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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are working on the plans for building our house next spring. We want to do the slipform stone wall method with insulation board sandwiched in since we have rocks and time. I searched on here and found people that have built outbuildings or greenhouses, but not an actual house. I'd love to hear about the length of time it took and any problems you had.

Yes, I know it is going to take a long time, maybe 2-3 months or more just to get the walls up and I don't want to hear that poured concrete walls are so much faster. I also don't want to do stack block because I can only comfortably pick up 50 lbs, plus I don't want to use all that concrete.

We've seen the videos, read the books, but don't know anyone personally that has done it. If the code inspector allows it, this is the method we want to use.

I think we are going to have about 7 months of weather that will permit building. It's a simple rectangle house about 1,400 sq feet. In addition, there are 3 small interior walls that might be built the same way to function as sheer walls along the bermed North wall, but without the insulation sandwiched in.

I'm guessing 3 months for the walls with two of us working on it and friends coming to help when they can? I'd like to say 6 weeks, but I know weather and problems happen. Other people take years to finish their homes, but both of us will be able to work on the building full time. Do you think in 7 months we'd be able to get the foundation, walls, roof and floors done (floors are earthen and I'd rather not do in the winter)? Then we'd have the winter if we needed to finish the interior.

Also, I can't find any natural building forums that aren't cob related. Know of any?

oh, has anyone done a slip form stone wall and then bermed up to it with earth?

update: we have also considered doing the insulation to the outside, slipform stone wall to the inside. Then finish the outside with board and batten since we have a guy right behind us with a saw mill that could cut the wood.
 

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construction and Garden b
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i am also looking to build a slip form wall this coming summer!! was thinking about it this aft, there was a book by ken kerns i think (too many books over the years!) "owner built homestead" all my books are put away so we can renovate so can not look it up right now! good luck, built a 100 ft of stack wall stone wall this summer was not that bad and got lots of rocks cleared out of a fence row we wanted gone!
 

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I cheated somewhat on the classic slipform stone wall construction. My walls were curved, and I couldn't figure out a way to keep the curve's consistent around the circle. So what I did was lay out the foundation footing for the wall, read up on what the size should be, and then doubled that... Laid my best looking stones on the outside face, go up about three feet, then lay a curved sheet of plywood on the inside part of the house, brace it all, place lots of steel inside the form... then pour concrete in the form... it would fill all the nooks and crannies in the rocks. No cracks. If I waited a couple weeks before placing the concrete, the rock and mortar wall would get cracked.

I personally dislike the "classic method" because of all the excess mortar that slips out in spots where you don't want it. If you want 'function' its fine, if you want 'beauty', it's a booger to chip and chisel all the mortar drips off the pretty stone faces. If I can do 20 square feet in a day, I've done good. There's prep work, getting cement mixed, laying stones, pulling previous forms, cleaning up, and then dealing with Murphy's laws...

I haven't got to the point where I'm dealing with insulation sandwiches... I've read the books, and I'm thinking you have to have a lot of ties tying the walls together. Of course, the easier way would have stone on one side, insulation, then another wall. I'd try and keep wide overhangs on the roof, to keep the water off the wall as much as possible... if your rocks are permeable, water will wick through and potentially cause problems.

good luck!

I love working with stone... would be nice if I could make a living doing it (and my backbone would approve!)
 

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Domestic Engineer
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What about foundation? We have SO many stones here in MO that I was thinking of adding on to our home. If we added in back - the north side - we could put in a porch/3 season room and a much needed large pantry. Then swing on to the east side heading south to add a dining/school room.

The rest of the foundation here is already stone, but having NEVER messed with stones NOR foundations, I have no clue where to start even.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What about foundation? We have SO many stones here in MO that I was thinking of adding on to our home. If we added in back - the north side - we could put in a porch/3 season room and a much needed large pantry. Then swing on to the east side heading south to add a dining/school room.

The rest of the foundation here is already stone, but having NEVER messed with stones NOR foundations, I have no clue where to start even.
I didn't check the links by the next poster right below your post yet, but we are hoping to do (if it'll be structurally sound) rubble trench with a floating footer. That would also use a bunch of the rocks.

I found this great site yesterday:
http://www.hollowtop.com/cls_html/Rehl_Stone_House.htm
 

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So how far are you and are you keeping a photo journal to share?
After taking on this new 'career' of title research (same thing a landman does, but for individuals, instead of oil companies), I haven't worked on it at all, in almost six months. 45 minute commute both ways, and by the end of the day, being 'creative' isn't in the cards. On the other hand, the cash I'm earning will pay for things that are very hard to scrounge or scavenge... pallets of cement, metal roofing, wiring, windows, etc. Every time I think I'm running out of clients, a new one shows up. If I ever get a 'dry spell', I'll be able to finish my slab, and then get to the fun stuff.

traci... if you have a solid stone wall, your slab needs to be at least twice the width of the wall... an 8" wall needs 16" wide footer... my current walls are minimum of 12" wide, my footers are 24 to 30", and two feet deep, with lots of steel rods and wire.
 

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I havent actually done any slipform, but a couple of my friends have. One fella built about a 1000 sq ft home and had it under roof in about 4 months. Another put in a slip form foundation under his dome after the dome had been built. That took him nearly a year to complete, working weekends and a few other days stolen from work here and there. My stone work amounts to a fireplace and the stone columns that I used for foundation piers for log home we are building now. These projects both consisted of laying up the stone with mortar so they dont really work like the slipform method. The fireplace took me a bit over a week to lay, and the 8 3'x3' columns averaging about 4 feet high took me about 2 weeks to do. But then there was twenty years of age twixt the two projects. No way would I attempt either project today! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Yvonne's hubby for the info.

I can't wait to check out the links people have posted here. Yesterday and today are so busy and we have to go to town. Yesterday I got water-resistant thermal gloves so I can get back to sorting stone.
 

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Rhome is 32x44 local sandstone slipform.
Folks,I type like pumpkin so I'm not going to provide any DIY info. Just a brief description.
3 walls east west south slipform & north wall homemade "panelwall" from recycled.
Front facing south 8 french door panels for solar gain and front corners are on 8ft radius round corners ala Frank L Wright and Ken Kern. Google Kern good Building & Homesteading books.
Time to build walls and interior 3 years.
On grade slab floor, reinforced footers for rock walls, masonry woodstove.
Guesstimate for rock is about 30 ton.
Wall is 12" thick with a 1 1/2" recycled rigid foam core intertwined with barbwire to connect ext/int.walls
Hope you're young and buff.
Good luck,Rhome
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Rhome, do you have pictures? Is your north wall earth bermed? How long did it take you to do the 3 walls and how tall are they?

We are young enough 40's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hey I have another question for you guys. If we wanted to the back wall just concrete and don't care about the rock face inside the house (outside won't be seen since there will be earth bermed up); could we just do slip form concrete with rocks thrown in to displace the concrete and reduce the cost?
 

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Haney Family Sawmill
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A lot of you question needs the answer are you going to stack rock or face rock. The easiest is to face rock.
If you are going to face rock then you have a eaisier time to instaed of putting in the rock now don't do it later.
First build foarms enough to circle the house 1 1/2 time to two time. If you are doing this by your self 4X4 X2 are a good size. It is Faster to have 4X8X2
Pour your footer with rebar and over sized. The reason to over size is the normal do it your self adds more concrete than the professional.
Place the forms to the inside walland brace. You can read up on the coating for your form for the release.
Then Place the outside forms not to the outside but to the outside of the core.
You need to out wires though the core panels to the inside for the concrete to adhere too.
Pour the first pour. What you have is a wall two feet high except wher you blocked out for doors and such. You will continue this by placing the next form on the first block out for the oennings and pour. Now remove the first set of formes place them on the second and repeat.
When your done remove forms go back and scarf the panels with mortor then place the rock on the outside and lay the rock. Theis will go fast and figure out how much concrete a pour will need and it is ok to short the forms , What I mean it is better to have all the forms 6 inches from the top if that is what the truck has, This is not a problem if you are hand pouring. The biggest mistake is forgetting to put in gas electric and water holes and under bracing the forms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
we have a good idea how to do the slip form, but aren't going to do a "pour". We are going to use the method that Thomas Elpel uses. I've already mapped out on my drawings where all the holes are going in the wall. After reading all his sites and sites of others who have used his method and seeing the video, I still had that question about the NOrth wall and just throwing the rocks into the form before bucketing in the concrete to displace the concrete, using round rocks instead of meticulously placing the rocks nicely to be seen. The North wall will only be seen in a very small area and I dont' want to go through all the trouble of nicely placing my flat rocks along the interior of the North wall since it will only be seen in the closet, mud "cubby" and storage room.

If on the North wall, I can just chuck round stones in the form and bucket concrete in, that would be easier and faster and I could save the flat rocks for the East and West walls.
 

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If on the North wall, I can just chuck round stones in the form and bucket concrete in, that would be easier and faster and I could save the flat rocks for the East and West walls.
Are you talking about filling the form with rock, and then pouring the concrete on top? If so, it will not work. What will work, however, is to pour some concrete into the form. Place rock in, and cover with more concrete. The concrete will not flow around the rocks much if they are stacked too high.

The other method is to place the stones, and then make sure you get concrete to fill all gaps. You do not want any voids in the walls.

If your concrete flows easily, and you haven't added special plasticizers, you're using too much water. The concrete will be weaker than it should be.

As long as you get good contact between the concrete and stones, you can use as many stones as possible. Eventually it will be almost the same as a stone masonry wall. Its a lot easier to just tamp the stones into a bed of cement, rather than the actual buttering/placing each stone of an actual masonry wall. Sort of the best of both worlds... low skill/fast, and using less concrete.

Michael (who's never done slipforming, but is researching it to use in the castle towers...)
 

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North wall is post and beam w/homemade 4'x8' recycled rigid foam 2"x4" framed panels bolted to the post, free standing walls w/1/2"OSB and then stucco final ext finish
Construct time for only the slipform walls is difficult to quesstimate maybe 9months working
solo.
Most time was prepping rock for the day's course, had 2 forms working at the same time.
Rock walls are 7'7''
Maybe I can get some photos later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
What will work, however, is to pour some concrete into the form. Place rock in, and cover with more concrete. The concrete will not flow around the rocks much if they are stacked too high.

As long as you get good contact between the concrete and stones, you can use as many stones as possible. Eventually it will be almost the same as a stone masonry wall. Its a lot easier to just tamp the stones into a bed of cement, rather than the actual buttering/placing each stone of an actual masonry wall. Sort of the best of both worlds... low skill/fast, and using less concrete.

Michael (who's never done slipforming, but is researching it to use in the castle towers...)
Yeah that's what I was thinking of. Setting the form, putting in any required spacers (tubes for plumbing/ electrical or window frames), doing the ties and rebar, then putting in a few rocks, bucketing in a little concrete, putting a few more rocks, bucketing in more concrete up to the top of the form. I just thought I could save time on that North wall by not worrying about if the stone face is just right since it wont' be really seen anyway. I didn't know if there is a certain "stone saturation" point where the wall is weakened by too many stones and too little concrete. But, I do want to stretch that concrete out as much as I can since the stones are free.

I'm in semi-contact with Elpel (he's answered one of my emails) and I hope he responds to the second one I sent with more questions. I dont' want to bug the guy, but even though there are several slip form sites out there, they all are sort of building the same way and not all my questions were answered.
 
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