Revolutionising IVS for high end real estate development

Revolutionising IBS for high-end real estate development

  • Hybrid Industrialised Building System exudes long-term cost savings as well as expedites project completion
  • Home-grown HKT Holdings is pioneering practical-yet-cost effective IBS for application in both affordable housing and high-end property projects

The Industrialised Building System (IBS) has every potential to become a disruptive force in the property development sector in the same manner fintech (financial technology) does to the banking sector.

Singapore’s skyline has benefited tremendously from across the causeways where IBS precast factories flourished in Senai (Johor) to feed the former’s appetite for clean, safe, cost- competitive and reliable construction method to realise public housing scheme under its Housing & Development Board.

However, the very fact that IBS as it is often associated with voluminous construction of purpose-built affordable housing has somehow overshadowed its true potential.

To overcome such reputational challenge thus boosting the acceptance of IBS, it is imperative to roll out a dynamic hybrid IBS version which is a shift from merely a “pre-fabricated reinforced concrete components that are produced at factories or off-site and later transported to project sites for installation”.

A hybrid IBS system in building structural framing is a combination of load bearing elements consisting of precast reinforced concrete walls, columns, beams and slabs with that of non-loaded elements constructed with prefabricated lightweight panels or blocks system.

The optimisation of the loaded elements and maximisation of the non-loaded elements can be referenced to as the total building solution in building structural framing works.

Unlike its conventional counterpart, IBS extends to standards and specifications of building materials used in the construction of walls with emphasis on durability and safety of the home occupants, according to IBS advocate Dato’ Seri John Hii KT.

This will ensure that beyond completion of their homes, property owners get the luxury feel of both comfort and peace of mind that their walls are non-combustible and can endure heavy hanging loads (such as kitchen cabinets or wall-mounted wardrobe) without cracks emerging.

“At the very basic, the four IBS pillars – quality (raw material/workmanship), quicker project completion, cost-efficiency and durable performance – are well-suited for the construction of high-end or prestigious properties,” Hii tells FocusM.

“As a whole, IBS is able to reduce not only the construction cost of a building per se but also any cost incurred (in repairing defects) during the two-year warranty period, of which the latter has a bearing on the image of the property developer.”

High-end properties that can adopt the IBS method range from landed dwellings in the likes of semi-detached houses and bungalows, to high-rise buildings such as apartments/condominiums, private medical centres, education institutions (private schools/universities) and Grade A office buildings.

Smooth cash flow

From a timing perspective, Hii opines that a properly executed IBS method will expedite work flow processes, hence enabling the certification of work done at Stages 2(b), 2(c) and 2(d) (totalling 35%) under the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Regulations 1989 merely one month apart from each other.

“This simply means a better cash flow in financing the construction work if pitted against conventional construction methods,” enthuses Hii who is also the founder and executive chairman of HKT Holdings Sdn Bhd, an investment holding company with diversified business interest in IBS and civil construction.

Stage 2(b) (10%) covers completion of the reinforced concrete framework of the said building while Stage 2(c) (15%) covers completion of the walls of the said building with door and window frames placed in position. Stage 2D (10%) encompasses the roofing, electrical wiring, plumbing (without fittings), gas piping (if any) and internal telephone trunking and cabling to the said building.

Speaking from his own experience, Hii says the GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System revolutionised by GE Tech Industry Sdn Bhd (a subsidiary of HKT Holdings) is lightweight-yet-strong (about a third of the weight of brick wall but twice the strength of brick wall) which translates into lighter foundation loads.

This will entail savings in terms of brick while boosting productivity from the manpower perspective given the ease of installation will enable the erection of wall panels within a much shorter time frame.

“Not only is this three times faster than the conventional method, it paves the way for early commencement of window and door frame installation, skim coating/rendering and architectural finishes (tiling and painting),” Hii points out.

Patented in Malaysia and Australia, the home-grown GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System holds numerous certifications for tests performed under severe conditions for its 100mm thick wall panel such as the much-touted BS5234: Part 2: 1992 standard partitioning test, a STC 44 value for acoustic, a two-hour fire rating, non-combustibility and more importantly, it possesses load bearing capability.

Qualities exude by the panel system in contrast to conventional construction method include:

  • Its tongue and groove system that enables ease of installation to form a homogeneous wall, thus mitigating hairline cracks;
  • No water seepage with the insertion of rockwool into vertical gaps between panels as well as the fastened tongue and groove joints to form a homogeneous wall system;
  • No hollowness defect; and
  • Walls can withstand heavy hanging loads such as wall cupboards and kitchen cabinets.

Eco-friendliness

Being a versatile product, the GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System is also renovation-friendly with proper advanced planning at the initial design or project inception stage under guidance of the in-house IBS-led consultant team.

Above all else, IBS as reflected by the GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System is environmental-friendly in that there is nominal or negligible wastage given raw materials are order to size.

“This will live up to the image of high-end or prestigious property projects, in particular those that are designed to meet the Green Building Index,” reckons Hii.

Incorporating value-added feature in the like of a special coating applied on the wall, ceiling and floor, the GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System does boast a certain degree of thermal insulation and cooling effect which thus reduces dependency on air-conditioning (saving on electricity).

To live up to the right quality control standards, it is imperative that developers engage an IBS consultant, for instance Multi Ace PMC Sdn Bhd which is affiliated to HKT Holdings, to both supervise and undertake the installation process.

Multi Ace PMC which specialises in IBS-led design and construction, offers smart solution to conventional building design using innovative IBS-led design in the construction process.

A part for everyone

Moving forward, Hii calls for a thorough review of the regulatory framework on pre-fabricated IBS components to level the playing field. Currently, there is a lack of policy to ensure that IBS materials or components are scrutinised to meet minimum standards and specifications compliance.

Making a contrasting point, Hii draws the case of automakers rolling out lighter and cheaper modern-day vehicles but the laws mandating safety features and equipment to be fitted into vehicles which would ultimately add weights and cost.

These are conflicting and opposing demands, he lamented, noting that lighter vehicles mean greater efficiency in performance and hence, less fuel and maintenance cost.

On the other hand, IBS adoption rate would have been faster if there are policies addressing the minimum standards, safety requirements, and specification and compliance which will drive IBS construction cost down apart from the benefits of faster delivery and better quality.

“The compelling reasons for doing so are to ensure that such IBS materials or components meet at least the minimum standards in being fire-rated, durable, non-combustible, lightweight, thermal-resistant, feel solid like concrete or meet the nominal BS5234: Part 2: 1992 partitioning test standard,” he justifies.

In Hii’s reckoning, all the positive IBS features will augur well for both the owners (developers) and purchasers (tenants) in the rent-to-own properties scheme.

“This is because on the longer term, they will provide a peace of mind (with minimal maintenance work if any) from quality-related issues such as hairline crack, fire safety issue or strength of the wall to withstand abnormal or excessive force,” he foresees.

“Assuming that the so-called purchaser (tenant) decide to return the property to the owner (developer) at the end of the day, at least the latter can be rest assured that the occurrence of defects is minimised.”

Another area that can propel the growth of IBS is for banks to be part of the construction industry ecosystem given IBS players “are able to meet production requirement fast but bound to encounter slow collection”.

“In this regard, we hope the Finance Ministry shall initiate an incentive scheme or tax exemption for all parties involved in IBS construction – from manufacturers, to contractors and developers,” he suggests.

Similarly, Hii hopes insurers will factor in the building materials that a particular building used when underwriting the premium for fire or home content insurance.

“For example, if the wall fulfills certain standard and requirements (eg BS 5234: Part 2: 1992), premium should be lowered or a discount shall be given as the overall risk is relatively lower compared with normal brick walls or hollow partition walls,” he adds.

Illustration

Hii: Hybrid IBS is suitable for the construction of high-end properties

Hii (third from right) and GE Tech Industry Sdn Bhd executive director Tey Chee Leong displaying the New Product Award certificate which was conferred to the GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System by the organiser of the recently concluded ARCHIDEX (International Architecture, Interior Design and Building Exhibition) 2019 exhibition. GE Tech is a subsidiary of HKT Holdings Sdn Bhd while Tey is also the inventor of GEG ECO panel system

The home-grown GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System offers solution for partition walls with superior performance that exceeds industry expectation in being lightweight, able to mitigate cracks as well as ensuring smooth surface finish. The panel system also meets various stringent national and international certification and compliance standards.

The GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System is able to withstand heavy load (Note: Each cement pack weighs 50kg)

HKT Holdings currently has a 1.8-acre plant in Semenyih (Selangor) and a 2.23-acre plant in Kuching (Sarawak) which are capable of producing 1,000 panels each on a daily basis.

Application of hybrid IBS in affordable housing

HKT Holdings Sdn Bhd has the capacity to undertake and deliver at least 50,000 of the government’s annual target of 100,000 affordable homes via its home-grown IBS ecosystem, the HKT Vendor Programme.

Instead of producing all the building components by itself, the versatile programme engages local small medium enterprises (SMEs) and the B-40 (Bottom 40%) workforce to participate in its joint efforts to develop affordable housing with federal and state governments in both the peninsular Malaysia as well as Sabah and Sarawak.

On the longer term, such work arrangement is deemed to be cost competitive, able to expedite the construction process and exudes high performance quality and durability. The GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System is an innovative, green label product, easily replicated with volume and versatile in delivering houses even in remote locations.

“Our HKT Vendor Programme which is in collaboration with Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) ensures that SMEs and the B40 group play a key role in delivery of affordable homes vis-à-vis business and job creation,” stresses HKT Holdings Sdn Bhd founder and chairman Dato’ Seri John Hii KT.

“On the other hand, the programme will increase work efficiency/productivity which is in-line with the CIDB-CITP (Construction Industry Transformation Programme 2016-2020) blueprint to revolutionise IBS adoption in the local construction industry.”

Ultimately, the programme is poised to facilitate the transfer of knowledge to smaller developers/contractors at state-level in that they can become strategic partners in delivering quality houses with proper training by HKT Holdings with the support from CIDB.

For this purpose, HKT Holdings is partnering the Sarawak state government in promoting the use of IBS technology in building projects throughout the state vis-a-vis the sharing of technology and knowledge.

As part of the partnership, the company via its strategic government-linked partner, Smart Housing R&D Sdn Bhd, is in the midst of setting up an IBS technology-based plant in Demak Laut Industrial Park in Kuching.

Ultimately, this project is intended to assist Sarawak’s construction industry to shift towards using the more reliable and efficient IBS system.

Exemplary IBS for high-end construction

HKT Holdings Sdn Bhd is an emerging IBS manufacturer, supplier and installer of IBS wall panel, floor panel and modular unit under the trade name of GEG ECO Lightweight Panel System.

The panel system offers solution for partition walls with superior performance that exceeds industry expectation in being lightweight, able to mitigate cracks as well as ensuring smooth surface finish.

Patented in Malaysia and Australia, the home-grown panel system boasts superior performance, namely:

  • Customisable size depending on project requirement.
  • Lightweight system that reduces structural and foundation requirement.
  • Easy installation which is three times faster than the conventional method.
  • Non-combustible with superior thermal insulation.
  • Technical support for installation and defects.
  • Able to facilitate construction at rural areas due to convenience and ease of handling.
  • Excellent sound insulation.
  • Environmental-friendly (minimal wastage).
  • Superior strength (GEG ECO is a non-load bearing wall system with load bearing capacity).

Additionally, the system also meets both national and international certification and compliance standards:

  • CIDB IBS Manufacturer Status (Innovative System)
  • BS 5234: Part 2: 1992 Partition Wall Test by TUV SUD
  • Two-Hour Fire Resistance (100mm thickness wall) with Hose Stream Testing by SIRIM (witnessed by TUV SUD)
  • Loading Test by the Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (CREAM)
  • Acoustic Performance (STC 44) tested by TUV SUD based on ISO 10140 – 2: 2010 and ASTM E90 – 04 standards.
  • Non-combustible (tested by TUV SUD)
  • One-Hour Fire Resistance (75mm thickness wall) by SIRIM
  • CIDB IBS scoring of 86% (RMR1M at Kulaijaya)
  • One and Two Hours Fire-Rated Certification by the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia

HKT Holdings currently has a 1.8-acre plant in Semenyih (Selangor) and a 2.23-acre plant in Kuching (Sarawak) which are capable of producing 1,000 panels each on a daily basis.

IBS Manufacturing Plant in Kuching
IBS Manufacturing Plant in Semenyih. The group is planning to move this manufacturing plan to a bigger space in their expansion plan.