Today was much easier physically than yesterday and a whole lot more fun (though it certainly was colder - I was wearing 3 long-sleeved shirts/sweaters to keep warm)! Today we starting setting the walls in place. We chose to go with the insulated concrete forms for our basement walls since they are quite easy to work with, have a great R value and are easy to finish out on the inside. We have them in this house we are currently living in and like them so we are using them again. The company we are using is called "Fox Blocks" - we did not pick it specifically but are glad to be using it. Mr.W says there are some great advantages to the Fox Blocks. Mostly, they can be flipped either way to be used in a larger variety of situations resulting in less waste. Sounds good to us!
In order to set the walls straight, chalk lines were snapped on the concrete footings (got it right this time, Dad and Chad!!) and then 2x4s were placed against those chalk lines on the outside edge. That way the blocks can sit right up against the wood and easily keep a straight line.
After the wood was in place, a thicker diameter rebar was placed all around the footings, just inside the chalk line. The first row of blocks was placed on top of that rebar and then attached with rebar ties to the plastic "webbing" you find inside the Fox Blocks. The first row is the most time consuming as you have to reach in through the blocks to attach all that rebar in many, many places. You want it secure! Also, since the Fox Blocks are reversible and up can be down and down can be up, we needed to cut all the little "bumps" off one side of the blocks (think lego but imagine those little bumps on both sides of the lego). In order for the first row to sit flat on the footings, the bumps needed to come off. That required us to cut them all off. That would certainly be a downside to the Fox Blocks system but it is only for the first row and the benefits make up for it.
After the first row is down, the second row goes on top, making sure to stagger the joints. A few important things we needed to remember as we went along: first of all, we needed to secure the second row of blocks to those bent rebar that were sticking out of the footings with zip ties. That helps secure the Fox Blocks to the footings themselves. Then around every corner we needed to attach the blocks together with zip ties. Finally, we needed to lay a thinner diameter rebar on top of the webbing in each row, making sure to overlap the ends at least 18" and securing those with rebar ties. The third row and every subsequent row after that get attached to the previous row as well with zip ties.
It is really not difficult work at all but there are many steps to remember and each one is important. For a while today, I was actually working all by myself. Mr.W made sure I knew all the steps that needed to happen and then left me to it. Jay was away chicken catching and the kids were running around playing. I was actually working on the house all by myself. Kinda cool! Mr.W is a really great guy and I love how he treats me with respect and allows me to contribute whenever and wherever I can. He always explains until I understand and encourages me along the way. It reminds me yet again that he was the perfect contractor for us and the Lord brought him to us for this time. I hope that we can honor him just as he honors us.
Each night I am amazed at all we have accomplished together. When we talked about working on the house, my hopes were to work each day contributing as much as I possibly could. Realistically I knew I would have to watch the kids and I would only be able to do a little here and there. As it is, the kids are entertaining themselves well all around us, helping out when they want and I have put in pretty full days. Plus I am still trying to keep things running here at home with the food and the laundry and all the other household chores. My arms are more tired than ever and so is my body but I am loving this journey and so glad to be side-by-side with Jay.
I will say yet again that I truly believe the Lord brought Mr.W's name to mind those weeks ago and orchestrated it that he would work for and with us. The whole idea of both of us working on the house was a strong desire and a dream that is now a reality, thanks to the expertise that Mr.W has!
So, at the end of day 4 we have 2 1/2 rows of Fox Blocks set in place. Today we will go back and continue building the basement walls with the hopes that we can pour the concrete mid-week next week.