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Solid concrete construction is a long-term, quality alternative to typical wood- and steel-framed houses that can be built much quicker and a better product. The features and benefits of above-grade, removable form, solid reinforced and insulated concrete construction for residential and commercial owners is as follows:

Faster to Build

Helps shave numerous construction days off a typical home building timeframe.


Reduced Labor

Fewer subcontractors are needed in this type of construction lowering labor costs and increasing productivity with a smaller labor force.


Improved Utilization and Scheduling

Operations, scheduling and administration becomes more efficient in concrete construction with less labor and fewer subcontractors.


Quicker Turnaround

A home is "dried-in" when final concrete lift is complete and allows succeeding trade work to begin quicker so an average home can be completed substantially sooner.


Built to Last

Take pride in building a product that can last 200+ years. Concrete housing is estimated to outlast most typical wood structures.


Minimizes Waste

Use of cast-in-place poured concrete drastically reduces construction material waste including lumber, sheetrock, wiring, and mechanical scraps reducing landfill disposal.


Lower Insurance Rates

Building concrete homes significantly reduces potential property damage and loss during disasters like storms and fire. Insurance premiums during construction may also be lower.


Easy Maintenance

Concrete construction is low-maintenance and minimizes damages during construction. Easy clean-up and pre-move-in prep generates quicker closings and quicker collections. It also reduces builder warranty work after the sale.


Fire Prevention
Concrete homes are more resistant to fire than wood-frame homes. This gives your family a better chance of avoiding injury due to fire. Even if a concrete home does catch on fire, the damage does not seriously affect the structure of the walls, making repair a simpler task.


Concrete Homes Are Quiet!

Studies have shown that concrete homes are quiet.  ICF's (insulated concrete forms) homeowners almost always comment on how unbelievably quiet their new house is.  The usual noise is muffled in the thick, insulated concrete walls.  In sound transmission tests, ICF walls allowed less than one-third as much sound to pass through, as compared to wood-framed walls with fiberglass insulation.  With double-glazed windows and increased roof insulation, you will rarely hear street or airport traffic, all of which disappears behind your ICF curtain of tranquility.


Standing Up To The Elements
Part of maintaining a home over the course of its lifetime involves repair of damage from such elements of nature as rain, wind and termites. A concrete wall is more resistant to the wind and rain of hurricanes, tornadoes and other major windstorms. When Hurricane Andrew roared through South Florida, concrete homes protected families far better than their wood-frame counterparts. Homes built with concrete walls can also be designed to withstand the destructive forces of earthquakes.

Two of nature's threats to homes - termites and dry rot - are more subtle than hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. But they can be just as costly. While an infestation of termites can cause severe structural damage to a wood-frame house, the structural walls of a concrete home are safe from their destructive efforts. Dry rot is actually a disease, common to timber and caused by fungi. Dry rot does not affect concrete and is therefore not a worry for the owners of a concrete home.



Precast Concrete


A large crane is used to erect the panels

In early 2009, budgets are tight everywhere you look. Like everyone else, colleges are getting squeezed for funding. Yet that doesn’t mean their need for additional dormitory or recreational space goes away. What it does mean is that college administrators and other building owners are even more critical of assessing new projects to make sure they’re getting the most value for their investment. Circumstances such as the credit crunch can actually improve new projects, whether that’s increased design creativity or efficiency of construction or building operations. That’s what happened at North Central College (NCC) in suburban Naperville, Illinois. When NCC was faced with a choice between building more student housing or a new track facility, they decided to build them both under one roof.

The new structure, the first of its kind, is commonly known as the NCC Res/Rec Center and it serves double-duty; it’s a residence hall and recreation center in one. The building’s design offers all the latest features of concrete construction, and the layout means that students can leave their dorms and get to the track without a trip outside. The residence portion contains over 200 dorm rooms—designed as either single or double occupancy—housing 265 students initially, with an increase up to 365 possible. The recreation area has a 200-m indoor track, exercise equipment, and multipurpose courts. At 198,000 sq ft, this is a large building. Yet neighbors won’t have a “big box” outside their front doors because the dorm wraps around the track building to give it traditional low-rise residential appeal. The large precast concrete panels—some 50 ft tall—were made to resemble hand-laid clay masonry with stone details at window headers and building corners. Two masonry paints will complete the look: a base coat for the “joints” and “stones” and a cover coat for the “brick.”

From the exterior, the 4-story structure will look like traditional hand laid masonry

Exterior appearances aside, the real beauty is the highly engineered concrete sandwich panels, which provide rugged, durable surfaces for both walls and floors inside and out. Exterior walls are fire resistant and can withstand an F5 tornado (intensity rating termed “incredible” with winds from 261 – 318 mph). A 2-1/2 in. concrete face on either side is held together with regularly spaced steel trusses. Following a two-step casting process, the resulting 3-in. void between panels is injected with a bio-based insulating foam (polyisocyanurate from soybean or castor oil). This gives the panels superior energy efficiency; finished walls are rated at about R 19. And the exposed concrete provides thermal mass inside, and mass walls are great for soundproofing. Next-door neighbors may like it warmer or cooler, louder or quieter than each other, but the insulated concrete panels means they can both have it just the way they like it.

The inner and outer concrete walls sandwich a layer of insulating foam between them

Although the production process of the panels is highly automated, workers do make final adjustments so that tight quality control is achieved for thickness and other dimensions. This allows panels to be erected quickly at the site with only a minimum of field adjustments. Solid, high-quality concrete construction built with an efficient use of labor makes for cost effective structures.

The construction process and building operation both contribute to high performance. At the project site itself, Dukane committed to diverting at least 75% of construction waste through recycling. In the factory, the concrete mix incorporates 60% slag aggregate. Fly ash replaces 30% of the cement. Overall, the precast panels are made with about 40% recycled materials. Panels are energy efficient, locally produced (in this case, just a few miles away), and contain a good portion of recycled materials. On the NCC Res/Rec Center, at least 20% of all the manufactured products are being made regionally—within 500 miles. The slag aggregate results in lower density concrete, 125 pcf rather than 150 pcf. That small reduction in weight could save shipping costs, as an extra panel can be placed on a truck without violating street or road weight limits. That’s not an issue on this project, but may be a factor for others where transportation distances are greater. Designers could also check for savings on foundations, which would be subjected to smaller loads.

Precast panels are hauled from the manufacturing plant to the site on a special trailer

The building contains many exciting energy features from top to bottom and in between. The roof will be a white membrane to reduce heat island effect. Down below, geothermal loops will capture the earth’s heat and bring it inside. Before being deposited into sewers, waste water will transfer its warmth to incoming water lines, lessening the energy required to heat clean water. Inside, the plumbing fixtures are low-flow and there’s no irrigation system, so the building’s total water use is reduced compared to conventional construction. Each room has its own thermostat and lighting controls for comfort and efficiency and all windows are energy efficient. As a result, the envelope is tight (has low air infiltration). Radiant heating, high velocity air conditioning, and heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) improve energy efficiency so that the structure is 40%- 50% more energy efficient than standard wood construction. The building is rated at Energy Star 5+ level. Other green features related to the building are aimed at reducing traffic, like a car- and bike-sharing program. This all adds up to a guaranteed LEED™ Silver rating for NCC Res/Rec, with a potential for Gold when all the numbers are finalized.

Brian Bock of Dukane Precast, the manufacturer of the panels, notes that using the same basic sandwich panel configuration for both walls and floors requires extensive preplanning. Their plant has perfected techniques for many of the hidden aspects of the panels. Whereas wall panels have embeds for electrical outlets and cable, floor panels contain tubing for radiant heating. Radiant heating is among the most efficient and comfortable heating systems for occupants. All panels are built to tight tolerances, including their thickness, which results in labor and material cost savings. The walls, which are finished quite smooth, receive only a coat of paint as the finish treatment; there’s no drywall or other VOC materials. Floors are also finished smooth and flat and to strict thickness tolerances, ready to be covered by tile or carpet, though they could probably serve quite well if they were simply stained.

This NCC Res/Rec Center is a great example of total precast concrete construction for low-rise buildings to make attractive, safe, energy efficient living and recreational space. All the benefits you’d want for your kids, yourself, and your parents, from dorms to multi-family housing like condos and assisted living facilities. People feel good while living there, and they feel good about living there, knowing that their home has a low environmental impact. Precast concrete construction for comfortable and sustainable living.

Click on the pictures below to get a quick overview of a typical panelized project.



ICF Vertical Wall



What Is An ICF?
ICF's (Insulated Concrete Forms) are basically forms for poured concrete walls that stay in place for a permanent part of the wall assembly.

The forms, made of foam insulation, are either pre-formed interlocking blocks or separate panels connected with plastic ties. The left-in-place forms not only provide a continuous insulation and sound barrier, but also a backing for drywall on the inside, and stucco, lap siding, or brick on the outside.



TF Systems



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