I had a call this week from a contractor who wanted to know if there was an easy way to build a two foot jog into a wall. This brought back flashbacks of when I used to attempt to interlock corners thinking the strength of the interlock was going to hold things together during concrete placement.
One of my life lessons came from a time when I worked for a very large cement and concrete company, which in fact was the largest cement producer world wide at the time. This was a major shift for me because I’m a licensed wood guy. What I learned was that in spite of being in the cement and concrete business for generations they were constantly learning. I remember contests to see who could create the highest strength concrete in the shortest time, and I was amazed what they would experiment with to achieve unbelievably high numbers.
New products come to us constantly within this industry, such as concrete that can now be pervious, water proof, self consolidating, high slump etc. The lesson I took with me was that you may have the best way to do things today but they are not sustainable, and if you don’t continue research and development you will be passed by those who do.
When I left my cement/concrete supplier job, I joined a company called Blue Maxx and had the privilege to work along side a legend in the ICF industry. In spite of his reputation, he would constantly tell me that he was not all that good and that his success came from the contractors who were doing the work. Simply put, contractors would tell him of how they build and he would listen. The lesson I took with me from him was that things change and when a contractor has an idea I need to listen because it may be the next great idea.
So how would I do a two foot jog? I have a choice to spend a long time cutting and fitting that corner to look good or spend a short time just creating a common seam and strapping it. Bottom line, the day after concrete placement both methods will look great but the one that takes shorter time is more profitable. I learned this from contractors who are building their ICF jobs from each corner to a center point in the wall and creating a common seam which they strap prior to concrete. Now, If it takes me more than a few minutes to attempt to make block coursing work I will not hesitate to create a common seam if it makes sense for the job.
Remember, at the end of your job you need to make a profit. Work smart, control your man hour rate and you will join the many ICF crews that have become profitable in our industry.