By: Ed Sauter
Whether you are a removable forming systems (cast-in-place), ICF (insulating concrete forms) or concrete block wall contractor, the task of educating builders about concrete home construction has been a difficult one. Often times, your efforts have gone unheard. Many builders still do not see the benefit of concrete building systems. The durability, safety and energy efficiency advantages of concrete for foundations and above grade concrete homes make it an excellent choice.
However, with the formation of the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) Concrete Home Building Council, a voice for the concrete industry was created to educate builders on the advantages, options and proper methods of using concrete to construct concrete foundations and homes. The Concrete Homes Council is one of only six councils within the NAHB Building Systems Council.
"All the different construction groups have struggled to put on programs to educate the builders; now they can reach their local homebuilders at a national level," Dawn Faull, manager of NAHB's Concrete Home Building Council, said.
The Concrete Home Building Council (CHBC) offers opportunities not previously available to the concrete construction industry. The Council was formed in January of 2004 through funding received from Portland Cement Association, Concrete Foundations Association/Concrete Homes Council, Insulating Concrete Forms Association, Precast Concrete Institute, Autoclaved Aerated Concrete Products Association and National Concrete Masonry Association. Made up of manufacturers, contributing industry partners and consulting company members, the CHBC will be the solid voice for the concrete construction industry.
The Council will provide technical and educational courses, as well as training about concrete building systems and concrete product application to builders, through venues such as the International Builders Show.
Last year alone, the International Builders Show, the world's largest annual construction show, had more than 110,000 attendees, thus providing an ideal outlet for the concrete construction industry to educate builders.
In January 2005 at the International Builders Show in Florida, the concrete construction industry has its first opportunity to benefit from the newly formed voice of the CHBC. As Concrete Foundations Association's (CFA) executive director, I will present a seminar entitled "Using Removable Reusable Forms for Concrete Homes," which will explain the systems available for constructing above grade homes with traditional aluminum forming systems and tunnel forms. These systems offer some unique advantages to the home builder and owner including the ability to construct the decks and walls in one operation. Homes in a variety of price ranges have been constructed with removable, reusable forming systems in the Carolinas, Florida, Wisconsin and several other states. This seminar will be our first opportunity to show these homes to the builders of the NAHB.
We have been trying to get our message to builders for several years but with little success. Now we have a direct pipeline to them through their own organization.
A second seminar will be presented by Brent Anderson, a regular presenter at the World of Concrete and for the CFA at its Foundation Fundamentals seminars, on "Building the Dry Basement."
Many problems that occur in concrete foundations are a result of improper backfilling methods or materials, poor waterproofing products or just plain abuse of the foundation wall. This seminar will give the foundation industry an opportunity to educate builders on what to do and not to do to the concrete foundation once it has been poured.
Other concrete building systems courses offered to builders are "Introduction to Insulating Concrete Forming Technology" and "Is Precast Concrete Viable for Single-family & Multifamily Homes?"
The NAHB has also approved the development of two courses for the NAHB University of Housing. One of the courses will focus on concrete foundations, the other with ICF housing. The concrete foundations course will include many of the topics and principals presented in the popular Foundation Fundamentals seminars taught by Anderson, modified to suit the builder audience. The ICF housing course will discuss the benefits and costs, as well as the logistics of ICF construction. Completion of the courses should enable builders to better understand and communicate with the foundation contractor on matters relating to their product. These courses will be available throughout the country and offered by local homebuilder groups. Trained instructors will present professionally prepared course work on the respective subjects.
Faull, as manager and the only full-time staff of the Council, will continue to devote her time and energy to developing programs, membership initiatives and other events to educate builders about the benefits of concrete.
"The concrete construction industry, whether ICF, concrete block or removable form, has struggled with builders locally," Faull said. "Now is the time. The CHBC will be their voice at a national level."
Ed Sauter is executive director of the CFA. He can be reached by calling 319-895-6940 or by e-mailing noSpam("esauter", "cfawalls.org"); firstname.lastname@example.org at cfawalls.org.