Article No: 68

2006-05-01 12:56:13
Tilt-up takes off in high-end homes
By: Kimberly Kayler

Anyone who labels site cast tilt-up as a dull medium only suitable for box warehouse space should talk to Jerry Daugherty, president of J D Construction Inc. of Henderson, Nev. Not only is J D Construction breaking all the stereotypes associated with the construction medium's ability to produce unique and striking facilities, he is applying his confidence in the tilt-up medium to construction of his own residence.

The durability, economy and energy efficiency afforded by the tilt-up method were attractive to the Daugherty family when considering building methods for their new residence.

"I make my living as a tilt-up concrete contractor and believe in its benefits," Daugherty said. "With 30 years of experience working with Tilt-Up, I knew it was the answer for my home."

In the design stage for the last two years, the six-month construction schedule began in November. The 10,150-square-foot two-story home has many extras and upgrades, including a 4,300-square-foot garage, two master suites, game room, exercise area, extra kitchen in the basement, theater and secondary laundry facility. The Daugherty family plans to live on the 4,300-square-foot second floor, which contains two bedrooms, game room and an observation deck boasting a view of the Las Vegas skyline.

Although Daugherty said the home is more expensive than a wood frame structure, the durability and energy efficiency afforded from the foam-filled concrete walls pay dividends in reduced maintenance and lower energy bills.

"This home is definitely a smart home," he said. "We estimate the balance of smart appliances and concrete walls to offer a 30 percent more efficient home than competing residences."

Smart home

According to Ed Sauter, executive director of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA), the selection of building materials, equipment and energy management systems - all early design considerations - make a difference in the long-term performance of a structure, which is why tilt-up is a smart solution.

"The combination of the thermal mass properties of concrete, reduced air-infiltration and higher energy-efficiency insulation systems allow the growing construction method to be an optimum energy-efficient solution, "Sauter said.

"Performance" of the exterior concrete walls is the key element of success for tilt-up as an efficient insulating option. Concrete that is located adjacent to controlled interior spaces dampens the temperature swing that is normally experienced as daily temperatures rise and fall. This dampening effect can result in substantial energy savings due to reduced HVAC capacity.

Essentially, the mechanical systems don't have to work as hard to control the temperature. The same quantity of energy may need to be removed or added, but it is done so over a longer period of time. In the cooling mode, thermal mass reduces temperature swings by storing energy during the build-up phase, typically afternoons, and then releases energy during cooler periods, such as evenings. This "thermal mass effect" is more pronounced in temperature zones where it gets too hot during the day, yet cools down nicely at night. In the heating mode, the walls store energy from the building's heating system and release it back into the space. The large, solid concrete panels also add to the energy efficiency of a tilt-up structure because the panel size reduces infiltration or air leakage into and out of the building. Air infiltration is a large source of heat loss.

Architectural marvel

But beyond energy efficiency, the home has great architectural appeal - both inside and out. With a smooth concrete finish, six structural concrete columns create a unique and inviting entrance and custom stone surrounds the mantels encasing the entire exterior.

Even the floors and walls are to be enjoyed. Stone accent walls are coupled with Venetian texture walls with actual imprinted grapevines and leaves, while the floors are a balance of slate deck, stained concrete and custom wood flooring wove with stone inserts. Custom cherry cabinetry and handmade stair railings and doors add a high-end finish. Unique elements include a wine cellar, two master guest suites complete with built-in custom closets, a complete theater with bar, custom burgundy Viking appliances - complete with a built-in Wok station - and a workable shop.

Outside, the Daugherty family will enjoy an infinite edge pool with waterfalls, swim-up bar and fire accents. There is also a children's play yard. A third-story deck and surrounding decks are encased by glass walls.

Approximately 70 tilt-up panels, totaling more than 22,000-square-feet of wall panel, were used to construct the home, which has already garnered enough attention to gain J D Construction a contract for another residence - a 5,700-square-foot home in the Las Vegas area.

"We believe high-end homes may be a new market for tilt-up," Daugherty said. "And, those that involve the concrete contractor during the design phase will benefit greatly from the innovation and unique possibilities."
Founded in 1988, J D Construction ( has been a member of the TCA since 1998 and completes approximately $20 million in contracted work each year.