Architect and Builder Agree: Precast Concrete Foundations Ideal Start for Affordable Housing Project
MILLVILLE, N.J. – Teams of building industry professionals are working together to create an affordable housing project in Franklin Lakes, N.J. for people with physical and developmental disabilities. Constructed of modular components situated on durable precast concrete panel foundations, the apartments and central community building are scheduled to open in August of 2018.
Five two-story buildings will house 40 special needs apartments when the project is complete. According to architect Stephen L. Schoch, AIA, LEED-AP, cost-effective and time-saving Xi Wall panels from Superior Walls made the most sense to serve as the foundations for the structures.
“After considering the cost and timeline for conventional foundations methods, we elected to specify Superior Walls foundations as a more cost-effective and faster way to get all the foundations in place and ready for the modular building units,” says Schoch, managing principal at Kitchen & Associates Services, Inc. “Additionally, the Superior Walls panels made good use of the crane equipment already positioned on the job site for placement of the modules.
“There was another consideration. We had little room to stage large stockpiles of materials on the jobsite. That made the speed of being able to take delivery and have the foundation walls quickly placed by Northeast Precast very attractive.”
Schoch relates that his firm typically specifies the energy-efficient Xi Wall panels for projects requiring speed of construction. He cites faster close-in rates and the ease of insulating the below ground perimeter walls as additional assets of the panels.
For Joe Alpert, President of The Alpert Group, time is also a key factor for his team in working with Superior Walls foundations.
“We save at least a month — maybe two — in construction time by using precast concrete foundations,” says Alpert, whose company serves as developer of the project. “This is the second time we’ve used these foundations and we have a third project starting soon.
“With the Franklin Lakes project, we missed the worst of the bad weather this past winter and kept construction on schedule because we were able to get the precast foundation set in place quickly. Northeast Precast was able to mobilize with as little as one day’s notice to get the walls set. This meant the oncoming harsh winter weather did not affect our progress.”
Alpert thinks the insulated crawlspace will help with long-term energy savings and the overall durability of the project. He also believes the flexibility of working with a manufacturer capable of custom changes helps keep the project on track.
“Overall, we believe that the Superior Walls precast concrete panels are far superior to other foundation alternatives,” says Alpert. “We are recommending this product for all our future projects.”
The 14-acre project site for the complex was purchased in 2013 for $2 million by the borough of Franklin Lakes with monies from their Affordable Housing Trust Fund. According to Alpert, the $11 million project is being financed with a combination of funds from the borough, Bergen County, and the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. The Alpert Group has partnered on the project with the Housing Development Corporation of Bergen County to form the Franklin Lakes Supportive Housing Urban Renewal LLC.
Once complete, the project will be open to special needs individuals, with preference given to those with Asperger’s syndrome or multiple sclerosis.