High-rise surveying in Birmingham
Engineering consultancy Curtins contracted CAN, an RSK company, to carry out visual and tactile structural inspections and concrete testing for 40 high-rise apartment blocks across Birmingham. The inspection was part of a larger project by Birmingham City Council to assess the current condition of its high-rise housing stock constructed using large panel system blocks. These blocks are prefabricated elements assembled on-site, as opposed to the typical practice of casting major construction elements in situ as part of the building process.
The teams used rope access, primarily anchored to CAN’s proprietary mobile anchor system, the CANtilever, to inspect the buildings’ exteriors safely for defects such as cracked and spalled concrete, degraded sealant joints and failed repairs. They logged all the defects individually with location, dimensions and digital images for inclusion in the report. Structural engineers interpreted the recorded defects and test results to determine the present condition and likely remaining lifespans of the structures. The data also helped to formulate future strategies for work, be it cladding, repairs or demolition. Additionally, CAN carried out numerous on-site tests and took concrete samples for laboratory tests. The tests included in situ testing for carbonation depth and cover, and sample testing for chloride content.
CAN collaborated with sister RSK company Central Alliance to complete laser measured surveys of each block to provide accurate representations of each buildings’ structural elements and architectural features. The data formed the basis for drawn schematics for the report. The surveys were verified with laser verticality measurements at each floor. The inspections did not find any critical defects. The results were used to inform decisions on building maintenance and lifespan. All the inspections were carried out on time, on budget and, most importantly, to the client’s satisfaction.