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Concrete Homes: The Word on the Street

In each issue of Concrete Facts you have been reading about some amazing developments in above-grade concrete housing. These articles have featured companies, they have featured solutions, they have talked about the market penetration and the future. There continues to be tremendous interest in concrete homes and what they hold for business opportunities. However, in spite of the efforts of the Concrete Homes Council, form manufacturers, and contractors in the industry, the penetration of RCF’s (Reusable Concrete Forms) is disappointing. Progress is being made, in particular in states such as Florida where the benefits of concrete homes is evident. Elsewhere, however, market growth is proceeding at a snail’s pace.

The reasons for this slow growth are varied and complex – and beyond the scope of this article. Briefly, part of the problem is cost, though the value is clearly present and the improvements can be recouped in 3-5 years. Another part of the problem is resistance to change and still another is the mistaken belief by many that living in a concrete home is akin to living in a basement. Part of the problem is availability of qualified contractor, a problem which the CFA and CHC are addressing. The CHC will continue to provide educational opportunities for contractors and builders and will introduce a manual for the industry at this summer’s meeting which will help lead potential buildings through the intricacies of above grade construction.

In recent months, concrete homes have been under construction from New York to Florida, Oklahoma to South Carolina and many points in between. These projects have been, or soon will be, profiled through the efforts of the CHC. More importantly, these efforts are part of the latest educational push the CFA is making towards strengthening the market opportunity of concrete homes. Let’s take a look at what is ahead for the CFA and the promotion of concrete housing.

To begin, the Spring Regional Meeting in Raleigh, NC was designed to allow company management to attend a track featuring the latest information on concrete home construction and design. This track was developed specifically to strengthen the interest on the part of existing poured wall contractors and provide real evidence of the steps that can be taken to move this market ahead no matter the region. Curt Fields of Tri-City Contractors and David Pfanmiller of the Security Building Group have been active in this segment of the industry for several years. Their extensive experience with large custom homes in the heart of North Carolina, upscale coastal cottages along the Eastern Seaboard, and improved homes along the Gulf Coast bring a well-rounded message for how the contractor must look beyond the shell to the full development of a concrete home. This is a message that will continue to be repeated and strengthened at these educational events as the opportunity presents.

The Annual CFA Summer Meeting is the next stop on the education tour of concrete homes. This is the pinnacle event in the CFA calendar year. If you have not attended the Summer Meeting, we’re not quite sure what more information you might need to attend. It is the only calendar event each year solely dedicated to the foundation contractor. Market opportunities, business models, strategic plans—all of these are concepts that education springs from. When combined with the incredible product focus and the net-working that electrifies the two-day event, company personnel that take the “risk” to attend become convicted to attend the next year. Yes, even those that are intent on making above-grade home construction their primary product. And so, with this year’s event rapidly approaching, we can offer you an insight that the subject of Concrete Homes will once again take a front seat for this convention. Three contractors will be in attendance to discuss their latest advancements, struggles and conquests. Their messages, developed in New York, Oklahoma and Florida offer a very diverse look at the market and how to make it your own.

This leaves us with the one variable that makes this information and the opportunities a reality—your involvement. The contractor many times wants the builder to make the first move; the builder wants the home owner to “demand” the concrete home in order to avoid the risk; and the home owner wants to be assured that if they want to build it—“they will come”, to actually build it. This is a market segment in an industry that continues to look for leaders. Without leaders, we will continue to plod along and watch concrete homes sporadically dot the landscape of the residential industry in places where the “team” can afford to take the risk as a whole or where it makes too much economic or durability sense to avoid it.

The word on the street is that the concrete contractor needs to be that leader. Does this describe you? Make the case for your answer with the involvement form you see in this magazine and let the Concrete Homes Council help pave the way for increasing your opportunities and decreasing your risk.

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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