Concrete is a fundamentally important material to offsite construction. Precast concrete can be used for all building types and is an important material for infrastructure projects. Precast and pre-stressed units and formwork include elements such as the structural frame, supporting columns, panels, beams and flat slabs. Concrete can create two dimensional panels and volumetric units.
The concrete elements may be factory-finished internally including services, windows, doors and finishes. Externally they can remain exposed in the final building. Precast concrete may be used with in-situ concrete or structural steel as part of a hybrid frame and can be integrated with cladding systems, volumetric and pod technology. Precast concrete systems are also used to rapidly build foundations. The concrete elements are usually to a bespoke design and cast in a factory environment, giving guaranteed quality for the finished product.
The majority of precast used in the UK is made in the UK. This reduces the risk to exchange rate fluctuation, transport problems and difficulties in inspecting products prior to leaving the factory.
The robustness of concrete means that it can be delivered and erected without the need for wrappings and covers to protect it from the elements. The structural integrity of concrete is not compromised by weather. The same precast concrete properties of durability and robustness also deliver a low maintenance solution.
With the right design the inherent thermal mass of precast concrete is ideally suited to absorb heat to reduce peak temperatures. Windows can be pre-installed and tested in the concrete panels and since concrete itself is effectively airtight, precast concrete offers a simple and durable solution for long term airtightness. Concrete has inherent resistance to fire, avoiding the need for special measures to be installed to reduce the risk of fire spreading during build programmes.