Back in 2012, the Resin Flooring Association (FeRFA) published a ‘Project Checklist’ to assist in the evaluation and selection of the most appropriate waterproofing and wearing surface systems to install across each deck of a multi storey car parking facility.
This includes a number of steps, or keys areas of consideration, that car park owners, designers and construction consultants must address before selecting the correct deck membrane system when embarking on upgrade or refurbishment works.
This process begins with undertaking a comprehensive ‘Condition Survey’ to evaluate each car park’s specific needs, because as those working in the industry all know, every deck is different. Here, AllThingsFlooring.com gets to grip with the ‘Condition Survey’.
Understanding the Unique Features of Multi Storey Car Parks
Multi storey car parks have a number of unique features that distinguish them from other buildings or structures.
Car park structures have maximum spans and minimum supports in order to boost the number of vehicle parking spaces. This fundamental design requirement leads to a far greater risk of problems than in other buildings.
As a result, many car park structures have a history of early deterioration, structural defects and safety shortcomings due to poor design and construction coupled with low standards of maintenance and repair – all derived from a general lack of understanding of these unique features.
Every car park owner or operator has a legal duty to ensure that their structure is safe for vehicle owners to use. As such, they must routinely assess the car park’s structural condition and level of safety with a suitably experienced inspector or engineer and implement any maintenance requirements or action points identified in the ‘Condition Survey’.
What is a ‘Condition Survey’?
A ‘Condition Survey’ is typically a visual assessment, which is undertaken on site at the car park. This is based on a checklist drawn up during an ‘Initial Appraisal’, which in simple terms is a prior review of the overall structure and its building materials by a desk study of records collected.
The two work in tandem to assess the cause and extent of any deterioration or defects of the structure, decks, cladding and barriers – particularly any active corrosion of concrete reinforcement or any freeze/thaw damage to the decks or structurally sensitive areas.
The ‘Condition Survey’ will outline any maintenance action points required, sensitivities that need to be monitored more closely over the coming months and years as well as any problem areas that require either special inspection or further structural investigation by a qualified engineer.
What Features of the Deck will the ‘Condition Survey’ Evaluate?
When it comes to assessing the condition of the car park decks themselves, the ‘Condition Survey’ will evaluate a range of factors.
This includes any contamination found on the surface, repair or strengthening requirements needed, moisture penetration of the surface and any profile degradation. Where appropriate, photographs and measurements will be collected to document any deterioration.
Multi storey car parking decks, by nature, are exposed to a wide range of automotive fluids including fuel, engine oil, grease, brake fluid and de-icing salts. Severe contamination or corrosion as a result of exposure or spillage can affect the integrity of the deck.
Moisture penetration in the concrete can also be problematic – whatever the source! Whether from rainfall, groundwater or residual moisture in the concrete, all can lead to a weakening of the concrete and the risk of cracking and spalling.
The ‘Condition Survey’ will also look at areas of special consideration including ramps, turning circles, exposed decks and basement decks – all of which can present their own unique set of challenges in the overall construction.
If problem areas are identified, the ‘Condition Survey’ may recommend that surface repair treatments be used or new protective deck systems installed.
Before any upgrade to the deck system takes place, a qualified individual or installer will also have to assess any previous surface treatments or coatings that have been used on the concrete slab along with their current state and condition to identify the level of surface preparation needed.
The Long Term Value of the ‘Condition Survey’
All in all, the ‘Condition Survey’ is a valuable resource that will provide a detailed assessment and appraisal of the physical conditions of the multi storey car park and the materials used within it.
Typically all multi storey car parks over three years old will have an operational ‘Condition Survey’ that is revisited regularly and includes photographs and illustrations to indicate existing features or problems found.
It will also serve as a good indication of any recurring elements or challenges that the structure is exposed to – particularly within the context of the deck – to ensure that the correct protective deck system is selected to minimise future risk and safeguard from further deterioration.