Heldenfels, home specialist peg ‘Win-Wind’ solution for coastal living

36-NS-HeldenfelsI-400In alliance with HEI Building Systems Division, Coastal Fortified Homes (CFH) has designed a carbon fiber-reinforced precast concrete wall system to withstand Category 5 hurricane exposure (winds > 157 mph) and attendant flooding or storm surge. The system premiered at a development of eight 1,600-sq.-ft. properties in Port Aransas, Texas, located between San Jose and Padre Islands this past fall.

As a member of Lancaster, Pa.-based AltusGroup, HEI Building Systems brings CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels into the homes’ design. “CarbonCast, through innovation and many years of proven testing, uses carbon fiber reinforcing to produce a thinner but stronger insulated panel,” notes Division General Manager Gil Heldenfels. “The panel assembly consists of insulation sandwiched between two layers of concrete. A series of carbon fiber trusses ties the wall assembly together.”

The producer fabricated the CarbonCast panels at its Corpus Christi, Texas, site, and shipped them about 25 miles to Port Aransas where, notes CFH founder and CEO Steve Berkus, “The objective is to create relevant, competitively-priced housing for responsible living within low-lying coastal regions. We are excited to publicly reveal what we call a ‘win-wind’ solution.”

Designed as vacation rentals, the two-story homes feature four bedrooms and three full bathrooms. A covered roof terrace expands the social living area of each home and provides sunset views over the surrounding Port Aransas neighborhood. Site amenities include four swimming pool courtyards, drought tolerant landscape, and a unique five parking spaces per home.36-NS-HeldenfelsIII-400

Project developer Nick Lorette has been building homes in Port Aransas for 10 years, completing upwards of 250 properties in that window. As a longtime coastal resident, he recognizes the increasing need for durable structures of the type Heldenfels and CFH have designed, and how a precast wall system can result in a halving of a home’s construction schedule when compared to a conventional wood frame scheme.

CFH is working with insurance officials to recognize the CarbonCast building system’s favorable probability of risk in weather extremes, and thereby receive a classification for lower premiums. Coupled with the other savings, insurability will substantially reduce the overall cost of operation. “Yet even with [their] unique engineering features, the homes are inviting and livable, thanks to strong architectural design. There is no compromise on pride of ownership,” Berkhus affirms.

While approximately 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties that lie directly along the nation’s shoreline, he adds, few structures are built to withstand the extreme conditions that periodically inundate these areas. Meanwhile, the frequency of storm events in the U.S. continues to increase along with the cost of insurance and the desire of millions to live in coastal regions.


Heldenfels Enterprises Inc. is adding a third precast/prestressed operation in Texas, aiming for the new site to be operation in April 2015. Initial production at the El Paso plant will include prestressed concrete bridge girders for the Abrams-Kiewit Joint Venture’s Border Highway West Extension project. The new facility joins the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute-certified San Marcos flagship and Corpus Christi plants through which Heldenfels Enterprises serves highway and bridge, commercial building, marine/industrial and sports facility construction markets.

37-NS-HEI-400Shown here at the El Paso groundbreaking late last year: (front row, from left) Director of Plant Operations Adam Mainka, CEO Fred Heldenfels IV, Human Resources Supervisor Kristen Knox; (back row, from left) Vice President Dan Visel, V.P. of Estimating Kurt Schriefer, COO Ron Reich, V.P. of Operations Blaine Withers, Building Systems Division V.P. Gil Heldenfels.