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Author Topic: Please feel free to offer feedback on my introduction about my proposed project.  (Read 5236 times)
sunburn
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« on: December 06, 2010, 05:13:14 AM »

I detailed my overall plan in my introduction. I would be happy to hear any useful comments on what i laid out. If i need to put the project descriptiion in this thread, let me know and I will copy it over. Of course I will be asking lots of questions as I work through designing and building but I am happy to hear anyone's feedback at any time. Ie if  something i say i'm going to do is not going to work or needs to have a special consideration made or if there's a better or cheap/cheaper way of doing something. Just go right ahead and share you insight. I'd be glad to hear it.
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Chris Glasspool
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2010, 07:00:58 PM »

Welcome to the discussion,

The first step is to find out about how this council interacts with you, and  your project. They should have a contact person, or office. Find out if they have criteria that you have to meet, and submit - fees, codes, inspection schedules, site plans, drawings, engineering stamps, egress, and access rules - architectural styles, etc.

A common method of avoiding tearing up the property is to build a pole building. This is a building method that uses poles instead of concrete slabs, or footings to support, and keep a building from overturning, and sliding, etc. One of the biggest reasons to use it, are both for economy, and for it's ability to help withstand heavy winds, and flooding. In tidal, and flooding prone areas, the actual building is sometimes set many feet above the ground. The general rule is that the poles, are buried half as deep as the building is high. Sometimes these poles are treated wood, but often they are concrete. We can buy a form here made of cardboard for placing the concrete called a Sonotube. In concrete work the horizontal beams that span from pole to pole are called bond beams. Sometimes the beams are steel.I've theorized that fc could be clad onto these poles, but I'm not sure I've seen it done.

Sounded like you have a tight construction budget. One source of information, is to go to your local material supplier, and ask some questions, and price out some different options. Is portland cement affordable , and fresh in your area? FC isn't chicken wire, it's usually expanded lath (diamond lath) - what's your pricing for this?

Where are you building? - chris
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sunburn
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2010, 11:20:08 PM »

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your ideas. Yes i know  a bit about horrid councils. Here you have to do an owner builders course and buy a book with the regulations and so and so on  at enormous expense. I'll avoid that as much as possible. My sister has just built her house - is still building it. She did the course maybe i can avoid doing it by nominating her as my project manager and use her as an adviser on points of design. And use her building code book. I've also got an architect friend who can point me in the right direction if i am heading to a bad place but I don't think he has built with ferrocement so its why i am on this site. My sister's house is on the same site as I propose to build. Her house is at the top of the 1 hectare block and I propose to build on the bottom of it. I have had one interaction with my council and got one main hurdle answered (about having two dwellings on the same site) but i am not sure how far I will go with meeting their requirements so lets not talk about them anymore. Please. :-)

By the way i live in Australia. In North Queensland. Its a cyclone zone. Floods are not a major issue where i live. I figure my house could be hit by one cyclone in my lifetime. If a cyclone were to hit my home this year, i think its unlikely that there'd be another one for the rest of my life. A few years ago, a cyclone hit the town of Innisfail which is two hours drive from here. In the very early 90s a cyclone came very close to crossing the coast where i live but veered off in the end. Still there was some destruction locally but our place was completely fine. Even though flooding is not an issue, i need to get the floor off the ground because there is quite a lot of water around on the proposed house site during the wet season. The current drains usually manage fine but it could be a minor threat. I think it would feel cleaner anyway as I don't want to live in a swamp. So i am only intending to lift it off the ground about 2 feet. This maximises airflow which is cooling. But the most important reason for lifting the floor off the ground is for the health of the surrounding trees.

Pole houses were very popular here in the 90s (and probably still are). I hadn't really thought of them seriously as a possibility as I want to avoid wood (because of its technicality) but i like the idea of cement poles. Wooden poles are also expensive here i think. Certainly poles houses are known to be expensive houses because timber is not cheap. Digging holes that deep sounds like a major job too.

Hang on, if i use poles what sort of material is my floor made of?  Is it possible to have a concrete or ferrocement floor using this method. I want to avoid a wood floor because of the cost and need for using tradesmen. I would like to be able to avoid using tradesmen as much as possible. I know plywood is a cheap option but I'd rather avoid it if possible. Maybe i could use ferrocement for the formwork if a ferrocement floor in itself wouldn't be strong enough. What do you think about that idea? But if I can't have a ferrocement or concrete slab floor, I guess I will have to settle for plywood and then I'd cover it up with something as i am not that enamoured of the look.

A house made of timber would actually be the best solution for my site but its not an easy  or inexpensive solution for me. I haven't looked into it in any detail because I have assumed that its beyond my ability to construct. All the materials i buy have to be transported an hours drive from the city too so i figured it would be easier for me to transport bags of cement, steel mesh and sand than to hire a truck to bring up piles of wood and other such materials. I have a trailer. ( though might have to use a truck once or twice anyway if the quantities are large).

If i build a one story house and use concrete or cement poles, then the poles wouldn't have to be too long but it sounds like it might be awkward to construct them but maybe its doable. Would i have to hire a cement truck for that? I figure you can't make a FC pole? Or can you? A FC pole to carry the load of a floor and roof would be good. I could make an FC pole outside the hole and role it in to the hole after but a concrete pole would have to be made directly into the hole wouldn't it, because of its weight?

We've got a lime manufacturer not so far away so i guess the cement is affordable. I have read about lath and understand that chicken wire is not the material to use. I haven't priced it. My idea is just that I've read that in general FC is a cheap way to build so i figured it was cheaper than other options. You are right though i should get prices soon for cement and  lath. I don't know if we call it that here. I think we call it mesh. There's all sorts of steel mesh and i understand the lath you are talking about is quite a stiff object. I"I've seen pictures of it.  but in the shop they will understand what i am talking about i am sure.
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Chris Glasspool
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2010, 01:18:49 AM »

Here is an idea that gets you around the technicalities of building, and often gets you around the rules, as in many instances it is considered a temporary building: a Yurt. Have you thought about these? They come as a kit usually, unless you build the frame, and sew the canvas. The modern ones, have a bubble window as a skylight on top, and as many window as you want. They are one room - no walls. They go up in a day or so. You would still need to construct a platform for it to sit on. I think I remmber Pacific Yurts having some kits that can withstand 100+ an hour winds, but that is only as good as the tie down system, and what it is tied down to.

I consider fc much more technical, and full of unknowns than building with wood, or block - brick. In any case buildings are not one material, or one technique. FC has a definite learning curve, and before you tried a house you would want to start with planters, and retaining walls and the like. Labor is one hurdle with FC. It isn't done in bits and pieces, its done in large sections at one time with a team of plasters working to get to an agreed upon spot where the cold joint wont matter much. Where you stop for the day is one very weak area, so it's best to get the plastering for structural areas done in one working day.

Pole building can be concrete poles poured in place with the help of equipment like concrete pumps, and backhoes, but concrete is heavy, and this too starts getting technical quickly. The holes for the poles are drilled with an auger from a tractor, either from a farmer, or  billboard installer. Tilt in place poles would also take considerable equipment.

I know the problem of tearing up the ground to build. A usual house take much more room to build than just the building footprint. To grade for a foundation, or slab probably takes out the foliage for an area many times the size of the actual house. Plus an access way or driveway - road for the materials, and tools. Not to mention the privy hole, or septic ditches.

FC lath is expanded lath or diamond lath (also blood lath, as the edges rip up your hands), the same as used for stucco work. It isn't stiff; it's flimsy, and it's strength comes from the many layers that are built up. Many times fc is applied over an armature of rebar, but the rebar doesn't actually add strength, and can even cause a weakness in the fc strength by adding lines that channel stresses. Many times you will see fc projects where the fc doesn't really add too much, as the rebar and concrete work ends up taking all the stresses. Engineers are not to familiar with fc, and by the time they cover their backsides by loading up the  steel armature, the fc might as well have been cheese. If you look through the past threads here - pay attention to the technique called Laminated Ferrocement. FC could be a floor, but becuase it is more time consuming, and expensive than a concrete slab, thing aren't usually done that way. Slabs can be placed without a floor under - you see this usually with commercial buildings.

- chris
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sunburn
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2010, 03:49:29 PM »

I'll respond to the suggestion of a  Yurt in the next post.

"FC could be a floor, but becuase it is more time consuming, and expensive than a concrete slab, things aren't usually done that way."  What makes an FC floor more expensive than a slab?

"Slabs can be placed without a floor under - you see this usually with commercial buildings."  How is it done? What supports the slab floor if there is no form work? (actually i realised last night that standard formwork would be a better solution than an FC formwork floor - because the latter is not reusable and so on.

So you seem to be suggesting that i could build an above ground slab. Can you please articulate the general approach to doing this.


"I consider fc much more technical, and full of unknowns than building with wood, or block - brick. In any case buildings are not one material, or one technique." ..............True but i figure the majority of a house is one technique and with a ferrocment house i am hoping to make as much of it as possible using this technique to avoid having to make beams, joists, studs, roof trusses and  whathaveyou type construction. Though it may pan out that I will have to tackle these too at some point. The thing is that i am at the designing and conceptual stage and I am looking for a suitable material to build with and to learn if there are strategies to overcome any of the difficulties i have so far imagined or learned about.  Of course I am also open to hearing about difficulties I will encounter and then i can see if there are solutions to these problems too that are within my means.


"FC has a definite learning curve, and before you tried a house you would want to start with planters, and retaining walls and the like." ..............Yes its why i described a series of projects to tackle first before starting the bedroom. My first project is to be flagstones (probably this are made in concrete), second a garden retaining wall. Then a walk in dressing room attached to an exisiting bathroom. If i screw this up its not a huge disaster. I will probably do a few other garden projects before doing the dressing room even but i think a tank should wait as i can see it going to be a major job, though building a small tank would be a good idea.

"Labor is one hurdle with FC. It isn't done in bits and pieces, its done in large sections at one time with a team of plasters working to get to an agreed upon spot where the cold joint wont matter much. Where you stop for the day is one very weak area, so it's best to get the plastering for structural areas done in one working day." ............. Though I believe there's a lot in what you are saying, I've seen web documentation where a large raised garden bed was made in sections then combined altogether. The pieces were made to the form of the ground separately and then all lifted up and joined. If you think it IMPOSSIBLE to build a ferrocement house by one person, you could say that. If that is the case, then i probably can't build any sort of house except for a yurt type of thing.


 "Not to mention the privy hole, or septic ditches."............. I don't need to build a bathroom as there is already one on the block within reasonable walking distance of the house.  Certainly having a pee a few metres away from my bedroom under a tree is not a problem for me.  I will need to provide some run off pipe for kitchen water but I don't think this needs to be particularly technical in practice though the council is sure to have ridiculous requirements.  Anyway lets leave the plumbing issues out of the discussion because they are really not a big deal in my situation.

"pay attention to the technique called Laminated Ferrocement."....yes i gathered this is the technique to use and i've watched a couple of videos but will need to study it more deeply. I understand that it is stronger, uses less cement i think and is all around a better method. 

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sunburn
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« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2010, 04:09:20 PM »

About yurts. At first I dismissed the idea and then i thought better of it and had a look at the pacific yurt website.  I am well acquainted with the idea of yurts as i used to be a feltmaker.

Certainly the design of a yurt would be a good approach for my bedroom though I would prefer to avoid a round building. If i built a readymade yurt for my bedroom, I"d have to build an off the ground floor still. And I'd like to do that with the cheapest material possible that one person could.

If i was building a yurt, even a prefabricated one, i would not put any canvas at all on the walls. I would leave it entirely as the lattice, except in winter which is only three months here.

But in preference to a prefabricated yurt, I would prefer to build this design in ferrocement. The lattice would be exposed to too much rain and would rot. It would need verandahs. Living in the tropics you need every bit of breeze you can get for most of the year, hence no  canvas/walls. You can build a type of lattice in cement. In india they do it with mud coated sticks. In brazil they do it with cement coated steel. In Africa they do it with cemented in sticks but not in a criss cross pattern.

So then the problem becomes how to build the roof and the floor. Which brings us pretty much back to where we started except that I now have a design for the roof. It looks like the idea of the skylight in the centre of the roof is a good one. If i was building this roof in ferrocement, I would use the rib structure in rebar and cover it with lath, then cement it as per usual and I would possibly include other skylights as well for more light. I guess this ribbed idea is somewhat similar to vaulted roofs. I haven't looked into the how-to of those closely but they are beautiful. I think they might be beyond me though.

My father is currently living in a temporary dwelling. He's been living in it for 20 years now and will probably stay there until he kicks the bucket. He has a donga (a transportable box) for his bedroom which is very hot and has to be airconditioned in summer. Around that in an L-shape is the rest of the dwelling. It has lattice walls, galvanised poles that extend outward and downward from the donga top to provide the structure and on top of it all, he has put a tarp. On top of the tarp is vine to protect it from the sun and there are a lot of shade trees which he planted. So the tarp has held up reasonably well all this time. Anyway its an ugly construction and is too small. I do not want to live in anything like this. I use his kitchen facilities and roof space for some of my functions too. But i got a tent for my bedroom. Now i am tired of that mode of living. I want something more solid.

A lot of those yurts are pretty unappealing. Some are even ridiculous the way people have fitted them out. The styles are so incongruent. Which is not to say that i would have to do the same.
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Chris Glasspool
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2010, 10:10:16 AM »

If you get a moment, you might go back onto the page called General Discussion, and then look at these two posts: Page 2, Laminated Ferrocement, and Page 4, for the topic Ferrocement Works Photos. Then as you have time go through and skim all the posts starting with page 1, I think you will gleam quite a bit of information. You have mentioned the internet as a fc source, and while a lot is out there, some information is conflicting, some inaccurate, some poor examples, and for the most part lacking in complete details. I have found the best information to come from books. Paul Sarnstrum (owner of this site), has put together a very good book review and list, on the main body of the Ferrocement Educational Network Homepage, in case you haven't found it yet. Consider before going too much more forward of putting a list of materials, and tools needed, and getting to know the basics of how the material works, and what it is good for , and what it's downfalls are.

- chris
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Chris Glasspool
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2010, 10:26:01 AM »

Also, the type of foundation that will get you a couple of feet or more off the ground, doesn't require grading, or digging, and is good for your climate, is called a pier, and beam foundation, and variations like; block pier, and beam, and tube pier, and beam. You can enhance the movement stabilization, and turnover ability (think cyclone proof), by using a tie-down system as well. This could be a crisscross steel strapping that is pegged into the ground like what is done with single wide mobile homes, or heavy weights that are buried at a depth with a chain going to the pier footing, or to the beam, or main body. these would be at a 45 degree angle.

The reason that slabs are cheaper than fc floors is that fc is heavy in steel, and slabs are heavy in sand. Sand is much less in cost than steel. Suspended slabs, are placed placed onto a strippable - reusable form. FC could be the same thing as with the laminated method, or without a form (mold), as with the skeletal steel method.

- chris
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sunburn
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2010, 06:16:26 PM »

Cheers for all your input Chris. I must admit i got a bit overwhelmed when i started to read through the other posts as every thread seemed to have relevant information and I would have to go through all and sieve out the relevant bits. At the same time I couldn't find any thread headings about roofs and floors. And not to mention getting big time distracted by the link to Marlo Bartol. :-) So your suggestions are good for me. Also i agree with you that it is often easier and better to use a book. Though certainly as a starting point, reading threads here and there and scouting through stuff on you tube and all over the web is not to be dismissed. I pick up key ideas this way. eg have a look at this great video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aQdvJcQBrw

Often the videos are made in Asia and the people make these tanks as a business and are professionals at it. They are not your home builder types. Those I noticed often make poor quality videos and perhaps use poorer quality technique. Even videos and ideas that are not specific to my project give me information that I find helpful.

Case in point though about finding useful info on the net. I learned from a local steel supplier site that you can hire a cement truck and a pump to get the cement for a slab to difficult to access sites like mine. OF course that would add greatly i guess to the cost of laying a slab. But the pump idea can send the mix up to 200m from the truck which is more than enough in my situation.

But next time I go back to town i will indeed go to the library and be looking for ferrocement books. However at this stage, it is good to ask my specific questions if there are people to answer them because I've noticed in books there is often a lot of information and technique that is applicable to situations not like mine and very little that is applicable to my specific situation and needs. Which is not to say that books are not useful. I only buy the books when i find one that i think i will really want to keep. (another way of saving money).


When you are comparing the cost of a slab floor and an FC floor does that take into account that I would probably have to hire a cement truck to make the mix and deliver it? While i presume i would not have to do this with a FC floor. Can you please tell me more about the FC floor construction if its not in those links. I haven't quite pictured yet how its done. Unless you mean you use the pier and beam scenario as you described above. It wasn't clear to me that you mean this is the method for an FC floor.

Also did you seem my question about building FC planks? My father mentioned this idea last night and so i wrote a post about it and put in the Projects section.

With regard to the cyclone. I imagine the trees would give a lot of protection from wind to a house built in it. The threat in a cyclone would be from falling trees. But I can assure you, if a cyclone is coming here, I would not be in a house that I've built with no walls and in a forest for this very reason. I would be in the bessar block bathroom. No trees are going to fall on it and its a small box with walls so i reckon the safest place to be. Also if the house is crushed, well it is a risk that I am willing to take. And I shall deal with the consequences. I simply cannot afford to take any other position. I find it hard that a FC house would be lifted off its stumps in a cyclone. If such a type of house is permitted in this country, and in this cyclone prone area, i am sure that the building code would have rules about how one achieves that too. If it has to be tied down they would definitely say so but it is handy to know in advance that might be an option to adopt. Generally houses build here have to have special cyclone proof roofing methods to keep the roof on. Certainly no simple screw system that was used in the past.

Today I am going to visit my architecture friend (he's retired) and show him and talk to him about my basic design ideas and construction techniques. I don't know how much he knows about FC though but he was able to tell me that a "concrete" house such as I first envisioned with two or threes stories would be expensive in engineering costs. So with that advice I've gone back to a one level house and moved on to FC. Until i know that i can build in FC there is no point in getting too far into the nitty gritty of costs. I have taken for granted that it is cheaper than other methods of building. Or been led to believe it by what others have said. No one has contradicted this advice as yet or offered a solution. Also FC  is easier for me on some other fronts so even if it is a "bit" more expensive than a wood house, it might still be a better option because I could physically do it where as i doubt my ability to build a wood house. But all this will come clearer as I go on. Until someone actually says to me that its
a) too expensive
b) impossible for one person to build (with the addition of a little help for some special jobs)
c) details other significant logistical obstacles, I'd probably continue to think this is the method that i can use. 

Gee, its great to have a spell check option in a forum for a change. I am such a poor typist, though a good speller so this really helps.
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Chris Glasspool
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2010, 08:05:46 PM »

a.) Too expensive.....That's a regional question, and a question dealing with the project objective. I live near forests where wood products are a fraction of the cost of steel, and labor is expensive. FC has a lot of merits...for the tropics...no termites, rot , or rodents chewing through floors, etc.

b.) Well, the video you posted says a lot in this regards; can you afford a dozen or so skilled masons who are willing to spend a day learning fc application, and 2 to 3 days plastering the actual job (depending on project size)? You can do the steel work, but if skeletal fc, then you can spend several months tying the mesh, and if it's laminated fc, then you need to be able to have enough carpentry skills, to build the scaffolding, molds, and in either case the concrete form work. If constructing planks, it may take months or even years to develop a technique, as this may be a self taught building method - though it certainly would short circuit the need for hired labor.

c.) I assume the whole reason for that nasty building council you have there is to weed out non-compliant people, and structures, and it's kind of hard to hide a house, though maybe you don't have exuberant code compliance officers like we have here. I would definitely get some real strategies on dealing with these folks as a first step - they may not be as bad as you thought, but weigh that with what authority they may have if they decide to come down your way after the fact. Wont say anymore on this, but I got the feeling you really are neglecting the first big step of the project. It wont be real until you deal with this.

Before spending too much more time researching fc.....you could go to the city , and get a bag of cement, sand, and expanded lath, mixing hoe, mortar box, or wheel barrow, and build some planks. this will answer a lot of questions, and perhaps raise new ones.

- chris
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sunburn
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2010, 02:54:21 AM »

I still haven't got to checking out those links yet but will try to do so tonight.

Insert Quote
a.) Too expensive.....That's a regional question, and a question dealing with the project objective. I live near forests where wood products are a fraction of the cost of steel, and labor is expensive.

"FC has a lot of merits...for the tropics...no termites, rot , or rodents chewing through floors, etc."  These are pretty obvious advantages even for me. And we do have terrible termite problems here. We don't have rodents that chew through floors here. There are ways of avoiding rot.  But, because of these problems my sister has built her house in steel.   People keep saying concrete floors are cheap and that Ferrocement is a cheaper building material than concrete so i have jumped to the conclusion - perhaps wrongly - that it is the cheapest option. Friends have said the cheapest options here are a) a concrete slab, b) cement board cladding for walls and c) a corrugated iron roof. Well i can't put down a slab. I don't need walls and I wanted to avoid an iron roof because i want a flat roof that i can walk on. At least one part of the house, most likely the bedroom. That's why i have been researching roofing options. It is why i am exploring other options.  Of course labour is expensive in Australia and that's another reason why i need a low skilled type of construction method that i can do myself. For my sister's house they got the roofers in to do that and floor people to do that - partly because for them time was of the essence. So i haven't seen what its like for them to work on those jobs. I did see a little of whats involved in a roof but the main thing with their House with all its steel structure is the welding and whathaveyou. And i definitely cannot go down that route. A wooden pole house would be the only option. So its wooden poles or concrete poles and I am currently looking at concrete poles since you mentioned them.


b.) Well, the video you posted says a lot in this regards; can you afford a dozen or so skilled masons who are willing to spend a day learning FC application, and 2 to 3 days plastering the actual job (depending on project size)? You can do the steel work, but if skeletal FC, then you can spend several months tying the mesh, and if it's laminated FC, then you need to be able to have enough carpentry skills, to build the scaffolding, molds, and in either case the concrete form work. If constructing planks, it may take months or even years to develop a technique, as this may be a self taught building method - though it certainly would short circuit the need for hired labor.

No i cannot afford all those labourers. Showing a video does not mean that i am even thinking of it. It only means i thought it was a good video and showed the construction technique clearly. The video shows me how much labour is used.

Now you mention scaffolding and formwork. I haven't seen this mentioned or elaborated on yet so it is important information that i hadn't completely understood. I have seen it a little bit in some videos but i figured i could find ways of doing it without it being a big to do.  I had thought you made an armature which mitigated the need for most formwork. Now i understand if there is a need for formwork for a shaped roof for example, then I understand that that is expensive and not easy. But if i use planks then there's no need for formwork anyway. Ah so you are saying that planks are not already a known method of making FC. Its odd that my father suggested it. He doesn't usually make original suggestions so i will have to congratulate him on that. When i asked him about walking on a FC plank he said it would only flex. I was quizzing him why it would be doable when mostly the strength is in a curved structure. But i figure it won't flex much if there are a lot of stumps and joists.

c.) I assume the whole reason for that nasty building council you have there is to weed out noncompliance people, and structures, and it's kind of hard to hide a house, though maybe you don't have exuberant code compliance officers like we have here. I would definitely get some real strategies on dealing with these folks as a first step - they may not be as bad as you thought, but weigh that with what authority they may have if they decide to come down your way after the fact. Wont say anymore on this, but I got the feeling you really are neglecting the first big step of the project. It wont be real until you deal with this.

No the whole reason for the nasty council regulations (this is the local government we are talking about. We have a federal system like you do in the states) is health and safety. A smaller part of it is about conforming to an aesthetic norm.  Or at least i would like to believe that. We do have seriously enthusiastic code compliance officers like you seem to though we don't call them that here. Building inspectors we call them but I doubt they run around looking at houses to see if something is not done properly. Generally people are left alone to get on with their lives. but woe betide anyone should something against the code comes to their attention.  My architecture friend who i  visited today told me that health and safety requirements add 50% to the cost of building a house. to build his house scaffolding is now a legal requirement whereas he built his two story house without scaffolding. He said it would cost him an extra $20 000 if he had to do it.  With cyclone risk its all taken very seriously indeed as there was a bad cyclone in 1974 in Darwin and 500 people died and almost all of the city was smashed to pieces. The houses before then were mostly high built timber houses with iron roofs and of course standard roofing construction. Now here you have to have everything extra strength. My friend, i will call him Joe, told me the council code won't accept an FC building unless the designs were engineered. Its the only they would believe that the structure would be strong enough. It would be sufficient to say that such houses are built in the Caribbean where cyclones are also. I saw a cyclone roof/house in concrete or FC on the web. (not much info about construction though and the house design looks like any ordinary house). A woman owns it, i gather. I got the idea that Joe doesn't have much experience of knowledge about FC. He refused to accept that an FC wall could be 3/4 inch thick. He said it would have to be at least 4 inches. So there you go. I won't dismiss his input but it has his expertise is limited so i have to bear that in mind.

But if Joe is right that I have to get the building engineered (which wouldn't surprise me at all) then i am back to square one because I probably can't afford to do that. I could submit my designs and methods and that may save them some time and me money. I don't know. Beyond that i can only email the council and ask them what is their attitude towards ferrocement. I will do it tonight.  I mean they won't send me the code because they say its copyrighted (yeah right!) and so i am going to have to get my sister's copy which she has in the Emirates i think at the moment. And what if the wretched code tells me i have to have walls in my house. This came up with my sisters house. You can't get insurance unless you can lock up your house or something like that. My answer to that is i don't care about insurance but if that means that the council won't approve my design because I don't have insurance well what other option do i have but to defy them. a) i do not want walls. b) i cannot afford walls and c) i think the whole blinkered view of the matter is ridiculous.

"Before spending too much more time researching FC.....you could go to the city , and get a bag of cement, sand, and expanded lath, mixing hoe, mortar box, or wheel barrow, and build some planks. this will answer a lot of questions, and perhaps raise new ones. "

Yes i agree that this is a good idea to do asap. You realise this idea only came to my awareness yesterday and it is only through research that one gets access to new ideas so there's nothing wrong with research. It can replace bad ideas or one idea with a better one.

I am simply putting my thoughts out there and asking for direction and ideas or confirmation that something works or won't work. I am not really asking anyone to second guess me.  I will read those other posts tonight.


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sunburn
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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2010, 04:23:44 AM »

http://www.jadferrocements.net/ferrocement-roof.html

This link is interesting because it has pictures and because it shows the variety of structural uses of FC in India. As its a commercial site, rather than an educational site, there is obviously no how-to of the matter. Certainly i would presume that the building codes here are much stricter than in India but its still interesting to see what they are doing.
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Chris Glasspool
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2010, 09:49:14 AM »

I wonder if you didn't approach the council with the idea of a residency, but rather a nature observatory gazebo built on your private nature reserve? We have much the same thing here, and I discovered that many of my contractor friends have built their own houses but never bother to get the inspections. In other words, it appears that the authorities main concern is actually getting the starting fee. Yes, it's more accurate to say that these councils are for health and safety, same thing here...I was over reaching to make a point.

I like your proposed idea, it actually is very much what I proposed in a discussion here regarding emergency housing for the Haiti disaster. I based it on the standard scaffolding that people rent here, which is steel tubing that is put up quickly, with internal planks that span across. I bet you have the same rental scaffolding there. Take a look at how it goes together if you get a chance, or do a computer search on it.

Since rain doesn't always fall straight down, you might want to increase the overhang of the roof a bit. I'm wondering if the corner posts couldn't be fc tubes instead of concrete; it may be less problematic to make these horizontally, and tilt in place, then to use a cardboard tube and place concrete from overhead.

Doing LFC for flat work (floor & roof) would be very fast, and efficient. I don't know how many people it would take, but working with gravity, and working flat increases speed tremendously. The creative part here is figuring out the cheapest mold to place both low for the floor, and then high for the roof....cheap if you were doing this commercially, but for a one off mold - challenging.

Since I've never made a fc house.....I'm not sure that I have a full breath of knowledge on many points, especially in the connecting between fc posts, and floors etc., but you would be surprised at how much help you will get here in problem solving once you start actual testing and building. I took a class in LFC through the FEN (Ferrocement Education Network) here, and it's too bad you aren't closer, and could take this class, which Paul Sarnstrum has offered for several years. I can steer you through what I learned in class, once you start playing....and I still say buy a book(s)...you are proposing to pay thousands in materials, don't skimp on the manuals, and tools. - chris

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sunburn
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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2010, 10:20:02 AM »

I made a typo in my last post. Where i said that a woman built a house for a cyclone zone i would said it would be sufficient to mention it to the local council. I should have said "insufficient". (I often make this sort of typo which is infuriating since it suggests the exact opposite of what i am trying to say. At best it might confuse the reader. At worst it misrepresents what i am trying to say.  So what i was trying to say was that it would be very difficult to convince the authorities than an FC house is safe and probably nothing less than Joe suggested would satisfy them. And that will be costly.

About the poles being concrete or FC. I actually asked you this earlier if it was possible that they could be LFC but you didn't respond so i figured I had to stick with concrete but naturally i think LFC would be better because its lighter and I wouldn't need a cement truck.  On Youtube there is a video about making FC beams. It was a bit boring and slow so i haven't finished watching it yet.

I think here you have to get building approval for any sort of construction - a shed, I am not sure about a gazebo though.

I said earlier that i would put eaves on of 1 metre. Do you think it needs to be more than that. I don't think  so to be frank. I think a metre would be good enough. Also the trees would cut the slant of the driving rain though i think as it bounces off the leaves that will be a lot of spray in the air. For such times, perhaps some type of curtain or blind would be the go. On my father's shack, there are no eaves but he has blinds of plastic tarp which we roll down when it rains or is cold. If i used bamboo screens for instance, i would expect to use those in such conditions as well. So i am not worried about making bigger eaves or the rain. However because of hte trees there is a limit as to how big the rooms can be and particularly how big hte roof can be. I imagine even that some of the eaves will have to be built around the trees if i am to maximise room space in some instances. The trees are quite close together. But because in the past some of the trees died, there are some large spaces where it would be suitable for a room. Because of the nature of the site, the rooms of my main house would not be oriented in a straight line. They will zigazg between the existing trees. Its another reason why i think FC doing one room at a time would be more suitable than timber and corrugated iron.

Yes i think a course would be a good option. But i bet i can't afford that either. Courses are usually very expensive i find. But i will definitely buy a good book when i find one. Or maybe even two.

Thanks for all your help. I think the next stage for me is to  have a look at prices and as we said, have a go at this business of making a plank. The wet season isn't actually a great time to be making FC as it rains all the time. So i won't be able to do very much until next year. But i may find a window of a few days at some point when i can get it together.
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Chris Glasspool
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« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2010, 10:43:19 AM »

I don't answer many questions because I'm a slow typist, who has to go back constantly and re-do, and I'm very busy....I'm finishing my chicken house today!

You have a good idea, and to reiterate....if you can call this house anything but a house , and pay the permit to allow it, then you may well be left alone...gazebo, nature observation platform, meditation hut, chicken house, whatever seems plausible, this gets you off all the codes like we have here. I live very rurally, and it's like that here too, but if anyone here complains about the structure to the inspector, that then puts it onto a new level, luckily that is rare, and mostly it appears the main thing for the council is to first gather the fees, and then it is the live, and let live.

Even if you use some other method than fc, the time spent learning it wont be a waste of time.....after all fc is a material not a house, and the amount of things (some you mentioned) are almost limitless, including composting toilets, and water culverts. I have started exploring making planters for potential sale out of the material. Good luck - chris
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