Tilt-up concrete, a form of precast construction, is a two-step process. According to the Tilt-up Concrete Association, slabs of concrete that usually form the load-bearing portion of a building are cast on the ground next to the building. Once cured, the panels are tilted by crane vertically into place side by side on the foundation. The tilt-up process has been in use for about a century, mostly for boxy-looking warehouses and office buildings. It’s primarily been passed over in favor of other construction methods in cases of complex architecture.
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The March, 2020 Bluebeam StrXur article, “Is It Time for a New Look at Tilt-Up?” explains that architects, engineers and contractors are taking another look at tilt-up because of its benefits.
- Streamlined workflow – From the time a panel is cast until the building shell can be completed is typically just over a month. Depending on the size of the project, all of the panels could be cast in one day. Therefore, the onsite crew can be used more efficiently in this type of process, and completion of the building can be faster.
- Predictable – Concrete is durable, and it’s one of the oldest and most commonly used building materials on earth. At this point in our construction history, we can predict how concrete buildings will behave under a wide range of conditions. Tilt-up panels can serve as the load-bearing structure, as well as the lateral wind-shear and earthquake-resistant structure.
- Exceeds fire resistance standards – The publication “Concrete and Fire Safety” by the Concrete Centre states: “Concrete does not burn – it cannot be ‘set on fire’ like other materials in a building and it does not emit any toxic fumes when affected by fire. It will also not produce smoke or drip molten particles, unlike some plastics and metals, so it does not add to the fire load.” A sand-type concrete slab 4.6-inches thick has a fire resistance rating of three hours.
- Cost-effective – Tilt-up concrete panels will serve as support for the floors and roof of a building, so less steel is needed compared to a conventional steel-framed building. Even when architectural façade elements and color are added, a concrete building can be less expensive to construct. The exterior walls don’t require any extra finish, although troweled, broomed, stamped, exposed aggregate, swirled, polished, and pigmented are all options. Plain concrete can serve as the interior wall finish for many uses as well. In addition, concrete walls also provide natural thermal insulation and resistance to weathering.
Bluebeam Revu allows you to optimize your quantity takeoffs by sharing a standardized set of takeoff tools with your team. It’s easy to get a comprehensive summary of concrete work, such as cubic volume of footings, linear footage of formwork and surface area of slabs. Revu also enables you to input your concrete depth and cost to calculate a more accurate job estimate.
With the increased speed, durability, adherence to standards, and cost-effectiveness, it’s easy to see why tilt-up construction is generating interest in the construction industry. With a construction boom looming, we’re sure to see more innovative uses of this process in the near future.
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