Phone: (719) 548-0600
Colorado Springs, CO – A groundbreaking new building foundation system is being introduced to Colorado. This innovative system provides solutions for expansive soil problems that are prevalent throughout our State.
RMG Engineers, a Colorado Springs-based architectural and engineering company, is the pioneer of the technique that is gaining fast recognition throughout the Front Range as a viable solution to a century’s old problem. RMG is excited to announce that the Tella Firma™ Foundations system is becoming the answer to most expansive soils problems. “Builders are constantly asking us for better ways to address our expansive soils problems,” says John Clarke, President, and Owner of RMG Engineers.
A new home is now being constructed by Vanguard Homes on this advanced new technique. The home will utilize the Tella Firma™ system in the basement and garage. This unconventional system, designed by RMG Engineers, lifts the foundation supporting the house off the ground from a grid of deep foundation piers, creating a more stable structure.
Expansive soil is defined as soil containing clay that swells when it is wet and often shrinks when it dries, creating havoc for many buildings foundations. When RMG conducts a soils test on a future home site, they may determine that the soil has certain expansive characteristics that could affect a traditional foundation system. The most common solution in the El Paso County area is to recommend an over-excavation scheme which involves the removal of three feet or more of the expansive soil and replacement with non-expansive soil. “The conventional approach of overdigging these sites is getting more expensive every year,” says Clarke. However, to avoid this costly over excavation option and promote a more stable foundation for the new home, Vanguard Homes has chosen to incorporate this innovative foundation design known as Tella Firma™. This patented system greatly reduces the potential for foundation and slab movement caused by expansive soil by literally suspending the foundation platform above the troublesome soils.
The patented process works by installing a grid of deep piers designed for the anticipated expansion in the soil. A structural concrete slab floor is poured on top of the ground and then raised six or more inches above the soils with the use of specially engineered lifting mechanisms supported on the piers; this creates the desired gap from the harmful effects of the expansive soil.
Constructing a structural floor above expansive clay soil has typically been considered the best approach to maintain a stable floor. Most structural floors require crawlspaces that are difficult to ventilate and involve deeper excavations and taller foundation walls. Using a concrete structural floor eliminates these requirements. But in the past, it had been costly to construct concrete structural floors which require elaborate form systems that were necessary to support the floor above the ground. This process was limited to more expensive homes and commercial buildings. Tella Firma™ Foundations system offers a unique and patented approach by lifting the concrete foundation without the use of the form system (as described above) at a more affordable cost, significantly reducing the required material, labor and construction time.
Tella Firma™ Foundations system also utilizes a post-tensioning structural concrete floor that is based upon existing engineering principals that have been in use for many years in commercial buildings and parking garages. Adapting a similar fundamental approach, RMG Engineers, has designed a stronger structural concrete floor that requires fewer support piers, further lowering the cost.
This current project is a residential home that will utilize the Tella Firma™ Foundations system for the basement and also the garage. While Tella Firma™ is not the only foundation system for a new home; it is the most cost effective in terms of protection from our volatile soils. “This system has already been used on the highly expansive soils in Texas in over 1000 homes,” adds Clarke.
Colorado Foundation Solutions (CFS) is the only supplier of the Tella Firma™ lifting mechanisms in Colorado. CFS also provides cost estimates to compare Tella Firma™ to traditional systems and training of, or references for, installation contractors. RMG, or your engineer, designs these foundations through our elaborate finite element analysis software systems.
CFS and RMG will be demonstrating the revolutionary process at the Vanguard Homes building site in a local Colorado Springs subdivision. RMG will be providing tours of the home site to all interested parties. Engineers, Architects, residential and commercial Builders, General Contractors, Land Developers and future home buyers are encouraged to tour the site and observe engineering innovation take place.
About RMG Engineers
RMG Engineers is a multi- service line architectural and engineering firm, headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO., with offices throughout the Rocky Mountain Front Range. The firm has been serving the Western States and Mid-West for 30 years. Staffed with a diverse team of licensed engineers and design professionals who are committed to delivering the highest level of quality in design, land planning, and engineering services. Project experience ranges in scale from residential to large commercial structures, land planning, geotechnical, forensics and providing an onsite lab for materials testing. Whether it’s a brand new design for a building, land development, a renovation, a remodel of a living space, or an addition to their home, RMG offers personal service and innovative design solutions through close collaboration with everyone involved.
About Tella Firma™ Foundations
Tella Firma™ Foundations is revolutionizing the way home foundations are built. Tella Firma translates “strong home” in Latin. The leadership team is leveraging a proven technology that was patented in 2011. Foundations with the Company’s product have been installed in Colorado and Texas.
Please contact RMG to schedule your tour or to learn more about the revolutionary Tella Firma™ Foundations system.
A property owner elected to construct an office and apartment building in a very small infill space in a historical Colorado Springs Neighborhood. Because the lot was located between two established businesses, there was very limited room for the use of heavy construction equipment. A new approach was needed that would eliminate the need to over excavate the bad soil and import structural fill.
The only realistic option was to construct a structurally suspended floor system, supported on a grid of piers. However, the construction methods used for “typical” structurally suspended floors still require at least 18″- 24″ of excavation.
As a result, the owner decided to use the Tella Firma™ foundation system because it requires virtually no excavation. With Tella Firma™, the slab is simply built on top of the existing ground and then raised, creating the necessary void between the soil and the foundation.
Tella Firma™ is a patented process for constructing a new type of Structurally Suspended concrete foundation system. With this system, the slab is poured directly on top of the existing ground, after first installing a grid of piers or pads. In this case, helical piers were used.
After the concrete cures to the proper strength (typically 3 days), the post-tensioned cables are pulled, and the slab is raised to the desired height. This process utilizes mechanical screw jacks embedded in the slab, directly over each pier. Therefore, all the structural loads of the home are distributed to the piers which in turn distribute them to the stable soils below.
The slab is raised 6″ – 10″ above the ground, based on the recommendations of the Geotechnical engineer. The resultant void between the ground and the foundation serves to isolate the slab from any future soil movement. The problem soils may then move up or down in the future without affecting or even touching the floor.