Tilt Up Construction

Posted on February 6, 2019

Over the last three years, Foundry Commercial has developed eight industrial buildings in the Southeast totaling 7 million square feet. Most people understand what an industrial building is, but they might not be familiar with how these large structures are built. All of Foundry’s industrial developments are constructed using what’s called tilt-up construction.

The tilt-up process has been around in its modern form since the 1970s but was used as far back as 150 A.D. in the Roman era. In the 1950s, vintage warehouses were precast at a factory off-site and then delivered to the construction site to stand them up (tilt them up, get it?) to form the walls of the building. During those times, clear heights—the distance from the floor to the lowest-hanging object on the ceiling—were around 18 to 20 feet high. Clear heights are much taller these days, up to 40-foot clear, and using precast panels isn’t practical at these sizes.

Our Foundry developments are no lower than 30-foot clear height because buildings with lower clear heights are harder to sell—institutional owners don’t typically purchase facilities with less than 30-foot clear height. Tenants pay attention to clear heights because they can pay for less square footage if they can go higher with their racking systems, saving money on rent. However, some densely populated cities are starting to charge by the cubic square foot for leases, allowing owners to capitalize on the vertical space created by increased clear heights.

Tilt-up construction remains one of the most efficient ways of constructing an industrial building. These buildings go up faster and more cheaply than other wall construction methods. A construction team can typically pour the required panels on-site within a month and then stand them in a week or less.