Home Construction Sequence...

Successful home construction is dependent upon many differing factors. The sequence of construction is just one of these factors. The book devotes many chapters to the requirements of each sequence and fully explains how to accomplish each sequence. Below is a condensed sequence of home construction extracted from the book.

1. Wall Cell Rebar Locations
The location of each reinforced wall cell must be determined before the foundation can be poured. I have found it best to take the Foundation Plan, and copy it to another plan called the Cell Plan. Now you can show the location to insert each required cell during the foundation pour. Install these cell rebar "L"s at the proper cell locations as the foundation is poured.

2. Mortar First Row
Once the Foundation has been poured and cured for at least one week, it is now time to mortar that first row of blocks which establishes the shape of the building. Only the bottom of the blocks are mortared. No mortar between adjacent blocks! Extra care must be taken to ensure that there is ample space for the second row of blocks to rest upon that first row of blocks. Failure to allow for ample space in row one will result in closing blocks for each higher row that will not fit without cutting. This problem can occur when you fail to account for half-block dimensions.

Another consideration for this first row is accurate block height. Because most foundations are not completely level, determination must be made so that the first row of blocks have differing mortar thickness which results in that first row of blocks being level. A level first row of blocks will result in dry-stacked walls that are straight and plumb.

Last but not least, that first row of blocks must be straight and have properly placed corner blocks and inspection blocks. Inspection blocks have one cell side cutout so the inspector can confirm rebar in the cell before that cell is poured full of concrete.

3. Striking the Mortar
There is a mortar concept called striking the mortar, using a special tool to rub the fresh mortar where the block joins the foundation. It is just a curved piece of metal and doesn't cost much at all. The striking process compacts the mortar making it more dense, which makes it stronger and more water resistant.

4. Placing Row Segments
As you place each concrete block, you butt it against the previous block (no mortar between the blocks), set the block reference height and level in both directions by tamping down on the block; which squishes out excess mortar from under the block. The same string that is used to keep the wall straight can also be used to set block reference height, providing you take certain precautions. This is fully explained in the book and demonstrated on the DVD.

5. Closing that Row Segment
Once you reach about half way along this wall segment, go to the opposite corner and commence working back to the point where you stopped by following the same string. The closing block is where the two row half-segments join as one row segment. If all goes well, the closing block will be a little bit to short.

6. Dry-stacking the Walls
With the first row mortared to the slab and allowed to cure overnight, it is now time to start dry-stacking. You must work from the corners to the center of each wall segment. The reason for this is that the wall will be flat this way, and will probably become wavy at the top if you try to dry-stack from one end continuously to the other end.

This is just like conventional mortar block laying. You stack the corners up a few rows high (I stack six rows high), making sure that the corners remain plumb in both directions from the corner. Then stretch a mason's string between the corners and dry-stack your blocks along this string to close that wall row near the middle of that wall segment. Then move the string up one row and repeat the process. You must brace the walls to prevent them from tipping over. Improper bracing can be very dangerous. Bracing details for home construction is discussed in the book and the DVD.

7. Pour Wall Cells
Pouring wall vertical reinforcement cells invloves first getting the wall cell rebar inspected. Once this inspection is completed, then you can close off the inspection block openings, and pour the cells full of concrete. For door and window openings, you will probably leave off the top block or two as shown in the adjacent picture. The rebar in these door and window openings will continue on up and tie in parallel with the bond-beam rebar. Stop the door and window opening cell pours in the middle of the top block for that door or window opening. Later, the header pour will overlap inside of this top block resulting in a stronger wall/header interface. For other wall cells, pour up to jus
4-inches inside the top lintel block. This will lock that lintel block into place with the wall cell, and still allow the bond-beam concrete to interlock within this block at a later time.

8. Form & Pour Headers & part of the Bondbeam
Once the wall vertical reinforcement cells have been poured and allowed to harden overnight, these walls are now stable enough to install the header forms. Form the door and window headers, and install the associated rebar for header and bond-beam, and then get that inspected. You also need to measure off and mark where each truss will sit on top of the wall. Extra wall bracing may be required depending upon home construction jobsite circumstances.

While pouring the headers with concrete, extend into the adjacent lintel blocks at least one-half block length. This will lock those lintel blocks into place, and provide overlap when the rest of the bond-beam is poured. Be sure to insert the truss tie-down straps at the locations marked above, while pouring the headers.

9. Pour the Bond-beam
A few days later, you remove the header forms, and pour the rest of the bond-beam. The rebar locks together the separate pours. You must also insert the remaining roof truss tie-down straps as you pour the remaining bond-beam.

10. Surface Bond the Walls
Surface-Bonding Cement (SBC) is used to bond all the dry-stacked blocks into one continuous structural unit. Because the SBC contains a fiber reinforcement, this thin coating of cement is very strong.

Once you determine the desired consistency, then add that amount of water into the mixer each time, before adding the SBC from the bag. This will give you consistent results and the mix should remain smooth and not get lumpy. The book explains in much great detail.

When you spray the wall, you obviously need a sprayer. This page contains plans for such a sprayer. You could also purchase a sprayer by searching on the Internet. After spraying the wall, the next step is to trowel that section of the wall flat and smooth. I use a rectangular trowel with a fat handle. The fat handle is important because it causes less strain while controlling the trowel.

Always have the advancing edge of the trowel higher than the trailing edge. If you forget to lift the advancing edge, it will dig in and cause a gouge which you must now fix. After some practice you will be able to switch trowel direction and not cause a gouge. Because these skills have to be developed through practice, I suggest that you start in an area which will be covered at a later time.

Once the wall is troweled smooth and flat, then you can add any pattern you desire to the wall texture. As specified on the back of the SBC bag, you should keep the wall wetted for a period of several days. This will lengthen the SBC cure time, and will help to increase the fully cured SBC strength and water-proof characteristics. For several months the SBC will get darker when rained upon. This indicates that it is not yet fully cured. When it is fully cured, it will get wet and not get so dark.

This has been a summary of building all the house walls. Each step requires concern and skilled effort if you want professional results. It is well worth the effort when the walls are completed. Remember, these walls will be maintenance free and last a lifetime. No damaged siding, no peeling paint, and scratches (very difficult to make) are colored to a depth of 1/8" so a mild scratch doesn't change color and doesn't penetrate the water tight integrity.

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