A Construction Primer: Precast vs. Site-cast - Fabcon Precast

A Construction Primer: Precast vs. Site-cast

Illustration of site-cast with numerical callouts

Commercial construction is an intense and complicated topic. It’s as vast as it is dynamic. Obviously, there’s more than one way to build a building, but let me clear up the confusion around two of them: structural precast concrete and site-cast.

First, some quick definitions. With precast construction, large concrete panels are cast in a climate-controlled manufacturing facility, transported to the jobsite via flatbed trucks and then set efficiently in place. With site-cast construction, large panels are cast at the jobsite.

Though the two methods have similarities, the differences are significant. Take height, for instance; Fabcon is now producing panels greater than 73’ tall. With site-cast panels, anything over 40’ is tricky and cost-prohibitive. Thermal performance is another critical difference. Precast panels have an integrated insulation component that can deliver R-values up to R-28.2. Adding insulation to a site-cast envelope is an added step and requires a whole new set of subcontractors.

Additional advantages to the precast process begin early the construction cycle. While site-cast crews must wait for jobsite preparation to be completed, Fabcon can begin producing panels and preparing them for delivery. Factors like weather conditions and excavating crew availability can affect when the jobsite will be ready for a site-cast crew… and it’s never sooner than anticipated.

While a precast crew of six workers can enclose 100,000’ in less than 2 weeks, a site-cast crew of 20 (or more) can only erect as fast as they can cast and cure the panels. Furthermore, site-cast panels are manufactured on what will become the floor of the new structure, and the entire process is exposed to Mother Nature’s fickle mood. With a site-cast project, you can count on more workers and more equipment being on the jobsite longer. This not only monopolizes site access, it exposes you and your organization to added risk and liability.

To be fair, site-cast isn’t the worst way to build a building — it just has its limitations. For a more in-depth look at how precast works, I invite you to visit FABCONVERSUS.COM

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