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Our Process

We apply our knowledge and experience to create a one-of-a-kind design that fits your lifestyle, budget and building site. 

As a first step, we need to get a good understanding of the home that you are trying to create.  Since each structure is custom designed, we want to know the details of the building site as well as your own personal requirements and expectations.  Using information about your building site specifics (topographic info, views, solar exposure, access, etc.) paired with your spatial requirements, we can establish a size and configuration to best fit your needs.  From there, we will run a complete cost analysis for you.  We will be able to give you the cost for the components that we provide (design and engineering, as well as the structural, water-proofing, and ventilation systems).  We can also provide you with estimates on flat work and Shotcrete for the shell.  We will give you a very good idea of the scope of the project and the associated costs before we start on your set of floorplans. 

Design and Engineering

We will provide you with a custom, complete set of floorplans.  A set of Formworks floorplans includes elevations, foundation, floor framing, structural cross sections, steel framing, electrical and mechanical details.  Plans are priced at around $1.00/sf.  Plans will be reviewed and certified by a structural engineer licensed in the state you will be building in.  Engineering certification fees are determined by location, size and complexity of the project.  An average size home will cost typically around $1,600.00 for the structural engineering.

Example Earth Sheltered Home floor plan

Formworks’ patented building system consists of 4 primary components: Structural Steel, Shotcrete, Water-proofing, and Whole House Ventilation Systems.

  1. Structural System-

    Our system is designed to give the builder confidence in constructing one of the most technologically advanced structures in existence.  The structural skeletal steel is a pre-fabricated, easy to assemble bolt together system that is designed to be erected by any labor crew.  The steel I-Beams control the shape of the structure, the spacing and attachment of the reinforcing steel and provides the primary forming strength.

    Structural System

    The Formworks structural system includes:

    • foundation anchor plates
    • main structural steel beams
    • all nuts and bolts for the steel frame
    • reinforcing steel (rebar) for the shell
    • forming system

    A Formworks structure typically takes the same amount of time to construct as a similar sized conventional building. The building system controls the structural elements and makes building simple, thus faster and less expensive to complete. Every piece of steel is marked for installation. The primary steel is bolted together and lifted into place either by lifts or manually. Once the steel beams have been erected, the rebar is ready to be installed. The outer flange of the steel has rebar receivers already welded into place. This allows the horizontal rebar to simply be placed in the open end of the tab, creating the correct placement and spacing, eliminating any guesswork. Continuing the rebar from tab to tab around the perimeter of the structure creates the frame of the building.

    Once the rebar is in place, a high density foam liner is attached to the interior steel of the structure to serve as both form and backstop for the Shotcrete process. The foam is properly spaced away from the reinforcing steel to allow for proper coverage of concrete, as required by building codes.

  2. Shotcrete-

    Shotcrete is pneumatically placed concrete sprayed under pressure through a hose and delivered through a nozzle. The same process is used to create concrete swimming pools.  The Shotcrete is applied from the exterior, which makes the job common work for any Shotcrete crew.  A well-organized Shotcrete crew is usually in and out in a day or two, depending on the size of the project.

    finished shotcrete

  3. Water-proofing System-

    Formworks multi-component waterproofing system is user friendly and will hold its integrity throughout the lifetime of the structure.  This advanced water-proofing system, developed for the exclusive use with Formworks Building structures, can successfully be applied by the homeowner, laborers, or any contractor with assurance. It is a true water-proofing that is applied directly to the exterior concrete surface.  A drain fabric is installed over the top of the water-proofing material and serves to remove hydrostatic pressure and wick any water directly to the footer drains. The foam material that initially served as the form and back stop for the Shotcrete will now be used over the top of the waterproofing system to provide backfill protection (eliminating the need to bring in a select fill material) and at the same time providing added insulation to the exterior walls. Formworks’ water-proofing system is absolutely the best performing material and application for protection from water intrusion. This system is a multi-component water barrier. If any one step should fail, the system will still hold its integrity. With a structure that is designed to last hundreds of years, it is imperative that the water-proofing system perform correctly for just as long.

    Water proofing applied

  4. Ventilation System-

    Formworks homes and commercial buildings are extremely airtight. A ventilation system is designed into each of our designs. Unlike ordinary systems, the system we use (manufactured by RenewAire) handles both exhaust and fresh airstreams while also moderating temperature extremes and humidity both in summer and winter. The system efficiently and effectively removes excess carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, and other gaseous pollutants, creating greater comfort and healthier living/working conditions.

    A RenewAire ERV ventilation system is based upon a simple principal – bring equal amounts of healthier, fresh air in while exhausting the same amount out, and do this in the best energy efficient manner as possible. This “balanced” approach maintains the building under “neutral” or balanced pressure, avoiding driving humidity into the building in the summer or pulling cold air in during the winter. This equal “in” versus “out” can be accomplished with simple fans.

    The ventilation system transfers both heat and water vapor in or out of the incoming fresh outdoor air, moderating winter/summer temperature and humidity extremes year-round for maximum indoor living comfort. Rather than simply bringing in raw outdoor air, both heat and water vapor from the exhaust air pre-condition the ventilation air using the available energy in the exhaust air leaving the building. During summer, hot/humid ventilation air is pre-conditioned using the relatively cool/dry exhaust air. During winter, ventilation air is pre-heated/humidified using the relatively warmer/wetter exhaust air. This is all accomplished passively.