A DETERMINATION OF THE EXTENT OF INTEGRATION OF PRECAST CONCRETE TECHNOLOGY IN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION IN KENYA

ABSTRACT

The benefits of P.C technology are well known all over the world. Despite the significant benefits offered by P.C technology its level of adoption in building construction especially in developing countries has been a challenge.

The study sought to determine the extent of integration of P.C technology in building construction in Kenya. The main areas of focus of the study are the extent of use of P.C in building construction, a comparison of the cost per SM of P.C construction to the cost per SM of in-situ concrete construction, the capacity for the design and erection of P.C buildings and the perception of architects and building users of P.C technology.

In order to meet its objectives the study collected primary data from architects, structural engineers and building users through the use of questionnaires and interviews. Secondary data relating to construction costs was obtained from archival data in quantity surveyors’ offices.

The study results revealed that just like in many developing countries the extent of integration of P.C technology in building construction in Kenya is low. The use of P.C is not evenly distributed across all the building types. The highest use of P.C is witnessed in residential buildings, on the contrary the use of P.C in industrial buildings is extremely low. P.C construction produces high cost savings of up to 52% in the cost of finishes by eliminating wet trades from construction sites. Additional cost savings can be achieved in the cost of concrete superstructure by adopting a total precast design which eliminates external columns from the structural system of buildings. The level of expertise in the design of P.C buildings is not satisfactory especially with respect to design of connections. With respect to the level of skill of construction workers involved in the erection of P.C buildings the level of skill is satisfactory in the operation of cranes and sealing of joints but unsatisfactory in the construction of connections. Both architects and building users are of the view that P.C limits the architectural performance of buildings. However building users are of the view that the negative impact of P.C on the aesthetics of a building is not inherent to the technology but is occasioned by the limited use complex shapes in the design of P.C buildings.