Article No: 216

2007-07-30 16:44:22
A Summer Project in Southern Nevada
By: Chelsea Wallace

Photography courtesy of PolySteel of Las Vegas 
Las Vegas: A city famous for its lights and sounds, glitz and glamour, and excruciating summer heat. With the temperature gauges reading well over 100 degrees in early June, one can only hope to find solace from the pounding sun that tortures residents year after year. But just a few miles away in Henderson, Nevada, tucked between the dusk-colored hills, one such escape exists. An opulent array of stones lines the entryway to complement the warm tones of the desert, and the classic, heavy wooden door invites visitors to seek comfort in this lavish ICF home, but that is just the beginning.
This treasure belongs to lucky owner and builder Brent Hannig, a local PolySteel distributor and Captain of the Henderson Fire Department. Though he has never lived in a concrete home before, Brent is hardly a newcomer to the business. After 25 years working with concrete and 22 years building homes, he finally decided to combine the two and build a concrete home of his own.

Getting started
In 2003, Brent and his wife, Velvet, purchased a 1.16-acre lot to build their third house together. For six months, they drew up their plans to perfection with their architect, D and D Design Concepts, and thought they had created the home of their dreams. Then, Brent’s younger brother purchased the lot behind theirs and asked Brent to create the walls with something he had seen at a home show in St. George, Utah: PolySteel Insulating Concrete Forms. Though Brent was unfamiliar with this material, he was eager to take on the challenge.

After construction, Brent had completely fallen in love with ICF homebuilding. “The experience (of an ICF home) sells people on the idea,” Brent explains. The energy efficiency and noise-reduction qualities of his brother’s home impressed him so much that he and Velvet then had their house plans redrawn to accommodate the thicker walls that ICFs require. They also purchased the distributorship for Clark County, and their business, PolySteel of Las Vegas, LLC, was born.

For two years, the Hannigs stacked and poured more than ten houses, gaining knowledge and experience along the way. Finally, in the summer of 2006, they broke ground for their own residence. Brent used two of his full-time employees and hired two additional workers who had never worked with ICF before. Training the new workers, he said, was a fairly easy process. “The technique is simple and easy to pick up on,” he says, “but it requires one to be meticulous.” And meticulous they were. The five-person crew poured 443 feet of wall, which was 10–14 feet high, in just nine days.

Starting the project in the middle of a Nevada summer, however, created a few obstacles. The fierce heat during the day made it impossible to pour the floor, so Brent and his team ventured out to the site at 2:30 in the morning, when the temperature was only 90 degrees, to complete this task. And to insulate the floor from heat, he employed a technique so that the footings for the walls were poured 1 foot below the finished floor, and then the first row of block was glued down to the footing. Next, the floor was graded and poured inside the block. This technique also eliminated the need to set forms around the exterior.

Home features
With 4,500 square feet of living space and 6,200 under roof, the Hannig house was finally completed. The residence features stained concrete floors throughout the house with the exception of the carpeted bedrooms. The soffits, dropped ceilings, fireplace, and extravagant master bathtub were all custom framed.

Outdoor living spaces for the home complement the surroundings. The colored concrete patio with Italian slate texture and a terracotta release make the back patio ideal for kicking back and taking in the surrounding mountains as the sun sets. In the front, a courtyard provides an excellent spot to enjoy the afternoon shade.

Fifty-one low-e windows pour natural sunlight in to highlight the neutral tones, and with a bustling freeway just 400 yards away, the home is surprisingly serene. Since the insulating properties of the block are so incredible, Brent was able to downsize the HVAC to only 6 tons.

Of the many personal touches, Brent claims the flooring to be both the most unique and the most tedious. He prepared for the task three months prior when he took a class through Calico Building Products and Concrete Solutions on Spray-Top Flooring. His new home soon became the empty canvas for this newly acquired skill, but it was not an easy feat.

After making all the cuts and cleaning the floor, Brent applied an ivory Spray-Top cement paint on all the floors to create a uniform finish. Next, he misted water and applied a black acid stain 8–to–1 for the light brown look, and on all the surfaces that would remain that color, he applied an acrylic sealer. The borders and dark areas were stained with black stain 3–to–1. Finally, the stencils were glued to the floor and another coat of Spray-Top was applied, then stained a deep brown.
The result? A smooth, glossy floor with intricate details that can simply be described as elegant.

Future projects

The Hannigs created a masterpiece; not only is their abode aesthetically pleasing, but it is also extremely practical. Using ICFs made their home more energy efficient, more peaceful, and safer than their original floor plan.

Though Brent is beyond pleased with the way his home turned out, he is always one to look hopefully into the future. His next venture is learning how to create concrete countertops, which he did not use in his own home. If history repeats itself, he will excel at those, too.

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