The Rising Trend of Insulated Concrete Form Construction

29 May,2017
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The Australian building industry is operating in an increasingly competitive environment. In the past five years, the average completion time for new houses and townhouses has declined in five of the country’s States and Territories, compared with the five years prior. The largest decrease has come out of Western Australia, where completion time for new homes and townhouses has contracted by 0.24 and 0.47 of a quarter respectively. The average completion times for flats, units or apartments has remained similar over the past ten years. However, when the trend towards population density and high rise living is taken into account, it suggests more apartments are being packed into each project in a similar amount of time that it used to take to construct a much smaller building.

Developers are also facing a rise in the cost of doing business, putting pressure on their bottom line. This is showing no signs of easing, with upwards pressure on labour costs expected to be sustained and nearly a third of businesses anticipating major to moderate rises in the cost of construction materials.This pressure is transferred to architects, who are expected to speed up the construction process, without compromising a building’s quality or impact on the environment, all often on a smaller budget.

The construction industry is innovating to deal with the issues it faces. By completing projects in less time, costs can be reduced dramatically. Savings can be made on site overheads such as labour and clients can begin generating an income earlier. Less time spent on each project allows for more to be completed each year and a greater utilisation of the small window to do construction each year particularly in high rainfall and Alpine areas.

An effective means of speeding up the construction process is by incorporating permanent formwork into a design. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) are modular units made from polystyrene or polyurethane foam. The units are interlocking blocks or panels, which are filled with block fill concrete using a concrete pump. The method is suitable for residential, commercial, industrial and civil works and for construction of swimming pools, spas, saunas, water tanks, detection tanks, music rooms, retaining walls, cellars, basements, lightweight wall cladding and more.

[1] ABS. (2016). Average Dwelling Completion Times. Building Activity, Australia, June 2016. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/BEF19E4062997FEFCA25759A001A1E49?OpenDocument

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2016). Regional Population Growth, Australia 2014-15. ABS. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/3218.0Main%20Features152014-15?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=3218.0&issue=2014-15&num=&view=

[3] AiGroup. (2016). Rain and roads will lift major construction. Construction Outlook 2016. http://cdn.aigroup.com.au/Economic_Indicators/Construction_Survey/2016/construction_outlook_Oct16.pdf

[4] Andjelic, D. (2017). As land prices grow, developers and contractors turn to prefabricated construction techniques. The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/business/property/true-lies-modular-construction-20170208-gu8h7h.html

[5] Leeds, R. (2016). Top 4 Challenges Facing The Construction Industry. Digitalist Magazine. http://www.digitalistmag.com/future-of-work/2016/08/15/top-4-challenges-facing-construction-industry-04388065

[6] PrefabAUS. (2017). What is Prefab. PrefabAUS. http://www.prefabaus.org.au/what-is-prefab/

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