To cut down on construction costs and time, two government agencies that provide housing have decided to use prefabricated structures to build high-rise apartment complexes.

The Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) has recently called for bids for the construction of 1,500 flats in Sholinganallur. Similarly, the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) has proposed the construction of 920 houses in Vyasarpadi using proven prefabricated technology. A source at TNSCB explained that the project was being taken up on a pilot basis.

“Conventionally, it takes about two years for our projects to be completed as monsoons, delays by contractors, labour availability and at times non-availability of construction material push back our deadlines. This technology will help reduce time and costs as well as ensure quality,” he said.

Under the projects, building components including columns, beams and roofs will be made by the contractor elsewhere, brought to the construction site and installed to make the buildings.

A source at TNHB said the structures and technology would be tested at competent laboratories before being utilised in the buildings.

“We are asking contractors with tested technologies to participate in the bids. We may also put in place supervision by third parties who have experience in such constructions,” he said.

However, sources at the Public Works Department, which is also involved in large-scale construction projects, said that more thought has to go into the technology when it comes to construction of government office buildings.

“It has to be properly tested. Chennai falls under a seismic zone 3. The usage of government offices is different from that of residential apartments,” he said.

A structural engineer with a government agency, who did not want to be named, said that several tested and safe technologies were available for prefab projects. “The models are tested using a shake table, which is a simulated earthquake in a laboratory. Government agencies must insist that proper testing is done before going forward,” he said.

The cost-effective technology will also be used by the Slum Clearance Board

on a pilot basis