and furnaces, as the basements filled with water. No matter how you decide to built the foundation, you can't go wrong with Thoro-Seal. I almost forgot, if you do get serious about using surface bonding, think about investing in a diamond blade for a circular saw. They make a lot of dust, but you can use a speed square and a diamond blade to quickly, and accurately, trim cement blocks to any dimension you need. Good luck.