ICF Basement Expansion

ICF Foxblocks ready to stack

For a chronological listing of our building projects with ICF (or insulated concrete forms), be sure to look through the new ICF Building Index tab in the menu bar.

In January 2012, we finished phase 1 of what will eventually be our basement built out of ICF (insultated concrete forms). We have been enjoying being in our own home but are so excited to finally be expanding it!

During my absence from Cultured Palate, we did some work you don’t know about yet so, let me fill you in before I share what we did last week!

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Building with ICF – Phase 2

digging with the backhoe


I really can’t believe we have started!

Yes, this week John began digging out the dirt to expand the basement walls of our home which overlooks the vineyard! If you have been following our adventure of starting the vineyard and building our own home, you know that we are now living in what will eventually be the basement – we finished phase 1 at the end of 2011.

As you might imagine, we have saved a lot of money by building ourselves and had a lot of fun in the process! But, like everything it takes time and patience. Building the house must fit around vineyard work which pays the bills! So, our primary time to work on the expansion is now, after harvest and before pruning which will begin in late January.

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EIFS on Basement Complete!

EIFS on basement finished

Hopefully, we are done with water leaks in the house! It will be so nice to enjoy a rainy day without worrying about mopping up puddles as the rain comes under the walls!

I am now in Georgia visiting my mother and sister but before I left, the EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system) on the exterior house walls was completed!

Since we are living in what will eventually be the basement of our home overlooking the vineyard, we wanted to wait to complete the exterior of the basement walls until the upstairs was finished. But, we got tired of puddles! So, what started as an effort to use up the EIFS materials that were left over from  building the barn, ended with completely finishing the walls of the house!

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Stormy Days and Water Leaks

storm is coming

One thing we do not see much of here in west Texas is rain. In fact just a few tenths of an inch are exciting! We do after all, live in a semi-dessert climate. It has definitely been hot with temperatures in the 100 – 108F range. And, since the first of the year, we had had a whopping 3 inches of rain.

This week, though, we have had rain – 2 1/2 inches! That brings the total for the year up to 5 1/2 inches!

We had water puddles!

We had beautiful storm clouds!

When I saw the scene in the photo below, I felt as though I was in an episode of Star Trek – the Enterprise was hovering in the clouds above and Captain Kirk was just beyond the barn saying, “Beam me up, Scottie”!  [Continue Reading]

The Barn Completed – EIFS and All!

ICF barn with EIFS completed

Yippee! The EIFS on our ICF barn is now compete!

It looks as though I am speaking in code doesn’t it with all the acronyms!

Here is the code:

  • EIFS = exterior insulation finishing system – It is like a synthetic stucco only more durable.
  • ICF = insulated concrete forms – They snap together like big legos and are used for their insulation value.

When I shared weekly the updates on the ICF filter house and the ICF greenhouse, each week was a progression of steps. So, I thought for the barn, I would just post pictures that had been taken throughout the process.

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Greenhouse EIFS Completed

eifs finished

A couple of weeks ago I detailed how we had started to apply EIFS to the greenhouse walls. Well, this week we completed them!

EIFS is an acronym for exterior insulation finishing system and also provides insulation value. It is like a synthetic stucco but more durable than traditional stucco. EIFS is applied in 3 steps – a thin layer of concrete is spread over the surface of your wall, then a fiberglass mesh is embedded into it and finally a color coat is applied for a more finished look. This color coat also adds more waterproofing to the wall. You can see the application of the first 2 steps by clicking here.

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How to Apply EIFS to a Greenhouse

first layer EIFS

Today on Family Friday I would like to share an update on the greenhouse.

Last week we poured the concrete in the ICF walls (insulated concrete forms). While the ICF has excellent insulation value, we chose it for the greenhouse just for ease. The ICF snap together like big legos and are so easy for the DIY’ers. We are using them for our home which overlooks the vineyard, the filter house and new barn. As you can tell, we are sold on them!

This week, we have been working on the the EIFS exterior for the greenhouse. EIFS is an acronym for exterior insulation finishing system and also provides insulation value. It is like a synthetic stucco but more durable than traditional stucco.

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Greenhouse ICF Walls Poured

greenhouse hoops up ready to pour

We have finally gotten back around to work on the greenhouse that we started way back when!

I think we have too many projects going on at the same time! And, when you do the work yourself on all of them, well, it just takes time. I know patience is a virtue but it sure can be hard to come by sometimes!

If  you have been around awhile, you will remember that a friend gave us all the parts to a greenhouse which had been blown away in one of our haboobs. All of the parts were there but a couple needed re-welding which John and the boys did.

We used ICF (insulated concrete forms) out of ease for the base. ICF are so easy to snap together and once filled with concrete make for a strong wall. For more information on how we are building our house with the ICF, click here, here and here.

The hoops had been put up and are secured by purlings of wood. These purlings are what the fiberglass for the roof will be mounted upon. So, after some final straightening and squaring up, we had concrete  delivered.

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ICF Filter House – EIFS Completed

I have posted over the past several months about the progress on our filter house. You have shared the start of the project – taking down of the old metal building, putting up the ICF (insulated concrete forms) walls, pouring of the ICF walls and the first coat of the EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system) exterior. Now, the second and final coat of EIFS is finished! This last coat has the color and has made such a difference in the way it looks! No longer does it look like a concrete bunker!

If you are new, we began using ICF when building our home overlooking the vineyard - we are living in what will eventually be the basement and hope to begin the second phase of the house after next harvest. We also used ICF for our barn which we built this fall after grape harvest (2012). Because of the insulation value of the ICF, it was a natural choice to use for building our filter house. We have underground drip irrigation in the vineyard and the filter house houses, as you probably guessed, the filter system for our irrigation. Now when the weather is below freezing, it is unlikely that any pipes will burst!

ICF is great for DIY’ers like us. Not only are they quick and easy to put together, it is fun. They are like big legos and simply snap together, except, these legos are for adults!

The filter house is octagonal and the front sports a door which John made. I had seen this style in some pictures from Italian real estate and wanted to see how it looked – needless to say, I am pleased with the way it turned out!

We mounted a sun dial made from hand-painted ceramic tiles that I purchased in Spain years ago. Finally, it has a home other than a drawer!

We used glass blocks for a window. They provide light inside without having a traditional window.

Pruning the vineyard begins soon, so, the roof and banister of the pavilion (which will be on top of the filter house) will have to wait until later.

I love seeing the progress and the beautiful west Texas sunsets from the pavilion!

ICF Barn Roof Finished!


We are still in the process of finishing the ICF (insulated concrete forms) barn. If you remember, we contracted the concrete floor and put up the ICF walls ourselves. This was no small feat as they are 16 ft high! With everyone working, the walls were up in 2 days and we filled them with concrete on the third! Now that the walls are finished we have been waiting on the contractor to finish the roof – which he has done! The peak of the roof is 23 ft tall and as you can see, it is red. With our flat terrain, it can be seen for miles!

We are now waiting to have blown-in insulation installed in the roof of the barn, as well as, doors – 2 normal walk through doors and 1 large roll-up door wide enough to drive the grape harvester through. Once these are completed, we can begin keeping equipment (harvester, sprayer, tractor and …) in the barn and out of the weather. Oh yeah, we will also be putting EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system) on the outside.

You might wonder what is being done with it until that point – the children are playing street hockey (on roller-blades)  with every spare moment. The younger ones included!

It seems a shame to clutter it up with farm equipment!