When a customer contacted Precision Precast Group of Phoenix, Ariz., with a request to construct 43 precast concrete columns for a new plantation-style home in McLeod, Texas, the company answered with a resounding “Yes!”
The custom home will feature 27 precast columns on the double deck porch when completed in 2016. According to Gannon Thiel, president of Precision Precast, the columns are 33 feet tall and weigh 40,000 pounds each. Precision Precast is also manufacturing 16 columns for the house’s guest home and pool. Those pieces are slightly smaller, standing 14 feet high.
Although residential work is not uncommon for Precision Precast, the size of the pieces and the level of detail the customer required for each unit make the project unique.
“The client did not want a detectable seam – neither visual nor touch – and they insisted on the columns being entirely smooth,” Thiel said.
In order to meet these rigorous requirements, Thiel said Precision Precast manufactured fiberglass molds based on shop drawings provided by the general contractor. The molds were sprayed with white cement-based glass fiber reinforced concrete to get a smooth, consistent coating for the shell. Inside, workers placed the rebar cage and concrete. Because each column needed to be manufactured from two separate pieces yet still appear monolithic, workers had to complete additional steps.
“Once the pieces were stripped, they were cleaned up and our guys went to work on the seams,” he said. “We were able to bore them out a bit, then fill them using white cement.”
While the process of manufacturing large, aesthetically pleasing columns proved difficult, shipping logistics also presented a challenge. The columns must be shipped one at a time due to weight and each sits in a custom cradle manufactured by Precision Precast. This allows them to safely make the 1,250-mile trip to their destination.
According to Thiel, choosing precast was the only solution for the project. “If (workers) would have tried to pour these in place, they would not have even come close to getting what the customer wanted,” he said.
The result is what every precaster looks for – a happy customer and another unique project to add to the portfolio.