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21 Concrete Monthly 24 Builder + Business Directory

Cover photo courtesy Corgan. Photography by Charles Davis Smith, AIA.

See page 21

From my perspective Vol. 19, No. 1 President/Editor In Chief Gary L. Pittman Associate Publisher in Charge of Sales and Planning Brona Stockton

In our first issue of the new year, it’s the time to look ahead and consider the influences shaping our industry in the coming year and beyond. As you read, “2016 Outlook: Trends to Watch,” please think about sending me your own ideas about the innovative solutions you see at work reshaping our industry. We congratulate the Portland Cement Association (PCA) on a century of success. A brief but interesting history of the association begins on page 11. The historic ads evidence how long PCA has invested in promoting the uses of concrete and cement. In “Reviewing Lessons Learned in Schools,” ICF distributor and trainer, Cameron Ware explains the reasons behind the rapid adoption of ICF construction for school design and construction. He has provided technical support for more than 60 schools in Texas. The entry to Independence High School in Frisco, Texas, is featured on the cover. We have included a case study of the massive 344,847-square-foot main building. Our popular custom home feature takes readers to Salt Lake City, Utah, to see a 7,000-square-foot ICF home built specifically to withstand earthquakes. Dan McCullough of McCullough Construction explains how the home has been designed for stormresistance and includes a bonus safe room. As a successful residential builder and ICF distributor, Dan shares his experience in meeting the demands of high-end homeowners. We publish articles on the many types of projects our readers are designing and constructing with concrete – from single family homes to public, commercial and even multifamily residential low-rise buildings. We also cover new developments in methods and materials that address current market realities that, in addition to green materials, demand improved building energy performance and resilience. If you have an interesting story to share, please contact us. We welcome stories written by industry experts, and we typically assign a writer for the custom home feature. Of course, high-resolution photography is a requirement for printing. Please contact me with information or ideas for consideration.

Sherry A. Boyd Managing Editor


Concrete Homes • February 2015

Managing Editor Sherry A. Boyd (303) 476-1336

Contributing Writers Sherry A. Boyd James G. Toscas Kelly Stokes Cameron Ware Contributing Photographers Dan McCullough Charles Davis Smith Mark Trew Art Director Lisa Gouveia Advertising Executive Gary Pittman, Jr. (512) 637-0373 Circulation/Accounting Manager Beth Chorba (512) 637-0344 Web and Network Manager Joel Nosal PUBLISHED BY Publications and Communications, Inc. 13552 Highway 183 N, Suite A Austin, TX 78750 phone (512) 250-9023 fax (512) 331-3950

Concrete Homes + Low-Rise Construction (ISSN 152-5547) is published bimonthly by P ublications & Communications, LP., Gary L. ­ Pittman, President. Subscriptions are available for $22 per year, single copy price $4.95. Foreign subscriptions are available for $45 per year. Payment must accompany orders. Copyright 2015 by Publications & Communications, LP. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form without written consent from the publisher is strictly prohibited. The technical content and opinions in this publication are those of the relevant contributors or advertisers and are not attributable to the publisher, staff, writers, sponsors, sales department or other advertisers. Postmaster: Send change of address to Circulation Dept., 13552 Highway 183 N, Suite A, Austin, TX 78750 (512) 250-9023.

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Concrete Homes • February 2016


Independence High School auditorium in Frisco, Texas.

By Cameron Ware


TYPICAL PARENT WANTS TO SEND THEIR CHILD TO A SCHOOL THAT OFFERS A SAFE ENVIRONMENT AND PROVIDES AN ACADEMIC ADVANTAGE. IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT FAMILIES SEEKING TO RELOCATE ARE LOOKING FOR NEIGHBORHOODS WITH THESE SCHOOLS. To meet this demand, school districts want to provide safer than the norm schools and man them with the best teachers. Consequently, architects seeking to win school design work are improving their offering by designing safer and more energy efficient schools. Ultimately, to the school district, energy efficiency means cost savings and new dollars that they can earmark to hire better teachers. Architects and engineers are challenged with a plethora of design scenarios to choose among and must carefully analyze data representing many choices and options. Architect Kenneth Taft says, “When an architect evaluates material and construction analysis it’s difficult not to conclude that Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) is superior in all of the most important criteria.” This is a big claim so let’s break it down a bit as it applies to ICF: ENERGY EFFICIENCY As green technology advances, designers are incorporating better windows and doors, geothermal heating and cooling, stronger and more efficient wall and roof systems as well as a multitude of other green products. Just a few years ago, they were skeptical of the ICF value proposition but surprisingly, the

incorporation of ICF has provided better than expected energy efficiency results. Why are ICFs performing better than expected? Architects and engineers have historically assigned a relatively low value of about 16% to heat gain and loss associated with walls. Understandably, it was assumed that walls could never contribute more than this value to the envelope. However, huge advances and improvements in roof design, air infiltration, reflective barriers, and better windows and doors have moved attention to the walls. Basically, the status quo thermally weak school wall design is a problem. Walls, in effect have become the weakest link in the chain since they previously have not received much in the way of technological advancement. This evidence is documented by significant differences in the energy performance of ICF schools over schools constructed using other wall technologies such as insulated steel and masonry block (CMU). Actual energy consumed per square foot per year (kBTU) clearly shows ICF schools performing better than schools built with other systems. For example, ONCOR’s energy report shows Burleson ISD as the top performing school district. February 2016 • Concrete Homes


low rise

CLEAResult is under contract with ONCOR to implement the Educational Facilities Program

Furthermore, ONCOR’s energy report shows Academy at Nola Dunn, which is built out of ICF, as the top performing school in Burleson ISD and by a significant margin. Burleson ISD Energy Benchmarking Report

Correlation with EPA Portfolio Manager Ratings EPA Portfolio Manager ranks schools on an energy performance scale of 1 to 100. As a main input to EPA Portfolio Manager, a school’s energy consumption (particularly electric use) is often inversely related to its energy performance rating. The following chart shows your schools’ energy use broken out into red and blue bars, which reflect the portions attributable to electricity & natural gas, respectively. The black bars follow your schools’ EPA Portfolio Manager Ratings. Schools with higher electric use will tend to have lower EPA Portfolio Manager Ratings.

The ICF building envelope of the two-story Independence High School was erected in a record 21 weeks. Photography by Charles Davis Smith, AIA.

CLEAResult is under contract with Oncor to implement the Educational Facilities Program


Ken Siebert with CMTA Engineers has built a number of net-zero buildings across the United States. He says “Any building can be net zero, you just have to add a whole lot of solar photovoltaic cells that generate electricity.” He points out, however, that the cost of solar panels almost always makes this approach cost-prohibitive. “Our primary focus has always been to reduce energy usage first. When we finally have that energy usage down to our goal, then we evaluate how to best produce the energy needed for the building.” Despite the data, many architects still focus first on what appears to be the more obvious side of green design like solar panels or wind before exhausting improvements to the envelope. This makes about as much sense as adding a solar powered bilge pump to a boat without first fixing the leaks! Others having done more in depth research such as Cliff Holden, Construction Manager for Burleson ISD in Texas says “Given our experience and database of lessons learned we concluded that the best green dollar spent is the one you don’t spend. For example, it is possible to increase the cost of 6

Concrete Homes • February 2016

the school significantly by going for the “sexy” green flash of solar or wind. We will be reviewing these technologies carefully for future consideration. However, we have concluded that the least expensive way to save energy is to focus on the envelope first. We will work our way into solar as we learn more.” SAFETY The strength and weight of monolithic concrete is approximately twice that of CMU. And, if an architect wants a CMU wall with a strength similar to ICF, he may add perimeter rediron columns to make the wall stronger to support lateral loads and roof trusses. When an architect or engineer adds steel to a conventional design in order to approach the ICF strength costs go up significantly and the ICF solution is usually less expensive. Pat Callahan of Callahan Engineering states: “It is an engineer’s dream to have all exterior walls act like shear walls – you have an incredibly inherent lateral load resistant system and it’s just part of the exterior walls” Similarly, should an engineer need a UL Listed 4-hour fire rating, he can use ICF or he can jump through hoops attempting to bring another wall system up to that level. SPEED OF CONSTRUCTION The urgency for rapid construction coming from the school district trickles down to the general contractor. Many general


The Academy at Nola Dunn is the largest of four new two-story schools in the Burleson Independent School District, yet continues to operate with energy costs of $17,000 less than the other schools. Photography by Mark Trew.

contractors are concerned about the speed of construction and the impact on other trades. Depending on the skill of your ICF installation crew, history shows ICF can be considerably faster compared to CMU construction. You can observe this phenomenon by going to the internet and reviewing some of the time-lapse data available. Ken Taft adds, “In many cases the ICF is your envelope, structure and wall insulation, ready for exterior materials and in some cases, ready for external finishes, even before your roof is finished. This results in reduced trades and time saved.” COMPARING METHODS In Texas, Cecil Cypert, Director of Construction Services for Frisco ISD was on a quest to improve the constructability and energy efficiency of Frisco ISD schools. In coordination with the architectural firm of Corgan, he and his team utilized infrared technology to test the thermal performance of multiple wall systems in the DFW area. The team visited a number of schools employing different wall technologies including two Texas ICF schools, Academy at Nola Dunn in Burleson and Young Elementary School in Decatur. Frisco’s infra-red study concluded that schools constructed with ICF technology significantly outperformed all other wall systems. The test revealed that walls constructed out of steel even, with values exceeding R-30, did not come close to the performance of ICF walls due to the conductive heat flow and heat loss through the steel red-iron and studs in the walls. Likewise, the infra-red tests found that ICF wall performance significantly exceeded walls employing masonry CMU in their design.

Corgan designed the first ICF High School in Texas and Lee Lewis Construction constructed the school in Frisco, Texas with Skinner Masonry in the role of ICF installer. Frisco ISD has gone on to design over a dozen schools using ICF technology for construction. ICF SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION GROWTH The strength, safety and speed of construction of ICF coupled with the synergies of improvements in other areas have resulted in Texas ICF school construction emerging from the completion of just a single school seven years ago to over 70 today. Some of your forward thinking school districts and architects are designing and building only with ICF technology and momentum is growing as data from new schools has produced indisputable evidence that ICF schools are among the safest and most energy efficient schools in Texas. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Cameron Ware of Futurestone LLC provided technical support for more than 60 Texas schools built using Nudura ICF. Futurestone offers a variety of training and continuing education classes for NUDURA Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) construction throughout Texas. If you are interested in finding out more about training opportunities please contact Cameron via to register or request more information.

February 2016 • Concrete Homes


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The classic two-story school building design reflects the traditional values of the city of Frisco and Frisco Independent School District. Opened in 2014, the 344,847-square-foot main building of Independence High School includes 60 classrooms, 14 science labs, seven computer labs, library, cafeteria, auditorium, competition gym, practice gym and locker rooms. The Dallas architectural office of Corgan first started investigating ICF construction at the request of Frisco Independent School District. They had come across the product and saw it as an efficient envelope system that conformed to their ideas of energy-efficient design. Brett Sumrow, Associate Principal reported: Frisco ISD implemented geothermal heating and cooling in 2011, well before it was popular in this area. ICF presented another step towards operating efficient buildings with lower energy costs. We researched ICF systems for more than a year, looking at case studies and speaking to product representatives and contractors who were experienced in the installation of the system. We wanted to make sure we fully understood how to properly detail the ICF, the correct way for the contractor to install the ICF, the performance expectations and the cost implications of the system compared to a conventional steel frame system. Our research overlapped the design of Independence High School, which began in 2011, causing us to design two structural and envelope systems simultaneously through design development until we and our client were comfortable utilizing ICF on their new high school. The construction manager on the project constructed a mockup of the two-story building in order to review the construction with our engineers, testing lab, consultants and subcontractors. Since this was our first experi8

Concrete Homes • February 2016

ence with this relatively new system in the education market we wanted to make sure our details would perform as intended before we implemented them on the building. The ICF walls of Independence High School form the exterior envelope. ICF walls were also used at the demising walls between the three music rehearsal halls to prevent sound travelling between the spaces, especially the low frequencies. This is the only location where we used them on the interior of the school. The ICF system exceeded our expectations, allowing the building envelope to be installed quickly, within 21 weeks, benefitting the overall project schedule. During the summer, even on 100-degree days with no air conditioning operating in the building yet, it was noticeably cooler in the interior spaces. Independence High School was completed in 2014, after 24 months of construction. The district is still collecting operational data on the building as the enrollment grows to capacity. Early indications are that the highly energy efficient system is performing as predicted. The water source heat pump units are running about 40% less than those of a non-ICF high school in the same district. The temperature increase at night when the system is off during the warm months is almost half of the non-ICF schools. Since Independence High School, we have designed ten other ICF school facilities. It is an option we discuss on our new projects, even if the ultimate decision is not to implement the system. The efficiency of ICF has caused us to look at other areas of the envelope to increase the energy efficiency of those components so as to take full advantage of the energy efficiency the ICF envelope offers.

lowrise ABOUT CORGAN Corgan is a leading architecture and design firm with offices in New York, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Beijing and Dubai. Corgan completed its first education project in 1953. Currently, a team of architects and interior designers focus on K-12 facilities and how changes in educational philosophy impact school design. Corgan has completed eight ICF schools in Texas and has four more in design and documentation. For more information, visit Independence High School photography courtesy of Corgan. Photography by Charles Davis Smith, AIA.

PROJECT TEAM PROJECT ARCHITECT/ MANAGER: Brett Sumrow, Associate Principal, Corgan GENERAL CONTRACTOR INFORMATION: Lee Lewis Construction, Inc., Dallas, Texas ICF INSTALLER: Skinner Masonry ICF SUPPLIER & CONSULTANT: Cameron Ware, Futurestone, Nudura Integrated Building Technology Supplier CIVIL ENGINEERS: RLK Engineering STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS: L.A. Fuess Partners, Inc. ROOFING: Armko Industries LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Ramsey Landscape Architecture

February 2016 • Concrete Homes


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February 2016 • Concrete Homes


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“The promotion and sale of our product means a constant yearly addition to the permanent wealth of the community. In other words, cement is used, not consumed.” —Ben F. Affleck, president of Atlas Universal Cement and first chairman of PCA from 1916-1920, speaking at the Association’s 1921 annual meeting

By James G. Toscas


Ben F. Affleck

A century ago, in 1916, the leadership of the then-fledgling US cement industry formed the Portland Cement Association “to raise the standard of concrete construction, to improve the quality of concrete work, to increase the quantity of cement used in established fields, and to develop new fields.” Through all of the changes in technology and society over the last 100 years, PCA’s original charter still stands – like many of the concrete roads, buildings, and other structures that were built over the past century and are still in active use. Many people know that the ancient Romans used concrete quite extensively. Most people don’t know, however, that concrete actually traces its roots to the beginnings of civilization. The earliest evidence for the use of concrete dates back 7,000 years, when a simple cement-based mortar was used to surface stone floors in houses. A concrete structure provides a durable, long-lasting asset, allowing each generation to build upon, rather than rebuild, the work of the previous generation. Without a durable, easily workable material that could be made from local raw materials, the transition from nomadic life to civilization would not have happened. For this reason, some contend that civilization traces its roots to concrete! Over the centuries, concrete has evolved into a complex, high-tech material. However, its fundamental benefits – particularly strength, durability, and resilience – are valued today more than ever. EARLY YEARS By the mid 1700s the volcanic ash-based cements used by the Romans yielded to other natural cements, particularly in France and England. The precursor to modern portland cement was invented by English bricklayer Joseph Aspdin in the 1820s. Aspdin pulverized limestone and clay, burned the mixture to form pebblesized lumps called clinker, then ground the clinker into powder. To make the process faster and easier, Aspdin reportedly used limestone from local roads that had already been pulverized by traffic—and was fined for stealing the limestone! The perseverance paid off, and on October 21, 1824, King George IV granted Aspdin the first patent on portland cement – so called because concrete made with it resembled a popular stone mined on the Isle of Portland.


Concrete Homes • February 2016

industr y news In 1872, David O. Saylor built the first portland cement plant in the US, near Allentown in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Others soon followed, and by the turn of the twentieth century cement was emerging as a construction staple. This increasing popularity brought about a serious problem. At that time cement was sold in cloth sacks. Buyers paid a deposit on each sack, which was refunded upon return of the sack to the plant for re-use. But return of sacks for refilling was slow and erratic, and they were often in poor condition. Sacks were often stolen from construction sites and cashed in for deposits. Railroads complained of poor packaging and labeling. B.F. Stradley of Vulcanite Portland Cement Company wrote to cement company executives calling for a meeting to discuss “the present methods of handling sacks, which are almost universally unsatisfactory” and proposed that an industry group be formed to facilitate the collection, repair, and recycling of cement sacks. Accordingly, in 1902 cement makers formed the Association of American Portland Cement Manufacturers (AAPCM). As the industry continued to expand, there were needs for reliable technical information, research, and uniform test methods and standards. In 1916 the AAPCM was reorganized as the Portland Cement Association to address these needs. THE IMPACT OF PCA The new association began operations with 53 cement company members, a headquarters office in Chicago, eight district offices, and a total of 121 employees. Promotion and government affairs were priorities right from the start. The year of PCA’s founding was also the year that Congress passed the first federal-aid highway act, setting into motion a network of national highways. PCA marketed concrete roads aggressively with an advertising campaign in 10 national weeklies, 23 trade magazines, and 59 farm journals. These early ads stressed the value of paved roads for the distribution of food and other products, including the idea that concrete roads provided better fuel economy. “Concrete for Permanence” became a slogan that would endure through the 1950s. In 1925, PCA formed a Central Road Bureau staffed with field promoters – a staff of 125 for the Road Bureau alone, most of which were field engineers. Their strategy was to increase public demand for concrete pavement with “seedling miles,” whereby local officials were encouraged to build onemile test stretches of concrete on previously unpaved roads. When farmers and motorists rode on a concrete test strip, they recognized its benefits and would pressure their legislators to fund additional miles. In 1956, the Federal Aid Highway Act ushered in the Age of the Interstate. PCA launched an ad campaign that took the benefits of “New-Type Concrete” directly to consumers with a parade of celebrity pitchmen. Bob Hope, Robert Young, Art Linkletter, Sam Snead... the list read like a late-1950s who’s-


February 2016 • Concrete Homes


industr y news who of actors, sports figures, and television personalities who trumpeted “new type” concrete for the “Sweetest Ride Yet.” Beyond its importance for transportation and economic development, the Interstate Highway System became an integral part of American life and culture because of the mobility it fostered. Housing emerged as priority as well. Appearing in Time magazine and other leading publications of the day, PCA consumer ads in the 1930s and beyond targeted single-family housing. Messages were built around benefits such as fire safety, security, and durability. In the 1960s, PCA teamed up with several allied industry groups to jointly sponsor the Concrete Industries Horizon Homes program in cooperation with the National Association of Home Builders. Each year one national award and seven regional awards were given to builders whose entries showed the best merchandising and design efforts. The top national award prize was a trip for two to any destination in the world. Throughout the decades, PCA’s market development was based on solid research and technology. Promotion messages were backed by PCA’s reputation for knowledge and expertise. PCA TODAY How has PCA changed since those early days? In some ways, it hasn’t. Promotion and advocacy remain top priorities, backed by undisputed leadership in research and technology. The overall size of the organization has decreased, particularly as other more specialized associations have been formed to focus upon individual concrete product types and systems and testing standards. However, PCA remains a major center of knowledge and expertise – one of the world’s most comprehensive information resources for cement technology and concrete construction. PCA still provides leadership for the entire concrete industry in advocating legislation in support of safe and sustainable infrastructure, as well as a highly effective regulatory affairs program to address issues facing cement manufacturers. With its 100-year reputation for technical expertise, PCA has the standing to open doors to the government, to the public, and to the marketplace in the interest of safe, durable, and sustainable construction. ABOUT PCA
 Representing America’s cement manufacturers, PCA is a vocal advocate for sustainability, economic growth, sound infrastructure investment and overall innovation and excellence in construction. James G. Toscas is the President & CEO of the Portland Cement Association.

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Concrete Homes • February 2016

BUILDING A SPACIOUS, SAFE & SECURE SALT LAKE ICF HOME Text by Kelly Stokes • Photography by Dan McCullough

THIS 7,000-SQUARE-FOOT ICF HOME BOASTS VAULTED CEILINGS, A BRICK EXTERIOR, AND CUSTOM WOOD INTERIOR DETAILING, BUT ITS HIDDEN FEATURES ARE WHAT MAKE IT EXCEPTIONAL. EVERY DETAIL WAS CONSIDERED TO PROVIDE PEACE OF MIND, INCLUDING A STATE-OF-THE-ART SECURITY SYSTEM AND A HIDDEN SAFE ROOM. Debbie and Mark Ostler had built their previous home from ICF and loved it, so when they decided to build a new home they sought out Dan McCullough of Utah ICF to realize their dream. “We loved our previous home built with the concrete walls and fantastic insulation and wanted our new home to be the same,” says Debbie. “We found our home was warmer in the winters and cooler in the summers. Our home is also quieter than a normal home and when the wind blows we can never tell it is stormy outside.” Their new five-bedroom, five-bathroom home has a cozy feeling of quality throughout the interior, featuring hardwood floors, solid wood doors, custom cabinetry and paneling. The 13-inch walls create deep window ledges, which are wrapped in a dark walnut wood and covered in wood blinds. Window bays provide light and architectural interest as well as extra stability for the walls. Specialty painters were brought in to disguise metal furnace doors to look like hardwood. Special attention was paid to waterproofing and quality materials were chosen for every part of the home.

The project began as two stories, but a third level was added during construction by utilizing the space between the trusses. All exterior walls are LOGIX ICF, an 8-inch core of concrete surrounded by an additional 5.5 inches of insulating foam. Sierra Pacific triple-pane windows with argon gas and a UV layer are very energy efficient to complement the inherent efficiency of the ICF. The home boasts an alarm system and video cameras that the homeowners can access from anywhere in the world, and they have the ability to add smart home features such as lighting and temperature control down the road. When a small tornado knocked down a partially-built ICF wall during construction, it took less than a day to rebuild and get back on schedule, thanks to the ease of the ICF process. A FREAK TORNADO ICF is often used in tornado and hurricane-prone regions because of concrete’s inherent structural stability. Many ICF homes are still standing after terrible storms have devastated their neighborhoods. Utah is not known for tornadoes, but February 2016 • Concrete Homes


custom home

left: During construction, a tornado knocked down part of a wall before the concrete was poured, but the construction was returned to proper order in less than one day. The ICF walls were braced and secured with the Reechcraft alignment systems. right: LOGIX ICF gable ends were cut to match the trusses, providing insulation for the attic living spaces.

when a small one visited this home during construction, it showed just how well ICF performs even before the concrete truck has arrived. After the foam blocks had been installed but before concrete had been poured, the construction site was hit with a small tornado, what McCullough calls a “freak occurrence in Utah.” “We think about ICF as impervious to weather,” he explains, “but there’s a vulnerable point in a high wind situation where you have a lot of lightweight foam that has a high surface area.” The tornado struck at exactly this vulnerable moment. One wall was blown out and down, tearing the bracing away from the floor and ripping the rebar out of the blocks.

“When you have a two or three story home with a full span roof you have to make sure that in an earthquake the roof isn’t damaged and the walls support the roof.” The tornado damaged several other homes being built in the neighborhood, causing massive damage to construction materials and disrupting their schedules by days and weeks. By contrast, McCullough says, “we didn’t have more than three or four broken blocks and we were able to reuse all that material. We had it back up and ready to go in under a day.” “They say that building with wood is faster and cheaper,” McCullough continues. “Well, not in our case. It destroyed our house just as it destroyed the others but when it ripped the walls off the other homes you had particle board and OSB and 2x4’s cracked and ripped and shredded. Even though we were affected by the storm, we were able to recover far faster and there was no loss. The homeowner did not have to pay one penny or submit a claim to insurance as a result of the damage.” With the block walls quickly restored, the pour went ahead as planned and any fears of a tornado damaging this home 16

Concrete Homes • February 2016

vanished. “In an ICF home the whole house is weatherproof,” says McCullough. “You don’t have to worry about wood pieces flying around at 80 or 90 miles per hour and coming in through the wall. You don’t have to have a special room to go into during a storm because, with the exception of the roof, the whole house is a weatherproof room.” The roof is the weakest part of an ICF home because of the changing forces and pressures on the roof structure. “The roof can be ripped off,” admits McCullough, “but the occupants of an ICF home will be exponentially safer than they would be in a wood structure.” And, as this project demonstrated, the construction schedule and budget for an ICF home are safer from tornadoes too. ENGINEERED FOR EARTHQUAKE COUNTRY The Ostler’s home is in an area of Utah with a lot of seismic activity, so structural stability was paramount. “When you have a two or three story home with a full span roof you have to make sure that in an earthquake the roof isn’t damaged and the walls support the roof,” explains McCullough. “Usually you have perpendicular walls, which help strengthen the roof. We didn’t have any of that.” Twenty-four-foot-high walls with a 47-foot interior span and a high roof pitch created a beautiful, spacious home and a need to reinforce the walls for structural stability. “The first thing we did was use ICF walls; concrete walls can carry a lot more share than a framed wall,” says McCullough. Window bays that extend out three feet at a 45-degree angle and span eight feet create additional support. “Even though the bays are all windows, we were able to reinforce them in the pour to give us the share that we needed to carry all of those loads and high elevations,” he explains. The walls have to resist the force of the trusses pushing outward, so to create extra strength McCullough added reinforcement to the ICF, acting as a buttress within the walls. “I ran parallel horizontal bars an inch in from the side of each

custom home

After the main home was completed, a detached garage was added to house an RV. The homeowner considers it an asset for resale value.

wall. I ran the bars all the way across the top three rows of ICF, creating a horizontal beam, preventing the wall from bowing,” he says. The location and orientation of the rebar are crucial to the strength of the concrete. MAKING THE ATTIC SAFE AND SOUND A last minute decision to turn attic space into living areas required retrofitting roof trusses but offered unexpected functionality for the family. “We had a normal two story house planned but I asked Dan if we could use the space in the attic area,” says Mark Ostler. “Dan took this idea and created an entire third level. We now have a safe room, a large bedroom, two children’s play rooms, a common space and our theatre room. This additional third floor has added a lot of extra space and functionality to our home.” The home theater occupies the central space between the trusses and features wood paneling and leather chairs. When they realized they had a space that no one would know was there, they turned it into a safe room by hiding the entrance in another room. The Ostlers call it their “Narnia room,” as you access it by pressing a secret panel that opens the hidden, spring-loaded door. “The cabinetry with the hidden access is a piece of art,” marvels McCullough. “The craftsmanship is really nice.” It adds a touch of whimsy for the grandkids as well as a security feature should the need ever arise. The room has ICF walls for security and soundproofing, food storage and hidden outside access for safe escape. To fit rooms into the attic space, the trusses had to be retrofitted to create open spaces while maintaining their strength. Usually this type of space is planned in advance and the trusses are built to the purpose. “When it’s after the fact,” McCullough explains, “I have to go back to the engineers and they tell us how to add and subtract gussets to different areas

to redistribute the load. You have to redesign it so that not one member of the truss is carrying too much load and you’ve got the same support for carrying your shingles and snow load.” With the trusses redesigned and the rooms allotted, the next task was to make the normally hot attic space comfortable. “We had all this thermal mass and insulation value from the ICF walls all the way up,” says McCullough. All that was left was to insulate the roof. “We put the sheetrock on and then sprayed 4 to 6 inches of urethane foam all around those walls,” he explains. “We don’t have the thermal mass like we do with ICF but we have the same or higher R-value and made it very airtight.” Instead of the more typical batting or blown cellulose, urethane foam was chosen to mimic the ICF walls’ ability to prevent convective heat transfer. BLENDING INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD Having built an ICF home before, the Ostlers knew what to expect. Their neighbors, however, were surprised by the beauty of the finished project after seeing what they refer to as “the Lego house” under construction. “One lady was quite concerned that our home would not fit into the neighborhood and would not look like a regular house,” remembers Debbie Ostler. “Fortunately, Dan McCullough was an expert with building and the process it takes to build a home out of concrete.” One of the most noticeable features of the exterior, brick that wraps around the home and reaches 37-foot heights in some areas, was an afterthought that McCullough accommodated by attaching a brick ledge. “I came in off the footings and laid a 4-inch concrete block ledger to get up above the frost line,” he explains. “We grouted it and then put ties on it attaching it to the ICF ties so that it’s not going anywhere. We covered that up with fiberglass mesh with a modified mortar coating and then February 2016 • Concrete Homes


custom home applied foundation plaster to give it a cement look so you won’t see cracks between the blocks in future years. It will look like a regular foundation.” Extra measures to waterproof the home were very important to the Ostlers, but are not visible in the finished home. “When our previous home was built with ICF we did not do a good job to create a drainage system to take rain and snow runoff away from the house and we had a few leaks in the basement while we lived there,” explains Debbie Ostler. “I mentioned this to Dan when we started building and he had already taken care of this problem. When Dan builds ICF homes he creates a drainage system around the foundation and fills it with gravel to make sure the runoff water has a place to go other than in the basement. He coats the ICF foundation walls with a waterproofing material to ensure the inside of the house will stay dry.” In addition to runoff protection, McCullough caulked every window and exterior opening with silicone. “I didn’t damp proof this home,” he says, “I waterproofed it.” So that the waterproofing didn’t interfere with the finished look of the home, McCullough used foam filler to give the exterior a unified look. “When you drive down the street, the house doesn’t stand out as being built differently,” he says with satisfaction. Debbie Ostler says that, in addition to not having any troubles with water, their friends and neighbors “are very impressed with their home’s beauty and normalcy, as well as the quietness inside.” PERFECTLY PLANNED Every detail of the Ostler’s home was carefully planned before construction began, allowing normally time-intensive processes to come off without a hitch and for last-minute changes to be accommodated without a problem, like the third floor rooms and brick cladding. “With concrete you don’t have the option of being haphazard,” explains McCullough. “We planned every hole for every air vent, every faucet, every beam pocket.” The ease of installation for the steel-framed back deck is an example of how ICF makes construction easier. The Ostlers requested a steel frame for their deck so McCullough ordered the beams and poured footings using the pattern provided. “On the plan it says the frame will attach to the wall in a certain location, so we went off the ICF block and went over to the specified location and put the attachments there.” When the frame arrived, it fit perfectly, without any need to cut the bolts or cut and reweld any attachment plates, as is common with wood frame construction. The ICF walls don’t expand or contract. Another advantage to this type of planned construction is minimized waste, also an important part of green building certifications. This project produced less than a pickup truck’s worth of scrap because the house was designed according to LOGIX’s preferred dimensions to maximize the use of the ICF blocks. “If you manage your cuts correctly, you’ll use each piece,” explains McCullough. “You develop a sense of where 18

Concrete Homes • February 2016

each piece is going to go so when you cut a block you know exactly where to take the leftover piece.” McCullough credits the predictability of ICF. He says there’s a sense of pride “when you plan and you execute the plan and everything comes together perfectly. As a contractor, it’s nice not to have to make excuses about why something didn’t work. Everything was planned with great attention to detail,” says McCullough; “craftsmen built this house, not laborers.” With all the careful planning and construction complete, Debbie and Mark Ostler are happily enjoying their new home. “We love our home inside and out,” says Debbie. “It is beautiful and fits into the neighborhood. We feel very secure and love the peace and quiet that comes from the thick solid walls.”

Kelly Stokes is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. You can reach her at

PROJECT TEAM: General Contractor: McCullough Construction Inc. Architect: Bearden Home Design Engineer: Anna Jones Engineering Masonry: Rob Allen Masonry ICF Distributor & Installer: Utah ICF

product news

BuildBuck cutaway

NEW BUILDSHIELD TERMITE & FIRE STOP PROTECTION BuildShield combines an extruded vinyl membrane and with an adhesive stainless steel material to form an impenetrable barrier to termites and also a terminal cap that prevents flames from reaching beyond the top of an ICF wall. The one product uses the same materials applied slightly differently in different areas of an ICF wall. “We initially created a cost effective solution for termites in an ICF wall.” says Mike Garrett, BuildBlock CEO, “While working on another product related to fire protection, we took a closer look at other uses for the materials used in BuildShield. The stainless steel combined with the plastic track that extends from the concrete core to the exterior finish should also prevent flames and hot gasses from melting EPS foam and creating a chimney effect into the attic or roof systems in prolonged fire situations. EPS foam is hard to keep burning and contains a fire retardant already, this just adds another measure of protection.” The BuildShield extrusion combined with the stainless steel creates physical barrier to flames, hot gasses, and sparks as well as an impenetrable barrier to termites preventing the insects from gaining entry to a building. The fire protection comes from the stainless steel material which has a melting point of 1535°C. The PVC track ensures a form fit to the ICF block outward to the finish which greatly reduces the chances of penetration by hot gasses or fire. Together they create an attractive, quick to install, and costeffective barrier adding additional protection to ICFs in termite and fire prone areas.

NEW BUILDBUCK ICF DOOR & WINDOW BUCKING BuildBuck for use in a BuildBlock ICF project is the longest EPS ICF buck on the market at 52-inches (132mm) and is designed to create a 4040 (4-ft x 4-ft) rough opening without any cutting. It is available in 11-inch and 13-inch widths for 6-inch and 8-inch BuildBlock, BuildLock and 6-inch GlobalBlock products. It integrates features such as the standard numbering system and marked cut-lines to make measuring and cutting the buck simple. An integrated foam rebar holder provides a superior, always-ready attachment for vertical rebar around all window and door openings. Full-length attachment points on each side of the buck are embedded ½-inch below the foam adding strength and preventing thermal bridging. The top face of the buck provides seven full-width connections every 6-inches and half size connectors at each end in the center and eight attachment points on the outer edges. The attachment points on the face and along the sides of the product ensure secure connections for windows, door frames, and finishes. Foam only spaces between the attachment points in the face of the buck are marked to make cutting access ports for concrete consolidation easy.

BuildShield installed

ABOUT BuildBlock® Building Systems is the manufacturer of BuildBlock Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs) headquartered in Oklahoma City, BuildBlock serves North America through 14 manufacturing facilities in North America including locations in Mexico and Canada. or 866-222-2575.

February 2016 • Concrete Homes



SAN DIEGO TO HOST THE 2016 CONCRETE DECOR SHOW Celebrating 7 years of innovation in concrete


Concrete Homes • February 2016

Hands-on training workshops: Sept. 25 – 26, 2016 Education and Exhibits: Sept. 25 – 29, 2016 The 2016 Concrete Decor Show will be held September 25 through 29 at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in the heart of San Diego’s Mission Valley and in the backyard of some of the industry’s most influential companies. “2016 will be an important year for the Concrete Decor Show,” says Bent Mikkelsen, publisher of Concrete Decor magazine and producer of the Concrete Decor Show. “The industry continues to demonstrate steady growth,” he says. “The show delivers essential technical education and handson workshops that are not found anywhere else This focus, along with new product demonstrations, indoor and outdoor exhibits, an 8-team artisan competition, inspiring keynotes and numerous networking opportunities makes the event ideal for all decorative concrete professionals and newcomers as well. The Concrete Decor Show brings together designers and architects, manufacturers, distributers, resellers and installers. What draws an increasing audience, both foreign and domestic, is the fact that the Concrete Decor Show is the only event focused on the uses, techniques and products related to decorative and architectural concrete.” Unique to the Concrete Decor Show is an exhibits and demonstration area where attendees can see products and technology in action. Last year, pre-selected teams competed in this demonstration area in a competition called “Brawl in the Fall.” The teams brought their best work to the demonstration floor to compete for a total of $10,000 in cash and prizes. The Brawl in the Fall will be returning for the 2016 Concrete Decor Show.

concreteMONTHLY News from the cement and concrete industries

February 2016



Innovative solutions are emerging By Sherry A. Boyd

Photo courtesy BuildBlock

OPEN ANY INDUSTRY PUBLICATION OR E-NEWSLETTER AND AMONG THE TOP ISSUES OF 2016 YOU WILL BE SURE TO FIND THE SHORTAGE OF SKILLED LABOR LISTED AS URGENT. WHILE THAT HAS IMPACTED THE CONCRETE BUSINESS, IT ALSO PRESENTS A HUGE OPPORTUNITY TO REDEFINE THE SKILLS NEEDED, WORK SMARTER AND FIND ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS. My primary prediction for 2016 is that the trends and influences at play this year are the very ones that create a climate for innovative solutions to emerge. Some of the solutions may not even be new, but are the very methods and technologies that have been around on the periphery, which did not get adopted because of entrenched resistance to change existing between 1999-2009 and before. It’s not a surprise that the building industry values traditions and proven ways that have been handed from one generation to the next. That has been a strength. At the same time, the construction industry has become far more technical and more litigious than ever before. And at the turning point in the economy of the past year, I have seen many innovative solutions come across my desk. I am sharing just a few. NEXT GENERATION PRECAST CONCRETE Precast concrete has evolved into more than prefabricated concrete panels. Today we see preassembled building and high-

way components with added features built into concrete in the plant before it is brought to site. That’s changing what happens on the jobsite and who puts it together. These preassembled, precast units reduce labor costs and delays, maintain consistent quality and even improve upon jobsite safety. Donald Dardis, president of Dukane Precast, Inc., said, “In 2016 we will continue to add more features into our products in order to reduce construction duration time and reduce wastes, which result in reduced construction costs. This includes adding electrical components, windows, doors and even roofs as part of the manufactured component. By adding items in the factory, quality is improved and field costs and durations reduced. When we deliver and assemble the precast on site the structure is already watertight, weather-tight and secure.” Driven by the Federal Highway Administration, Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials have embraced the use of innovative construction techniques like prefabricated February 2016 • Concrete Monthly



Wall panels are lined up in the storage yard in preparation for delivery to the project site at North Central College. Photography Brian Bock, Dukane Precast.

bridge units. By replacing the bridges with prefabricated bridge units, manufactured off-site, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation eliminated years of work on the roadway, reduced on-site construction time, minimized traffic impact, and lessened work-zone safety risks to the public.

Corder says with authority, “We know these are the areas that ICF technology excels and also that customers are willing to invest for better value in the energy efficiency and the disaster safety ICF’s provide.” He also cites examples where, “ICF construction continues year round without lost time in winter weather. On site the envelope can be quickly assembled to provide a weather-tight and warm working environment, even in a polar vortex.” Corder added, “In other areas, builders are grappling with labor shortages that are hitting many construction trades. ICF can fill that gap, because the blocks can be installed by unskilled labor, as long as an experienced supervisor oversees the project. In just one step, you’ve created the walls that are insulated, furred and reinforced, eliminating multiple steps that it would take in conventional construction – a great time saver if correctly scheduled.”

The units used for MassDOT Memorial Avenue Rotary Bridge Replacement Project Accelerated Bridge Construction project is one of many that Oldcastle Precast-New England has been involved in over the past 3 years.

A GROWING ICF MARKET The adoption of insulating concrete forms has accelerated and successfully crossed over from residential building to commercial, government and education markets. Here are a few of the reasons. Brian Corder of ICF system manufacturer BuildBlock says,“We are seeing exceptional growth this year. Both in the custom home market and in commercial buildings, we are finding an increased acceptance of ICF for a variety of reasons. This is due in part to changing building codes with requirements for higher R-values and even blower door tests for airtightness measurements.” He explained, “For example, code changes in Minnesota now require R-21 wall insulation and R-15 for basement walls, crawl spaces and rim joist installations.” As the president of Sales and Marketing for BuildBlock, 22

Concrete Monthly • February 2016

Photo courtesy BuildBlock

ON THE ROAD TO SUSTAINABILITY As we enjoy a resurgence in demand and volume in both commercial and residential construction, better educated buyers and property owners will set criteria, as much as architects and engineers. Homeowners, school districts and the government are concerned about recycled and recyclable materials, jobsite waste, energy efficiency and building performance. Weather and disaster safety are joining the checklist during design and planning.



Specific to the concrete industry, I conclude that these trends are the game changers to watch in 2016 and beyond: 1. A broadened definition of Sustainability, in which resilience is the new green 2. Changing local building codes with more requirements for testing and hard data 3. Persistent pressures for accelerating schedules, while also reducing costs 4. Savvy consumers and property owners who drill into the how and why

We predict increased awareness now that the USGBC has adopted three new pilot LEED credits that add resilient design incentives during design and building of commercial and residential projects, including homes and multifamily. The announcement by the U.S. Green Building Council follows several years of advocacy by concrete industry groups with the intent to encourage designers, planners and building owners to proactively plan mitigation for natural disasters, emergencies and infrastructure vulnerabilities as part of their sustainability framework. It points up the role of industry organizations in influencing the direction of the industry –- a trend we hope to see continue. CM

5.  Sophisticated IT tools and cloudbased information sharing that are seen as a necessity for efficiency 6.  Training as a necessity for new workers and supervisors 7.  Learning how and where to communicate with Millennials, Gen X & Y, as workers and as customers

Learn from our experience. The one-day training seminars provide builders and installers with basic NUDURA ICF installation skills. NUDURA is committed to providing the highest level of training, ensuring you get the knowledge you need to get the job done with efficiency and confidence. The NUDURA Installation Course is led by a Certified NUDURA Installation Specialist and experienced ICF installer. Our trainers break down the ICF installation process, work through common building scenarios that arise in the field, and explain how NUDURA’s unique line of accessory products help speed up the ICF installation process. Visit to learn more and register for a course near you.

Photo courtesy BuildBlock

February 2016 • Concrete Monthly


builder + business director y




Innovation makes us


the smarter building choice

Estimates provided across the state of Texas. 817-377-9215

Innovation makes us the versatile solution!


Learn more about our innovation at a training class near you or visit:

Learn more about our innovation at a training class near you or visit:


THIS could have been


Superior Quality, Design-Build Solutions Residential • Commercial • Industrial •Alternative Energy WCI serves the immediate north central Texas market as well as the greater Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Arizona markets.

612-363-8227 being seen in our BUILDER + Meanwhile, BUSINESS check us out ! Y R O T C E R I D online at: 24 Concrete Homes • February 2016

Innovation makes us the versatile solution!

UPCOMING DEADLINES MARCH/ APRIL 2016 Ad Closing: February 18, 2016 Materials Due: February 25, 2016

MAY/ JUNE 2016 Ad Closing: April 6, 2016 Materials Due: April 13, 2016


Contact Brona Stockton 512-658-6609 Email:


Everything starts at World of Concrete. It’s the industry’s only annual international event dedicated to the commercial concrete and masonry industries. And, it jumpstarts each new year by supplying you with the latest innovations, expert know-how and best new products to finish your work faster, better and more profitably. From the start of each job to its successful completion—we’ve got you covered.



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February 2016

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February 2016

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