Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Hillside projects are especially hard to estimate if you don’t have accurate elevation plans from an architect or civil engineer. The client may need to hire a soil engineer, surveyor, or civil engineer to produce detailed plans that include stair locations and retaining wall heights.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

The Pott residence before work began. Construction started April 2012 and was completed March 2013.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

The project cost $315,199 to build and the contractor used 297 yards of six-sack concrete with five special finishes, including cast-in-place finishes for structural walls, a stamped concrete patio, a polished concrete countertop, and a special seat wall at the fireplace.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

To determine costs and to show the homeowner the nature of the design, Tom Ralston Concrete laid out walls and perimeters and sent a foreman and an estimator to shoot grades. Establishing wall heights led to specifying footing widths and depths and laying out the final shape of the walls.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Because of the landscape’s twists and turns, the contractor decided that excavation by hand was the better way to go.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Tom Ralston and crew laying out walls and stairs with a simple but effective method.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Laying out walls and stairs during rainy weather was a challenge but excavating, covering, and uncovering the work was even more challenging.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

After the lighting specialist, landscape contractor, and Tom Ralston laid out and re-laid out lights, the TRC crew is ready to place sleeves into the walls for drainage and lighting.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Crews worked through rain and muck. In this image, walls are covered in anticipation of another rainy period.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Conceptual sketch for the stairs and walls leading from the house to the backyard. The design takes into account the environment. These stairs split to accommodate a Japanese maple tree.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Stairs and pool deck plan: A simple sketch that takes a concept to a decorative concrete reality.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Actual stairs built from the conceptual sketch.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Orange marks on wall forms represent lighting, pink marks are for stairs.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

You need the right amount of manpower to pour structural walls, and then quickly strip and finish them.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

A really good pumper exponentially helps when pouring vertical concrete. In fact, the difference can be like night and day.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Workers pull stakes, cut wires, and unfasten screws and nails before stripping wall forms.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Crew members use magnetic screw guns to strip wall forms. When forms are thin and more flimsy, the magnetic screw guns are extremely helpful.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Stripping walls requires good timing and should be done with caution.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Crew members troweled color hardener mixed like stucco onto walls to eventually provide a beautiful hard-troweled finish.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

You need “all hands on deck” to strip forms and add a decorative touch to structural walls. When it is crunch time the labor force has to be there and be on it!

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Crew members mark the walls for deep wall joints after considerable discussion with the project manager.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Use a level to make deep joints in walls for a great straight edge that reads plumb.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Using chisels to cut joints into walls needs to be timed correctly or the finishers have to beat in the joints with sledgehammers.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Hand tooling the joint line after chiseling provides a nice rounded edge and a clean finished look to the vertical joint.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Holes are cut into walls for lights, and light boxes are mounted to the stair riser forms; after conduits are connected to the lights to run power through.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Lights were initially laid out for lighting representative to mock up lighting for the Potts to see at night.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Flags mark where step lights will be mocked up and then installed.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

For the fireplace and seating, The client asked if the walls could be swooped, and Tom Ralston’s crew responded.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Finished fireplace and concrete bench. The seat wall is curved in three directions: vertical, horizontal, and concave.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

The 2-inch-thick concrete seat is 18 inches wide and has a curved and cantilevered bullnose that hoods over a blond Carmel ledger stone façade for the entire seat. The concrete bench and seat is a soft buff tan color, which harmonizes with the Cappuccino concrete color hardener on the fireplace.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Tom Ralston Concrete also performed all masonry work for the Pott Residence project.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

The crew pours the foundation for the pool guest house.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

With the pool installed, they’re ready to finish fireplace walls and decking.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Both are picture-framed with colored concrete copings that were poured in place. Flagstone accents on spa and pool cabana columns set off this Saratoga hardscape.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

The contractor used a cappuccino color hardener with cappuccino release agent on the stamped pool deck and buff tan for the hard-troweled bands and pool coping.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Tom Ralston Concrete's signature Lumi Lumi glow-in-the-dark aggregate is artistically strewn in shapes of the Milky Way on this medallion. The fireplace with curved seat wall and barbeque area with polished concrete counter is in the background.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

The sun charges the luminescent concrete medallion so it can light up during the dark night.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

This view shows both upper and lower medallions.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

The multicolored luminescent concrete medallions sparkle at night.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

The barbecue area features a grill and sink embedded in a curved, seamless polished concrete countertop.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Finished pool deck with furniture, fireplace, and pool. The project won a first-place 2014 Decorative Concrete Council Award in the Cast-In-Place Special Finishes, Under 5000 Square Feet category.

Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete

Like all Rumford fireplaces, this wood-burning fireplace has a shallow firebox and provides a large amount of heat, providing comfort on chilly nights.

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