Precast concrete flooring panels aid home building

Echo Floors’ newly launched operating section specially geared to the needs of the home-building market has come to the aid of an owner-builder who faced materials and labour supply problems when he chose a remote rural site for his new home.

 

The site, located 20km from Zeerust in North West Province, made the availability of building materials and skilled labour a problem for owner Solomon Mothupi. But a ready supply of Echo Floors reinforced, precast concrete flooring panels presented an immediate and cost-saving solution. Fortunately, Mothupi also found a competent local bricklayer to assist with construction.

The use of the precast concrete flooring panels was motivated by engineer and project manager Nick Stolp of DNS Construction Engineers, based on his own experience. The fact that Echo Floors maintains a 30 000m2 stock of panels in varying lengths meant that the inevitable on-site design changes could be accommodated much more easily than would have been possible had a purpose-made slab been specified.

Careful preplanning and collaboration, with the professional team adjusting both the architectural and engineering designs, resulted in innovative structural combinations of reinforced precast floors, cast in-situ beams and steel beams which are concealed in the depth of the slabs. A combination of screeds and structural toppings was used, which proved both economically and structurally sound.

Building the roof slab was also easier using precast panels than any other system as, in some areas, the roof slab is five metres above the first floor slab, which would have made propping and formwork difficult.

Innovation, cost-effectiveness and speed of construction, as well as efficient control on site despite its distance from the project manager, made this project a success, according to Stolp.

“It is also a typical example of the versatility and flexibility of precast panels when they are used on a challenging and intricate architectural design,” says Echo projects director Danie Esterhuizen.

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