Tilt-Up Concrete Construction: Efficient Choice for Home Builders

Tilt-up concrete construction has been popular with commercial builders for nearly a century and used extensively on larger buildings since the 1940s. But now, with the availability of smaller cranes, this fast and efficient construction method of lifting — or tilting — site-cast concrete panels to form building walls is finding its way into single-family home construction, especially in planned communities where many homes are built in succession.

Courtesy of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association

Courtesy of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association

Site-cast panels can be produced in a variety of shapes and sizes, including flat and curved sections. They can also serve as the home’s finished surface and, although they have inherent thermal mass properties, can be insulated to achieve greater energy efficiency.

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Courtesy of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association

Other benefits of tilt-up construction include:

Speed of Construction. Wall panels are often put in place while the other building systems are being designed, enabling trades to begin work quickly and accelerating the time to occupancy. Speedy construction with minimal capital investment can mean more affordability for buyers, and increased profit for builders.

Durability. Tilt-up structures are strong, solid and resistant to all kinds of forces including severe weather, high winds and projectile impact. In addition, these type of homes typically require little maintenance – a nice selling point for potential buyers.

Sustainability. This building method is widely recognized as environmentally friendly. In certain climate zones, the thermal mass of tilt-up eliminates the need for insulation. Of the approximately 25% of panels that are insulated, most use non-conductive ties to take best advantage of thermal mass properties, creating a solid, insulated and energy-efficient wall. Tilt-up buildings also can be designed to accommodate change because the panels can be moved, removed and reused or even recycled, if necessary.

Curb Appeal. Exterior finishes can be as simple as light stucco texturing or something more ornate. Common decorative techniques form liner textures and colors using paints, stains or integrated pigments.

For more information on building with concrete, visit nahb.org or contact John Lingerfelt at 800-368-5242 x8357.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Adam Dawson says:

    There isn’t a more cost-and-time-saving building method in existence. It’s good to know that modern technology allows homes to be built using tilt-up construction instead of just big box stores and warehouses. Makes life much easier for home builders!

  2. I’ve never heard of the tilt-up concrete method for construction a home. It sounds like a great way to save a lot of time on construction. My husband and I have been planning our dream house for a while, so I know we would want to move in as soon as possible. When we finally get started on that, I will have to ask about this option so our home can be built faster.

  3. With this type of construction, would it be viable for new building in today’s world? I would assume so since these structures are durable. Now how good would it be to make a commercial building in this method?

    • NAHBNow says:

      Tilt-up construction is a popular type of commercial construction choice – especially in areas with a long construction season and less severe winters. For example, the Southern markets like Florida and Texas have a considerable amount of tilt-up commercial construction. Areas in the North, with cold winters and soil conditions (clay) affected by wet Springs and Fall have a “shorter season” for tilt-up construction. That being said, it still is done and an effective way to do large, insulated concrete panels that are larger (longer & wider) than could be transported down the highway on a trailer.

      All that being said, tilt-up panels need to be cast (formed and concrete placed) on a construction slab. This “construction slab” is sometimes the floor of the new structure, or sometimes what is considered a “waste slab” that is used solely for the purpose of casting the wall panels that is then destroyed after all of the panels for the building are completed. Because of the size of the slab required for casting panels, this is typically why tilt-up construction isn’t very often used for residential construction. Lot sizes are prohibitive, and the footprint of the home is typically small enough that it restricts effectively casting panels.

      I’m available to discuss any additional questions you may have. From 2000 through 2007, I headed up the residential program for the Portland Cement Association, which was responsible for market development for all cement-based building systems. I try to take a non-biased approach and offer suggestions that make sense for the individual builder, contractor and/or owner since variables need to be considered for each unique application and building technology.

      Michael H. Weber, CGP, Former Building Systems Councils Chair, Former President Concrete Home Building Council
      CEO, Zero Energy Systems
      Mike.Weber@ZeroEnergySystems.com

  4. Maggie Allen says:

    My husband and I have been looking into different home builders for our dream house, and we wanted to learn a little more about the processes that are fairly common. The tilt up panels seem like such an awesome asset, especially since they help improve the construction in so many different ways. After all, it would be nice knowing that our dream house is extremely durable! That means that we could retire in it without any worries!

  5. Terri says:

    I have a buyer who wants to put an offer in on a tilt wall construction in Florida. A home inspection showed the stucco was coming off the wall so they pulled their offer. The seller fixed the stucco and they had the home repainted. Is this something that could happen again? The home was built 2002 and repaired October 2017. Should this be a red flag?

  6. Masons says:

    I like the speedy construction they talk about in this article. They seem very fast and efficient.

  7. Zeroenergy says:

    Thank you for your article. Concrete walls are years in the market and I think will be never our of demand.

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