Author: Elaine Toogood
he versatility of concrete means that it can be
designed and constructed to deliver high per-
formance buildings through a spectrum of
solutions ranging from onsite cast concrete,
onsite build using factory made blocks, through to offsite
manufactured two dimensional panels and volumetric
units. When considering offsite solutions there are ad-
ditional benefits offered by the use of precast concrete
for offsite construction compared to other systems.
The robustness of concrete, for example means that
it can be delivered and erected without the need for
wrappings and covers to protect it from the elements.
Care is required when handling prefabricated elements
made of any material to prevent damage, but with ro-
bustness comes less risk of damage.
Quite apart from the resource and wastage saved,
the structural integrity of concrete is not compromised
by weather, a significant advantage for construction.
Less durable structures will be particularly vulnerable
to delayed installation of building enclosure.
Another advantage during construction is concrete’s
inherent resistance to fire, avoiding the need for special
measures to be installed to reduce the risk of fire spread-
ing during build programmes.
As architect or client this provides an immediate
solution to meet the health and safety responsibilities
set out by recent HSE endorsed guidance for reducing
fire in timber construction. Statistics show that, during
occupation, fires are also more likely to be contained in
buildings with non-combustible structure, limiting the
extent of fire damage to the property.
Fire detailing and correct installation of fire stops
and barriers are critical, but if major building
Contractors World UK & Ireland Vol 6 No 1
Precast housing panels are used extensively through
New Zealand to speed up construction.
Many contrctors are finding it faster and more eco-
nomical to use precast concrete elements for under-
ground water drainage.
Contractors World UK & Ireland