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More cunning prefabrication from the ANU Exchange

By johnboy - 27 August 2011 12

anu exchange construction

To a non construction worker it’s fascinating watching a modern building going up. The new ANU Exchange seems to be using more prefabrication than most of the other buildings that have been going up around Civic.

But it looks like a smarter way to do things.

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
More cunning prefabrication from the ANU Exchange
thatsnotme 3:28 pm 30 Aug 11

Bah, just re-read your last post, and I think we’ve ended up arguing the same thing in the end.

thatsnotme 3:26 pm 30 Aug 11

Ags said :

I am sure we all agree, you get what you apy for. That is exactly my point. Most trades (construction or otherwise) are turning to quick and cheap methods of fabrication and installation. All to turn a quick profit and move to the next job to make a quick profit. Who cares about the householder who has to pay for repairs in a few years time, not the big wigs.
I have 14 years experience and still have family and friends in the industry . And the old saying still stands. You can make shit look like icecream but it is still shit.

But the big wigs will tell you it is great, they are the ones making the quick profit.

But the example you cited – of houses in Gungahlin falling apart after 20 years – disproves the very argument you’re making! These houses aren’t pre-fab – they were built by builders. Which goes to show that the method of construction makes jack squat of difference, compared to the care and skill put into the construction. In the same way that some pre-fabs are made by people out to make a buck quickly, some houses are built by builders also out to make a quick buck.

A shitty wall made in a factory will be just as bad as a shitty wall build on site. And the opposite applies as well. One of the main differences will be that either way, inside the factory the wall will still go up regardless of the weather.

Ags 3:00 pm 30 Aug 11

I am sure we all agree, you get what you apy for. That is exactly my point. Most trades (construction or otherwise) are turning to quick and cheap methods of fabrication and installation. All to turn a quick profit and move to the next job to make a quick profit. Who cares about the householder who has to pay for repairs in a few years time, not the big wigs.
I have 14 years experience and still have family and friends in the industry . And the old saying still stands. You can make shit look like icecream but it is still shit.

But the big wigs will tell you it is great, they are the ones making the quick profit.

churl 1:12 pm 30 Aug 11

Ags said :

…Many moons ago we used copper pipes and clay sewer pipes and they stood the test of time.

Those would be the wretched, short, clay pipes joined with cement that always cracks so the roots get in?
I would happily swap for PVC.

creative_canberran 1:11 pm 30 Aug 11

Ags said :

You ony have to look at the quality of the homes in Gungahalin. Many moons ago we used copper pipes and clay sewer pipes and they stood the test of time. That is why the buildings along Northbourne Ave are still standing. Houses in Nicholls and Ngunnawal are already starting to fail and they are only 20 years old.

I should point out that long ago, insurance companies stopped covering leaking showers in homes because it’s so common. And regarding the clay pipes, they are notorious for their greater problems with tree roots.

And if we’re going to raise the topic of sewer pipes and the like, let’s not forget all the examples of built from scratch civil engineering that hasn’t gone that well.
Of course one of the most famous one is the Cypress Street Viaduct in California.

Locally though, the original Cotter Dam has since the 50s has been covered in a grey cloud over structural stability. For decades they didn’t know what the actually state of the foundations were and decided not to built it to full height in the end. The 1999 strengthening was extremely high risk which shows just how significant the fears were for the structure were it not done.

Bendora Dam too required steel structural braces when constructed due to rock conditions in one of the abutments. In a report a few years back by ACTEW looking at future water options (this was the one that looked at 30 options before they narrowed it down), they considered adding fuse plugs to Bendora to increase its capacity in times other than extreme flood. The report ruled it out because the braces had “exceeded their design lifespan” and any changes could endanger the integrity of the dam structure.

And of course the Googong Spillway was only half built originally leading to serious scouring of the rock races below supporting it. This had to be fixed later.

These were all detailed construction projects, not using prefab and using many specialists in a range of expert fields. So my point is ideally, prefab should allow faster construction and lower margin for error. If the errors are occurring, then it is not the fault of prefabrication in itself but the skills of those manufacturing and assembling it. And that definitely needs to improve.

thatsnotme 1:09 pm 30 Aug 11

Ags said :

Firstly they are made in a factory production line and not by qualified trades people.
These sort of building processes only use cheap and nasty products. After all the walls are cladded before they even arrive on site and no one is the wiser. All in all it degrades trades people because just about anyone can glue pipes together and plug stuff in. In the end it will be the owner that suffers.

You ony have to look at the quality of the homes in Gungahalin. Many moons ago we used copper pipes and clay sewer pipes and they stood the test of time. That is why the buildings along Northbourne Ave are still standing. Houses in Nicholls and Ngunnawal are already starting to fail and they are only 20 years old.

Huh? You’re not really making any sense here… The houses in Gungahalin aren’t pre-fabs either – they were built by qualified trades people. So are you also degrading those tradies with that comment? And the materials used to make them – whether pre-fab or built from scratch, have nothing to do with the process, and everything to do with cost and availability of materials, and ease of installation. Go look at the price of copper these days too – materials that were readily available back in the day, cost a small fortune these days.

Like everything in life, you get what you pay for. I’m certain that there are companies out there producing top quality pre-fabs, where the decision to go pre-fab is all about ease and speed of construction, not about saving a buck. Just the same as there are tradies who will use cheap and nasty materials, and knock up a place as quickly as they can without care for workmanship, so they can move onto the next job.

It’s not as black and white as ‘pre-fab = cheap and nasty, while tradies = care and quality construction’.

p1 12:50 pm 30 Aug 11

Ags said :

Firstly they are made in a factory production line and not by qualified trades people….

What are the laws like concerning the qualifications required to build a wall in a factory, verses building one on site?

arescarti42 said :

I know in places like Japan and Germany… …..From what I understand the tolerances they can work too are far smaller when the parts are prefabricated in a factory.

Mmmm maybe in Japan and Germany, and maybe be residential houses, but a friend of mine who assembles large buildings reckons the big bits of steel *always* require a certain amount of coercion in order to fit. Cutting, re-drilling, re-welding, bending etc. Apparently much of the Costco building came in containers prefab from China and many parts weren’t quite right, but much harder to send back to the factory to be fixed….

Disclaimer - this is obviously a very small sample size. Plus, it is possible the construction workers didn't read the instructions correctly and have been assembling them wrong.

🙂

Ags 11:58 am 30 Aug 11

Firstly they are made in a factory production line and not by qualified trades people.
These sort of building processes only use cheap and nasty products. After all the walls are cladded before they even arrive on site and no one is the wiser. All in all it degrades trades people because just about anyone can glue pipes together and plug stuff in. In the end it will be the owner that suffers.

You ony have to look at the quality of the homes in Gungahalin. Many moons ago we used copper pipes and clay sewer pipes and they stood the test of time. That is why the buildings along Northbourne Ave are still standing. Houses in Nicholls and Ngunnawal are already starting to fail and they are only 20 years old.

creative_canberran 11:12 pm 29 Aug 11

Sir_Orangepeel said :

this is why so many new buildings in Canberra, and elsewhere, look like rubbish

I dare you to drive down Northbourne Ave and tell me built from scratch can’t also look like rubbish.

Sir_Orangepeel 10:20 pm 29 Aug 11

this is why so many new buildings in Canberra, and elsewhere, look like rubbish

Henry82 5:04 pm 27 Aug 11

Prefabs are the way to go. The laurus wing (container shipping housing) is absolutely fantastic. It’s a shame the university has sold out to UniLodge

arescarti42 3:55 pm 27 Aug 11

It’s a pretty good idea.

I know in places like Japan and Germany, residential houses can be pretty much entirely prefabricated on a production line, and are then just trucked to the destination where everything is bolted together. From what I understand the tolerances they can work too are far smaller when the parts are prefabricated in a factory.

The student accommodation on the corner of Clunies Ross St. and Dickson Rd. is the ultimate in prefabrication though.

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