Deconstruction and re-design of commercial building in Auckland
When a fire took hold of a commercial premises in Hillcrest, Auckland, it destroyed the building’s roof and left other structural elements such as walls and floors in a doubtful condition. With no clear stipulation in the NZ building code about whether a structure can be reused after a fire, a detailed condition assessment was required, and reverse engineering to rectify the damage.
Significant structural damage to the building naturally presented a challenging and high-risk environment. However, our team is recognised for their expertise and application of Safety in Design, so the insurance company handling the claim was happy to engage us with confidence that any on-site risks would be effectively mitigated.
GRIT also specialises in brownfield structural assessment and design, where new elements must fit in with existing structures and services, which was a defining feature of this project. We are also renowned for our collaborative approach and ability to work with multiple stakeholders – another reason we were selected for this complex job.
Fast and decisive action by GRIT
Speed was of the essence for this project. GRIT was called in immediately after the fire to rapidly assess the building and develop a temporary propping system that would prevent further structural failure. Our responsiveness at short notice, and the fast and decisive action taken by our engineers, ensured that the building remained stable while a permanent solution was designed.
Once the temporary propping was in place, our engineers continued to work at pace to determine whether the existing masonry walls and parts of the timber mezzanine floor could be reused. A combination of calculation and experienced engineering judgement saw this complex work completed quickly, and a fast-track design phase allowed for the building to soon be reinstated to an operational level.
Providing construction monitoring also allowed our team to deal rapidly with issues during the rebuild. Differences between the as-built structure and the drawings were quickly resolved, while difficulties procuring standard timber grades due to Covid-19-related supply chain issues required alternative timber designs for the mezzanine strengthening.
Building returned to service in 12 months
The result for our client was a completed rebuild in just 12 months, allowing them to lease the building again as soon as possible. It was thanks to the detailed condition assessment and expert engineering judgement of our team that many of the building’s elements could be reused, and a total demolition proved unnecessary. An overly conservative approach could have easily resulted in a far more costly and time-consuming solution, which GRIT was able to avoid thanks to the expertise of our team.