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CFA Projects of the Year

Each year the Concrete Foundation Association of North America (CFA) calls for entries to its Project of the Year contest. The entries are voted on and chosen by CFA members through an online ballot that runs for several weeks.

This year’s entries were all very large residential projects worthy of multiple awards. The winners will be recognized at this year’s CFA Summer Convention in Traverse City, Michigan on July 28, 2012. See all of the incredible photos of these projects online at your Association website.

Overall Grand Project Winner —

Ekedal Concrete, Inc.

From Newport Beach, California is the winner of the overall grand prize for a massive single-family home foundation they completed in La Jolla, California.

The foundation for the 8,700 square foot home looked more like a commercial project than a single-family residence. When Ekedal began their work, the entire site had been stabilized with soldier piles and lagging, installed during the excavation phase. Something you wouldn’t normally see on a residential job-site in most parts of the country.

With basement walls up to 22 feet in height and footings as wide as 12’-6” an already difficult job was made more challenging when Ekedal Concrete, Inc. was forced to use a one sided forming system due to the limited workspace of only eighteen inches available to them on the project.

Without the ability to use conventional wall ties, to tie forms together on both sides of the wall, the difficulty factor was multiplied many times. The entire basement wall was formed with HDO plywood rather than modular forms such as aluminum or steel-ply systems. Although this method of wall construction was a real challenge the end result was a very smooth concrete surface when the HDO plywood was removed.

As if the complicated walls weren’t enough, the job also included structural elevated slabs on two levels. The first level was 3,700 square feet of 10-inch thick concrete, including 30,000 pounds of rebar. Incorporated into the slab were eleven 42 inch by 16 inch beams, each containing several #11 bars which were 36 feet in length.

When the structural slab concrete reached sufficient strength, the deck forms were removed and relocated to start the 1,500 square foot second floor structural slab. A top and bottom mat of reinforcing steel was placed consisting of #5 rebar at 6” on center. Four more beams were formed into the slab and with the added rebar; the second floor slab totaled 20,720 pounds of reinforcing steel.

When asked how they approached the project from a technical aspect Ekedal responded: “Like all of Ekedal Concrete, Inc.’s projects, the plan detailer, estimator and management team sit down and dissect the project, explain how it was bid, concerns, schedule etc. From there our plan detailer will close all dimensions and make sure everything works while generating wall profiles showing embeds, beam pockets, elevations, hardware, etc.”

All told, Ekedal Concrete, Inc. poured over 900 yards of concrete, placed 160,000 pounds—80 tons—of rebar, in 405 feet of wall, and 5,200 square feet of structural elevated slab.

According to Ekedal “A project like this can only be approached in a systemized, organized, team effort where the foundation contractor, GC, architect and engineer all work together with the goal being a successful start to the project by bringing the project out of the ground correctly and efficiently. Ekedal Concrete, Inc. continues to be thankful to all the builders, designers, subcontractors, and suppliers and last and certainly not least our amazing staff, who continue to excel and improve and set the bar even hirer than we could have imagined.”

Ryan Ekedal added, “Being selected for Project of the Year gives us a very respected accolade in the industry, which in turn serves as a key point in certain marketing campaigns. It shows how our peers perceive our work and attention to detail.”

Project of the Year —

Coello & Associates, Inc.

Of Waukesha, Wisconsin is one of the winners of the Project of the Year category. Their foundation for a 9,543 square foot home in Chenequa, Wisconsin is a testament to the fact that concrete can be very attractive.

Great care was taken to make sure the home was positioned properly to take full advantage of the natural surroundings. “Not only was this home built into a hill, it was specifically designed to fit within an area with a very dense population of mature trees and various species of animals,” Coello stated. “The home was to be great in size, but also to be considerate to the natural surroundings.”

The owners of the home wanted the concrete inside the basement to add to the appearance of the home rather than to be covered up like the concrete walls in most high-end homes. Approximately 25 percent of the foundation walls were formed with a rustic, wood grain pattern creating a striking appearance in much of the lower level.

Many times, what is easily drawn on paper is discovered to be quite difficult during construction. Coello & Associates, Inc. determined early on that the form liners—consisting of real wood boards—would not work very well with their aluminum forming system. “Our first step was to find a forming system that would allow us to fasten the boards in eight to twelve foot sections and would withstand the hydrostatic fluid head pressure of a sixteen inch by nineteen foot wall.” They chose a gang form system utilizing tapered ties, reducing the total number of ties and eliminating any exposed ties in the wood grained wall. “Using a different forming system was a challenge, but our crews adapted quickly,” Coello indicated.

It’s interesting to note that Coello experimented with both rough cut lumber and smooth-planed lumber, before reaching the conclusion that the chemical reaction between the wood sugars and the concrete created the most desirable effect when using the smooth wood board.

The architect wanted to achieve an R-20 concrete wall, but the inner face of the wall had to be left exposed. In order to accomplish this, Coello determined it would be best to utilize two types of insulating systems. They installed R-10 Warm-N-Dri® insulation board on the exterior and incorporated the Thermomass® sandwich wall system with R-10 Styrofoam® into the middle of the concrete wall.

Coello stated that while this was a great solution, using Thermomass ® did create some further challenges including additional wall reinforcement and some consolidation problems in the reduced thickness portion of the sandwich wall.

Wisconsin winters are known to be some of the most brutal in the nation and a December start to the project certainly complicated things. A 4,000-psi concrete mix with high and mid-range water reducers along with a non-chloride accelerator were a critical part of the concrete mix design.

This unique project used a total of 944 cubic yards of concrete and 42 tons of rebar in the 1,975 lineal feet of wall and footing. With 75 different wall and thickness combinations it was very difficult to establish the natural rhythm, or flow normally found on large projects.

Coello & Associates is justifiably proud of the completed project. They’re equally happy that the homeowners wanted the concrete to be seen, not covered up. “The owners truly embraced the use of concrete within their new home. Many luxury homes are built and once finished, show little of the concrete foundation. When this home is finished, our concrete walls will be displayed and show others how beautiful concrete can be,” states Michael Coello, General Manager.

When asked about involvement in the CFA and particularly this award program, Mr. Coello had this to say; “Coello & Associates continues to work on its company culture. We strive to achieve excellence in all concrete work our company performs. The CFA ‘Project of the Year’ competition gives us a gage to measure ourselves by against the best concrete foundation contractors in the nation. We know that if we can show well in the competition we have met our goal. The competitive nature of our staff helps bring out the best in all facets of our planning and execution on each and every job we do. The award confirms our consistent high level of achievement.”

Project of the Year–

Herbert Construction

Of Marietta, Georgia is a Project of the Year winner for the foundation of a 19,942 square foot home currently under construction in Canton, Georgia.

When the homeowners purchase an entire new subdivision to build their home, you know the house will be something special. Before the foundation for the main house was started, Herbert Construction was “tested” on the guesthouse within the same exclusive subdivision. The guesthouse itself was a 4,625 square foot home, a large home by most standards.

When the main residence was started it was a hurry-up job, complicated by the fact that the architect was still drawing it. Josh Morris, who draws all of Herbert’s jobs on CAD, was working extremely long hours to expedite the job drawings, “only portions of the foundation would be released for construction at a time, but even when a section was supposedly finalized, the architect, engineer, or the home owner would change something. It was impossible to get ahead.”

One of the most difficult portions of the project was the 385 lineal feet of radius walls with various wall heights of 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 feet tall. “In several instances, circular walls intersected into other circular walls. In one instance, three circular walls intersected at the same point,” said Doug Herbert, President of Herbert Construction Co. “Deep brick ledge in most of the curved walls further complicated the construction.”

Amanda Morris, VP of Operations, schedules all the crews, calculates and orders the concrete and schedules the pumps. She the Year indicated that concrete scheduling was quite difficult on this project. “From a scheduling standpoint the job was much more difficult than usual because it was so out of the ordinary. We’re not used to that many tall radius walls and it was hard to know how much wall we’d get set each day. Each wall was a different radius and a different height.”

Most residential foundations are drawn with primarily ninety-degree corners. Ninety-degree corners are the easiest to form because any other angle requires special corner forms, special fillers, and extra bracing. In this project there were a total of 2,682 vertical feet of corners other than ninety-degrees.

The multifaceted structure included two garages, separated from the main foundation area, but attached by second story framing, creating a porte-cochere with an automobile court behind the garages. Two hundred seventy-five feet of retaining walls were also part of the project. There were a total of 935 cubic yards of concrete in the walls and footings, and 35 tons of rebar.

It’s nice to be complimented for a job well done, especially when the scope of the project is so extensive. “From the start, Leonard Jacklett with Jacklett Construction, Inc.—the general contractor— made his expectations clear regarding the level of quality and professionalism he needed from us, and the schedule that we had to hit,” said Carl Hire, who managed the job for Herbert Construction. “He expressed a genuine level of appreciation for the job we were doing. His sincere thanks always assured me that we were exceeding his expectations.”

Doug Herbert recognizes the marketing benefits of winning a national award such as this. “Winning this award brings our company national attention,” he said. “However, the real benefit for us comes from publicizing it in our own building markets. We will incorporate this award into all of our sales and marketing efforts. This separates our company from all of the other concrete contractors in our area. It’s a huge advantage for us.”

Honorable Mention–

Procon, Inc.

Of Rocky Mount, Virginia received honorable mention for the foundation to a 9,065 square foot single family home in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

The foundation consisted 1,464 lineal feet of wall ranging in height from two feet high to seventeen feet high with footings as wide as 8’-6”. Concrete totaled 862 cubic yards for the footings and walls. Over 66 tons of rebar were used in this very impressive project.

Barry Herbert is a 45-year veteran of the concrete industry. He is CEO of Herbert Construction Co., which performs work throughout the Southeast with its corporate headquarters in Atlanta. He’s a member of ACI’s 332 Residential Concrete Committee, is Past President of the Concrete Foundation Association (CFA), a CFA Certified Concrete Technician, and in 2009 was presented with CFA’s coveted Robert D. Sawyer Distinguished Service award for his contributions to the concrete foundation industry. For more information visit

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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