Few contractors would take on a large, elaborate foundation project requiring corner angles of 90, 135, 142, and 153 degrees and wall thicknesses of 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 34 inches. But these daunting requirements didn't unnerve Bontrager Concrete Specialties Inc., Nappanee, Ind., when the contractor was asked to build such a foundation for a nearly 6,000-square-foot private residence last summer. In fact, the job went so well, the contractor earned the Concrete Foundation Association's 1998 Basement of the Year Award.

What was the key to Bontrager's success? The layout, according to co-owners Kevin and Duane Bontrager. They laid out the complex corners by using a chalk line to mark both the outside and inside wall lines directly on the footing. The filler dimensions were then measured directly from the chalk lines on the footing. They also used preconstructed fillers, stocked in widths from ¼ to 1½ inches, to quickly fill in the gaps.