Author Topic: 1.5 story, balloon framed on 4' of cinderblock...  (Read 3829 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Guest
1.5 story, balloon framed on 4' of cinderblock...
« on: May 19, 2006, 02:28:28 PM »
Hello everyone,

This forum is really great. I've been enjoying reading it and was wondering if anyone would mind commenting on this idea I've got for a small house. I've got some construction experience mainly from involvement in several remodels and a newly constructed garage. One of the remodels was an old post and pier home which was originally built using 8x8s on 2 layers of brick - when we started one corner post was completely missing and the interior floors had 'mounded' up around the chimney from all the 'settling'. I still cant believe we pulled it off, in Portland OR to boot. We built retaining walls in the 6' crawlspace about 4' from the perimeter of the house using cinder block, I guess I got this idea from building those retainers.

Here goes:

- the top of the perimeter footing would be at ground level, 2' to 3' wide, 1' deep (?).
- "L" angled rebar 3' tall, poking up from the finished footing every 3' or so (?).
- 5 or 6 layers of mortared cinder block on footing, threading the rebar through the block cells.
- of course, space for doors cut out of the cinderblock perimeter, all windows above cinder block.
- cells filled with concrete.
- 4" or so thick cob floor over gravel inside perimeter.
- dirt bermed up against outside of cinderblock perimeter for added energy efficiency.
- 20'x30' 1.5 story cottage, balloon framed on top of the cinder block perimeter.

So, standing inside on the cob floor looking at the unfinished exterior walls you would see 3.5' to 4' of cinderblock, then another 4' to 5' of 2x6 stick frame, then the beam and decking of the loft area. Of course, this makes placement of electrical outlets on the main floor a bit more difficult. Is there any loss of structural integrity with the earth bermed block? Any other concerns about the earth bermed block idea?

I like the look and idea of a cob floor and I'm thinking it will be much more cost effective than a slab. I'm not sure about connecting the interior non-load-bearing walls to the cob floor, perhaps I would need more concrete footings for those?

I'm thinking with the extra height from the cinderblock, I could still use 8' to 9' studwalls with the loft floor about halfway up them (I think I'm understanding balloon framing correctly), adding more headroom in the loft.

My wife and I have a dream of moving to the country and homesteading, so we've been kicking around shelter ideas, everything from yurts to Mike Oehler's ideas to more conventional buildings. We will be doing the whole project ourselves with help from family and we will need to keep the cost pretty low.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


  • Guest
Re: 1.5 story, balloon framed on 4' of cinderblock
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2006, 04:11:54 PM »
I'm originally from Oregon, so am a bit familiar with some of the conditions you will have there.  I think what you want to do is possible.  If you are in a permit required area, then this type of building would probably require engineering being a bit unconventional.  You would want to be sure your drainage was good especially if in the wetter areas of Oregon -

In a permit required area, extra engineering etc. could cost more than easily approved stick building.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2006, 04:13:47 PM by glenn-k »


  • Guest
Re: 1.5 story, balloon framed on 4' of cinderblock
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2006, 04:30:55 PM »
Thanks for the reply, Glenn.

We're back in our native land of North Idaho now, currently a county with somewhat severe permit requirements, but when we make the move it will either be a little north or a little south out of the county, either way the permits will be minimal to none (at least part of North Idaho is still North Idaho, some of it in some ways is beginning to feel like Southern California North Idaho :)

I don't know much about drainage as of yet, I was thinking that raingutters and grass planted on the berms would help with that, but like I said, I don't know much about drainage yet. We'll definitely confirm our method when we get to that point.

I just gotta say, we're pretty dang excited about this whole endeavor.


  • Guest
Re: 1.5 story, balloon framed on 4' of cinderblock
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2006, 04:40:41 PM »
Northern Idaho is Mike Oehler country.

Keep in mind that water heads down and horizontal as it does. If your floor is low without something done to be sure the water goes elswhere, you will get wet feet. :-/  Keep us posted on your project.


  • Guest
Re: 1.5 story, balloon framed on 4' of cinderblock
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2006, 06:05:53 PM »
Plenty of historic cob cottages and barns in England had stem walls going up out of the ground four feet and more.

Although mixed concrete block construction in this country would tend to have each story made of one material.

I think I like earthen floors.  I tried embedding one of those "looks just like cast iron (no it doesn't), but it's really rubber" mats in a couple of wear areas.  No idea if it really works.  But it does look cool.


  • Guest
Re: 1.5 story, balloon framed on 4' of cinderblock
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2006, 06:12:15 PM »
I don't think we have ever broken a dropped glass or plate on our soil cement floor in the kitchen.  They just kind of bounce but don't break -- enough cushion there I guess - doesn't seem like we'd always be lucky.


  • Guest
Re: 1.5 story, balloon framed on 4' of cinderblock
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2006, 08:13:20 PM »
In rural Georgia I once built a shop-garage similar to your scheme.  4' of concrete block, 4' feet of stick-framed wall.  There was no berming.  The block "half-wall" met my concern for small brush fires and termites.   There was a man-door and double barn doors.  Windows fit nicely in the framed half-wall.  I did not use balloon framing, but now think that would have been a good idea.  Heat was not needed where I built, but the mixed-constuction wall might present a challenge in insulation design ... if heat is needed.

I no longer own the property, but know that the building is still in use.


Templates: 5: index (default), Ads (default), Portal (default), Display (default), GenericControls (default).
Sub templates: 12: init, html_above, adsheaders_above, body_above, adsindex_above, portal_above, main, portal_below, adsindex_below, body_below, adsheaders_below, html_below.
Language files: 3: SPortal.english (default), index+Modifications.english (default), Ads.english (default).
Style sheets: 1: portal (default).
Files included: 37 - 1132KB. (show)
Cache hits: 13: 0.00171s for 40,839 bytes (show)
Queries used: 27.

[Show Queries]