[In the News] The Shift to Multi-Family Real Estate

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The Growing Sector of Multi-Family Real Estate

Did you know multi-family real estate is one the fastest-growing sectors in the country right now? In fact, investment hit a record $43 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, and multi-family units now account for more than one-third of all new housing.

Shifting lifestyles in the U.S. have sent demand for rentals through the roof. America’s rental population is expected to grow by 4.2 million people between 2015 and 2025, according to a recent Harvard study.

So why is multi-family real estate so popular now?

Top three reasons why multi-family housing is hot:

  • Demographics. The number of young adults (20-34) is rising.
  • A major change in attitudes about how we live. Many desire a walking-based urban lifestyle.
  • The real estate collapse of a few years ago left some cautious at the thought of home ownership.

Multi-Family Real Estate in Central Indiana

Moreover, did you know Indianapolis was recently called “one of the best new boom towns in the U.S.” by Forbes and an “emerging hotspot” by Newsweek? Yes, Indianapolis! With numerous locally-authentic urban areas, Empty-Nesters, Baby Boomers and Millennials are leading the return to walking-based lifestyles in a highly livable metro area.

At the core of so many Central Indiana urban living areas is vibrant and convenient living. Multi-family construction plays a large factor in that, and it’s an expertise we are proud to work within daily. From downtown Indy to Carmel, Westfield, Brownsburg, Greenwood and beyond, Greater Indianapolis has counted on Custom Concrete for over 50 years for quality concrete foundations for luxury living, senior living and university living environments.

We may be partial, but we think Central Indiana is one of the most beautiful places to call home, whether single family or multi-family. Some of the best restaurants, performing arts, entertainment, sports, museums, waterways and parks are in Indy. How could it not be a hotspot?!

Explore our multi-family project portfolio.


Custom Concrete Named Greenways Foundation 2016 Outstanding Corporation

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Greenways Foundation 2016 Outstanding Corporation

Custom Concrete is honored and humbled to be named Greenways Foundation’s 2016 Outstanding Corporation. There are many gorgeous greenways throughout Indiana, and we are lucky enough to have one right in our own backyard – the Monon Trail extension in Westfield.

Last year Custom Concrete made three additions to the trail in close proximity to the Westfield, Indiana headquarters. There’s now a quarter of a mile stretch that we call the Custom Concrete “Healthy Path”. Additionally, three fitness stations were installed with various exercise and stretching equipment so employees and the general public can utilize those fitness stations. One station is really unique. It’s designed to be handicap accessible. An individual in a wheelchair can pull right up to it and do various exercises all at different points.

It has been Custom Concrete’s pleasure to partner with the City of Westfield and the Westfield Parks Department to help the Monon Trail grow. We were thrilled to be able to build a paved trail connector from our campus to the Monon path. It has allowed our employees to continue to work on their health and wellness goals and has facilitated fun fitness stations the entire community can use as well.

“We want to promote a healthy lifestyle. We want for our company and community to take advantage of the great amenities we have here in Westfield,” says Brad Schrock, Custom Concrete vice president.

Let’s Choose Wellness … Together!

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Custom Concrete has taken numerous active steps to promote the health and well-being of our employees.

With November being National Diabetes Awareness Month, Custom Concrete and the American Diabetes Association reminds both our employees and customers that diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. Did you know that 86 million adults in the U.S. are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes?

By adopting a healthier lifestyle — like many of our Custom Concrete employees already have — we can prevent up to 90 percent of type 2 diabetes cases.  Read more

Custom Concrete Cares

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Custom and the Community

When a company’s roots are entrenched deep within a community, an active and altruistic presence in that community generally follows.

That is indeed the case with Custom Concrete.

Since launching in 1969, we have grown from a meager foundation forms company to one of Indiana’s leading providers of concrete work in commercial, residential and multi-family projects. Recent projects have included providing the foundations for a 750,000 square-foot manufacturing plant, a number of upscale multifamily developments and even several “big-box” stores throughout Central Indiana.

Nonetheless, one thing remains constant: a business environment that is based on the sound principles of trust, integrity, pride and faith. And with that comes that commitment to helping the community in which we live and work as well as taking care of our employees.

Custom Concrete is “seen” in a number of different places: Soccer field back stops, the backs of little league teams and through other sponsorships and donations. But there are many other times when we may be volunteering our time and talents that “fly a bit under the radar.”

For many years, for instance, we’ve been a supporter of Anna’s Celebration of Life through participating in 5K and biking events and other supporting roles. We’re proud of our hometown, Westfield, Ind., and regularly participate in both Westfield Chamber activities as well as things like the Open Doors of Washington Township food drive during the holidays. Through the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis, we’ve donated time and resources to build a Santa House as well as participate in Habitat for Humanity.

Likewise, Custom Concrete applies those tenets of trust, integrity, pride and faith with our employees as well. We continually do everything we can to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our employees – not because we have to in order to meet some standard, but because we believe it’s the right thing to do. Our extensive health and wellness program garnered us as Indiana’s “Healthiest Employer” (for companies between 100 – 500 employees). In tandem with our health and wellness initiative, we also provide employees with financial literacy information so they can maximize their hard-earned wages.

This isn’t to brag about our efforts; it is merely to illustrate our commitment to caring about our employees and our community. It’s the kind of people we are – and the kind of people we do business with.

The Science of Concrete


The Science of Concrete

While concrete has been around for thousands of years – the building material of choice for ancient Egyptians and Romans – the quest to make concrete stronger, more resilient and longer lasting continues.

Providing the highest quality concrete for our commercial and residential construction projects is paramount to Custom Concrete. We work with reputable, long-standing ready-mix concrete companies like Shelby Materials to provide us with the best product for our foundations.

Chris Wolf, director of technical support for Shelby Materials, weighs in on “The Science of Concrete” this month.

Think of concrete as a very slow setting, two-part epoxy … and by “very slow,” I mean close to four weeks. The sand and stone are just fillers; the action is all about the water. When we make concrete, we add water and cement in the correct proportions. If the job requires more fluidity, we add water, but we don’t always add cement. Adding water is like adding more hardener than the epoxy needs for balance. The qualities are reduced.

The same thing is true when we fail to take steps to keep the water in place during curing. The cement is bound by gravity and never leaves, but the water can evaporate. Some days are cloudy or humid so the water leaves very slowly. Other days are dry, sunny and windy. On those days, the crews are adding water as fast as they can. In my position, I hear owners ask, “Why is my concrete different than everyone else’s?” Water is the “why.”

There is one more problem. The two-part epoxy of cement and water is a chemical reaction. Like all chemical reactions, it is dependent on temperature. So colder is slower, and hotter is faster. In summer, hydration is very fast. We often have full design strength in a few days. However, crews struggle to keep up with the setting of the concrete. A good foreman has extra man power to keep up with demands of the concrete. When we make summer concrete, we add ingredients to help them like fly ash and admixtures. We cannot reduce the cement content or that would upset the balance of the “epoxy.” Fly ash is a very effective retarder. It is also very cementitious. Fly ash is a waste product of our coal fired power stations. Power stations are very efficient, so the fly ash we receive is very consistent. Using fly ash is environmentally friendly and beneficial.

The big problem is in the winter. In winter, the hydration is very slow, and thus, strength gain is slow. Set time is slow. The need for curing and protection is critical. The concrete is “green” longer. It is more likely to lose water to dry winter air. Furthermore, winter includes freezing rain, ice, and snow. All of these damage concrete that is not yet strong. As a producer, we have sand heaters, we remove fly ash, we add more cement, and we have accelerators. All of these tools help the crews give the concrete a head start.

The thing to remember is that water is part of the strength of the concrete. We must take steps to keep water in the concrete so that it can hydrate with the cement to give us the strength and durability we paid for. Curing is critical.

Healthiest Employer 2015

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Custom Concrete Named Healthiest Employer

Westfield, Ind.-based Custom Concrete recently received recognition with the Healthiest Employer award for all Central Indiana companies with 100 – 499 employees. The award honors companies and organizations that take employee health seriously by offering wellness programs that are thorough, innovative and make a difference in the lives of employees and their families.

Custom Concrete’s nomination was in direct correlation to the company’s philosophy that wellness is a marathon, not a sprint. Their wellness program touts a very high participation rate and seeks to inform, educate and facilitate a healthier lifestyle both at work and at home for their employees.

According to Custom Concrete’s Chief Operating Officer Doug Staebler, being a healthy employer is a win-win proposition. “Less than three short years ago, we were just beginning the journey and trying to determine how we could help our employees achieve meaningful improvements in their health as well as for their entire family.  The notion of corporate wellness was not at all common for contractors, but we were convinced that we could help our employees through a combination of education that was both fun and effective, as well as offering financial incentives connected to our group medical insurance plan,” he said. “We have had outstanding guidance and support from American Health and Wellness along the way.  Our employees have embraced the wellness program which is now a big part of the culture at Custom Concrete, and we look forward to new wellness initiatives as we move forward.”

The company is currently creating a “path to wellness” in conjunction with the city of Westfield. Custom Concrete is located adjacent to the Monon Trail in Hamilton County and the location offers a healthy commuting alternative to driving.

It’s Not Your Dad’s Apartment

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Multi-Family Housing Boom

Upscale, multi-family housing has grown into a hot commodity in Central Indiana, and Custom Concrete’s commercial division has been busy meeting the needs of demand.

According to DTZ (formerly Cassidy Turley), the Indianapolis multi-family market registered 405 units of net absorption during the first quarter of 2015, an increase of 63% over the prior year’s first-quarter absorption tally of 246 units. That figures into more than five years of uninterrupted occupancy gains in Central Indiana.

Likewise, the vacancy rate holds steady at six percent, and the development pipeline in greater Indianapolis remains full with nearly 4,000 units currently under construction, 3,263 of which will be delivered in 2015.

One of those first-quarter deliveries included The Hamilton Luxury Apartment Homes, a 233-unit development owned and managed by the J.C. Hart Company, one of Central Indiana’s leaders in the upscale multi-family market since 1985. Custom Concrete has worked with the company for the last half-dozen years, first with basements and foundations and most recently with flatwork and multi-tenant commercial slabs, earning them status as a preferred provider according to company president John Hart.

“Today’s apartment dwellers are seeking something that lives more like a condominium with more detail door and window treatments, larger bathrooms with over-sized tubs,” says Hart. “Of late, we’ve concentrated on hard surface counter tops and laminate flooring.” One thing he notes has remained popular with those leasing J.C. Hart properties since 1985: direct access garages.

Despite the last five years’ growth, Hart maintains the market has not reached a saturation point. “We strive to design a product that crosses over a number of demographics from the entry level renter to the baby boomer,” he says. “While there is a spike of permits over the last year or two, the last five years’ permits has underserved the market by about 2,000 a year – so we are really catching up to get supply back in line with demand.”

This philosophy and reputation for a quality product have enabled J.C. Hart to weather times of economic uncertainty. “We have historically tried to keep moving forward … when times are good and not as good. Our business is cyclical; it takes so long to build a community from inception to zoning to construction. It’s three year cycle at minimum,” says Hart. “It was hard to predict three years ago what it would be today. With great locations, one-of-a-kind design and outstanding people providing excellent service, we feel like we can thrive in any market.”


Commercial Slab Projects

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All Commercial Slabs Not Created Equal

Those in the business of concrete know the importance of a flat and level slab. Especially in industrial warehouse settings, where unmanned forklifts rule the floor and goods may be stacked on shelves 20 feet or higher, flatness and level specifications are a key indicator of project success.

But other businesses are catching on. Flatter and more level floors have been shown to be lower maintenance and provide an improved operational surface for many types of businesses. As a result, the demand for flatter floors is being seen in many different types of projects, from warehouses to retail store operations.

The degree of a slab’s flatness is expressed by two numbers, the FF (which describes the concrete slab’s flatness) and the FL (which refers to the slab’s levelness). Flatness is how close to geometric planarity a slab approaches. Flatness numbers run on a scale from 10 to 150, and most slabs fall into the range of 15 to 100. The higher the FF number, the flatter the slab.

Levelness is the amount of slope (or pitch or tilt) in a slab.  This is the degree to which the surface of the slab approaches true horizontal perfection.

These numbers aren’t only telling of the flatness and levelness; they are also indicative of the quality of work. Floor flatness and levelness are determined by the skill of the concrete forming, placement and finishing crews, as well as the quality of their equipment. The floor levelness is most affected by form quality and the method of strike-off. Forms should be straight and sturdy to resist bowing and warping. Placement is affected by the manner of screeding (leveling) selected. Wet screeding without rails, is typically capable of producing FL values no higher than 18. Screed rails and vibratory screeds can achieve FL ‘s in the mid to high 20s. Laser screeds – as used by Custom Concrete — can reach as high as 100.

Commercial projects specify the desired FF and FL values within the project contract. The average retail floor is FF 25 and FL 15; a general purpose industrial warehouse is typically from FF 50 / FL 35 to FF 60 / FL 40. Custom Concrete’s commercial division consistently exceeds expectations and delivers well beyond the required FF and FL values. Some notable projects include:

  • Subaru warehouse in Lebanon, required FF 50 / FL 35 and Custom Concrete achieved FF 80 / FL 54
  • Project Steel in Greenwood required FF 50 / FL 35  and Custom Concrete achieved FF 91 / FL 49
  • Fastenal in Indianapolis required FF 50 / FL 35 and Custom Concrete achieved FF 69 / FL 45.

We are proud to utilize our nearly 50 years of concrete experience to deliver these high-quality projects.

For more information about our commercial division, contact us here.

Awards from the Indiana Ready Mixed Concrete Association

Suburu Project Description:

Subaru Award

Award-winning Subaru project team

The project is located in Lebanon Indiana about 25 miles north of Indianapolis Indiana on I-65. The project scope requirements were 3,500 lf of building footing, 280 structural column pads, 715,000 sf of 7” and 8” slab on grade, 135,000 sf concrete dock aprons, 1,000 lf of dolly pads, and 8,000 sf of sidewalks. This project schedule was to pour 23,000 cubic yards in 5 months with 50% to be completed during the winter.

Project Summary:

Primarily, Custom Concrete is known in the Indianapolis market as a residential foundation and wall contractor. Custom Concrete was awarded the 715,000 square foot warehouse on the basis of professional referrals, team experience, and budget. The highest slab on grade tolerance specification was to be an FF 60 / FL 40. The tolerance was exceeded and reported as an overall value of FF 80 / FL 54. The largest single pour was over 60,000 sf and more than 1,400 cubic yards. This project was the first large scale commercial project for Custom Concrete in over 40 years of business. On time and on budget! 

Fastenal Project (166,500 sf)


This project was started on 12/19/2014 and went through a record winter with regards to temperatures and snowfall.

Fastenal Award

The award-winning Fastenal team

During construction is was found that the precast supplier was unable to deliver the wall panels on schedule so Custom Concrete was asked if they could cast in place the exterior 18’ tall wall.  Custom Concrete accepted the challenge and poured 500 lf of 18’ tall exterior building wall when temperatures ranged from 10 degrees to 35 degrees.  We used self consolidating concrete to achieve the exceeded strengths.

The floor slab was poured from Jan 20th to April 15th all in open air conditions.  Ground heaters and blankets were used to defrost the sub grade during this time frame.  We had over 38” of snowfall that was removed from the building pad during this timeframe to keep the project on schedule.  We achieved an overall FF 69 / FL 45 from the required FF 50 / FL 35.

The exterior was poured in concrete paving for a total of 98,000 sf.


  1. CIP wall pour when originally was to be precast
  2. 38”+/- of snow removal by Custom Concrete during construction
  3. FF 69 / FL 45 achieved (open air pours in record winter)
  4. Temperatures from
    1. Working temps from -13 degrees to 65 degrees
    2. Pouring concrete from 18 degrees to 65 degrees
  5. Weather days lost of 22 days
    1. Made all but 6 days up from overall schedule
  6. Numerous design changes throughout the project with no loss of production/schedule days
  7. 7,175 cyds poured in winter

This project was very challenging for everyone involved do to the record low temps and snowfall amounts during construction.  Custom Concrete worked through some of the most challenging worksite conditions and was still able to bring the project in on only 6 days after the original schedules end date.

Project Steel (100,000 sf)


This project was Custom Concrete’s first project with The Peterson Company.

The floor slab was poured in (3) pours averaging 33,000 sf at 7” thick  We achieved an overall FF 91 / FL 49 from the required FF 50 / FL 35.


  1. FF 91 / FL 49 achieved
  2. 2,960 cyds poured


Custom Concrete | Commercial Market

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Custom Concrete Expands into Commercial Market

For more than 50 years, Custom Concrete has been exceeding the expectations of its customers by creating top-quality, reliable foundations and forming solid professional relationships through our attentiveness and punctuality. In recent years, we’ve taken those high standards of quality, skilled employees and specialized equipment, to the commercial market. In the past 24 months, Custom Concrete has employed a Team with more than 100-plus years of combined service that specialize in numerous areas of commercial projects.  We have completed a number of large-scale distribution facilities that total more than 1.4 million square feet and currently have more than one million square feet in current projects.

Throughout these projects, we’ve employed our tried and true processes and procedures to handily meet any challenge presented to us and worked tirelessly to ensure our customers’ satisfaction — not only with the finished product, but also with the process of planning and coordination. Our success is no accident – it requires a combination of the right equipment, specialized and skilled employees, proficiency in oversight that employs internal quality control for every job. Perhaps our greatest strength is the adaptability of Custom Concrete that allows us to deliver an unparalleled finished result.

Our customers are quick to agree. “It was a pleasant surprise to find that safety was a non-issue; all our milestone dates were met and the rather tight tolerance on slab flatness were exceeded. Instead of Custom Concrete being a risky hire they turned out to be one of the strongest members of our construction team!” says Craig Hetzer, Senior Project Manager for Gordian Design & Construction, “The Custom Concrete team of Jason Kiser as project manager and Casey Harvey as site superintendent was diligent and accountable through the entire project.”

As we expand our horizons in our commercial concrete division – including multi-family housing — we look forward to new challenges and triumphs. We are committed to continually improving our company and discovering new ways we can better serve our customers and partners. Thanks to our incredible team, we will no doubt continue to exceed expectations and set the bar for quality commercial concrete in Indiana and beyond.