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RE: Precast vs Poured

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You didn’t mention where you are building the project, that can have a profound impact on your choice.  Precast is viable in *most* situations.  Precast has many advantages, some of which you have already mentioned.  Precast works best when you have a reasonably modular structure (think parking garages, hotels, etc).  You get economy of scale by making 200 of the same sections.  Set-ups for unique items can be fairly costly.


As for penetrations, in my experience it is about the same work either way.  You will need to x-ray the deck for any post-installed penetrations either way.  Precast and post-tensioned construction both scare contractors enough they generally won’t start cutting until someone says it’s okay (although that isn’t always true).  Penetrations that are part of the initial system are fairly easy in both systems.  The precaster won’t be happy when he has to deal with them, but it is part of getting the work.


The best advice I can offer is contact your local precaster and let him buy you lunch.  Most know when their systems won’t work and will tell you up front.  Some will even give you a ballpark estimate of cost.


Things to watch out for in precasters: companies that haven’t done similar work (there is a big difference between architectural precast and structural precast), long shipping distances, companies whose name you don’t recognize.  Precasters come and go, be sure you have a reputable company.


Jake Watson, P.E.
Salt Lake City, UT




From: Will Haynes [mailto:gtg740p(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Sunday, June 05, 2005 12:15 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Precast vs Poured


An architect asked me the other day whether I would prefer to use precast or poured in place concrete for a new courthouse he is looking at.  I am trying to get a list of advantages and disadvantages of each system .


He is looking at the building being made of precast floors and facade, poured floors with precast facade, or poured floors with brick facade. Of course money is the most important factor for this project. It will be about 50,000 sq ft, involving 2 to 3 stories.


From what I know, the precast will be cheaper and it will go up a lot faster. But there will be less flexibility for penetrations. I would rather do the poured concrete (whether reinforced or post tensioned) because of the design involved. But of course I can't recommend it based on just that. I was hoping one of you had recently done a similar size and function building and could give some advice either way, (not just which system will be the cheapest even though that is the most important aspect). 






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