For most building projects, a regular scaffold will work very well and get the job completed. However, in some cases, the building or project is just too complex and requires a little extra planning. This is where bespoke scaffolds come into play.
If you have a complex building with different design element, you need a scaffold design to work. Many scaffolding companies hire engineers who have the necessary experience to design according to your individual needs. Some examples of this would include:
Marine scaffolds: These are always going to need to be designed especially for the individual project, as they are unique to the building or boat that will be built. These are also used to build offshore rigs and other types of structures that involve building in or above the water.
Bridge scaffolds: Again, bridges are totally unique because they have to adapt to the landscape. This means any scaffolding will need to be designed just for that bridge. These will change with every single one built.
Power lines: Any scaffolding that will be erected near electrical wires should be very carefully designed to provide protection for those who will be using it.
Facade retention scaffolds: Since these types of scaffolds may have to resist more pressure, due to the retention capabilities of the facade. This means the scaffold needs to be very carefully measured and built according to the engineer’s design.
Pedestrian routes: If you’re building over a section of street where a lot of people walk, you’ll need to set up a pedestrian tunnel or walkway. This is something that can be designed to fit right into the existing sidewalk and street, leaving room for people to walk underneath. However, this type of design will also need to provide protection for those walking below. If anything were to fall, they cannot be hit.
Temporary buildings: If you’re building something that isn’t actually going to stay put, you probably need to design the scaffolding.
These are just a few of the situations in which you might need a well-designed scaffolding, meant to hold up to the load you intend to put on it and to keep your workers safe.
If your scaffold does not meet TG20:13 guidelines, you will also need to have the scaffolding designed. The guidelines cover more than we can include here, but you will find that they include every likely scenario available. This lets you know if your building will require specially designed scaffolds.
It should also be noted that certain types of scaffolds will require designing every time. These include things like support scaffolds, freestanding scaffolds, and suspended scaffolds.
Having an engineer design these for you is the best way to ensure that your builders are safe and secure. It also ensures that the scaffold is designed to help you do the best job out there, with minimal injuries.
The Design Process
How does one go about having an engineer design a scaffold in the first place? You’ll need a trusted company to handle all the details, but understanding the process is a good idea, too.
An engineer cannot draw up a design without having a few details. So, they will require some information about the building site and what you will be building. The engineer will also need to know how long you plan to use the scaffold and for which tasks. This will help them design the best possible scaffold supports for your particular needs.
The designer may inspect the ground at the building site themselves or they may ask you to do an inspection and let them know what they will be working with. Soft ground can pose more issues for support than hard ground, so this needs to be taken into consideration, as well. You may need to take steps to ensure stabilisation of the scaffold, particularly if it will be taller than a few metres.
Other things they will need to know include information on the actual building and how tall you need the scaffold to be. They’ll also want to find out how you plan to access it. Most scaffolds have ladders, but you can add other methods of access, depending on your preferences. You can also choose how wide or narrow the scaffold will be and whether or not you intend to have people walking underneath it.
Once the engineer has a clear picture of what you need to get done, he or she can then produce the necessary design. If you’ve hired a company that specialises in scaffolding, they can take the design and construct it for you. This makes it simpler for the contractor to continue doing what they do best, actually building.
Types of Scaffolding
There are many different types of scaffolding, each best suited for a specific type of work. While you don’t have to be familiar with all of them, you should have a fairly good idea of what the most commonly used options are.
First, there are two main types of scaffolds. Everything else falls under these two main divisions. They are:
Supported scaffolds, which are, as the name indicates, supported. These include platforms with poles, frames, or legs to hold them up. They may be as simple as one platform or may include multiple levels.
Suspended scaffolds are hung from ropes or chains from above and tend to swing more freely. These are best used for working form the top of a building down, when it is too high to safely build scaffolds from the ground up.
Within these divisions, you have the more specific types of scaffolds. Under supported scaffolds, you have the most common option, tubes and fittings, or tubes and clamps. This type of scaffold uses aluminium or steel tubes and they are simply clamped together to form the supports. Then wooden platforms are added to give workers a place to stand.
Systems scaffolding or modular scaffolding is quick and easy to assemble and is one of the options that you’ll find most commonly on construction sites. It’s all pre-engineered, so there’s no need for specific designs. Systems are made up of components that are quickly connected to form levels. The platforms are added and then more systems connected as needed to create the perfect scaffold for the job.
Frame and brace scaffolding is used mostly in North America, but it has also gained popularity in Europe and the UK. It’s extremely light and quick to erect, but it can’t hold loads like the others we’ve looked at. It involves using frames and braces to quickly establish the basis structure, then adding in planks for workers to move along.
Mast scaffolding is another unique method of reaching much higher places. It consists of two towers and a platform that is moved up and down between the towers as needed. It can handle fairly heavy loads and is ideal for reaching higher floors, without too much structure below. If you’re doing repairs on a home or an apartment, this would be idea, as it doesn’t block the floors below the one you’re working on.
These are just a few of the main types of scaffolding that you may end up using. After all, there are so many different building projects that you’re bound to need a different style of scaffolding on each project. Every setup is unique, too, so it makes sense that some will require a little more fine tuning.
Why You Need a Professional Designer
Engineers have studied load bearing and scaffold design for years. This means they are uniquely equipped to manage the risk assessment and complications that may arise from building a difficult scaffolding. If you have a challenging building site or a unique building design, you will probably want someone professional to handle the potential complications.
A good scaffold company will hire engineers to manage the design side of things. It’s a good idea to look for a company that offers engineering on the side, even if you don’t actually need them. If any problems should arise, you’ll have engineers to help you out. It also shows that the company is a professional one that is ready to handle all types of work that come in.
In addition to all of that, you want a company that has an engineer to ensure all designs are compliant with the latest laws. They should also provide public liability and professional indemnity insurance coverage to prevent any problems that may arise from someone being injured due to the scaffolding failing.
Scaffolds are an essential part of the building industry and sometimes, you’ll need to have one designed just for your project. If that’s the case, be sure to select someone you trust from a company that has a great reputation.
Looking for a scaffold designer? Contact DH Scaffolding today to get a quote.