New ways to build homes

New ways to build homes

New ways to build homes

Latest construction technologies are superior to the traditional methods as they enable mechanised construction, are environment-friendly, and yield faster results, finds out Bindu Gopal Rao.

Did you know a villa can be built in a day? It’s no fantasy. This is a reality, thanks to new-age construction methods that are slowly, but surely, changing the face of realty sector in the days to come. Several new kinds of building technology are being used in construction today which includes precast technology, aluminium formwork construction (shear wall construction), prefabricated building technology and more. Most of the new technologies are superior to the traditional methods of construction as they enable mechanised construction, which is convenient in mass housing. Also these enable organised construction methodology, are environment-friendly and are of better quality.

 They bring uniformity across projects, which makes it cost and time efficient. With lesser use of block work and plastering, reduced labour requirements and lesser material wastage, these new technologies are becoming the preferred choice for builders. The shift is towards more of mechanisation and reducing the dependence on the manual labour, and use of technologies, which are time efficient and economical.

Thinner walls, taller buildings

According to Shameer Mohamed, Senior Project Manager, KGD-Architecture, “Traditionally, we have been building with thick brick walls taking the load of the slab and other live load. This limits the number of floors that can be built and it also takes more space as we would have thicker walls to take the load. In order to go taller and have walls of lesser thickness, building structures with columns and beams, which we call ‘framed structure’, is the key. Framed structures are most widely used in Indian subcontinent and Middle East. In steel structures, we could achieve larger spans easily, which means having lesser columns and large open halls. This gives the flexibility to move wall partitions as per the changing interior requirements.” 

Look before you build

3D printing is one of the new technologies that is being applied for design and construction today. Explains Prasad Rodagi, founder & director, Altem, “3D-printed architectural models help reduce the number of involved steps, improve design time, while retaining fine details of the final architecture plan. This lets architects envision how the building would stand in the physical space and any problems could be rectified at this stage, before the construction begins, saving time and money in the entire process.”  

According to Manish Agarwal, MD - Satya Group, & Secretary - CREDAI NCR, “The capability of modelling before the construction really starts helps iron out all the creases and difficulties, which we might encounter while the actual construction takes place.”

Pre-assembling, quick installing

Diipesh Bhagtani, executive director, Jaycee Homes Ltd, enlists some important new-age methodologies being used. 

“Precast flat panel system where floor and wall units are produced offsite in a factory and erected onsite to form robust structures are ideal for all repetitive cellular projects. Likewise 3D volumetric construction (also known as modular construction) involves the production of three-dimensional units in controlled factory conditions prior to transportation to site. Tunnel form is a formwork system that allows the contractor to build monolithic walls and slabs in one operation on a daily cycle. Flat slabs are built quickly due to modern formwork being simplified and minimised.

 Flat slab construction offers rapid overall construction, as it simplifies the installation of services. In fact, the tunnel form is all about speed of construction,” he says. 

Tunnel formwork, magic speed

Explains John Guest, head - EPC, Omkar Realtors & Developers, “If you make use of conventional formwork in a structure, it will take you 12-15 days per floor cycle. If you make use of aluminium formwork, it takes 7-12 days per floor cycle. However, tunnel form technology in Turkey is carried out in one day! In India, we are looking at 3-4 days per floor cycle. The quality that one obtains through this technology is stunning. Additionally, it requires less manpower as the elements are manufactured in the factory.

One manufactures the steel shutter in a factory and carries out the entire process. This dramatically reduces onsite manpower requirements, helps construct the structure quickly, and effectively reduces total project cost. The actual face of the tunnel form is 3mm steel, so it can withstand heavy wear and tear. Because of the nature of this technology, the side walls are all concrete and you do not have columns. Thus, the structures are strong and perform well in earthquake loads.” 
Prefabrication and its boons

Prefabricated walls are known to reduce construction time. In addition, thermal and acoustic insulation, as well as air-tightness, can be achieved using advanced materials such as sandwich-structured composites. This leads to savings in cooling and heating costs of about 25 percent of the cost of the prefabricated wall per year. Prefabricated walls offer higher efficiency, less wastage, lower maintenance costs and, most importantly, lower air conditioning costs. They also eliminate the need for plastering, electrical wiring and plumbing as these are done at the casting site itself.

Aluminium formwork 

Explains N Shivaram, vice president - projects, Brigade Group, “Aluminium formwork ensures faster construction. For example, a 35-storey structure can be completed in 13-15 months (at least three  floors can be planned in a month with one floor plate of formwork material), which is not the case in traditional formwork, wherein one set of shuttering can be repeated for only eight floors and then a new set has to be placed, which requires reinvestment. Lifting of shuttering material in higher floors is difficult in traditional methods, whereas, it is easier if we use aluminium formwork, as the same can be easily lifted to the next floor, thereby reducing the cycle time. Since materials used in this technique are more repetitive in nature, once procured, they can be utilised till the end of the project, which is not the case with traditional construction methods.
”Big investment, bigger profit

In modern technologies of building construction initial investments might be higher, but the return on investment is very huge, not only in terms of profit, but also quality and time. Vinay Bharaktiya, director - operations, Valmark, explains with an example, “A super-luxury project, opposite the scenic Hulimavu lake, has been able to achieve 8-10 days construction cycles per floor, using aluminium formwork for RC wall building. In essence, a 30-storeyed building is being completed in 24 months, which would otherwise take 36-40 months. Significant reduction in man power is an added advantage, so in comparison, even with higher requirement of concrete and reinforcement, the overall cost of construction has remained slightly below 3.5 percent as compared with traditional building.

 Wastage of materials due to leakage or spillage is virtually nil due to good formwork.” 

Go green

The latest construction equipment and techniques are more environment-friendly and technologically sound, allowing for increased productivity on challenging construction sites. Green building concepts are being followed on a larger scale and new building materials which are lighter and environment-friendly are available. Adds Shivaram, “Autoclaved aerated concrete blocks are large bricks, which are manufactured using fly ash and other industrial wastes, dumped into waste lands near power plants. The blocks are light in weight and nine times the size of normal bricks. They are environment-friendly and help put conversion waste into productive use.” 

Solar-powered buildings,  constructed with eco-friendly materials, seems to be increasing by large numbers today. “Realtors, as well as investors, identify the need to reduce usage of environmentally hazardous substances in buildings. Buildings today are intelligent as well as green and sustainable with specific focus on efficient and judicial use of energy, conservation of water and effective waste management,” says Dinesh Ethiraj, Director, Green Tree Homes & Ventures.

Adapting to new ways

Envelope Thermal Transfer Value (ETTV) sensitivity analysis, daylight assessment and computational fluid dynamic (CFD) software are some design tools that help with the green initiative. Explains Vinod Menon, Director & CEO, Citrus Ventures, “Online energy, water, and carbon-emission analysis capabilities integrate with design tools that enable to simulate a building’s performance within the context of its environment. Visualising incident solar radiation on windows and surfaces, calculating daylight factors and luminance levels as well as demonstrating the sun’s position and path relative to the building are some of the features that can improve performance of building designs,” says “New construction technologies and green building concepts can be successful only if acceptability is good among the people. They should be prepared to sacrifice on aesthetics in some cases and bring in lifestyle changes and adaptability to new requirements. The old mind-set, fixating on traditional construction methods, has to go. Also there should be initiatives from the government to reduce taxes and other charges on projects where green initiative is taken,” avers R G Sunil, executive director, Concorde Group.

Innovative products

These days, innovations come in various shapes and sizes to improve the products and practices of the construction industry. For instance, chemical companies have developed waterproof roof products that protect buildings from all deteriorating elements, thereby extending their shelf life.

 New product innovations like pre-fabricated walls, UPVC (Unplasticised Poly Vinyl Chloride) doors and windows, due to excellent insulation, reduce external noise and prevent seepage of water, even during heavy rains. Superior insulation makes indoor air-conditioning more effective, ensuring lower energy bills.

A technique that made global waves is precast technology. In this technique, numerous modules of a structure are built in offsite units, then taken to the site and assembled. 

“The precast technology is more cost effective for large projects, since higher volumes enhance margins,” opines Vinay Jain, CMD, AVJ Group.