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Multi – Residential

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According to the Building Code of Australia, a class 2 building is a building containing

two or more sole occupancy units with each being a separate dwelling, whereas a Class 1
building is defined as a single dwelling being –
(i) A detached house; or
(ii) One of a group of two or more attached dwellings, each being a building, separated
by a fire resisting wall, including a row house, terrace house, town house or villa unit.

In my research, I found four buildings that were under construction (or were recently
constructed). I found two sites in Liverpool, one on Lachlan Street, and the other on
Castlereagh Street. The third site I found was in Hurstville on Woniora Road, and the last
and most spectacular site was on Kent Street in the city, built by Multiplex. I obtained
permission to enter all the sites except the one located on Castlereagh Street, but the site
manager allowed me to take photos from outside the site boundaries. The maps below
indicate a more precise location of these sites on the streets.

This site was nine storeys

high and contained 32
sole occupancy units.

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This image shows the steel

reinforcement in place before
the concrete has been poured.

This site was in very early stages

in its construction, and
unfortunately I was not allowed
on the site and did not get the
chance to speak to the site
manager for more than two
minutes, but I was able to see
part of the excavation process,
concreting and the construction
of the basement wall.

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Excavation is the process of removing earth in order to build a basement or foundation.

Generally a backhoe, excavator or front loader is used to excavate for a basement. A front
loader or bulldozer can be used to excavate for a stem wall (crawl space) or a slab on
ground foundation. Before excavation, foundation lines and underground utility lines
should be marked. The underground utilities such as gas, water and electricity must be
marked by a utilities locating service. A utility locator service marks the utilities with

The process of excavation includes both surface and deep excavation and consists of
three basic steps – excavation, transportation and placing. These three steps can be
carried out by various pieces of equipment, depending on a number of factors: type of
material, quantity, distance to be traveled, lift, the condition in which it is to be left,
nature of excavation (size, accessibility), condition and gradient of the site, cost of
available equipment etc.

The image below shows the excavator at the site on Castlereagh Street.

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The foundation is an integral part of a building that transfers the structural load to the
ground. Selection of foundation type and design depends on two distinct variables: the
total building load and the nature and quality of the subsoil. It is essential to achieve a
satisfactory balance between these two conditions, otherwise overstressing of the subsoil
will lead to excessive building settlement and possible serious structural defects. A
foundation must therefore safely sustain the dead, imposed and wind loads to transmit
these to the ground without impairing a building’s stability. The total load that a building
transfers to the subsoil is composed of dead load, imposed load, and wind load. Dead
load is the force attributed to the structural mass of the construction. This refers to the
combined weight of bricks, concrete, timber, tiles etc. Imposed loads result from the
combined force of non- permanent fixtures and fittings such as furniture and persons
using the building. Wind loading is difficult to define, as there are numerous variables

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Footings are concrete members that transfer the load of the building evenly onto the
foundation material. Steel reinforcement is placed in the concrete to increase the footings
tensile strength. Footings used in industrial buildings are basically the same as those used
in residential construction. However they are used to a much higher degree of strength
and durability. Footings are classified into three main categories:

1. Continuous
2. Isolated
3. Combined or integrated

Continuous footings are either a strip or beam, usually on which a masonry wall is
constructed, although a strip footing can be used to support a row of columns instead of
using individual pads. Continuous footings are often integrated with piers or piles to
achieve the required bearing capacity of the footing. The piers are supported on bedrock
or some form of hard foundation material and in turn support the beam on top. Various
methods of footings were used in the construction of these buildings.

Typical strip footings were used all around the perimeter of the building. Unfortunately I
missed the formation of the footings. The columns were designed to fit two cars between
each space in order not to waste too much space.

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Fire Safety

Four separate fire safety system elements incorporated in the building that identifies it as
a Class 2 Building:
1. Fire Stairs
2. Fire Extinguishers, Hydrants and Sprinkler Systems
3. Fire Rated Elements (walls and ceilings)
4. Exit Signs, Smoke Alarms and Lighting

Introduction to Fire Safety Systems

The basic fire safety objectives are to protect life and property. Methods and materials
used for fire protection, dimensions and location of building members and of materials
used for fire protection all affect the fire performance of the members in a building. The
fire resistance of a building component or assembly is its ability to withstand exposure to
fire without loss of load bearing function, or to act as a barrier against the spread of fire,
or both. The fire resistance requirements in the building codes are usually a function of
such factors as fire load, building occupancy, height, and area.

Fire resistance levels are specified in the Building Code of Australia (BCA). This system
supersedes the old fire ratings and provides an accurate method of predicting the ability
of a wall to maintain strength in a fire and to resist its spread. The fire resistance level
(FRL) specifies the fire resistance periods (FRP) for structural adequacy, integrity, and
Structural Adequacy: The ability of a wall to continue to perform is structural function.
Integrity: The ability of a wall to maintain its continuity and prevent the passage of
flames and hot gases through cracks in the wall.
Insulation: The ability of a wall to provide sufficient insulation such that the side of the
wall away from the fire door does not exceed a predefined rise in temperature.

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Fire Resistance Level (FRL)

The fire resistance level is expressed in minutes for each of these periods and always in
the same order. For example an FRL of 90/90/90 means a fire resistance period of 90
minutes each for structural adequacy, integrity and insulation.

Factors Influencing Fire Resistance Level:

The fire resistance level of a wall depends not only on the thickness of the wall but also
on its height, length and boundary conditions (i.e. how it is connected to the other
building elements). For this reason it is impossible to give an FRL for a particular brick
as the fire resistance period for the structural adequacy is specific to the wall type and its
boundary support conditions.

There are three types of construction as listed in the BCA in regards to fire resistance:
- type A which is the most fire resistant
- type B which is the next most stringent, and
- type C which is the least fire resistant

All three are covered in the BCA.

In our site investigations, we were taken by Wassim Elmasri (from the Multiplex site)
around the site and he showed us the main control room – fire control centre, for all the
fire safety elements. Due to the large dimensions of the building, a fire system such as
this is required in case a fire breaks out, as it makes it easier for a fire fighting unit or the
managers of the building to locate a fire if it breaks out.

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The two images shown here are

examples of the switchboards
located inside the main switch
room for the fire safety of the
building. These switchboards
here can locate by the use of
chips and sensors within the
building and determine the
where exactly a fire has broken
out. It is quite a complex
system but also very effective,
and this was only seen on the
multiplex site.

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Emergency Stairs for Fire Safety

According to section D1 of the Building Code of Australia – PROVISION FOR

ESCAPE, in regards to Class 2 buildings, basements and storeys of a building, not less
than 2 exits must be provided unless the floor area of the storey is less than 50 square
metres, or the distance of travel from any point on the floor to a single exit is not more
than 20 metres.

One of the most important things to note about stairs being used as an escape route is the
separation of rising and descending stair flights. According to section D2.4 of the BCA:

If a stairway serving as an exit is required to be fire isolated –

a) There must be no direct connection between –
i) A flight rising from a storey below the lowest level of access to a road or open
space; and
ii) A flight descending from a storey that is above that level; and

b) Any construction that separates or is common to the rising and descending flights
must be –
i) Non-combustible; and
ii) Smoke proof

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The photo shown above was taken from inside the basement car park at the site on
Lachlan Street, and is showing the emergency stairwell. This stairwell was built with a
fire rated frame, fire rated door, and also complies with all the BCA requirements
regarding dimensions. Each stairwell has an EXIT sign placed in front of it, indicating the
location of the stairwell, and a fire hydrant has been placed in each stairwell for fire
fighting purposes.

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This image here was taken from the stairwell in the multiplex site. Having spoken to the
services engineer Wassim Elmasri, he explained what the purpose and function of these
door connections were. The connection shown is the most suitable for an emergency
situation with the adjustments set to suit any conditions. The door itself acts as a barrier
in case of fire.

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Another complex fire feature in relation to the stairwell in a fire emergency, also on the
multiplex site, is the door locking system. The image above shows the electric strip
placed within each door frame, and these are controlled by the main fire control room in
the building. These electric strips are placed so that in a case of fire, people don’t have to
use the handle to open the door, but rather they can just open the door with a simple push.

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Lift Shafts

Lifts are required to assist those who can’t use the stairs, and to assist in emergency
situations, those who have to fight the fire and to aid in the evacuation of occupants. Lifts
are installed in any building that has a rise in storeys above ground level, anywhere there
are stairs going up or down in a structure, any building with stairs that provides access for
the disabled people, above or below ground level, and wherever required by the Building
Code of Australia.

There are many positive and negative factors in regards to the installation of lifts in a
Class 2 Building. There are also many requirements and considerations that must be met
in order to comply with the BCA. It is for these reasons that the fire safety stairs are put
into place.

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Exit Signs, Alarms and Lighting

Early warning of a fire is important to ensure that occupants have time to respond and
exit safely. Emergency lighting and exit signs (sometimes the maps showing where an
occupant is, and giving basic advice to the occupants of emergency and fire procedures
applicable to that building) are provided where necessary so that occupants of the
building can identify the location of exits in an emergency, even in the event of a power
failure. A safe, illuminated, well-identified way out of the building is required in order
that the buildings occupants can escape a fire (or other) emergency. Often more than one
escape route is required so that occupants have an alternative exit if one cannot be
reached because of smoke or fire. These exits must be kept clear at all time.

It is important that these facilities are maintained in good working order at all times.
Regular checking of these systems is essential. All checks should be recorded and
immediate steps taken to rectify any faults found.

The simplest fire detection and alarm system is the residential smoke alarm now installed
in most Australian residencies. The smoke alarm alerts the building occupants that a
possible fire has been detected. A fire detection system may, in addition to alerting
occupants, automatically notify the fire brigade of the fire. If fire detection and alarm
systems operate very early in the fire growth stage, building occupants may be able to
extinguish a small fire.

Emergency exits are required in buildings so that occupants can quickly escape from the
building at the time of a fire or any other emergency. Emergency exits must be available
at all times the building is normally occupied. This is a requirement of building and
occupational health and safety, and welfare legislation. The legislation generally requires
that the escaping building occupants can safely exit the building without the need of a
key to open the emergency exits. Locking devices are not fitted on a door forming part of
any required exit unless they comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

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Emergency evacuation lighting systems are designed and installed as an essential safety
measure to reduce panic during an emergency evacuation by clearly identifying escape
routes and providing visibility during power failure. If exit lights or emergency
evacuation luminaries fail to operate when called upon, occupants can become
disoriented, placing lives at risk.

This image shows a standard exit sign, located at any point of egress. For example, this
sign is placed in front of the emergency fire stairs.

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The image above is one of the buildings emergency features. It is one of many speakers
located in the basement car park, to comply with the BCA; it is one of the mandatory
warning systems.

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Fire Rating Elements

Fire separation between sole-occupancy units, corridors, etc. must be continuous and
maintain the FRL’s mentioned in the BCA. Continuous fire separation is achieved by:
• Using certified FRL rated wall and floor/ceiling elements between units and
• Using fire-resisting junctions at intersections of fire-rated elements with other
rated or non-rated elements.
• Fire stopping penetrations through fire rated elements.

Fire rated floor or wall/ceiling systems will meet each other or intersect with non-rated
elements at junctions. These junctions are required to maintain the fire resistance with
respect to structural adequacy, integrity and insulation. Openings in fire-rated walls must
be protected by appropriate “closures” such as doors, windows, or shutters with the
prescribed FRL. Fire resistance must be maintained by sealing gaps and imperfections of
fit, where plumbing and electrical services penetrate fire-rated elements.

Where fire rated linings are continuous through the intersection or where the intersecting
elements have equal rating, there are no further requirements other than to ensure that the
fire-grade linings are fixed in accordance to the manufacturer’s recommendations and
that they are adequately sealed at the joints.

Fire stops are materials used to close a gap or imperfection of fit between a service pipe,
conduit or cable and fire-resisting system. Fire stopping materials must maintain the FRL
of the element that has been penetrated.

There are two ways of satisfying the requirements of the BCA with respect to fire
• Using the BCA’s deemed-to-satisfy method
• Using manufacturer’s certified systems and materials

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Brickwork readily meets most fire rating requirements. However, in some situations an
exposed steel lintel may need the same fire rating as the brickwork, but it is usually easier
to support the brickwork in other ways rather than trying to fire rate the steel.

Another form of fire protection, which I had found in the Multiplex site, was that of using
a vermiculite board to fill up gaps and provide protection to essential services such as
piping. Vermiculite is recognised as a material particularly suited for fire protection.

This is an example of the vermiculite being used on the site. It is a thick layer, but very
effective and efficient in protecting services in the case of a fire.

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Fire Extinguishers, Hydrants and Sprinkler


Fire extinguishers are objects that are simple to use and are located in each residency.
Fire extinguishers are sturdy metal cylinders filled with water or a foaming material,
depending on the type of extinguisher. When you depress the lever at the top of the
cylinder, the material is expelled by high pressure. Scientifically a fire is composed of
three essential elements and a fire extinguisher aims to remove one so that the fire will
die out. Fires contain extreme heat, oxygen (or similar gas), and fuel, and by taking out
one of these elements, the fire will die out. Fire extinguishers containing chemical
contents are best used for electrical fires and inflammable liquid fires whereas if water
was used it may cause electrocution and make the fire worse.

Most fire extinguishers contain a fairly small amount of fire-suppressant material – it

could all be used up in a matter of seconds. For this reason, extinguishers are only
effective on relatively small, contained fires. To put out larger fires, you need much
bigger equipment such as a fire hose.

Sprinkler systems are automatic fire suppression systems which are simple in design and
have the priority of saving life. Once activated, the sprinkler system is designed to control
the fire in its initial stages thereby allowing for the safe evacuation of occupants and
additionally, to minimise fire damage. Residential and domestic sprinkler systems operate
during the initial stages of a fire and are designed to provide time for egress and prevent
flashover. The sprinkler is activated when the heat from the fire raises the temperature of
the head to a point where the element will activate and allow water to pass. The sprinkler
system should be installed in conjunction with smoke alarms which will activate to
provide early warning to the occupants.

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This image here shows a fire

hydrant in place inside the
stairwell. Also seen in this
image is a vent next to the
hydrant. These grills are located
on every second level. There is
a fan located at the top of the
building which circulates air
into the stairwell, and as
Wassim explained, it is the
fumes and the smoke which
harm the people more in the
case of a fire, rather than the
fire itself. In the case of a fire,
the fan functions in a way to
keep the stairwell pressurized,
so when someone opens the
stairwell door, the fumes and
smoke is pushed out rather than
pushed in the stairwell, keeping
clean and healthy air flow.

This is a standard fire hose located

in the basement. Fire hose reels are
easy to access and easy to use and
very effective in the case of a fire.

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Although not showing very clearly,

this is an image of a sprinkler set
up in the basement car park of the
multiplex building site. Sprinklers
are very effective in fires.

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Basement Wall

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The Basement Wall

The main site I was able to focus on and observe the construction of the basement wall
was on the site located on Castlereagh Street. This basement wall is currently under
construction. The basement wall type for this multi-residential construction is a load-
bearing wall, made from concrete blocks. These load bearing walls, as load bearing walls
usually do, were intended to support the weight of the building. A direct definition from
the Building Code of Australia states that load bearing means “the wall is intended to
resist vertical forces additional to those due to its own weight”. Load bearing walls have
become common practice for apartment and multi-residential buildings. The structural
requirements of these is much more sever than those buildings of lower rise. This is due
to the additional load of the building, as well as increased effect of wind loads for the
higher levels. In these cases, such as the site I attended to, the strength of the bricks and
the mortar are increased. In this case, the basement wall requires concrete blocks which
provide a 230mm thickness. These walls sit on the footings.

Inside the block work of the basement walls, reinforced steel bars are placed. Every
400mm horizontally in the block work, a steel bar of 16mm diameter is placed inside, and
every 400mm vertically (that is to say two courses of block work), reinforced steel bars
are also placed inside. These steel bars extend for the perimeter of the basement walls.
Once placed, concrete is poured in order to stabilize and strengthen the steel bars and
form the load bearing walls. For the corners and the top slab, “L” bars are used as a more
appropriate and suitable method. This entire procedure is a stronger and more effective
way of making the wall but unfortunately, I was unable to access any sites during this
process or capture any images of this method while in progress.

In regards to the wall and safety systems, the Building Code of Australia defines concrete
load bearing fire walls and internal walls as “fire resisting construction”. There are many

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other essential systems and procedures required when it comes to the design and
construction of a basement wall and basement slab.

This image above (from Lachlan Street) is an example of an external basement wall. This
wall has a width of 230mm and the vertical steel bars, which are the steel reinforcing, can
be seen in place. This wall was taken from the side of the driveway, early on in the
construction process.

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The image above (from Castlereagh Street) is also an external basement wall, but
showing the steel bars protruding through the block work horizontally. Fortunately for
me, I was able to capture another image of this wall from outside the site also, showing
the bars vertically placed in the block work.

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At some time of the year most foundations, even shallow ones, will be subjected to a
hydrostatic head of water if provision has not been made to intercept groundwater and
remove it. The standard procedure is to install drainage tile or perforated plastic pipe and
crushed stone around the basement so that water will not reach the under side of the
basement floor slab. Connections are made through the footings to the crushed stone
under the floor slab. The tile or pipe is normally covered to a depth of at least 6 inches
with crushed stone or other coarse granular material which acts not only as a filter to
exclude fine grained soil particles but also, with the pipe, as a drain. The water collected
by the drain is led to a storm sewer, dry well, or to a sump from which it is pumped.

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The footing drain should take care of water percolating down through the soil from the
ground surface as well as groundwater. If, however, fine-grained soil is used as backfill,
the downward movement of the water can be restricted to such an extent that a perched
water table is formed at some level above the footing drain.
Granular material placed as a thin layer against the wall would provide good drainage,
but it is a time-consuming and therefore an expensive procedure to place the filter
material correctly.

The requirements of moisture control can be summarized as follows:

• Place drainage tile or perforated pipe and crushed stone below floor level at
the base of the footing and dispose of the water to a storm sewer or drywell.

• Cover the footings with a moisture barrier.

• Apply a damp-proof coating to the exterior surface of the basement wall.

• Install a drainage layer from near grade level down to the footing drain.

• Provide and maintain a positive grade away from the building.

• Control run-off from roof surfaces and paved areas adjacent to the building.

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This image was taken from the site on Lachlan Street. It shows the AG pipe installed in
the basement. Although not seen in this picture, there is a slight slope anticipating the
flow of water. A more evident example of this slope is the image below.

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The image above clearly shows the pit in the basement where the water flows through
and can be collected also in an attempt to prevent any flooding.

The image below captures the main detention tank where water is collected and pumped
out. The tank is located close to an external wall and hence the water is pumped out from
here. The pit is covered by a light duty galvanized steel grate.

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In my site investigation, I was able to compare and contrast the drainage systems in the
various sites. I was also able to get hold of some plans for the multiplex site, which show
detail of the drainage system. This system was much larger and complex than the site on
Lachlan Street due to the much larger size and stage of the building.

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The image above shows one of the large drains placed in the basement car park of the
multiplex site. This drain is quite large in size due the size of the building and the
expected flow of water.

Again the image above captures another Ag pipe; however this one is in the early stages
of installation and formation.

Below is the main switch board for the basement drainage system at the multiplex site.
This board is much more complex than the previous site that I mentioned, again due to
the much larger drainage system required to meet the buildings specifications and needs.

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The image below, although showing the sewerage rather than drainage, is an example of
the pipes used and the connection and placements through the external wall of the
basement. As part of the sites planning and managing, the gap in the wall was left open
rather than the difficult task of having to make an opening through the wall.


Having spoken to Tony, site manager on Lachlan Street, he explained to me that the
external wall on his site required some sort of termite treatment. A licensed trader was
required to go and inspect the site. Termite treatment is done from the bottom of the
building under the slab. Treatment is also done in the cavities in the units in order to
protect the whole building. Following this termite treatment, the water proofing system
for the basement is put in place. Unfortunately, I did not get to see any of this, but Tony
explained to me that behind load bearing walls there is a form of black tar used which
covers the holes in the block work. This is an attempt to stop the water from the external
soil coming through the holes and therefore keeps the wall dry. Crushed concrete is also
used around the basement wall as it does not suck the water into the wall as soil and other
materials may.

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Industrial Buildings
(Tilt – Up Construction)

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According to the Building Code of Australia, “the classification of a building is

determined by the purpose for which it is designed, constructed, or adapted to be used”.
Therefore an industrial building can be classified as a Class 7-b or Class 8 building.

Class 7-b: A building which is for storage, or display of goods, or produce for sale by

Class 8: A laboratory, or a building in which a handicraft or process for the

production, assembling, altering, repairing, packing, finishing, or cleaning of goods or
produce is carried on for trade, sale or gain.

Since the completion of an industrial building can take a number of weeks and perhaps
months, I chose a number of building sites to investigate for my last section of this
notebook assignment. One of the sites I looked at was a new warehouse located at 2
Owen Street, Glendenning. I visited this site many times regularly, as this building was in
the main stages of the process, having placed the main slab on ground, and were pouring
concrete for the walls. Victor Micallef, an industrial builder, is managing this job along
with a company called Tilt-Up Construction. I was unfortunately only able to meet Victor
once, which was the very first time I went to the site, and due to his health problems, he
was restricted to the amount of time he spent on the site, and I was only lucky enough to
get a hold of one plan from this project.

The second site I looked at was just around the corner, located on the corner of
Woodstock Road and Glendenning Road, also in Glendenning. This site was in the early
stages of the project, having just completed excavation and placing footings for the
columns. This site also was a Tilt-Up Construction site, and under the supervision of the
foreman, Robert Barrett. Robert was of great help to me, as he was able to provide me
with a few plans and allowing me onto his site even at the busiest of times, and also kept
in contact with me regarding his site progression.

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The third site I went to was just across the road from Robert’s site, located at 127
Glendenning Road, Glendenning. This site was also a Tilt-Up Construction site, but
much smaller than the previous two I had visited. I never seemed to find the foreman or
site supervisor, so I spoke briefly with one of the builders on the site. He allowed me onto
the site, as I was wearing my safety boots, and he was quite helpful in explaining the fire
safety system and elements of this site. Because I never seemed to “pop-up” at the times
which the foreman for this site was there, I was unable to get a hold of any plans for this

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The three sites I found were all located in Glendenning, and are all shown on the maps

Victor Micallef – his phone number and his site details.

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Theory of Industrial Buildings

There are two main structural frames that an industrial building can take. These are portal
frame construction and tilt-up or precast concrete panel construction. This section of the
assignment is focusing on tilt-up construction. Tilt-up construction is a technique for
casting concrete elements in horizontal positions at the job site and tilting them to their
final position in the structure. Tilt-up concrete construction is a form of precast concrete.
Several features make the tilt-up construction method unique. Tilt-up panels are generally
handled only once. They are lifted or tilted from the casting bed and erected in their final
position in one, continuous operation. Tilt-up panels are generally of such large size and
weight that they can only be constructed on site and in close proximity to their final
location in the structure. Once all the panels are erected, walls are finished with
sandblasting or painting. They also caulk joints and patch any imperfections in the walls.
From this point, the installation of the roof system can take place, using steel beam
sections as rafters and lightweight sheeting for cover, and the trades begin their work
inside the building.

Industrial buildings can be broken down into a few main aspects or processes during their
construction. These are:
• Excavation and Footings
• Concrete Slab
• Walls and Joints
• Roofing
• Special design features, such as fire safety systems, slab thickening etc.

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These two images here are examples of some of the machinery used on the site involved
in the excavation process. This site is the one located on 127 Glendenning Road,
Glendenning. The top image is called a Compactor or Roller; the bottom image is a

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This image captures the excavation

process towards its end, showing
the digger just trying to level the
ground surface into an even shape
using the excavator.

Here I captured the image of the

demolishing instrument (the
bucket) that is usually attached to a
machine that is driven by a trained
machinery driver. Its purpose is to
break up larger sized rocks that are
difficult to be removed by the

The excavated material after the

stage of excavation was complete.
The materials are all piled up in one
of the corners least accessed on site,
until later stages where it’s not
needed anymore, then it’s removed
off the site.

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I saw two types of footings in this section of the assignment. Continuous and Isolated.
The two sites I visited that were in the footing process are the two shown on the map
above on Glendenning Road. I managed to get footing plans for Robert’s site and also got
to see the concrete being poured.

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This image shows the

steel reinforcement in
place before the concrete
has been poured.

This image is showing

the joint between the
continuous footings,
again before the
pouring of the concrete.

This image shows the pit that has been dug for
the isolated footing.

This image shows that same pit after the

reinforcement steel has been placed.
This image shows the concrete being poured
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pads on
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minimum bearing capacity of 500kPa depth.

This image shows one of the

worker’s on the site leveling
out the concrete for the
isolated footing.

This image shows the bolts

placed in the concrete, with the
pink and green strings used to
set out the grid lines on the site.

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Surveyors Note – the tilt-up building is to be set out strictly in accordance with the
structural engineers panel setout plan, which takes preference over architectural plans.
The surveyor is to be called out to confirm the setout of the building and the position of
all the wall panels on the footings prior to the day of panel lifting.

Although I did not get to meet the

surveyor or see any of the surveying on
the site, I found some of the surveying
equipment being used on the site, such
as the level (above) and the staff
(below). This staff was different to an
ordinary surveyors staff as this was
placed in the concrete and functioned

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This image shows a much

smaller isolated footing than
the one above with starter
bars installed.

This is the same isolated

footing after concrete has been

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Concrete Slab
Before any panel layout and casting takes place on the site, the contractor should
determine if there is sufficient slab area to cast the panels and maneuver equipment
during construction. The image below shows a section of the concrete slab on the site,
located at 127 Glendenning Road. This slab is 200mm thick.

The image above is the only clear image I could get of a section of a concrete slab. The
holes in the slab shown in the image are created for a dowel connection, as in to say that
another slab will be joined to this one by steel bars. Half of the steel bars will be placed in
this slab, the other half in the next slab to join to this one. The steel bars (dowel bars)
keep the slabs fixed to prevent movement.

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Walls and Joints

The types of frames or walls that are used on an industrial building depend on the
structural form of the building, that is, if the building is portal frame or tilt-up
construction. Portal frame construction uses steel columns and rafters to form a “portal
frame” that spans the width of the building. These portal frames run down the length of
the building. This section of the assignment is focusing on tilt-up construction. Tilt-up
construction varies quite a lot from portal frame construction. Firstly, there is no frame
that supports the building. The structure is load bearing, that is, the concrete panels that
act as the walls also act as a load bearing structure of the building. Therefore, there is no
frame to which external cladding is fixed to insulate the building, the concrete panels act
as both the load bearing structure and external cladding of the building.

Although this is a cartoon, this image shows how the concrete panels are tilted up into
position using a crane. This is a critical moment because the panels are under the greatest
stress when they are being lifted into position. Unfortunately I was not on site during this
stage of the construction.

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When making in-situ concrete panels the process is literally impossible to do unless you
use bond breakers to separate the panels from each other. Bond breakers are a chemical
agent that prevents permanent connection between the floor slab and the concrete panels.
Bond breakers not only prevent the connection, but also help with loads of the panels
when lifting them.

Tilt-up construction is a three-step process. Firstly there is preparing the casting beds to
form the panels, then pouring the concrete to form the panels, then tilting the panels into

This image here shows one of the casting beds on the site, used for making the wall panels.
As seen, they are quite large, and therefore they are made on the site, rather than having them
precast and delivered.

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The image above shows one of the smaller casting beds on the site. The image below
shows the same casting bed but after the concrete has been poured. I had to visit the site
many times as some days there was expected rain and they did not want to pour concrete
on those days. These images are taken from Victor Micallef’s site.

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This is a fanning device I saw at

127 Glendenning Road. This
device was used after the
concrete had been poured in an
attempt to help the concrete to
dry quicker. The panel shown in
this image is 150mm.

One part of the construction

process that was not mentioned
earlier regarding the concrete
panels was the reinforced steel
placed in the casting bed. As
seen in this image here, the
reinforced steel is cut to the
appropriate dimensions, and
ready to be placed in the
casting bed before the pouring
of the concrete.

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A major feature of the wall structure in tilt-up construction is the joints and methods used
of joining the walls to the ground and also the roof. The main type of connection used in
a tilt-up structure is holding down bolts. Some details are shown below.

This image shows the bolt

placed in the wall before
the bracing is joined.

This image here shows a

section of the building
where the bracings have
been joined to the walls
and the ground.

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These images show the

fixing of the bracing
between the wall and the

The bracing is fixed to

the ground using holding
down bolts.

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The type of roof used depends on the type of industrial building. Both forms of
construction, tilt-up and portal frame, use lightweight metal sheeting, but the structure of
the roof frames varies in the connection to the column or wall. Since the portal frame is
manufactured from quite thick “I” beam sections, another element is added to the roof
frame – the purlin. Purlin’s serve basically the same function as girts for the wall frame.
They provide a fixing point for the roof sheeting and also act as secondary bracing for the
portal frames.

A tilt-up roof frame is similar to a portal frame in that they both use steel “I” beams as
the main supporting element in the roof frame. Steel trusses can also be used in the roof
frame or tilt-up buildings. Purlin’s, which again run perpendicular to the rafter beams, are
used to fix the roof sheeting to the structure and also add some bracing to the building.
However, tilt-up roof frames are joined to the concrete panels instead of a column. This
area is critical to the strength of the roof.

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There are two types of purlins and girts: they are the Z-section and the C-section used
structurally and for cladding purposes.

C type – the flanges are

equal and most suitable for a
simple supported span. They
can be used continuously by
butting the ends. C –
sections can not be lapped.

Z type – these sections have

one narrow and one broad
flange, these are made so
that two Z-sections can fit
tightly together so the can be
lapped appropriately.
Lapping of the system gives
the purlins’ more strength
and improves the load
capacity and rigidity of the

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Fire Safety Systems

The processes and activities performed in an industrial building are usually large scale
and quite stressful on the structure. Heavy loads are applied to the building especially the
floor slab. Some activities performed in these buildings can also be dangerous, for
example, welding, or using fast moving or powerful machinery. Dangerous goods are
also often stored in industrial buildings. It is for these reasons that special design features
must be implemented into industrial buildings.

The risk of fire occurring in an industrial building is quite significant. It is for this reason
that special fire safety systems need to be implemented. Flammable goods are quite often
stored in industrial buildings, and activities such as welding, drilling, grinding, and metal
fabrication can all cause sparks, which may lead to fire. In the instance of a fire
occurring, industrial buildings are designed so that the people inside the building can
escape easily and safely before the building collapses. According to the BCA, there are
two means of fire protection, passive and active. Passive protection are things located
within the structure of the building, such as walls, floors, ceilings, doors and windows
which will offer a degree of fire resistance in the event of a fire. Active protections are
systems that activate when fire occurs, for example, sprinkler systems, and smoke
detectors. Fire hoses and extinguishers are also active protection measures.

This image was taken at the site

located at 127 Glendenning Road.
This image shows door frames
with 240/240/240 FRL. I spoke to
the site manager and he told me
that for simplicity and safety
precautions he used 240/240/240
ratings for the whole building.

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During my research time, I found another construction site in Blacktown. This site was a
portal framed site, but it was a refurbished site, so instead of troubling myself, I decided
to focus on the tilt-up type of construction, and found many advantages in a tilt-up
construction system rather than a steel framed portal structure.

There are many advantages in a tilt-up construction system such as time efficiency, cost
effectiveness and safety while the building is under construction, as well as other factors
relating to the building itself after the whole construction process such as durability,
maintenance, security and fire safety. Firstly, this method of construction uses locally
available materials rather than ones that must be manufactured and shipped in. This
means that raw material costs are lower, available when needed and less prone to price
fluctuations. Tilt-up work crews are typically smaller than the crews used in traditional
construction and are normally comprised of local labour.

In relation to time, tilt-up offers several opportunities to "compress" the schedule and
deliver the building very quickly. Erecting the walls with tilt-up panels is faster than
building walls using traditional construction techniques. The trades can begin work
earlier in the process on a tilt-up project, which allows greater overlapping of project

Tilt-up is a proven, safe method of construction. The vast majority of the project takes
place on the ground rather than on scaffolding, reducing many of the risks normally faced
by workers. Tilt-up provides architects and designers with virtually unlimited flexibility
in crafting a building that is functional, durable and aesthetically pleasing.

The benefits of a project built with tilt-up wall construction continue long after it is
completed. Tilt-up buildings are extremely durable. The concrete used in tilt-up panels
meets the fire-resistance standards of even the most demanding building codes. Tilt-up
buildings require little in the way of ongoing maintenance.

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Having found three new construction sites within the same couple of streets, all being tilt-
up structures, and also a better understanding of this method as well as these benefits, it's
easy to see why many building contractors and construction managers are opting for tilt-
up over steel buildings or traditional construction.

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• Building Code of Australia. 2005 Edition. Volume 1
• Shooter, N “Industrial Buildings” Bachelor of Construction – Construction 2
(16204). Lecture Notes.
• Tilt-Up Concrete Construction Guide.

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