COMAL COUNTY AND YATES-SUNDT CONSTRUCTION SELECT TELLA FIRMA FOUNDATIONS FOR NEW COMAL COUNTY JAIL

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Innovative foundation technology will save nearly $1 million in direct and indirect construction costs for Comal County Taxpayers

(NEW BRAUNFELS, TEXAS—May 21, 2018) Comal County, Texas, and the Yates-Sundt joint venture announced today they have chosen Tella Firma Foundations, a Dallas-based construction-technology company, to provide an innovative foundation design for the new Comal County Jail, currently under construction.

This foundation solution, chosen through a competitive bidding process, will save the county and its taxpayers nearly $1 million in direct and indirect construction costs.

“We selected Tella Firma not only because we knew they would deliver a high-quality foundation,” said Randy Powell, Senior Vice President of Yates Construction, “but also based on the cost savings and time savings they demonstrated they would bring to the project.”

The building site for the new jail requires a foundation design that can withstand significant vertical soil movement of up to 6.25 inches because of active clay soils that expand and contract in response to changes in moisture. Tella Firma’s solution, which incorporates steel helical piers and steel lifting mechanisms to elevate the concrete slab, creates a 10-inch under-slab void space. The void space is over 1.5 times the potential vertical rise of the underlying soil, allowing for expansion of soils under the slab without damage to the foundation.

“We encouraged our general contractor and A/E partners to consider various opportunities for cost savings throughout the project, including the Tella Firma solution,” said James A. Broaddus, Ph.D., P.E., project manager of Broaddus and Associates. “We’re excited to bring this type of innovative technology to the Comal County Jail.”

“Tella Firma’s innovative design is based on using steel piers placed closer together with a thinner slab, resulting in cost savings by using substantially less concrete in the slab and eliminating the use of expensive concrete piers and other materials”, said Jim Fontaine, the company’s CEO.

The Tella Firma design provides the same level of structural integrity and reliability as traditional foundation design, but at a substantially reduced cost. In addition, the Tella Firma foundation can be installed in less time than traditional methods, creating further cost savings.

The system has been used by dozens of builders, with more than 1,200 foundations installed in commercial and residential projects, and is backed by seven issued patents. This solution is an environmentally friendly installation process that avoids the need for any type of chemical or water injection into the soil as part of construction.

“As with all phases of this project, the county aims to deliver a strong return on taxpayers’ investment,” said Tom Hornseth, Comal County engineer. “At the end of the day, we feel the Tella Firma foundation will represent the best value for our community.”

About Yates Construction
Yates Construction is one of the nation’s largest privately held construction companies providing general construction, at-risk construction management, design-build, preconstruction and specialized turnkey services from 16 offices throughout eight states in the U.S., including two Texas offices in San Antonio and Fort Worth. Founded in 1964, Yates is ranked among the top construction services providers in the country by Engineering News Record, with its highest ranking of No. 6 in “Correctional Facilities.” www.wgyates.com

About Sundt Construction
Sundt Construction Inc. is one of the country’s largest and most respected general contractors, with 11 offices in Texas, Arizona, California and Utah. Known for its commitment to quality and its innovative approach to construction services, Sundt was named the nation’s safest construction company by the Associated General Contractors of America in 2016. Over the past three decades, Sundt has constructed more than 100,000 detention beds in various custody levels. www.sundt.com

About the Yates-Sundt Joint Venture
Building on the success of their established joint venture on a previous project, Yates-Sundt again joined forces for the express purpose of constructing the Comal County Jail and renovating the Sheriff’s Office. Over the past 10 years, Yates and Sundt, collectively have completed more than $1.5 billion in justice and law-enforcement-center projects throughout the U.S.; 16 of those projects were with HDR, the architect on the Comal County project, and three with Broaddus & Associates, Comal County’s project manager.

About Tella Firma Foundations
Dallas-based Tella Firma is a construction-technology firm that is revolutionizing the way foundations are built. Tella Firma gets its name from the Latin words meaning “strong home.” Foundations with the company’s product have been installed in residential and light commercial projects in Texas and Colorado, and the company continues to expand into new markets throughout the region. For additional information, visit tellafirma.com.

TELLA FIRMA NAMES JIM ROACH AND TIM LOONEY TO ITS ADVISORY BOARD AS IT EXPANDS INTO COMMERCIAL MARKET

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Tella Firma Foundations Names Jim Roach and Tim Looney to its Advisory Board as it Expands into Commercial Market

(DALLAS—March 19, 2018) Tella Firma Foundations, a construction-tech company, today announced that it has added two new Advisory Board members – Jim Roach and Tim Looney. An Advisory Board member acts as strategic advisor and sounding board for the company, supporting its mission to revolutionize the foundation industry.

“Our goal is to form a group of world-class advisors who will provide sound advice while guiding and challenging our thinking as we pursue our strategy for growth,” Fontaine said. “Both Jim and Tim bring a solid business background and specific industry expertise that will benefit Tella Firma as it expands into commercial markets. We are very pleased they have agreed to lend their talents to the company.”

Jim Roach brings 44 years of experience in the commercial construction markets in his role as Commercial Advisor.  He currently works for Tribble & Stephens Construction in Houston, serving as manager of preconstruction activities (bidding through design phase) for the company’s commercial retail, office, mid- and high-rise residential, lodging and hospitality, and warehouse design-and-build projects throughout the region. His prior experience includes serving as vice president in charge of estimation for Jordan Foster, a large commercial construction company. Roach is a retired licensed structural engineer with a civil engineering degree from Clemson University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tim Looney brings over 40 years of experience including executive management of the design and manufacture of ruggedized precision products. He is currently president of TWL Group, a private investment firm with holdings in real estate, healthcare, financial services, social media, and operations/services companies. Prior to founding his current business in 2006, Looney was co-founder of Optex Systems Inc., a defense contractor that produced sighting systems for the U.S. military, which are used in various applications such as Abrams M1 tanks, Stryker armored combat vehicles, and Assault Amphibious Vehicles. He completed the sale of Optex to Pequot Capital in 2006. Looney has served on multiple private, public and non-profit boards during the past 30 years, and currently serves as a director for Vital Art and Science, a medical software company, and Encore Propane, a commercial propane service provider. He served with Fontaine as co-chair of the North Texas Angel Network in 2012.

The Tella Firma foundation system has been used by dozens of builders, with more than 1,200 foundations installed in commercial and residential projects, and is backed by seven issued patents. Tella Firma foundations are designed to protect a building’s foundation from damaging active soil movement with a field-tested process of elevating a slab-on-grade foundation using piers, creating a protective void between the ground and the foundation itself. This application isolates the slab from active soils and guards it from unexpected movement. Tella Firma’s solution is an environmentally friendly, green installation process that avoids the need for any type of chemical or water injection into the soil as part of construction.

About Tella Firma Foundations
Dallas-based Tella Firma is a construction technology firm that is revolutionizing the way foundations are built. Tella Firma gets its name from the Latin words meaning “strong home.” Foundations with the company’s product have been installed in residential and light commercial projects in Texas and Colorado, and the company continues to expand into new markets throughout the region. For additional information, visit tellafirma.com.

INNOVATIVE FOUNDATION SOLUTION SERVES A DUAL PURPOSE FOR MIXED-CONSTRUCTION KINGDOM LIFE CHRISTIAN CENTER IN FRISCO

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FORM studios Architecture planned the building as a mixed-type construction project, with one-half of the building constructed with wood for a one-story classroom built on a slab foundation, and the other half a taller steel structure with columns to support a wide-open area for the sanctuary. Each side would need a different treatment for the foundation to deliver the proper support.   

The building site presented additional challenges. Geotechnical reports indicated the site contained very expansive soils with a high PVR (potential vertical rise), and the original plan was to use water and chemical injections with a pier-and-beam foundation to ensure stability. Yet the builder encountered a significant amount of water underground when the drilling began, indicating another approach would be necessary.

According to Jason Presley of FORM studios, the firm had worked with the same contractor when building the Spanish House Immersion School in Dallas the year before, and had success working with the Tella Firma Foundations solution, which elevates the foundation off the ground and away from the expansive soils. This time, Tella Firma helped create a hybrid approach for the Kingdom Life Christian Center, with lifting piers supporting the slab under the classroom and sanctuary sides of the structure, and non-lifting, cased piers supporting the steel columns only in the sanctuary. The team designed a pour strip in between the two sections of the building, and metal stud infill was utilized around the columns. The two sides of the foundation were lifted at different times.    

Mr. Presley said the hybrid solution required a little more planning and preparation at the outset, but was well worth the effort in terms of saving money on construction. Beyond the savings realized based on the projected cost of a pier-and-beam foundation, the originally planned remediation of the soil would have increased both the time and cost of the project overall.

According to Mr. Presley, one of the most important considerations for this job was to have a good engineer who could assume responsibility for the design of the foundation around the steel grid. And the outcome demonstrates the benefit of looking at both sides of the equation.

NEW SCHOOL BUILDING GETS AN “A” FOR FOUNDATION

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Innovative Foundation Solution Receives Good Marks at Spanish House Immersion School

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The new Spanish House Immersion School in Dallas gets an “A” for design and functionality, but the site it’s built on almost received a failing grade before construction began. “It was one of the most complex type of building sites you could have,” says Richard Atchison, whose firm, FORM studios Architecture, completed the new building for the elementary school after utilizing an innovative solution from Tella Firma to build a solid foundation on unsolid ground.

When FORM studios began planning for the new school near White Rock Lake in Dallas, it found the building site less than ideal for a standard foundation on piers. The site was located in a former flood plain, near a park and golf course, and featured the deep clay soil that is typical of neighborhoods in and around East Dallas. To make matters worse, the low lying elevation required 8 feet of land fill to elevate the building pad above flood plain levels before foundation work could begin.

The construction team was worried about potential soil movement that might cause a traditional foundation to become unstable and fail over time. Soil remediation was one option, which would require a 10-12 foot excavation before layering in new soil and non-expansive fill to prevent further expansion, but this method would add $3-5 per square foot and add more than a month to the construction schedule. Water or chemical injection was not an option for this site because of the high water table and environmental concerns. 

The potential vertical rise (PVR) of the soil suggested that a suspended foundation and pier solution were required. In addition, the high water table meant the drillers would probably hit water as they installed the piers. Seeking a more affordable solution that wouldn’t require the additional expense of remediation, the team first considered bell piers to avoid the water table, and also considered a slab-on-void box foundation, which would cost between $25-30 per square foot.

Then the team learned about Tella Firma Foundations from TEXCON concrete contractors, which had experience installing more than 100 foundations utilizing the Tella Firma process in residential construction. Tella Firma uses a field-tested, patented process to elevate a slab-on-grade foundation using piers, to create a protective void between the ground and the foundation itself. Tella Firma’s solution for the Spanish House school would include an 8-inch raised foundation that isolates the slab from active soils and guards it from unexpected movement.

The Tella Firma suspended solution works well when high PVR and settlement are present on a site, which was the case for the Spanish House school. The elevator in the building still required a slab-on-void box foundation on four piers to support the additional weight, with an 8-inch void to match the Tella Firma foundation, which was lifted around the elevator pit. The foundation also was designed to support and counterbalance a scissor-lift platform used during construction and the installation of plumbing and other components.

The project was completed on time and on budget during a 7-month construction schedule, ready to open for the new school year in August 2016. Atchison said he was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the building’s foundation, and noted that FORM studios would have been unable to complete the project on budget otherwise. In total, the Tella Firma solution saved the builder close to $100,000, and the school was able to consider additional design features based on this savings.

FORM studios is now working with Tella Firma on The Kingdom Life Church project in Frisco,  Texas, and Atchison says the excellent report card from the Spanish House Immersion School means his firm will definitely work with Tella Firma on other projects.