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Whether custom or production – today’s homes are designed with many turns and offsets appearing more like an amalgamation of forms rather than the neat little boxes designed decades ago. Today’s consumers are demanding more than ever in their new home constructions, and housing plans have become increasingly more complex and detailed. The Concrete Foundations Association (CFA) – a North American network dedicated to improving the residential concrete industry by building better businesses and improving codes and standards – 2007 Basement of the Year competition salutes some of this year’s most challenging home projects and their cast-in-place concrete foundations.

This year’s competition is the largest in CFA history with 13 entries from across the country and marks the first year multiple categories were made available for submission. Contractors cast votes for Basement of the Year in the CFA booth at the 2007 World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas, as well as online. The formal award presentation will be made at the Awards Banquet Luncheon during the CFA’s Annual Summer Convention Aug. 8-11 at the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe, Vt.

Votes were cast by fellow concrete contractors based on their rating of how difficult the projects were to estimate and construct as well as the potential to make money. Project submissions included information such as material quantities, difficult features, technology used, and the problems that were overcome. This year contractors also displayed some of the most intriguing photography the competition has seen to date.

According to Ed Sauter, executive director of CFA, the Basement of the Year competition enables foundation contractors to display the wide range of projects that are being completed today. “The technological advancements that have been made in the poured wall industry allow contractors to complete complex projects more efficiently, which helps ensure homeowners’ dreams are realized,” said Sauter. “Each year, the projects submitted to this competition get more complicated and demonstrate the diversity afforded through poured wall foundations.”

Pritt Residence

Category: Single Family>5,000 sq. ft.

The structure achieving the highest ranking and selected most visually intimidating by more than 50 percent of voters, is a 50,000-squarefoot, two-story basement near the ocean in Corona Del Mar, Calif. This project was submitted by Ekedal Masonry and Concrete, Inc. of Newport Beach, Calif., the foundation contractor on the project. Caissons had to be used in rock because of geological conditions and lengthy shoring specifications. The cast-in-place walls had many angles with very intricate tops. A tunnel that led from the house to the ocean spawned additional challenges, which created a great deal of coordination. In addition to the tunnel, the house features several unique elements that required Ekedal Masonry and Concrete to create chases out of concrete for the waterslide, pool and many block-outs. This home, currently the most expensive home on the market in the United States, is listed $75 million and has a more than 4,000-square-foot mechanical room as well as a bowling alley below the pool.

Because of the significant exposure and total size of the job, precision was essential. Products for the job were being fabricated elsewhere and materials came from all over the world so there was no room for error. A full-time CAD operator was on-site everyday and actually printed out radiuses on paper that were glued down to plywood for templates. Ekedal’s plan detailer spent two months on shop drawings for this job. The Pritt Residence used 3,879 yards of concrete and 215 tons of steel in the walls. The job spanned 780 lineal feet with wall heights ranging from 4 feet to 45 feet tall. Wall thicknesses ranged from 8 inches to 36 inches.

“Even though projects like this are common to our company, we had to be aware that this home is surrounded by $20 million homes and was very high profile,” said Ryan Ekedal, Vice President of Ekedal Masonry and Concrete. “We had to take extra precautions on everything from monitoring ground vibrations and shoring walls to overall liability concerns. We knew that because this job was receiving major exposure we were under the microscope and everyone had to give an added 100 percent to the work and concentration they were already applying to the project.”

286 Foxcliff North

Category: Single Family>5,000 sq.ft.

The project receiving the second highest vote total this year is Lot 286 Foxcliff North in Martinsville, Ind. Custom Concrete in Westfi eld, Ind constructed this 15,500-square-foot basement. With wall heights ranging from 3’ to 15 feet, the project features a total of 20 angled corners. The footings were 3’ and 2 feet wide by 12 inches in depth with 2 rows of #6 continuous rebar. Located on a challenging site, the project was on the top of a steep hill with limited access. The large atrium was fi lled with gravel by conveyor trucks that had to maneuver around the site as best as possible. This took 2,000 tons of gravel. Back piers were a challenge to reach and the concrete pump contractors assisted with extra hoses and manpower to complete the pour. Varying wall heights presented a unique challenge and crews had to take extra caution to ensure that the correct forms were on site at the appropriate times. Lot 286 Foxcliff North foundation was 953 linear feet and includes 270 cubic yards of concrete for the walls, 100 cubic yards of concrete for footings that contain 2,000 linear feet of rebar. The job included a reinforced safe room, along with a aquatic center within the basement area.

“This was one of the most challenging jobs our fi rm has tackled,” said Brian Kincaid, Field Representative Manager at Custom Concrete. “The different size and heights of the walls, complexity of the footings and job access made this a very unique project.” Our on site Cad people were a huge asset for this project.

Prescott Residence

Category: Single Family>5,000 sq.ft.

The third place finisher, the Prescott Residence in West Bend, Wis., was submitted by the foundation contractor Coello & Associates, Inc. of Waukesha, Wis. The foundation wall for the 16,000-square-foot home was 10 feet high and included two faces of steel rebar on the entire foundation. With more than 9,000 lineal feet of steel rebar in the wall and multiple brick ledge heights, a great amount of time and effort was required prior to pouring the wall. One of the greatest challenges in forming the wall was a double ellipse on the rear of the house. Squaring up this portion of the foundation was extremely complex because of its odd shape, 10-foot height, and the location of two ellipses back-to-back.

Poor soil conditions at the site made the footing design extremely complex. The footings were 18-inches thick and ranged from 20 to 42 inches wide. The entire foundation sat on almost 700 yards of slurry mix, which required Coello & Associates to drill each pin into the ground to hold the forms correctly. The reinforcement in the footings included rebar in both directions and L-shaped steel bars. Part of the foundation was also poured on pilings.

“Extensive coordination and accurate scheduling were crucial to the success of this project,” said Nick Coello, Quality Control Manager of Coello & Associates. “Due to the large size of the home, detailed planning was required both internally and with our concrete supplier before the project began. The concrete was specially designed to ensure it would consolidate properly with all of the rebar.”

Briar Creek Golf Club

Category: Commercial/Multi-Family

A 10,600-square-foot basement for the Briar Creek Golf Club in Johns Island, S.C. was constructed by Sunburst Builders, LLC of Charleston, S.C., the project has a double matted #6 rebar encased in #4 stirrups, every 24 feet on center. The walls were 16 inches wide with two octagon-shaped decks and arches between columns. The golf club is in a storm surge zone and footings had to be 4 feet deep, which was below the water table. Because of the footing depth and rain, the project was constantly de-watered. Aluminum forms, wood forms and Styrofoam shapes were used to achieve the 24-inch by 16-inch columns. An arch was located between every column. The Briar Creek Golf Club foundation has 348 total linear feet and includes 188 cubic yards of concrete for the walls, 252 cubic yards of concrete for footings that contain 12,820 pounds of steel, with another 8,460 pounds of steel in the walls. This project detailed impressive above-grade forming for a colonnade structural perimeter.

“We were happy to be part of a team that is committed to structural integrity with the awareness of seismic conditions, hurricanes and storm surges,” said Bill Nelson, president of Sunburst Builders. “Crest Industries recognized our abilities to handle the project and the architect, Mark Finlay, presented us with a challenge that resulted in an award winning project.”

Koepke Residence

Category: Single Family 2,000-5,000 sq.ft.

Finally, another project submitted by Coello & Associates, Inc. was a basement for a 4,500-squarefoot home in Dundee, Wis. This home was featured on the television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Unlike most homes featured on the program, the Koepke residence had a full 8-foot high basement. The foundation needed to be constructed in 12 hours or less, which made the time constraints the most challenging aspect of the project. The standard 8-inch by 20-inch footings were poured with a concrete mix design that allowed Coello & Associates to begin setting the wall forms just shortly after the footings were poured. An engineer was selected to help determine what admixtures would create a concrete mix that would set quickly and reach 3,000 psi after just four hours and 8,000 psi at 28 days. The project required craftsmen to work through the night, so crews were divided into three groups with staggered arrival times. Coello & Associates was able to complete the job in a mere 10.5 hours and donated all labor and equipment for the Koepke family home.

“It took a great deal of careful planning and hard work, but it was definitely worth it,” said general manager, Michael Coello. It was a truly amazing experience for all of us at Coello & Associates.”

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us