Although provision of student accommodation, both in the private sector and university has increased over the last five years, demand for quality accommodation remains high.


When considering the provision of purpose built student accommodation timescales are frequently tight, with investors looking for a quick return on their investment.

Premier Modular, is an off-site manufacturer with over 60 years’ experience in the market, with a strong commitment to research and development, ensuring they bring the most innovative products to market, for both hire and sale.

Premier Modular has developed a highly efficient light gauge steel frame based factory engineered product.   Constructed by skilled assembly teams in Premier’s 22-acre site in East Yorkshire, the system is ideal for a full stand-alone build, whilst also suitable for rooftop extensions in tight inner city locations.

The primary benefit of this product is a reduced programme; the product is manufactured on a flow line and therefore removes any impact the weather may have on delivery.   Rooms can be manufactured at a rate of 25 per week, with minimal onsite time. This speed of construction not only reduces labour rates and prelims but gives a much faster return on investment whether clients are selling or gaining a monthly rental income.


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Speed of manufacture does not mean compromise in other areas though; modules are constructed to exacting levels in a quality controlled factory environment and with as much as 75% of the buildings manufactured off-site, the risk of accidents on site is greatly reduced. Impact on the local environment is also reduced, with reduced deliveries to site and most of the fit-out happening at Premier Modular’s factory.

Premier Modular, working as a supply chain partner to Sir Robert McAlpine completed a 5 storey 206 bedroom student accommodation block in Sept 2015. Located in Newcastle Upon Tyne city centre it consisted of a mixture of 54 studio flats, 105 en-suite bedrooms and 2 accessible en-suite rooms with associated living spaces, kitchens and study areas.

Premier was chosen as the preferred supplier due to speed of programme and the high quality finish that could be provided. The project was driven by an immovable programme requirement of the September student intake, Premier efficiently manufactured 300 modules fully fitted out and decorated in the factory – an excellent demonstration of the enormous time benefits realised by using the off-site system.

Significantly the foundations and demolition commenced on site whilst the modules were being manufactured – ensuring no time was wasted in the process.

Dan Allison, Divisional Director – Sales Division at Premier Modular said ‘Completing this project using off-site construction not only gave the investors a whole year of additional return, it was also a deciding factor in ‘The Foundry’ in Newcastle winning ‘Project of the Year Up to £10m’ at the Construction News Awards. The client is at the centre of everything we do and we take great pride in pushing the limits of modular design whilst balancing other key project drivers’.

In a market where an increased rate of build is required, building standards are increasing, sustainability is of upmost importance and high quality lifestyle choices are an expectation – Premier Modular’s off-site construction has the answer.

In the last 10-15 years the building industry has gone through a multitude of changes which have impacted the role of facades and its growth in the construction industry

Some of these influences are driven by:

  • Advances in manufacturing and material technology
  • Pressure to reduce project duration by using different construction methods
  • Environmental concerns
  • Aesthetics

No longer consisting of simple building elements, modern facades utilise new materials in increasingly complex systems and these are being assembled in untested combinations with other modern methods of construction (MMC) as well as traditional wall types. Untested unique and bespoke building interface arrangements have an increased risk of one or more of their performance parameters failing.

Modern Methods of Construction: Risks

  • More components
  • More interfaces
  • Less historic data / testing / familiarity
  • More complexity of design and geometry

Unravelling the complexities of modern facades and ensuring that the facade is considered holistically rather than elementally has become a specialism, and facade consultants are now often required on many projects. The role of the Facade Consultant is to ensure that both the aesthetic and performance requirements of the façade are met during the design and installation stages. It is important that a facade consultant with the appropriate level of expertise and diversity of experience for the project is selected.

Finding a specialist contractor that can complete all elements of a facade is difficult, and in some cases impossible. As a consequence building envelopes are frequently divided up in to smaller packages. However, there comes a point when having too many specialist contractors becomes detrimental. Using a rainscreen wall as an example, we frequently see these packages being broken up into layers of, rainscreen and insulation, cement particle board, structural framing system (SFS), vapour control layer and plasterboard etc. with each layer being installed by different specialist contractors. This creates a multitude of conflicts and split design responsibilities within the ‘standard’ through wall element alone. Subsequently, these issues are multiplied several fold as soon as this construction hits an interface.


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The short term savings generated by the splitting up of facade packages can quickly be eroded by extra management costs, site delays, additional costs from missed interface elements, etc. The risk of longer term (legacy) failures is rarely factored in when savings are tabled during the pre-construction phase; the ‘cost to remediate’ for legacy issues are many times more expensive than the original installation costs.

There are many reasons a facade can fail, all of which are avoidable, but to have any chance of mitigating failures the way that the specialist contractor packages are divided up needs to be carefully considered and it must be done giving due consideration to the capabilities of the specialist contractors that have been selected for tender.

Modern buildings are required to have reduced air permeability, greater u-values and better waterproofing. To do this they rely heavily on gaskets, sealants, tapes and membranes. At junctions and interfaces it is critically important that these elements are detailed and installed correctly, and that the different specialist contractors co-ordinate their works.

When properly managed and designed, modern methods of construction can offer economic, rapid and robust solutions that were unobtainable with traditional methods.

With such a high percentage of building failures being attributed to their facades during a building’s lifetime we have provided a few key tips to help avoid failure from the outset. Some may seem obvious but are also imperative when deciding on the different elements and installation of the facade.

  • Keep the number of specialist contractors to a minimum.
  • Ensure contracts provide clarity on design responsibilities and scope, with particular emphasis on interfaces.
  • When considering savings that may be offered/proposed at the pre-construction stage, question whether these savings have the potential to generate costs in the longer term (risk assessment).
  • Diarise regular design team meetings with all specialist facade contractors present.
  • Engage suitably experienced facade package managers and facade consultants.
  • Test unusual / untried interface details off site.
  • Agree robust QA procedures prior to starting on site.
  • Construct quality and installation reference benchmark areas on site that include examples of both the standard and non-standard details/arrangements.
  • Site test 5% of all interface waterproofing details.

According to show director, Steven Callaghan, every good B2B exhibition needs a blend of elements to ensure success – is this the secret as to why The Offsite Construction Show will open its doors at ExCeL, London, on the 20th and 21st of November, 2019, for the fifth consecutive year?


Visitors to shows are increasingly demanding in these days of wall to wall information, available at the touch of a button, 24 hours a day, says Steven, “and visiting a show is a big investment of peoples time. To justify this commitment and to get them to repeat it year on year, we have to put together an event that they feel unable to miss out on, where not attending could leave them at a serious professional disadvantage.”

At the core of a trade show are its exhibitors, Steven continues. “A successful show needs to combine a spine of major, established industry suppliers with a sprinkling of new names and, ideally, with both exhibiting some new products – the major reason that all show visitors give for visiting is to see what’s new. The Offsite Construction Show 2019 (OSCS2019) scores heavily in both of these areas.”

Industry and show stalwarts such as Caledonian Modular, Howick, Modular Building Automation, Euroclad, Frameclad SFS, Lindapter, Marley Plumbing & Drainage and Trimble Tekla, along with many show regulars, are joined at the show by legendary construction industry names such as JCB and Sika, both exhibiting at OSCS for the first time. Other companies showing for the first time include Green Life Buildings, Investment Brix, Johnson Tiles, Merlyn, Boomer Industries, Norcros Adhesives and Vado.

“More than a quarter of the show’s total exhibitors are showing for the first time”, says Head of Sales, Maddie Maclellan, with new product offerings being at the heart of the show”.

Maddie continues, “JCB are known throughout the construction industry worldwide but, until now, they are not associated with the Offsite industry, something they intend to change by exhibiting their new telescopic telehandler, the Hydraload 555-210R, at the show.”

JCB’s Senior Product Specialist, Matthew Cockerill said, ”This new telescopic telehandler has been designed with offsite construction in mind, as the company has observed that a greater use of off-site pre-fabrication calls for heavier lift capacities and increased on-site versatility.”

Exhibitor MBA (Modular Building Automation) have been ever present at the show since its inception in 2015 and will be unveiling their brand new steel frame assembly machine at this year’s event. Managing Director, Martin Smith, says that OSCS2019 was the obvious choice for bringing a new offsite construction product to market.

“The Offsite Construction Show has always been a good show for us, so it was clearly the right show for this important launch. The show spans both steel and timber sectors and, historically, attracts a wide audience with a good number of overseas visitors. This is important for us as we offer our equipment worldwide through our network of dealers.”

Education is another important part of the show blend, continues Steven Callaghan.

“OSCS is second to none when it comes to educational features. The seminar program, put together by our associates, buildoffsite, has become well known for its quality, with most sessions being standing room only every year. The show also features build offsite masterclasses and a second CPD Seminar Theatre, with presentations covering a wide range of offsite construction topics.”



Another important part of the blend is the show location and this is another area that OSCS leads the way, according to Maddie Maclellan.

“ExCeL London is the only venue that is located in one of the World’s leading cities that offers fast, easy access for all attendees via the DLR (Docklands Light Railway). Over 95% of our visitors arrive at the show in this way, and we believe it is a key factor not only in the size of our attendance, but also how long visitors remain at the show – a very high proportion of our visitors are still on stands and in the aisles at closing time”, adds Maddie.

The final part of the blend is networking, the ability to interface with ones peers and catch up with the latest news from colleagues old and new and this is an area where OSCS will be innovating in 2019 according to Steven Callaghan.

“Our new Offsite Direct Connect system allows all attendees that register on the system to contact with and be contacted by other attendees to prearrange meetings in special Direct Connect zones throughout the show. It is also possible to arrange meetings on-stand or in another show area such as the Networking Cafe. The software drives the whole process, making it very simple to ensure that you definitely meet up with the people that are on your important list”.

“The 2018 show was attended by 4,000 industry specialists and we look forward to seeing them all again, along with some OSCS first timers coming along to see what all the fuss is about”, concludes Steven Callaghan.

To register for your free show entrance ticket or to check out the details of exhibitors, seminars and masterclasses, please go to the show website.

For the Urban Built Environment

Our volumetric  and panel systems, constructed in light-gauge cold-formed steel, are designed for use on both residential and commercial projects including rooftop airspace developments.  Whether you are a contractor looking for a structural modular frame only or a property investor requiring a full turnkey service, we can tailor our services to your individual needs. .


Part of the Nexus family – we carry out all of the structural engineering design for Nexus projects, but also offer a standalone fully 3D design and detailing service for external clients. Work is carried out in a collaborative environment (BIM) and then details are prepared for direct insertion into the rolling mill (Howick, or similar).


A fully flexible solution for temporary and/or permanent accommodation, where speedy installation is paramount. Whether the need is for one person studios, or larger units for multiple occupancy, our designers will work to match that requirement. The single person pods can be stacked and joined to provide the required layout. We combine sustainable technology such as solar panels and battery storage into all our designs, with the aim of creating fully off-grid accommodation at a zero net carbon rating. Easily transported and erected on site, each pod arrives on site ready to “plug and play”. They can also be relocated with ease at a later date, if so required.   


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Since launching their offsite window and door solution last year, Nationwide Windows Ltd, leading fenestration partner to the housing sector, reports that producing factory-fitted windows and doors is fast becoming part of their core product line. What is key to the success of their solution is the collaborative approach they have taken to delivery.


Adrian Pavey, Commercial Director at Nationwide comments: “New Build housing has been at the core of Nationwide since the very start, over 30 years ago, and through the years we’ve been at the forefront of many advancements.

While Offsite Construction isn’t a new concept world-wide, we saw that for the UK it provided a very feasible opportunity to help solve the housing provision crisis.

“Working closely with a small number of partners, each with their own knowledge of supply into the housing sector, we developed a new concept for windows and doors using offsite construction technologies, materials and service. We launched the concept at two exhibitions last year: The Build Show and The Offsite Construction Show. The idea was to use these exhibitions as a platform to not just showcase our solution to the right audience, but also talk to peers within the sector to learn more about this increasingly popular housebuilding technique.


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“Since then we have been working with our key partners to develop our offering. We’re now successfully delivering into three developments, with many more coming on stream.

“While the housing industry hasn’t fully embraced Offsite Construction, the balance is certainly tipping towards MMC. We’re delighted to be in a position to add expertise and experience to the supply chain as the market continues to emerge.”

For more information call 01788 224466 or visit the website.



Modular buildings are gaining popularity as an affordable and sustainable solution. This design and delivery method has been adopted by Netherlands-based hotel operator citizenM, who have brought their steel-framed modular hotels to New York and Los Angeles.

Polcom Group, specialist off-site modular manufacturers, were appointed to build 228 modular units for the hotel. They identified that they would need to modify their normal production and assembly process to meet US building practices and standards.

Due to time constraints the traditional method of connecting units together on-site by drilling and bolting was not chosen, whilst hot welding risked damaging the critical waterproof membrane that protects each module.

Design Solution – Special steel structural shear plates were designed and added to the steel enclosures of the modules during production so that they could be connected to each other with Lindapter Hollo-Bolts during on-site assembly.


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Hollo-Bolt was specified for its high strength capacity and ability to be installed from one side of the Structural Hollow Section (SHS). Each module was wrapped in a protective air and water barrier, pressurised to keep windows in place and shipped on a private vessel from Poland to Seattle in the US.

Installation – Mortenson Construction were the appointed main contractor for the construction of this seven-storey, 264-room hotel. Each 18,144kg modular unit was lifted by crane and carefully stacked on top of each other.

Hexagonal head and countersunk Hollo-Bolts were then used to connect through the structural shear plates to the SHS of each module.

Installation was quick and easy. Each bolt was inserted into pre-drilled holes and tightened with a torque wrench to the recommended tightening torque to provide the necessary clamping force.

Result – Hollo-Bolts provided a weld free connection that was quick and easy to install without damaging the waterproof membranes.

This allowed the client to improve their modular construction method, which provided many advantages over traditional methods, including shorter constructions schedules, consistent quality control and reduced disruption on-site.


Over recent years, the use of cleanrooms has spread from highly specialised fields, to an increasingly diverse range of sectors including vitamins and e-liquids.

A key challenge when creating these spaces is limiting energy usage particularly within HVAC systems which must be operated at a much higher rate than in a standard room. Pre-insulated ductwork systems offer a specialist solution, reducing air-leakage throughout the system and consequently cutting fan energy demand.

ISO Definitions

ISO 14644-1:20151 separates cleanrooms into 9 classes based on the size and number of particles within a cubic metre. This allows designers to quickly identify a specification appropriate for each rooms intended purpose.

These requirements are typically met by installing High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) or Ultra-low Particulate Air (ULPA) filters within HVAC systems and operating these systems at extremely high flow rates. CIBSE recommends a ventilation rate of 10-120 air changes per hour (ACH) for non-laminar-flow rooms and 500-600 ACH for laminar-flow rooms2 . This compares with just 2 or 3 ACH for a normal building.

At these rates, it is essential that ductwork is carefully designed and installed to minimise air-leakage. Whilst this is possible to achieve with conventional sheet metal ductwork, the added detailing will often add considerably to the installation programme length and cost. Pre-insulated ductwork systems offer a simpler solution.


Pre-insulated ductwork is typically formed from panels with an insulated core faced on both sides with aluminium foil. This eliminates the lagging stage and can significantly reduce weight when compared with galvanised metal ductwork, allowing long sections to be fabricated on or offsite and installed in a single operation.

The sealing methods and jointing systems featured on some pre-insulated ductwork can significantly cut air-leakage. In a comparative study of two identical buildings, the air-leakage from pre-insulated ductwork was shown to be 79% lower than for a sheet metal system lagged with glass mineral fibre. This means air-flow rates can be met with smaller, more efficient fans.

This enhanced airtightness is particularly beneficial for cleanrooms kept at positive pressurisation. Pre-insulated ductwork systems have been shown to support positive pressurisation of up to 1000 Pascal and their design reduces pressure fluctuations within the ductwork.

In addition, some pre-insulated systems use rigid insulation materials which are both highly thermally efficient and fibre-free. This reduces the risk of loose fibres entering the ductwork and can considerably lower energy demand in cleanrooms where air temperature must be carefully controlled as around 95% of the air is usually recirculated.

Case Study

Pre-insulated ductwork was recently used in the construction of an ISO 8 cleanroom for E-liquid manufacturer, Zeus Juice UK.

Cleanroom specialists — Monmouth Scientific Ltd — oversaw the design and construction of the rooms and specified the pre-insulated Kingspan KoolDuct System.

Monmouth Scientific operations director, David Court, discussed the installation: “We chose Kingspan KoolDuct for the air-distribution ductwork, which we designed to the pressure value of 500 Pa as. In addition to its high performance, we are able to produce a wide variety of shapes and sizes using our computer numerical control (CNC) router. This allowed us to construct complex shaped sections off-site to tight tolerances.”

Contamination Controlled

With technology developers continuing to seek smaller form factors and regulations to prevent contamination in food, supplements and other products tightening, the need for cleanroom spaces will continue to grow. Offsite construction methods offer clear benefits for these self-enclosed, high specification spaces and by utilising technologies such as pre-insulated ductwork it should be possible to create clean rooms which can be erected quickly and provide enhanced energy performance.

by Joe Bradbury


As a proud Midlander and Editor of MMC Magazine, my interest was always going to be piqued when I heard that industry leader Creagh are building an offsite residential tower called ‘St Martin’s Place’ in the heart of my local city, Birmingham. I had to find out more:


There is a habit amongst people from Birmingham and the surrounding towns to run the place down. But I believe this habit is a bad one and that places such as Birmingham have so much to offer, logistically and culturally.

There was a feeling across the Midlands that Birmingham was on the cusp of big change when it finally received a decent train station. Grand Central came and transformed our embarrassing old New Street station into somewhere worth visiting.

It seems that despite nationwide Brexit uncertainty, businesses in Birmingham are enjoying more success than those in any other part of Britain.

In the Birmingham Mail, Neil Rami, chief executive of West Midlands Growth Company, recently said “The unprecedented rise of new enterprises here is demonstrating how the region can outclass London as a central hub of innovation, productive and long term future prospects.”

In fact, Birmingham was the second-fastest growing UK city last year; and with more Londoners moving out of the capital to Birmingham than ever before, the demand for new housing has never been higher. Earlier this year, Berkeley Homes said they could be building up to 3,000 new homes a year in the city over the next ten years.

City centre living is becoming more and more popular, and in Birmingham this is being boosted by the increase in exciting career options being offered with the expansion of business in the city. With St Martin’s Place set to complete by the end of 2020, residents won’t just be the envy of Birmingham – there will be many more vying for their luxury lifestyle in this exciting city destination.

The project

Work has already begun on St Martins Place, a 17 storey, premium development, located in the heart of Birmingham between Broad Street and Tennant Street. The building comprises five apartments with three bedrooms, 105 apartments with two bedrooms and 118 apartments with one bedroom.

St Martin’s Place will feature 228 spacious apartments, and residents’ amenities including a private gym, cinema, Wi-Fi, café and 24-hour concierge.

Colmore Tang Construction has been appointed by developer Seven Capital as main contractor for the delivery of the project, located in one of Birmingham’s most highly sought-after postcodes, just minutes from the city’s main business district. Creagh have been enlisted to manufacture, supply & fit fastrack build system Rapidres, consisting of external sandwich panels (featuring both a smooth finish and a brick finish), internal walls, stairs, lift shaft and hollowcore flooring.

CEO of Creagh, Seamus McKeague says “we are already seeing strong interest in rapid build concrete systems because developers now understand the true value of slashing programme times. Investors not only benefit from revenue gained by the early occupation of units but, also, from the mobility of their capital resource. Quite simply, shorter build times mean developers can complete more projects with the same pot of finance.”

About Rapidres

Rapidres is a fastrack offsite crosswall build system developed for residential projects, including apartments, student accommodation, hotels, social housing and custodial accommodation.

Rapidres crosswall technology delivers robust traditional style construction with the speed of a modular build for significant programme savings. Creagh design, manufacture and install the complete structure.

The total frame solution is comprised of structural walls and solid or hollowcore flooring and construction speed is greater than alternative systems. Units are manufactured offsite ensuring the desired quality is met and can be left for direct decoration if required. M&E can be incorporated into the production process for all types of services.


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In summary

City living offers a multitude of benefits, such as more job opportunities, more chances of meeting people, more education opportunities and more variety.

Birmingham needs more homes if it is to keep up with modern demand, and we know that we need to be utilising offsite more as an industry. In my eyes, a project such as St Martin’s place is the right type of building, in the right place, at the right time, being delivered by the right people. I can’t wait to see it done!

Kerkstoel 2000+ is one of the most innovative concrete companies in Europe.

It is part of the Kerkstoel Group and is based in Grobbendonk (Belgium).It specializes in the production of precast concrete walls and floors. Every precast element is made to measure in a highly automated factory.

Based on the architect’s design (general arrangements and cross-sections), structural calculations, formwork and installation plans, Kerkstoel 2000+ develops an installation plan, with all the necessary details, so that everything runs smoothly and according to plan on site.

The floors, or lattice slabs, are used as a structural and aesthetic underside of a concrete floor. Basically permanent formwork they are the ideal substrate for concrete floors and can be made in all shapes, up to 7 cm thick. Wide plates are equipped with bottom reinforcement and on the underside they have a very smooth surface. After placing the lattice slabs and propping the top reinforcement is installed. Finally, the slabs are poured with concrete to the desired floor thickness. The result: a solid concrete floor where the load is perfectly distributed.


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The reinforced twin walls of Kerkstoel consist of two shells of reinforced concrete that are connected to each other by lattice girders. All necessary built-in parts are provided in the walls during production (such as electrical boxes, power conduits, openings for windows and doors, wooden boxes, etc.).The wall elements are then assembled on site according to plan and then filled with concrete. The result is a solid construction as strong as a monolithic cast insitu concrete wall. These systems ensure high quality on site in a shorter construction time. The heavy skilled labour, such as steel-fixing and formwork, is limited to an absolute minimum.

Thanks to the hybrid character, namely the combination between prefab concrete and in situ concrete, with the necessary water-bars the walls can also be used for underground structures.

In 2018 Kerkstoel 2000+ invested in a brand new automated production hall. With this production hall, Kerkstoel wants to further specialize in the concrete wall sector. Concrete walls with integrated insulation, sandwich panels, walls with prints, etc. will now also be possible. Kerkstoel 2000+ has been active on the British market for more than 10 years, and has delivered walls and floor slabs to numerous contractors. Contact us and see what we can do for you!


Modern methods for modern developers:


In recent times two major themes have emerged for developers to satisfy the urgent demand for homes and how best to make those homes “smarter” and therefore more environmentally friendly and saleable to discerning homebuyers.

The first point is to speed up the process of construction given the skill sets which are available (not to mention the British weather), the second to meet the environmental and technical demands of a more IT enlightened public.

Modular Homes:

Modular construction systems are probably the only way by which the UK can achieve the necessary build program to meet demand, quality, consistency and speed of construction, with all utilities being ready to literally “plug in”.

Given these requirements, traditional underground water control systems simply just do not fit the bill, either for accessibility or as a home for a meter.

The only realistic method of achieving this simple concept is to connect to externally mounted, pre-installed water service controls.

Our Groundbreaker water management system is the only such system available – designed to be installed at any time during the construction period, is fully (Water Regulations) approved and offers an accessible, safe and secure location for the water meter and controls to a specific property.


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Because of its compact design, Groundbreaker can facilitate the early and secure connection of water services to a plot or unit, for both accessibility and water quality at a time to suit the developer’s program of events on site.

Groundbreaker was chosen by “Urban Splash” for its prestigious development at Irwell Riverside, Salford, as the most efficient method of achieving all the objectives, the scheme being “approved” by United Utilities who also saw the advantages of early connections to the water supplies.

By use of Groundbreaker, Urban Splash has been able to avoid the “clutter” of street furniture, allowing clean lines for the design of the project as will be seen from the images.

Smarter water management:

Smart meters have been around for a while now, but every smart meter so far has had to be installed above ground as traditional underground water control boxes are apt to get waterlogged and are exceedingly poor in being able to transmit a signal to even a local pick up.

Besides facilitating water connections to meet rapid build programs, Groundbreaker also offers by far the best location for a water meter. Transmissions from a smart meter above ground – the location of the Groundbreaker unit – have proven to be at least 1 000x better than in the traditional locations.

We believe it is essential for the homeowner to manage his or her utilities and impact on the environment probably via a home hub with link to the ubiquitous “App” on a mobile phone or home computer.

Recently, Groundbreaker was chosen for the first pilot of a 5G transmitter associated with a smart water meter, no other product could have provided such a platform so successfully, leaving the way open for further “smart systems” to follow.

Groundbreaker is compliant with all relevant legislation as well as meeting the best practice recommendations of Water UK and the Home Builders Federation and can be used on more traditional building systems and refurbishment schemes.

For further information on Groundbreaker and associated products, please email , call on