I live in a Reema hollow panel flat which has been neglected for many years by the local council, I have identified several cracks and exposed rebar beams around the whole of the building, these start at ground level.
There are cracks on every panel of the 4 stories which is worrying, there must be at least 18 cracks vertical and horizontal throughout am considering paying for a structural engineer.
Apparently these flats originally had steel framed windows which helped with the structure, at the moment they are plastic frames windows,I am having my windows replaced this month - should I be worried that the removal of these windows can affect the structure and my panel seems to have the worst of the cracks, I am ground level and have 3 flats on top of me - there are 12 flats in total in this building. I must add that one of the cracks that is at the base of the building goes vertical and horizontal the concrete is protruding out.
Hi Kerry, from you I can see, thanks to your excellent set of images, is an obvious degree of corrosion to the shallow embedded horizontal reinforcement bars of the property, which is quite a common occurrence in Reema properties, particularly when the property has not been well maintained. When moisture is allowed to come into contact with the thin steel reinforcement bars, a number of processes occur which leads to expansion and chemical carbonation of the surrounding concrete, causing it to spall. That's one reason why we often see spalling or crumbling concrete around inset rusted steel components.
I doubt that the level of corrosion seen will structurally compromise the building but you certainly wouldn't want it to get worse or penetrate deeper into ring beam, which is the binding beam/component that holds the panels together. The horizontal ring beams and vertical support beams are the only beams recorded as containing 4 horizontal reinforcement bars (rebars) and this may be what we are looking at here.
The edge details of the panels and floor units form cavities/channels which were filled with in-situ concrete, producing a structure whose continuity is provided by reinforcement embedded in these joints.
See image below.
The hollow panels themselves were not reinforced, except for areas around window openings but despite the fact the original windows were factory fitted, replacement with UPVC windows shouldn't compromise the panel itself.
The cracking that we can see to the external render is also quite a common occurrence in Reema Hollow Panel properties and has several cause, including movement, expansion and damage caused by water ingress during the winter months which freezes and expands when thawing. All should be monitored carefully and repaired where possible to reduce the prospect of further corrosion and damage.
The black smooth filled lines that you see between panels is a polyethylene draft seal, and beneath this is a layer of cement mortar. The broken areas we see around the seal appear superficial from what I can see, but the seal itself appears intact.
So in summary, the property does appear to have been neglected to some degree and if left unresolved, the damage will only become worse over time. I don't have any serious structural concerns myself, but as I am not a surveyor, this is only my own personal opinion and if in doubt you should seek professional services or at least ask the council to undertake a survey with a view to providing necessary and important external maintenance.
I can send you some further structural information which may assist you further. Parts of it are quite technical but it does contain a degree of important and relevant information regarding past inspections to this type of property.
If you'd like to receive this, just let me know if it's ok to send it to the registered e-mail address we have for you and I'll forward it over.