CFA Certified Contractors

Why Become CFA Certified?

Is your company seeking a stronger position to leverage your expertise?

Do you have a talented, experienced and knowledgeable staff that deserve to be recognized for their professional abilities?

Get in on the ground floor of a new industry program to certify foundation contractor firms in the residential cast-in-place industry. Your registration gives you access to a six-part series program that will benefit your company and market. The goal of certification is to unify the industry with a common measurement of competency for concrete foundations and the companies that install them.

No one wants more regulations, hindrances, or requirements in order to operate their business, but the CFA believes it has a responsibility to the industry to anticipate the possibility of these needs and to put programs in place to address them. Certification is coming and we would prefer that the program is generated within the industry as opposed to having outside forces dictate our program.

Ultimately, this program will be promoted to builders, state and local building code jurisdictions, and other potential organizations or companies that may be considering, or might consider in the future, a certification program. However, simply looking at what a certification can mean to your local market might be advantageous. There are distinct marketing advantages to employ once your staff has reached the Certified Foundation Technician and when your company has reached the Certified Company.

Read on for the detail this program offers or jump to an area of specific interest from the list below.

Program Overview

The program contains the following basic elements:

Certified Foundation Technician

The basic knowledge of concrete, foundation construction and the codes & standards affecting the industry is a primary component of the program. This certification establishes individuals in the company that have demonstrated a base level of knowledge for significant industry codes, standards and guidelines as well as command of the material science and performance of concrete foundations. This program component consists of an open book examination covering all aspects of construction that are deemed relevant to foundation construction.

Successful completion of the exam returns the designation of Certified Foundation Technician good for a period of five (5) years from the date of exam. Individuals must then re-certify at the end of the five years through another exam. Specific categories of knowledge include:

  • Safety
  • Concrete
  • Soils/Excavation
  • Footings
  • Walls
  • Moisture/Waterproofing/Drainage
  • Backfilling/Grading
  • Building Codes

The Exam: An open book exam with a maximum 2-hour time limit is given to applicants for the Certified Foundation Technician. The questions consist of multiple choice content addressing each of the categories above. The minimum required to pass the exam is 70%. Preview sample questions here.

The Reference Guide: Sitting for a challenging open book exam requires that the examinee has the necessary resources available to them. The CFA Certification Reference Guide contains all of the information needed to pass the examination including the International Residential Code (IRC) Chapter 4, the American Concrete Institute (ACI) 332 Documents (Standard and Guide), and the CFA Standard along with many other key documents.

Obtain a copy of this guide for each person sitting for the examination to ensure access to the information when needed as well as to adequately prepare. It is highly recommended that the packet be ordered ahead of event registration to better prepare.

The Seminar: The CFA offers a 3-hr seminar at most events to prepare for the multiple choice exam. The seminar covers much of the content as well as the use of the primary references to facilitate a better understanding of the critical knowledge for future use.

Certification: Once third party verification validates the passing of the exam, the individual will be sent a wall certificate of completion along with a business card copy and a hard hat decal. This certification is effective for one year from the date of issuance. Renewal of the certification requires either proof of authorized continuing education or successful re-examination.

Insurance Requirements

All certified companies are required to maintain and carry in-force minimum levels of insurance for General Liability and Employer’s Liability. While levels of coverage are still under discussion it is anticipated the minimum levels will be $1,000,000 for general liability and $100,000 for employer’s liability. Evidence of insurance of coverage for the above as well as for Workmen’s Compensation in accordance with respective state law is also required. Any changes in the insurance coverage must be provided to staff in order to maintain certification.

Safety Requirements

Evidence of an industry approved safety program must also be provided for review and approval. The safety program must have at least the following components:

  • A Safety Manual;
  • Applicable MSDS Sheets;
  • Safety Meetings with times, frequency, sign-off, and content;
  • Accident Reporting Procedures;
  • Confined Space Guidelines;
  • Cement Burns.

Continuing Education

Twelve hours of annual continuing education will be required by companies obtaining the CFA Certified Foundation Company status. This education must be attained by a minimum of two persons from each company and the hours attained by each must be unique (two or more cannot attend the same course for credit).

Continuing education does not need to be specifically attained by a Certified Foundation Technician. Education must be divided into the following areas:

  • Codes, Materials and Methods (4 hours min.)
  • Business, Safety and other Approved Topics (8 hours max.)

The CFA will maintain a list of approved courses that occur on a repeating basis. Any course of interest that does not fall on this list can be submitted for consideration. Events such as the CFA summer convention, specific seminars at the World of Concrete, Foundation Fundamental seminars, CFA regional meetings and pre-approved locally sponsored seminars by builders groups and other industry segments will apply towards this requirement. It is in the best interest of participants to have educational requirements spread over several individuals in the event someone leaves the company.

For questions on approved courses, please contact Ed Sauter at CFA Headquarters or visit the Continuing Education Coursework page of this site.

Financial Soundness

Companies must be able to demonstrate that they are financially sound through a series of questions relative to their business practices. The company must be solvent (assets exceed liabilities); State and Federal income taxes and payroll taxes must be current; Judgments and liens must be remedied; and the company must not be in bankruptcy. A negative answer to one of the questions will not necessarily preclude approval for certification but it will evoke additional questions with regard to resolving any deficiencies.

Related Training

Many CFA companies operate equipment that either requires special operator training or certification or for which special training is available. Examples include concrete pumps, boom trucks, and excavation equipment. If a company operates any special equipment, they must demonstrate that they have trained personnel operating the equipment.

Experience

Owning a set of forms and having worked for a foundation contractor does not necessarily mean you are qualified to enter the foundation business. In order to be granted full certification, the business entity must have been in business for at least 3 years. New businesses who meet all other qualifications will be granted a Level I certification. Level II, or full certification, will require at least 3 years of experience in the cast-in-place foundation industry. The Board of Appeals will be able to hear special cases, such as a split-up of a partnership where both parties have the requisite experience. A third level of certification is anticipated in the future for contractors involved in constructing above grade homes with structural decks.

 

If you have any comments or suggestions about the requirements or details of the program, make certain you contact either Dan Bromley, CFA Certification Committee chair (816-795-0073 or DanB@ABI-Corp.com) or Ed Sauter (319-895-6940 or esauter@cfawalls.org) to make your ideas known.

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