ICF Nightmare, walls out of plumb by up to 2.75"
Last Post 26 May 2024 05:44 AM by stu_stomp. 34 Replies.
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stu_stompUser is Offline
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05 Feb 2024 08:23 PM
This pour occurred Feb 1 2024. I am the homeowner, but will not go into much detail, as we're still trying to come up with a solution with the GC and Sub. My opinion is "totally unacceptable, 100% demo". Am I out of line for taking this stance ? Thanks in advance. Hopefully this link to photos works: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/mx96nr767l06gnhvwjmu0/h?rlkey=6asj0r1vro3nl7jhz66k13mvz&dl=0
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05 Feb 2024 08:42 PM
Here is another link to the same photos, in case that initial link doesn't work... https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1HwJb6OrY3tFujccaZJiOXANOyTfDi_Zv?usp=sharing
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05 Feb 2024 09:19 PM
Posted By stu_stomp on 05 Feb 2024 08:23 PM
This pour occurred Feb 1 2024. I am the homeowner, but will not go into much detail, as we're still trying to come up with a solution with the GC and Sub. My opinion is "totally unacceptable, 100% demo". Am I out of line for taking this stance ? Thanks in advance. Hopefully this link to photos works: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/mx96nr767l06gnhvwjmu0/h?rlkey=6asj0r1vro3nl7jhz66k13mvz&dl=0

The wood bracing they used is not what I've seen used for ICF. Usually it's steel bracing with scaffolding that's screwed to a concrete slab. It also has turnbuckles to adjust the wall in/out. Looks like they braced the wall incorrectly and the wall shifted during the pour, resulting in the out of square wall.

From what I observed in the photos. It looks like a NON-ICF installer did the work? I would assume it was someone who has never worked with ICF/concrete wall pours. Hard rule is NEVER trust a NON-ICF contractor to do ICF work. One can be the best carpenter/framer in the country but doing wood framing and concrete work are two different animals.

Being the walls are out of square, as long as they are structurally sound, it should be salvageable. Bring an engineer to the site to evaluate.

Only way to try and square out the interior walls, would be to install 2x4's on the interior wall next to the ICF and keep those wood framed walls square and level. Then finish off the interior using the wood framed walls as your attachment for drywall. You will lose interior space but that would make the interior back to square. 

On the outside, you would have to either SHAVE some of the foam off to square it off OR you would have to glue 1/2" -1" to some places to bring it back to square. Sometimes on ICF stemwalls and walls, there is a ledge that can happen if the ICF was purchased & installed at different times (foam production tolerance can be off by 1/8" - 1/4"). This will create a "ledge" between the stemwall and wall. One can either rasp the foam to level it off or glue/attach EPS foam to level it off. It's not a structurally issue but merely a cosmetic issue.

The other problem will be the roof trusses. They will not sit in the appropriate spots since the ICF wall is out of square. Only way to fix that would require one to stick frame it on site and cut each truss to the appropriate length based on the wall. Time consuming and costly.


stu_stompUser is Offline
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05 Feb 2024 10:45 PM
Thank you for the reply Lbear. To clarify, the walls were not braced properly (obviously). However, it's not that everything shifted during pour, but rather the blocks were never squared up at all. They poured thinking they could straighten out the walls on the fly, but then never did, and the walls cured in place. This sub was a flatwork concrete guy who convince my GC he could do it. I also have concerns about the structural integrity. Several concrete delivery trucks sat on site for more than 2 hours (scheduled too tight) and concrete was way too dry during the pour later in the day. I've tapped all over the structure and voids are everywhere, as you'd expect without the proper concrete flow.
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06 Feb 2024 11:33 AM
I agree with what Lbear said....scab some lumber+spray foam on the low spots and rasp off the high spots....I leveled my own walls, My wife and I spent a hour after the guys left making it perfect....

It sucks but in the end no one will know....enjoy the journey and move on, it will be a beautiful house.
"Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." George Carlins
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06 Feb 2024 03:54 PM
I agree with Lbear. Get an engineer to inspect. You can make the interior & exterior look fine with some extra work to plumb both surfaces, but that doesn't mean structurally concerns are addressed. There may be additional blocking required in the floor system based on your pics (ie, you may have to create a cantilever in the floor that was not planned).

This may not need to be a demo, but I would have a local P.Eng make that decision before moving forward (or paying any bills).
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06 Feb 2024 04:11 PM
Always sad to see this incompetence. I also agree with Lbear...first get a licensed structural engineer to evaluate the "as built"...which in addition to the out of plumb and non-square walls should include the rebar schedule and perhaps a concrete core to determine the concrete compressive strength. I would also be seeking financial reparation from the GC. Having this engineering accessment will help you in court if you need to go there.

Gayle
Borst Engineering & Construction LLC - Competence, Integrity and Professionalism are integral to all that we do!
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06 Feb 2024 04:12 PM
Always sad to see this incompetence. I also agree with Lbear...first get a licensed structural engineer to evaluate the "as built"...which in addition to the out of plumb and non-square walls should include the rebar schedule and perhaps a concrete core to determine the concrete compressive strength. I would also be seeking financial reparation from the GC. Having this engineering accessment will help you in court if you need to go there.

Gayle
Borst Engineering & Construction LLC - Competence, Integrity and Professionalism are integral to all that we do!
LbearUser is Offline
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06 Feb 2024 05:33 PM
As others have reiterated -

Bring an engineer to the site to evaluate and make a determination on whether or not the walls can be saved. Being out of plumb is bad but doesn't mean a tear down. Many wood framed homes are out of square but structurally sound. Once the engineer makes the call if they are structurally sound, you can proceed to the next step of squaring off the interior. There is only so much info one can get from the internet. Without a site visit by a PE, we can only suggest things until a determination is made.





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06 Feb 2024 05:45 PM
A lesson for all future ICF home builders is to make sure to only use a competent ICF installer. Someone who has the experience and the know how. Never trust a contractor who has no experience in ICF and attempts to take on an ICF build.
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06 Feb 2024 08:22 PM
Where to start. That's the worst I've every scene. Did they use a vibrator? The thing people don't realize is that when you pour an icf wall it doesn't want to stay vertical. I'm surprised it didn't fall over. The wood they used was a joke. Probably in reaction to the walls starting to tip. If they are that bad I can't even imagine the walls being full. Probably graveling at the bottom. You can check

for voids by using some small diameter skewers. The wood ones from the dollar store. Mark at 2.5" and 3" and 4. Stick them in the wall all over and mark the wall with a marker. Repeat Check under the windows and near the bottom of the pour. Another question comes to mind. Did they install rebar? My instinct is to tear it down.
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06 Feb 2024 09:21 PM
After thinking about it I would keep it if the price is right. Only because its above ground.
stu_stompUser is Offline
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07 Feb 2024 05:59 AM
Thank you for the reply, smartwall. They did not vibe anything. As stated in the original post, the concrete later in the day had been sitting for 2+ hours before pour and it was not flowing well at all. The pump operators had to continue clearing the hose of concrete that was too dry. I have knocked on the walls and probed with a long nail, and there are voids everywhere. I will take your advice and mark the voids. The rebar is there, I watched it go in, at 32" intervals both horizontal and vertical. My concerns are that, although totally unacceptable to my wife and I, the AZROC will say it's acceptable with some mickey mouse bandaid fix. I'm trying to prepare myself for a $150K loss here.
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07 Feb 2024 09:44 AM
I think I figured this out. Did they try pouring this with no bracing at all. The the walls started to lean and bow. They thru up some lumber to stop the bellying and bowing. They stop the pour in the idea that the concrete would set enough to proceed. Why are you on the hook? This is total incompetence. It's not even close.
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07 Feb 2024 03:55 PM
Get an attorney and a licensed structural engineer as an expert testimony witness. You should come out of this financially well ahead of the game given the gross incompetence and mental trauma you suffered.
Borst Engineering & Construction LLC - Competence, Integrity and Professionalism are integral to all that we do!
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07 Feb 2024 04:32 PM
The lady is right as usual. Did you video the pour?
stu_stompUser is Offline
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07 Feb 2024 06:02 PM
The lumber bracing was in place before the pour, but it only prevented walls from falling outward. Nearly all of my out of plumb walls bow inward, and this make-shift bracing had no method of adjusting on the fly or of pulling walls back to plumb. The attorney is on stand-by. The ICF block manufacturer is getting involved. Next step is filing the AZROC complaint and getting an engineer involved. "Mental Trauma"...you have no idea. Can't sleep, can't eat, wife fluctuates from anger to tears constantly. It's a nightmare.
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07 Feb 2024 07:05 PM
You also should remove foam where the blocks sit on the slab. You have to check for graveling. Separation of the stone from the mix. It happens at the bottom of a pour.
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07 Feb 2024 08:55 PM
I was very serious about the long term mental trauma. This will unfortunately be a huge time consuming hassle to remedy.

Yes, I will add that it is great if you can find a highly experienced ICF contractor. However, this isn't always possible in all areas. And most of us who got into ICF work when it first became more popular in the States a couple decades ago started with no actual experience. I got to experience ICF and hydronic radiant floor heating in Germany in early 70s as a child as my dad was an architect. I fell in love with both. When we first got started with ICF construction, we took the manufacturer ICF training and we were ultra conservative with regard to rebar schedule, steel bracing, correct ICF concrete mix, vibrating, stringing, leveling, etc. It is very apparent that the crew that did this job didn't even bother to learn the basics and bit off way more than they could chew.

Smartwall pointed out a serious problem...graveling at the base of the wall. If you don’t have the right concrete mix and you don't properly vibrate, this will likely be the result. The rebar and ICF interior plastic cross members act like a reverse screen and will deposit mostly gravel at the base leaving the Portland cement higher up and without sufficient gravel making the wall very weak. Again, a licensed structural engineer will become your best advocate for addressing the severity of this nightmare and assisting you in the remedy.

Gayle
Borst Engineering & Construction LLC - Competence, Integrity and Professionalism are integral to all that we do!
Steve MercerUser is Offline
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22 Feb 2024 03:20 AM
Yeah I don't know where you dug this guy up but I have NEVER seen anyone brace a ICF wall like that. All ICF wall bracing has Turn buckles in their braces that you adjust as you pour. Did this frog pour these walls in 4' lifts or did they try to pour the wall all at one time? You are SUPPOSE to pour in 4 ft lifts so if they pour slow by the time they get back to where they started pouring an hour has elapsed. the walls need to be adjusted at each lift or at least checked for straightness and plumb. That is what a string line on the wall block edge is for to check for straightness. Our Plumwall braces (www.plumwall.com) are usually set 5 ft apart. Did you sign a contract with this frog? it is time to read the fine print.. I hope he doesn't just up and Ghost you! So sad to see this! Where are you located? It is a contractor like this that gives all contractors a bad name!
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