Precast concrete elements – building systems and products

Modern construction with precast concrete elements

What is a building system?

A building system constitutes the basis of a building. It consists of the individual elements like walls, floors and roofs, as well as columns, beams and stairs. Precast concrete elements for walls, floors and roofs are flat construction elements with integrated building services. Walls are produced mostly floor-to-ceiling high. Floors and roofs are produced in specific widths and lengths, depending on the maximum size permitted for transport and on aesthetic requirements.

Building site with precast concrete building

Comparing in-situ and precast concrete construction methods

In the precast concrete construction method, the construction elements are produced in a production facility with a high quality with fixtures for building services (electricity, plumbing, heating, air conditioning etc.) being embedded. The precast concrete elements are then transported to the building site by truck. The individual elements are then assembled on site and connected with each other in a force-fitting manner.

Saving costs with the precast concrete construction method

In the in-situ concrete construction method, the molds for the individual construction elements are assembled on-site and filled with cast-in-place concrete. On the one hand, this ensures a great flexibility with regard to the design of the buildings and has positive effects on the structural behavior but on the other hand, the quality, time and cost benefits of the industrial production do not come into effect. The precast concrete construction method takes into account the entire costs for the shell, like material savings, lower costs for site equipment due to a shorter construction time, earlier utilization of the buildings, less maintenance etc. and not only the m² of wall or floor as it is done for other building materials.

Decision criteria for the selection of a building system

Each building type requires a different building system with suitable structural elements. Industrial buildings are based on columns and beams. A building system with walls and floors is the most advantageous choice for an apartment building. At the beginning of the planning stage, it is necessary to determine which building types are built in order to find the most efficient building system. Apart from the building type, climatic conditions like wind loads, seismic loads, temperature etc. have an influence on this decision.

Every building system has its specific guidelines and regulations which need to be considered in order to use it efficiently. In some countries, norms and guidelines need to be adapted to the precast concrete construction method or be established in the first place.