Precast offers solid solution when working in tight times

The use of precast concrete is said to shave time off contract durations – something which many developments in the region are aiming to do in order to meet tight deadlines. Abdul Rahman Rashid, managing director, BENA outlines the advantages of this building method to Conrad Egbert.

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By  Conrad Egbert Published  October 21, 2006

|~|142int200.gif|~|Rashid is confident that by saving time, reducing power consumption and dependency on large labour forces, the precast market is set to grow.|~|How much of a difference do you think your product is going to make within the industry?

The UAE is spending billions of dirhams on power at the moment and our precast aerated concrete will allow it to save 40% of the power being used.

Also, since the density of the precast concrete is less, the total weight of a building is reduced by around 30% – by 700kg per m3 as opposed to 2,500kg per m3. The entire weight of a building can be reduced drastically, saving a lot in the foundation works.

Have you noticed a sizable demand for precast concrete?

Yes there is a huge demand for lightweight concrete and thermal insulated products. Due to the law in the UAE where all new materials have to be thermal, a lot of companies now need these products.
Also, the country is facing an acute shortage of labour supply. And the highly automated precast methods will reduce the dependency on labour, give higher accuracy and higher quality. Furthermore the material itself has so many advantages; it is about one fifth the weight of normal concrete, which, put another way, is about 80% lighter.

About 20 to 25% of the market at the moment is precast and I think this is the only way forward.

What are the cost differences?

There is not too much of a difference. The cost will be almost the same as normal concrete but there are many other advantages. And in the long run it does turn out to be cheaper – instead of paying AED2 million [US $544,662] for power, one would only have to pay AED1.2 million.

We can match the price of conventional methods. We will price the product at almost the same price as normal concrete.

Are there any other significant differences in terms of quality?

Each piece goes through a laboratory, so there is no chance of the quality of the blocks being diminished.

And since it is a controlled environment, if the raw material is not up to standard, we’ll know even before the blocks are ready by their appearance and texture, so there is no way any bad quality products will leave the lab.

Does it allow projects to be completed more quickly?

We can cut short a project by almost six months. If a project would normally take 18 months to build, we could finish the job in one year.
The material is relatively new to the market; it’s lightweight and workable so there are many benefits for everyone including the contractor and the owner. We can build a 1,000m2 villa in 30 days. With conventional concrete it will take at least one year to build a villa of similar dimensions.

What is the cost of your new factory and who is building it for you?

The total cost of the project is AED100 million. The Abu Dhabi-based Al Maten Company has been chosen as the contractor, and Dubai-based consultancy firm, Eronat, is the consultant on the project.

Does precast provide any sort of protection against rising construction costs?

Firstly, we are not so vulnerable to the cost escalation of raw material costs and secondly, the product also cuts the contractor’s risk as the need for labour is brought down drastically. With the precast blocks, it would take six workers to build a 1,000m2 villa in one month.

Are there any significant limitations with precast construction?

The only limitations here are those regarding design. What I mean is that certain shapes and sizes of concrete blocks are not available.||**||

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