Concrete is a “hot” item, especially in Phoenix during the month of June. And this year's Concrete Technologies Tour (CTT), June 11-13 in Phoenix was no exception. The tour produced by the Concrete Home Building Council (CHBC) of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) drew over 100 home builders and industry leaders from different regions in the United States.

Sunset Trails IV is an ICF development built on an old landfill. The developer/builder offers a basement for each home. It solves some of the foundation site problems requiring removal of material to find solid ground and provides a unique feature for a Southwestern home.
Sunset Trails IV is an ICF development built on an old landfill. The developer/builder offers a basement for each home. It solves some of the foundation site problems requiring removal of material to find solid ground and provides a unique feature for a Southwestern home.

CTT presented the latest technology and advancements in concrete and cement-based products for residential construction. Jobsite visits allowed attendees to see products and systems in use, while visits to various manufacturing facilities demonstrated the efficiency and high standards of production for products in this industry. Keynote speakers and exhibit tables at breakfast and dinner provided additional learning opportunities.

Sponsorships and other contributions enabled the attendees to walk away from the event with a CD packed with dozens of informational and technical documents pertaining to cement-based products and related systems.

Robson Ranch uses Integra Superlight Block injected with foam to achieve a higher R-value. The post-tensioning helps with wind resistance and minimizes the cracking that can occur along block lines.
Robson Ranch uses Integra Superlight Block injected with foam to achieve a higher R-value. The post-tensioning helps with wind resistance and minimizes the cracking that can occur along block lines.

Besides visiting several different types of manufacturing facilities, attendees were able to visit two different subdivisions showcasing two different examples of cement-based building systems, all within an hour's drive of the hotel that was the base of operations for the tour. The first and largest of the two communities, Robson Ranch, an active adult subdivision in Casa Grande, featured the construction of uniform thickness post-tensioned foundations and post-tensioned masonry walls using the Integra System by Superlight Block, an OldCastle Company. The home's sizes ranged from 1350 to 3262 square feet and each home is Energy Star Certified. The next community, Sunset Trails IV, was unique to Arizona because each home had a basement. Arizona is not known for its basement market, but with the boom in residential construction and land not as easy to come by, the basement market is growing. Sunset Trails IV is also an energy efficient subdivision, taking advantage of the thermal mass of insulating concrete forms, using the ARXX system. Sunset Trails IV home sizes range from 3000 to 4000 square feet.

Dawn Faull, Concrete Home Building Council Building Systems Council National Association of Home Builders
Dawn Faull, Concrete Home Building Council Building Systems Council National Association of Home Builders

“Virtually every home uses concrete,” says Jeremy Bertrand, executive director of NAHB's Building Systems Council, “but this tour represents a unique opportunity for home builders around the county to come together, learn about and experience uses and applications for concrete and cement-based building materials that they may not be aware of.” CTT is a wonderful opportunity to learn concrete home building systems and products while networking with other builders and exchanging tips and e-mail addresses.

A special thanks to all the 2006 tour stops; we couldn't have done it without them: Robson Ranch, Superlite Block, Trustone America, Southwest Architectural Castings, Eagle Roofing Products, Sunset Trails IV, and Suncoast Post-Tension.

Look for the next Concrete Technologies Tour coming to Minneapolis in 2007 offering another unique look into the future of the concrete and masonry industry. For more on all the concrete home building activities offered by the CHBC go to www.nahb.org/concrete.