FORT RIPLEY - Neal Lesmeister of Weathershield Homes Inc., in Baxter knew there had to be a better way to make homes made with Insulated Concrete Forms at a lower cost, while at the same time being more environmental friendly.
Five years ago, he found a way. Lesmeister developed Key Footing Forms, of which he has his own patent. Lesmeister used the product over several years, modifying it as he built more homes.
Since the product's development, Lesmeister built about 60 homes in the Brainerd lakes area with help from his two sons, Austin and Nick.
Austin (left) and Nick Lesmeister of Weathershield Homes Inc., in Baxter, recently displayed how they set up Key Footing Forms that were developed by their father, Neal Lesmeister. Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Key Footing Forms is a steel footing system used to set up a home's footings and ICF walls in which the concrete is monolithically poured. Pouring footings and walls at one time eliminates cement delivery and use of a pump truck, Neal Lesmeister said, which means there's less transportation and waste, which saves money and is more environmentally friendly.
Lesmeister said there are no cold joints between the walls and footing with the system, which makes it stronger and of higher quality. He also said there's no wood used in the footing, which saves trees and money.
Austin and Nick Lesmeister, who were finishing up a home in Fort Ripley earlier this week, said Key Footing Forms are much easier to use because the forms are lightweight compared to those used in conventional building and there also are no nails or screws involved. Wedge keys are used to connect the forms.
Austin Lesmeister said the building process also is easier and faster because there are fewer steps involved with Key Footing Forms and it's safer because there are no rebars sticking out of the footings. He said the pyramid-shaped forms make a deeper footing, but use the same amount of concrete, and once the cement is cured, removing the forms and braces is easy and is done in the same time.
"We've put a lot of time and money into this product," Austin Lesmeister said.
Nick Lesmeister said, "There has been a push for more energy conservation and green building and this system does that, plus it costs less."
Austin Lesmeister of Weathershield Homes Inc., in Baxter, recently demonstrated how easy the wedge keys are to use to set up Key Footing Forms that were developed by his father, Neal Lesmeister. Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Neal Lesmeister said Key Footing Forms make greener, stronger, less expensive homes.
"ICF homeowners can expect 50 to 70 percent lower heating bills than the same stick-built home and 40 percent lower air conditioning bills," Neal Lesmeister said. "The biggest savings come if the home is struck by a tornado, fire, earthquake or hurricane, which will leave the home still standing while others are flattened."
Austin Lesmeister said only Weathershield Homes Inc. and another contractor in Brainerd currently are building homes with the Key Footing Forms system, which are manufactured at Clow Stamping and Pequot Tool.
The Lesmeisters are in the process of marketing their product internationally and hope more contractors will begin to use it.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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