The stack cast panels are rigged for lifting.
The stack cast panels are rigged for lifting.

Tierra Concrete Homes has developed a method for constructing all-concrete homes with insulated tilt-up panels. The homes they design and build incorporate passive solar strategies, so much so that they have won two Energy Star New Millennium Builder Awards and seven National Association of Home Builder-Research Center Energy Value Housing Awards.

Both interior and exterior wall panels for a Tierra home start with positioning of a steel perimeter frame, reinforcing steel, and electrical boxes and conduit; exterior walls also incorporate 3 inches of foam insulation on the outside of the concrete. Window and door blockouts are secured in place, concrete is poured, and allowed to cure.

This all-concrete home was built by Tierra in the Colorado Springs area.
This all-concrete home was built by Tierra in the Colorado Springs area.

While the walls are curing, workers excavate the foundation and leveling pads are poured. Exterior wall panels are then raised by crane and welded together. The exterior walls are generally finished with stucco including accents of cultured stone or brick; the interior walls are textured and painted, or finished with other decorative treatment.

Judy Fosdick, president, Tierra Concrete Homes, feels it is important that the whole building be considered as multiple systems working together. The aspects that she considers important are:

  • Orientation for passive solar design
  • Durable concrete building materials
  • Window management with selective glazing and calculated shading
  • High insulation levels
  • High efficiency equipment, appliances, and lighting
  • Indoor heath considerations
  • Wheelchair access
  • Disaster proof

--Kate Hamilton is an associate editor for Concrete Construction. She can be reached at 773-824-2501 or khamilton@hanleywood.com