It sounds surreal for a client to work with just one supplier to design and construct a 20-story apartment building with two levels of underground parking, but times are changing and a total precast building solution is now becoming a popular choice for large residential projects.
King and Lyle Apartment Project
Stubbe’s Precast in Harley, Ont., is currently working with Medallion Corp., a privately owned real estate development and property management company, on an ongoing total precast project in London, Ont. Stubbe’s is supplying precast concrete hollowcore floors, beams, columns, balconies, stairs and landings to construct the apartment complex located at King and Lyle Streets. Stubbe’s also supplies all the miscellaneous steel (lintels, elevator spreader beams, etc.) required to build the project so the owner only has to communicate with one supplier.
Jason Stubbe, sales and installation manager, said Medallion selected Stubbe’s for the project after seeing the quality of work provided on other buildings in the area. The owner was also looking for a building solution that was not weather dependent and had the ability to be erected fast, unlike the cast-in-place adjacent building connected to the underground parking. After meeting with the client several times, the precaster gained their trust.
“Our sales team provides early advice for the architect and owner, helping to educate them about what makes an efficient building,” he said. “Once we have a preliminary layout finalized, we send it to our engineering provider to have them review to see that structurally it works and then provide all the feedback we can to the owner.”
The two-level underground parking garage is constructed entirely with exterior precast concrete walls. The thickness of the walls is between 6 and 12 inches. The project has a one-year build schedule and will be completed in 2017.
A growing trend
In 2009, Stubbe’s completed its first total precast project, which jumpstarted the project trend. The company received a call from Tricar, another real estate developer in the London, Ont., area, to discuss using precast hollowcore floors in their cast-in-place concrete buildings. A team from Stubbe’s toured a building during construction and determined precast would be a great solution. But, they also noticed construction crews hanging off the building on large scaffold platforms constructing the cast-in-place walls.
“We asked them if they would be interested in precast exterior walls,” Stubbe said. “They were very interested and had us supply exterior walls and hollowcore floors on their next project. We have worked with them on all their projects since then.”
Stubbe said precasters interested in providing total precast buildings need to be ready to explain to the client the difference between it and cast-in-place. With cast-in-place, once the structural drawings are complete, construction can start. But with precast, more advanced planning is needed, which is sometimes hard for an owner to comprehend, he said.
“We are usually brought on board the same time the owner hires an architect,” Stubbe said. “It does require more time in advance to plan and provide feedback on design, but once we are on site, we are faster.”
When Stubbe’s bids a job, a build duration schedule is also provided. The schedule is often made longer for two reasons. First, if something goes wrong, a back-up plan is provided without upsetting the client. Second, some jobs finish three weeks in advance, which then thrills the client. “To sell them the next building is much easier then,” he said.
Overall, total precast building projects have broadened and increased the market share of precast in Ontario and allowed Stubbe’s to expand its plant and product volume.
“We have been able to do these types of projects with our two existing plants, but with the third we will be able to do many more,” Stubbe said. “The new automated carousel plant helps us to increase the volume of precast products produced with the same amount of production staff. It also helps us to provide a more ergonomic environment to work in.”