It starts with the design. Do or get a simple but ‘stand-out’ design that can easily be interpreted; Complex designs with too many chaffer, projection, bend, twist and curves may reduce construction speed. Terrace houses are mostly proto-type and are often arranged in simple rows sharing the same roof, partitions and sometimes the same longitudinal bearing in foundation making it easier to construct than a typical set of detached buildings.
Typical terrace consists of 10 units or less, although there is really no limit. The main partition between individual units can be extended to form a fence to enhance security and privacy. By adopting the right construction technology/technique, project cash flow pattern and employing a versatile contractor, a four-week project duration for a row of terrace houses can be achieved as shown in these simple steps;
Day 1: Mobilize plants, address the workmen and call up suppliers. It is often good to notify your workmen and suppliers a fortnight to the start of site work so that you can determine their availability or level of preparedness. As early as possible, they are assembled and given specific and general instruction. Distribute workmen into teams or gangs depending on their skill sets and roles. Duplication of roles should be avoided as much as possible.
Day 2: Prepare the site. Clear and cart away debris. Begin to receive and store building materials as ordered. Deploy sufficient labor and material for the work at every material time and always pay prompt to avoid dispute.
Day 3-7: Do your setting-out operation. Mark-out the entire row at once and begin foundation works simultaneously. Level and compact filling materials intensely. Substructure works may take up to 3 more days to complete. For concrete works, the norm is that it requires at least 21 days to set properly. Ask the in-tune professionals, this now depends largely on the constructor’s knowledge of new techniques that makes concrete achieve sufficient strength within a very short time using the right mix. Leave the entire foundation set-up undisturbed for a day –say the seventh day. Start construction of pre-cast components like floor/roof beams, lintel beams, inspection chamber, septic tank/soak-away pit, base for water treatment plant, etc.
Day 8 - 15: Begin super-structure works. Set up quick-fit scaffolds and small-sized hoist to lift up pre-cast members. Stack bricks or lay blocks depending on which wall material you are using and do your frame work (i.e. build columns, install beams, construct floors and staircases) alongside. For reinforced concrete in columns and beams use the same approach used in foundation. But for the upper floor, allow additional time before you detach the formwork because it is a suspended member with a larger horizontal surface area. Begin to cut the roof members into sizes ahead of installation. Start electrical, plumbing work and external work.
Day 16 – 20: Install your roof and ceiling members. Install fittings and fixtures. Render walls and floors.
Day 21 – 27: Install floor, walls and ceiling finishes. Perfect all finishes and external works. Do your checks and balances.
Day 28: Close the project.
Looks too good to be true? It’s not an experiment. There are existing buildings delivered this way. Wouldn’t it just collapse? Far from it; they are just as structurally stable and durable. Collapses aren’t often caused by construction speed but incompetence and corner cutting. Or you thinking -why the rush? That’s probably the wrong question. In the footsteps of modern day constructors and with the prevalent high cost of servicing project loans, the right question is why all the unnecessary and avoidable delays? It really depends on you.