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Not Just Another Concrete Home…

Not Just Another Concrete Home…

A man's home is his castle, and for Steve Borgeson of Virginia, his 5,200 square foot (483 sq. m) castle is being constructed entirely of concrete. However, unlike other so-called "concrete" homes, which only feature the basement and exterior walls of concrete, Steve's domain also provides a concrete floor between the basement and first level.

Adding to the uniqueness is that polystyrene forms (commonly referred to as Styrofoam, a trademark name) were used throughout the process … making it the first concrete home of its kind on the East Coast.

Borgeson, an ICF sales rep for Mid-Atlantic Foam, had a dual purpose in building a totally concrete house. First, it was a new home for him and his wife, where substantial savings could be realized due to the energy efficiency of concrete. More importantly, his home, constructed with the forms he sells, would provide a special place to entertain customers while showing them his product's benefits.

More about polystyrene forms
According to the Iowa-based manufacturer, these special forms, called Lite-DeckTM ,are an insulating-forming system specially designed for cast-in-place structures. The system consists of polystyrene panels with two steel stiffeners. The panels interlock and the result is a continuous insulated form. The panel design creates a form cavity for the solid, reinforced concrete "truss." This provides the load-bearing support for the concrete and for the live weights the floor will carry. As the forms are self-supporting, up to a 30-foot (9 m) span is possible before posts or pillars are required when using the thickest 16-inch (406 mm) panel available.

Homeowners especially should find this advantageous as there are no basement pillars or posts within a wide-open span to contend with when remodeling basements. In addition, the forms offer added insulation, are soundproof to an R60 factor, and can be covered by simply screwing drywall directly to them. They are also easy to install, as Steve and his wife can attest. They have single-handedly positioned all the forms themselves, giving a whole new meaning to sweat equity.

Although more than 170 projects worldwide have dealt with cast-in-place concrete walls using these insulating polystyrene forms, the floor between the basement and the first level wasn't a common undertaking.

First polystyrene upper-level floor pour in Virginia
Hydracrete Pumping LTD of Richmond, Va., was called upon to handle the specialized floor application with their 36-Meter Putzmeister boom pump. About 55 cubic yards (42 m3) for the 2,600-square-foot (241 sq. m) floor was pumped in two and a half hours.

A slow and steady flow was needed for the leveling, screeding and bull floating to keep up. According to Charles Jenkins, Hydracrete's branch manager, "A slow, steady output was also essential because material falling at a rapid pace can exert a lot of pressure on forms. To accommodate ICF jobs like this one, we developed our own special configuration to achieve a more gradual 5- to 3-inch (127 to 76mm) reduction. Plus, we prefer using Putzmeister pumps because of their smoother flow. Even when you de-stroke them, there isn't boom bounce. This is a feature only possible with a Putzmeister because of its free-flow hydraulics."

Although difficult to comprehend, 214,500 pounds (97,300kg) of concrete were successfully placed over these Lite-DeckTM forms with only temporary 4 by 4 posts spaced 4 feet (1.2m) apart to support them. After a 14-day curing period, the interim posts were removed. Then, work on the exterior and garage walls began. Having efficiently handled the last pour, Hydracrete's 36-Meter Putzmeister returned to assist with this 60- cubic-yard (46 cu. m) ICF job.

Soon-to-be concrete homeowner Steve Borgeson said, "Over 300 cubic yards (230m3) of concrete were needed to complete our entire home, and the work couldn't have been done efficiently without a pump. For the footings, basement slab and its walls, it merely offered convenience over chuting. However, it would have been next to impossible to do the concrete floors or exterior walls without one."

Advantages of concrete homes
Concrete homes continue to grow in popularity because they offer several advantages. The main one is energy efficiency. Although it initially costs between 3 to 5 percent more when building, the annual return on investment is up to a 45 percent savings in heating bills and 35 percent savings in air-conditioning costs. In addition, concrete homes are soundproof and very sturdy to better withstand devastating tornado and hurricane winds up to 250 mph (403km/h).

Architect/owner/general contractor: Steve Borgeson - Fredericksburg, Virginia
Pumping contractor: Hydracrete Pumping LTD - Richmond, Virginia
Polystyrene form distributor: Mid-Atlantic Foam - Fredericksburg, Virginia
Polystyrene form supplier: Lite-Deck Forms - Sioux City, Iowa
Ready-mix supplier: Rowe Concrete - Massaponax, Virginia
Equipment: Putzmeister 36-Meter Concrete Boom Pump