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New Home for Growing Family Wins ACI Award for Bartley Corporation

Bartley Corporation of Ashton, MD recently won an award for excellence in concrete construction by the Maryland Chapter of American Concrete Institute (ACI). The project and team members were recognized at the Excellence in Concrete Awards Banquet on Wednesday, June 1, 2005.

The concrete house was one of their own – a home for Jim Bartley, Vice President of the Bartley Corp., and his growing family. Margarita Bartley, Jim’s wife, had studied and worked as an architect in Ecuador, South America and desired to create her own home. A few designs and a Not So Big House book later, they had a layout they both could live with.

For Jim, the desired end result was “a box” with no more than 3000 square-feet of total space on the first and second floors. In order to overcome the limitation of size, Margarita used an open floor plan with an emphasis on connecting interior and exterior spaces.

To break up the box appearance, the main entrance was offset and a porch roof and trellis were incorporated into the design. By designing a cutout of the right side corner, the front elevation was broken up into two-volumes instead of one. The left side of the house displays the garage and first floor patio, and is visible from the street. This side shows off the bare concrete, which is broken up by a center feature of stone and EIFS.

The Bartley Corp. was right at home building the basement – in more ways than one. The new home is right next to the Bartley office. The basement and garage walls were a little taller than planned due to the deeper excavations (see builders…it happens to us too.) The basement was sprayed and tiled, Boman Kemp window wells in place, and the garage slabs were prepped and ready for inspection. A radiant heating system was installed in the basement floor, as well as all subsequent floors.

The use of Lite Deck floor system in the basement floor allowed for 22-foot spans between beam and walls with room to spare. The joist beams (perpendicular to the flush beam) were pre-formed in each piece of Lite Deck.

“My crew thought I was crazy to use the foam for under-forming,” stated Bartley. “But once the first floor was poured, they were believers.”

Bartley’s standard basement aluminum forming system was used for all the vertical concrete on the first floor. Scaffold brackets were installed for safety and the rest was a walk in the park for the crew. The process was quicker on the second floor without contention of a patio slab with intersecting beams at different levels. The typical tubing and block-outs were installed and the pour went without a hitch.

“I worked closely with the subcontractors in the planning process prior to construction,” Bartley explained. “Their ideas and good workmanship made this house a success.”

In two months and eleven days “the box” was complete.


A 2-inch metal stud wall was installed inside the perimeter concrete walls and 4-inch metal stud interior walls were installed to frame interior partitions. The only walls not padded out and drywalled were the stairway walls and columns. Textured paint gave them a stucco appearance.

The installation of the electrical, HVAC and plumbing were similar to working on a woodframed house because of the exterior walls. The differences, however, presented challenges. A fair amount of foam underforming had to be removed to accommodate recessed lights, ducts and pipes. Items that cross from one floor to another had to pass through a previously placed opening.

All systems were conventional except for the HVAC. The house is cooled using two zones – one in the basement and the second in the attic. Each zone uses an air handler and heat pump, which also provide a backup heating system. In addition, each zone has a heat recovery ventilator that periodically exchanges the air inside the house without changing the interior temperature. A concrete home is much tighter than a frame house. The lack of air movement makes a concrete home more energy efficient. Air exchange is necessary to keep the air fresh when the house is closed up.

Insulation is a critical element of any house, and Bartley chose a twofold approach. R-13 Batt insulation was installed in the stud walls at the perimeter. 1 1/2” foam insulation was attached to the concrete walls prior to applying EIFS (a stucco-like epoxy coating) to the exterior.


The first floor was 1500 sq. ft. and had to accommodate all needs for daytime living – cooking, eating, studying, and socializing. The kitchen, breakfast room/ mudroom, dining room, family/living room, entry foyer and study were ingeniously connected to exterior porches and patios that visually increase the first floor. A palate of earthy tones blended the interior with the naturally wood exterior. Stain concrete floors, stone, slate, granite and stucco-textured paints brought the outside in.

The second floor greets you with stucco/painted columns and stained concrete floors. It contains the master bedroom as well as bedrooms for the children and guests. One feature that proved to be a challenge was the master bathroom. In a 7 x 15 foot space, Margarita had to fit a shower, tub, toilet, linen cabinet, double sink and vanity desk without sacrifice the openness of the room. To overcome the long skinny feeling, the bathtub/shower was closed in with floor-to-ceiling glass. The end result is light, open and well arranged.

Construction of the home took eight months from start to finish. The total cost to build was $465,000. The Bartley Corp. built the concrete shell and then the trades came in and finished the job.


The roller coaster ride of building a home was over on November 13, 2004 – the day we moved in, and not a moment too soon! Working full-time and building a concrete house was an awesome experience that I never want to relive. After being here five months, I am convinced I will never again live in a wood-framed house.

In a concrete house, the floors don’t creak or bounce. Even the bounce of wood stairway doesn’t exist because the top and bottom are attached to concrete. Concrete and metal don’t burn or rot, and neither one is a food source for mold. Termites walk away in disgust. Our deck will never warp and there are no nails to pop. Fuel prices are up, and we spent less to heat our 4200 square foot concrete house than our previous 1900 square foot woodframed house. The house is quiet (unless the kids are in the same room). The floors are warm and give very even heat with no draft. Since I am not a fan of home maintenance, this house should pay dividends for years to come.

Margarita is in house heaven. She is able to live in a home that she designed. Growing up in Ecuador, she is accustomed to concrete and masonry homes. Moving into a wood house took her some getting used to. Being back in a concrete house is like coming home.

Jim Bartley

Talia J. Nelson, Local Chapters Coordinator

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