Sunday, July 11, 2010

We Begin Slipforming

We were finally able to go vertical on our house! We are now 16 inches up ... on 1/3 of the house. To us, it is a great victory. We started out on Friday by tying 10 foot vertical pieces of rebar to the rebar sticking out of the footing. We opted to start on the north side of the house since this side would be bermed into the earth up to the four foot level. The only downside of this is that the rocks are inside the wall rather than showing like a stone wall. That means that when we take the forms off, all we'll see is a concrete wall.

After we tied the vertical pieces on, we also tied on a horizontal piece making a rebar grid that will add support to our concrete and stone walls.

We made sure that none of the splices were anywhere near the corners, which are very structurally important.

My Mom and my Wife poked pieces of galvanized fencing wire through the insulation. The extra wire on the inside of the insulation will be embedded into the concrete, holding the insulation in place.

The loops on the inside of the wall will be used to tie on lath that we will plaster over when the house is done.

My wife had to take some time to set up the temporary 'facilities'. We bought a camping toilet that we lovingly call 'the cabana'.

After the rebar was in place (on Saturday) we bolted all the forms together and started locking them into place. We used two different methods. To keep the forms together we put a spacer in place and wrapped tie wire around two 1x2 pieces cut to 18 inches long. I used a nail to twist and therefore tighten the wires.

Method number two was some 1x4 pieces of lumber cut to 25 3/4 inches - the exact distance from the outside of one form to the outside of the other giving us 18 inches in between. We screwed them on the top to keep the forms from bowing out.

In the meantime, my Dad built these two knockouts to house some future plumbing. We oiled everything that would be touching concrete and called it a day since the temperature was in the upper 90's.

On Sunday, we were ready to start filling in the forms. We started the day using a 1:3:3 mix of concrete. One part portland cement, three parts pea rock and three parts sand. We quickly turned to a 1:2:3 mix of one part portland, two parts pea rock and three parts sand. Joe Kohler, in his book, has termed this mix 'morcrete'. It isn't quite mortar and it isn't quite concrete. It is strong yet easy to smoosh around the rocks. My parents graciously mixed all the morcrete for the first wall. The large rocks in this wall were more or less filler to save on cost.

We put in an eight hour day to fill in this section of wall. It was tiring but gratifying. And, unless we can find a way to live behind a 16 inch section of wall, it is only the beginning.


  1. Hi, what was the total cost to build your home? I am also looking for a more cost efficient way to build, but I am torn between slip form and log. Thanks

  2. Yeah I have heard about the slipforming process. Apparently according to this blog ( makes construction of tall towers smoother. Best of luck for your home. May you build a strong beautiful home. But see to it that the right materials and tools are used.

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