Housing Minister, Julie James has announced that factory-made ‘modular’ housing should be used to quickly increase the number of high-quality social and affordable homes being built across Wales – part of a new Welsh Government strategy to kick-start the modern methods of construction industry.
The Welsh Government wants councils to build far more Council homes at scale and at pace, however, they face the well-documented capacity constraints faced by traditional house builders.
To deliver more homes quickly, councils will be encouraged to use modern methods of construction (MMC), which will help them build better quality homes faster than traditional methods allow, in order to meet the growing need for affordable housing across the country.
MMC includes various construction methods from new materials and technologies, to off-site manufacturing, which either replace or complement traditional methods of construction.
MMC opportunities will also bring significant new benefits to the Welsh economy.
To back Welsh business, Ministers plan to help this next generation of homes to be built utilising national assets such as Welsh steel and Welsh timber. There will also be a focus on using the emerging MMC industry in Wales to pursue Welsh social and ethical ambitions, including developing skills and market-leading technical expertise in communities hardest hit by the decline of traditional industries. Investment will also help firms invest in locally sourced labour.

Other benefits include:
• creating new jobs and developing the new skills required to accommodate greater use of MMC, which will represent a sea-change in the construction industry
• upskilling the existing construction workforce
• attracting new and diverse entrants from marginalised groups such as offenders and those who wouldn’t necessarily consider careers in traditional construction such as women

As part of the Welsh Government’s new Modern Methods of Construction strategy ‘Reimagining social house building in Wales’, which is being published today, Ministers are making a major £45 million investment in the modular housing industry in Wales, to ensure it can deliver the next generation of social housing that people need.


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£20 million is being made available for MMC businesses, who in partnership with Welsh social landlords, want to build the next generation of social housing. This investment is designed to help and encourage the market, especially SMEs, to develop off-site manufacture (OSM) solutions such as supply chains, factories, skills development centres, that meet the needs of the next generation of social housing in Wales.
A further £25 million is being made available for round 4 of the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme, which will focus on innovative housing delivered through MMC.
The strategy supports the Welsh Government’s ambitions to reduce carbon emissions from the housing sector. It also supports move to a circular economy, as building with MMC could reduce construction waste by as much as 70-90%.
Yesterday the Housing Minister today witnessed MMC in action on a visit to SO Modular in Neath, who already supply the social housing market in Wales.
Housing Minister, Julie James said:
Building more social and affordable homes is a key priority for the Welsh Government. Over the last 4 years, this Welsh Government has invested £2 billion in new housing across Wales, as part of our ambition to deliver 20,000 affordable homes by 2021.
But we want to build more. And we want to build better. The significant investment we’re making in the modular housing industry will enable us to do that.
Gone are the days of MMC’s association with poor quality, temporary, pre-fabricated housing; MMC now produces high quality, desirable and energy efficient affordable homes that tenants can be proud of. We have certainly moved from Pre-Fab to Ab-Fab!
Developing the MMC industry in Wales presents us with a great opportunity to not only build beautiful new social housing, but also kick-start a new industry that will become increasingly important for our economy.
The publication of the strategy is in response to a recommendation made by the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Supply Review, which identified Modern Methods of Construction as a way of more quickly increasing housing supply.

Source: Wired.gov


As a new decade commences, professionals everywhere are seeking fresh inspiration for interiors, whether for commercial spaces or residential living. 

This desire for innovative performance and trend-setting designs is most notable when it comes to interior doors, whose influence upon a room can have a marked effect on the surrounding décor, lifting and invigorating adjacent space. Bringing clarity to this process is Vicaima, who have just launched their 2020 Interior Door Selector. Packed with ideas this brochure is an essential tool for every specifier.
Now an annual and eagerly anticipated event, the 2020 edition of the Vicaima Interior Door Selector has over 100 pages filled with doors and doorsets that suit a multitude of applications, tastes and budgets.  Its simple to navigate layout has been designed to make the selection process straightforward, with at a glance guides to form, function and fire, or indeed other desired performance criteria.  Every range also shows a simple Price Indicator, allowing easy comparison between potential options for that perfect specification.
New for 2020, Vicaima have introduced some pioneering products that are certain to gain wide appeal.  These include: Primed 2 Go, a revolutionary, polymer faced door for painting that requires no surface sanding or priming, saving time and money on site. Deep Textured Finish, creating the authentic touch of an open grain in a matt finish that can be applied to a selection of veneered and stained veneered doors
An extension to the Visual Sensation foil door range, introducing 4 new matt finishes and new horizontal grain options in both the Naturdor Stained and Dekordor SD Foil ranges.

Naturally, at Vicaima it’s not just about great design and trend setting aesthetics.  As specialists in performance products, Vicaima set the benchmark for fire certification, coupled with security and acoustic solutions.  With a growing market awareness of the needs of providing peace of mind when it comes to fire safety, specifiers gain confidence from a supplier like Vicaima, who achieved 54 minutes during recent MHCLG testing of their 30-minute door assemblies.  This coupled with Secure By Design approval and FSC environmental certification, makes Vicaima the obvious choice for demanding locations.

Download a copy of the 2020 Interior Door Selector today by visiting the Vicaima website.   Alternatively call 01793 532333 for further inspiration.


With three key projects under the spotlight, we hear more about Spantherm – the innovative insulated precast concrete ground-floor system which is being adopted by a growing number of housebuilders and developers in GB.

By producing high performance insulated structural concrete units offsite Creagh have redefined the speed of installing a fully insulated ground-floor.  Spantherm is an efficient alternative to labour intensive beam and block installations. It has been utilised at a housing development in Peterborough by NRI Civils who opted for the work to be completed by Creagh’s expert fitting team, requiring no labour from them and saving them time onsite.
Adam Moody, Contracts Manager for NRI Civils said: “We chose Spantherm because one of the things that we are looking for as a business is to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, reduce labour and time onsite and when you’ve got a difficult site, where you’re struggling for storage, that’s exactly where Spantherm is perfect!”
Spantherm’s initial appeal is clear, as a typical floor on a detached house or a pair of semi-detached homes is fitted onsite in less than two hours. Once in place and grouted, the floor achieves its full structural capability within 72 hours, however building activity can commence on perimeter walls within 24 hours. “The team have been absolutely fantastic” adds Adam. “They are always on hand for technical support. We will definitely be using Spantherm again to help our optimum goal of achieving better efficiency and reducing costs and labour times.”
Spantherm has also been used in Nottinghamshire, where a new homes development is being built by Geda Construction. With no additional site works or laying out required, a typical 90m² floor can be installed in just 90 minutes and provides level base without camber for timber frame or block construction.
Installation is not affected by adverse weather conditions and secondary screeds with extended drying times are not required. Spantherm is designed to reduce cold bridging at wall / floor junctions making an important contribution to Part L performance, whilst achieving U-value as low as 0.11W/m2K.
“Geda used Spantherm to push the project along as its one operation that just makes it so much quicker and easier to facilitate onsite,” said Shaun Wormall, Site Manager for Geda. “We are impressed on the installation of the slabs and the time that it saves us onsite. From a site management point of view it’s been really good, Creagh have been very responsive and the production timescales and installation has been quick and painless.  We would definitely use Spantherm again, brilliant product, well-managed and well-run.”
An increasing number of builders in GB are switching from traditional beam and block builds as its significantly reducing labour onsite.  Malcolm Flinn, Director of Stapleford Oaks Ltd in Nottingham states “I chose Spantherm because it’s labour saving, has made life easier for me, its quick, efficient and clean”.
“I would use Spantherm again because the block and beam method takes so many more men and machines on site, and takes a lot longer
to lay.  It also leaves a lot of work for the bricklayers to do at floor level.  With Spantherm we are in and building off it almost straight away” stated Malcolm.
Watch the testimonial videos at


Here’s a question.: Are Modern Methods of Construction modern? Or are they old?  Or are they both? In 21st century Britain, they are as modern as the Pyramids were in their day, as modern as the Athens Parthenon, Roman Aqueducts, the Coliseum, medieval cathedrals, groin vaults, pointed arches, flying buttresses, flushing toilets or the Eiffel Tower. More than the mere appliance of science, they feature the key elements of modernity:  innovative thinking along with new materials and techniques which transform the construction landscape and the lives of those using them.

The Royal institute of Chartered Surveyors has identified key elements of MMC: these are offsite manufacturing, modular construction and design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA).  Green Life Buildings (GLB) and the expanded polystyrene sandwich panels of the company’s Advanced Building System tick all these boxes and more.
And now another question for a constructors convention quiz. What links a Surrey bungalow built in 2020 with the iconic Paris monument erected in 1889?  Answer: they are both examples of MMCs and share one critical feature: all their components are factory-created. From there, they are brought on site ready to be assembled and bolted together. For the Eiffel Tower, it took hundreds of trips by horse drawn wagons to transport more than 18,000 parts from a suburban Paris factory. By contrast, Green Life Buildings can ship all the Advanced Building System panels needed for a family home on the back of just one truck.


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If consultant Mark Farmer is right, the prospects for the British building industry are grim. It faces strong competition from European suppliers of modular housing and shortages of skilled labour exacerbated by Brexit. As Mark Farmer sees it, the British construction sector must modernise or die.
One company helping the drive to modernise the British construction business is Green Life Buildings (GLB). For 15 years, company CEO Chris Williams – a highly qualified and experienced materials scientist – has lived with his family in a house constructed almost entirely of prefabricated expanded polystyrene panels. Chris imported the panels from Italy and with the help of friends built the house himself. It has proven to be an easy-to-run, comfortable home, warm in winter and cool in summer and very energy efficient.
In 2020, start-up GLB is manufacturing the panels in its Corby Northamptonshire factory for supply to the British construction industry. Using Emmedue (M2) Advanced Building System technology, the GLB factory will have a capacity of 700,000 square metres of panels a year, enough to build more than 3,000 average-sized family homes.
The ultra light EPS panels, enclosed in galvanised steel mesh with connectors, can be made to any specification and tailored to work with almost any design. They demonstrate high levels of fire, noise and heat resistance. Transporting the panels is easy and economical: they can be delivered flat-packed to any site. Once the panels are in position, onsite, a sprayer gives each panel a load-bearing concrete coat. Alternatively, the GLB factory can ship complete accommodation modules – using standard templates or bespoke designs – to serve as individual homes or even, if stacked, to create larger, multi-storey buildings. They can be delivered straight or curved in a wide range of sizes to meet demanding architectural specifications.
The M2 Building System may be little known in the UK, but it reflects 35 years of Italian engineering excellence and continuous technical innovation. Globally, these adaptable panels are the building blocks for structures of many shapes and sizes. These include simple homes and imaginatively designed factories, airport terminals, multi-storey hotels and corporate headquarters. They have proven their strength and stability in earthquake zones and their durability in widely varying climates and conditions. More than 100 million square meters of M2 panels in all shapes and sizes, already provide the basis for tens of thousands of buildings world-wide.
At the turn of the 20th century, when the internal combustion engine started to take over from horse power, cars were built by hand like the horse-drawn carriages they were replacing – until Henry Ford introduced the automobile equivalent of MMC. But even the great innovator would have been astonished at today’s electronically sophisticated cars and production technology. A visit to one of today’s automated factories would have had him staring agape at the agile, swivelling robots that outnumber their human co-workers. And who, today, wouldn’t opt to drive a smooth, modern car over one made with technology pre-dating Henry Ford?
Compare British home building with automobile production. How much has fundamentally changed in the last 100 or so years in how Britain builds its houses? Concrete, bricks, mortar, slates or tiles are still the norm with a complex, weather-dependent process taking skilled workers many months to complete. Take a look at a typical noisy, dirty British construction site. From start to finish, streams of trucks deliver the different building materials and components needed for the various stages of the construction process, polluting the neighbourhood and disturbing neighbours, while local traffic is disrupted or diverted to get cranes working onsite.
A number of companies now offer modular offsite construction and systems that qualify for official recognition as MMCs. But Green life Building and its Advanced Building System offer unique advantages to developers and building contractors: the lightness and strength of its basic panels obviate the need for cranes or other external equipment, reducing the risk of onsite accidents and greatly speeding the onsite building process.
Corporate giant JCB has recognised the unique benefits of Green Life Building’s methods and technology, choosing a demonstration of GLB’s Advanced Building System to show off its latest rotating telehandler. In an unusual example of David and Goliath teamwork, GLB and JCB showed how as partners they enhance safety and cut construction time and costs in new house building.
Simple and light to transport and manoeuvre in even the most adverse conditions, M2 panels weigh no more than 5kgs per square metre before concrete coating. This means that one worker, on his own, can easily handle and position a room-high wall panel before it gets its shotcrete treatment in situ. In a striking advance to simplify the whole construction process, M2 panels – used singly or doubled up – can serve as internal or external load-bearing walls, as floors, ceilings and even as stairs or roofs. The unique, unitary approach to construction components guarantees great cost benefits compared to traditional construction methods or to alternative modular MMC systems.
The Green Life Buildings business model also offers builders unique financial advantages compared with other offsite MMCs. Typically, an offsite MMC manufacturer will require 100% upfront payments on order, putting significant strain on a developer’s cash flow, especially where SMEs are concerned.  In stark contrast, GLB charges only a 15% deposit prior to delivery of its Advanced Building System materials.
The very first order for a GMB home is for a bungalow in Surrey; and plans are afoot to create more homes using GLB’s Advanced Building System in the South of England.  With the Green Life Buildings factory gearing up to full production capacity, the GLB team is busily creating networks and partnerships in the construction, housing and finance industries.
With sophisticated finance partners, GLB is working to offer turnkey funded solutions for cash conscious Housing Associations, Local Authorities and developers.  In return for a minimum 20-year lease agreement, GLB’s partners will fund a project, thereby relieving financially constrained or prudent housing bodies of the major burden of raising or finding upfront capital to cover the cost of building works.  With GLB focusing on design and product supply, this financing model should help speed the development of sorely needed new homes. With architects already at work, a Birmingham Housing Association will this year build 30 homes using the scheme.
A survey by the NHBC asked builders and housing associations to list in order of importance the benefits they look for in an MMC. Green Life Buildings meets each one of these goals:

Faster build programme – Complete a watertight shell with GLB in 7-10 days.

Improved build quality – GLB’s Advanced Building System delivers precision tooled components.

Tackle skills shortage – GLB’s factory panels reduce need for a high-skilled, high-cost workforce.

Reduce costs – No cranes needed using GLB materials – one truck delivers a family home.

Improve profitability – Speedier completion with GLB materials minimise capital costs.


To learn more details about how the GLB Advanced Building System can help you build houses better, cheaper and faster, go to the company website, where you can ask questions and get answers from the company’s experts.


By Carl Davison Technical Services Manager at Kingspan Industrial Insulation.

Thermal comfort has become the focus of increasing attention in recent years as designers and project teams look to create a healthier built environment. Whilst the enhanced thermal performance and airtightness provided by some offsite envelope solutions can help to make indoor conditions more easily controllable, careful attention must also be paid to potential heat sources within a space which can lead to overheating. Research from AECOM has now shown that pipe insulation specification can have a major bearing on how easily properties overheat, as well as on their overall energy demand.

The minimum insulation requirements when specifying hot water and heating systems are contained within the Domestic and Non-domestic Building Service Compliance Guides1. For optimal system efficiency, however, the Energy Technology List (ETL) recommends a higher performance pipe insulation specification based on NES Y50 Enhanced levels.
A wide range of pipe insulation options are now available and a key differentiator between these is their thermal conductivity. Insulation materials with a lower thermal conductivity are more effective at preventing heat transfer through conduction, meaning a reduced thickness can be used to achieve the desired level of insulating performance. Premium phenolic pipe insulants are amongst the most thermally efficient options, with a 25-year aged thermal conductivity as low as 0.025 W/m·K (at 10°C mean), and are available with phenolic insulation pipe supports to further minimise heat losses.

To investigate how these different specifications can affect overheating and system performance, AECOM carried out a detailed evaluation using IES dynamic thermal modelling. The research assessed the performance of three insulation systems on LTHW (Low Temperature Hot Water) and DHW (Domestic Hot Water) pipework, within a multi-unit residential extra-care building with a constant circulation of hot water:
1   Man Made Mineral Fibre (MMMF) Pipe insulation specified to BS 5422: 2009 with rubber lined pipe support brackets.
2  Phenolic pipe insulation specified to minimum standards within BS 5422: 2009 with phenolic insulation pipe support inserts.
3  Phenolic pipe insulation to the enhanced
ETL specification with phenolic insulation pipe support inserts.
The study also considered the use of extraction fans to dissipate heat.

To evaluate the impact of each specification on overheating, AECOM calculated the percentage of hours with a dry resultant temperature of greater than 25°C2 and 28°C3.
The results showed that, when compared with the MMMF system, the BS 5422 phenolic specification provided a reduction of up to 15% in overheating hours at a room temperature greater than 28°C, and up to 9% at a room temperature greater than 25°C.  The ETL specification offered significant further benefits with falls of up to 32% in overheating hours greater than 28°C, and 25% in overheating hours over 25°C.
In some scenarios, the modelling showed that rooms with the MMMF specification would have experienced over 100 additional hours at temperatures above 28ºC when compared to the ETL specification.
These reductions also produced considerable energy cost savings. The projected average energy cost of the MMMF specification was calculated at £3,973, rising to £4,105 when the impact of additional extraction fans was considered. The BS 5422 phenolic specification achieved annual savings of £431 or £463 depending on whether the impact of extraction fans was taken into account. With the ETL phenolic specification even greater savings of £1,252 and £1,384 could be achieved.
Finally, the study showed that when the extract fans were considered, the ETL specification would have an immediate payback.

In control
The move towards a healthier, more energy efficient built environment requires project teams to think more holistically about how all of the elements will interact. As the AECOM research shows, by paying close attention to areas such as pipe insulation specification, it is possible to achieve considerable reductions in both energy demand and overheating hours.



1  This expands on the specifications within BS 5422: 2009 (Method for specifying thermal insulating materials for pipes, tanks, vessels, ductwork and equipment operating within the temperature range -40°C to +700°C)
2  The recommended acceptable indoor design operative temperature within CIBSE Guide A 2006
3 The preferred maximum temperature for thermal comfort

JCB, the world’s number one telehandler manufacturer, is extending its portfolio, with the launch of a totally new JCB rotating telescopic handler.

Recognising the growth in popularity of rotating machines with heavier lift capacities across Europe, the company will initially launch the JCB 5.5-210, offering a maximum lift capacity of 5.5 tonnes and a maximum working height of 20.5m.

Features will include:
•  Highly versatile rotating telescopic handler offering 20.5m lift height
• Maximum lift capacity of 5.5 tonnes
• Rapid set-up time boosting productivity
• All-round visibility improving site safety
•  Wide range of options including winches and aerial work platforms

With more than 40 years of expertise in the telescopic handler design and manufacture, JCB has designed the rotating machine to meet the needs of specialist lifting contractors and the rental market. Utilising a robust boom construction and a familiar driveline, JCB has focussed on reliability, versatility, productivity, ease of use and safety, as a means of delivering improved uptime and increased customer profitability.
To ensure that set-up time is minimised, the outriggers have Auto one-touch deployment, stowage and levelling. Competitive lift end cycle times and high auxiliary flow rates for efficient winch work, boost productivity further. With a lower chassis engine layout, the machine offers excellent access and class-leading serviceability. A low, clean boom design gives excellent all-round visibility, augmented by comprehensive work light options and camera kits, including a boom head camera for precise placement at height.


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The machines are powered by JCB’s proven highly efficient Ecomax engines, offering a high degree of parts and service commonality with other Loadall models. The JCB LiveLink telematics system is fitted as standard and will incorporate features that enable operators to fully exploit the performance of this versatile machine.

With a maximum lift capacity of 5.5 tonnes, the machine offers excellent highly competitive load charts. Easily selectable lift end speed profiles and lift envelope limits help the operator to optimise the machine for specific tasks. A range of specially developed JCB attachments using RFID technology can be identified by the machine, to automatically offer the correct load chart for safe operation.
At launch, the company will offer pallet forks, a 5.5 tonne carriage winch, a 2 tonne x 2m jib winch, a reduced height jib, 5.5 tonne hook, light duty buckets and a range of fork-mounted accessories, such as waste skips and concrete placing skips. Remote lift end operation and access platforms will also be offered.
The JCB 5.5-21 will meet the changing requirements of contractors across the world, as a greater use of off-site pre-fabrication calls for heavier lift capacities and increased on-site versatility. Rotating telescopic handlers have become a genuine cost-effective replacement for smaller mobile cranes, offering rapid set-up and the ability to carry out technical lifting operations.


Buildings need to come together more quickly than ever. To do so without compromising integrity and quality depends on every little detail being thoroughly considered. This detail comes right down to the fasteners and fixings that hold the building envelope together, explains David Fraser, NVELOPE® Business Unit Manager at SFS UK.

Almost everywhere you look in the field of construction, there is talk of needing to build faster and more efficiently. Whether it’s because there’s a lack of crucial infrastructure, or simply because there’s not enough labour, it’s evident that we need to streamline our approach to construction.
This is clearly evidenced by the UK’s housing shortage crisis. In 2018, it was estimated that England had a backlog of 3.91 million homes, meaning 340,000 new homes need to be built each year until 2031. Yet at that time, the government was only targeting building 300,000 homes annually, and any shortfall only further compounds the problems.
However, as the old saying goes, haste makes waste, and this couldn’t be truer for buildings. Structures that are not planned out and correctly specified can cause waste from construction right through to building operation. For example, poor specification can lead to unnecessary servicing and maintenance, and needing to replace materials that don’t meet their expected lifespan.
To ensure that we can maximise construction efficiency, while still maintaining the quality and integrity expected of multi-million-pound buildings, it all boils down to detail. This is especially the case with fasteners and fixings, the very components that hold structures and building envelopes together.


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Planned to Perfection
As with many things in life, well-planned projects minimise the chance for errors to occur during construction, which can be costly to rectify further down the build chain.
Building envelopes, brackets and subframe systems need to be especially well considered. They need to withstand whatever the elements throw at them, from wind loads, to corrosive substances in the air and the substrate they are fixing back to. Meanwhile, they also need to be able to assure the deadweight of the cladding that is being installed on them.
Identifying these components correctly though is easier said than done. For architects and specifiers, trawling through datasheets and product specifications can be time and labour intensive.
Here is where manufacturers can help at the planning stage. With expert knowledge and tools, manufacturers can help suggest rainscreen and cladding systems that are fit for purpose, which was the case during the refurbishment of Kew Tower in Richmond.
This refurbished office building, had the upper floors of its building reclad by building envelope contractors, using the NVELOPE® NV4 system from SFS. The key to the success of the project was as much in the NV4 system as it was in SFS’ Project Builder tool.
Project Builder provides a comprehensive, project-specific cladding solution involving only a two-step process. The tool factors in considerations such as local wind loads, height of the façade, the substrate that the rainscreen system is being fixed to, selected cladding material and the cladding zone.
With this forward-thinking, planned-out approach, Kew Tower achieved an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating following the refurbishment. The NV4 system will also help the building endure for many years to come, thanks to built-in adjustability that allows for contraction and expansion in extreme weather conditions.

Fast and Furious Fasteners and Fixings
Raising buildings faster is not just in the planning – it’s in the detail. This includes selecting the most appropriate components that are designed to help installers on the job, such as fasteners and fixings.
Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of fasteners and fixings need to be secured on a given building. The time needed to install these components can quickly add up, leading to costly labour expenses. Here, any incremental gains can lead to major reductions in construction time.
This was certainly the case with the refurbishment of Parsons Tower, Newcastle College. The tower block, which dates to the 1970s, was refreshed with a contemporary zinc and copper façade with the help from SFS’ specialist fastening systems. To secure the cladding back to composite panels on the building, low profile, high-grade stainless-steel fasteners were required. The solution was the SX2/8-D9 self-drilling fastener in A4 316 austenitic stainless steel. As well as giving excellent pull out values, the thread design helped construction time by reducing over-driving.
Similarly, construction time was significantly reduced when installing the PIR insulation into concrete deck of the roof. The contractors were facing issues with extensive drilling and the need for multiple combinations of fasteners and polypropylene sleeves. The isotak® TIA adjustable fastener system from SFS was the ideal solution in this instance. The system reduced fastener and polypropylene sleeve combinations by 50% and in turn, dramatically decreased drilling times.

Buildings? Here’s one I made earlier
As well as planning and choosing the right components to help achieve faster builds, a big shift in the way buildings are realised is through modular construction. More and more, buildings and their components are being prefabricated off-site under factory conditions.
Much like fasteners and fixings that aid installers on-site, manufacturers must also be able to adapt to these new offsite construction techniques and adapt their products to suit.
In reality, this can be as simple as inserting fasteners into their sleeves before they are sent to site or supplying brackets pre-assembled. Crest Girls’ Academy in Neasden, which required modernisation to its various buildings, is a great example of pre-fabrication. As well as using the Project Builder to create a detailed design to support approximately 6,000m2 of timber and cedar cladding, the project also utilised vertical point brackets with thermal isolators to help reduce thermal bridging. These brackets were pre-assembled from SFS, to speed up construction time and also prevent loss of materials on-site.

Fast Tracked for the Future
The future of our world very much depends on the construction projects of today being built right and being built to stand the tests of time for years to come.
While we improve the pace at which we construct new buildings, it must not be to the detriment of the finished products themselves. Building envelopes must be well thought out and designed, to minimise the need for amendments both during specification and installation. They must also be well considered so that they can be as thermally efficient and sustainable as possible. By looking at all these details closely, we can facilitate faster construction and create buildings where future generations can live, work and play in comfort.


Caledonian, working with Stride Treglown Architects, has been selected as one of five companies to deliver a £2bn programme of offsite built secondary schools and blocks, for the Department of Education (DfE) under Lot 1 of the Modern Methods of Construction Framework. The other smaller scale project, Lot 2, will deliver a £1bn programme of offsite built primary school schemes and secondary blocks.

Established by the DfE to build on the success of recent modular procurements, this major framework supports a wider government move towards modern methods of construction as a preference for new build projects and reinforces the desire of the DfE to continue the commitment to Modern Methods of Construction in the delivery of education projects.
This significant win expands on Caledonian’s education offering with the DFE, with over £80m of education projects currently in progress.
David Johnson, Preconstruction Director at Caledonian Modular, said: “We are delighted to be selected as one of the small team of contractors to work with the DfE in continuing to develop standards for education buildings, using high levels of offsite completion to reduce risk, save time and really optimise speed and efficiency of school design and delivery.”
“This win comes as a result of us demonstrating our capability and capacity to continue to deliver full turnkey schools to a high quality, in half the time and with significantly less disruption than traditional methods.”


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Haygrove School and The Sir Frederick Gibberd College
Some of the £80m worth of education projects secured by Caledonian include the £38m Haygrove School and The Sir Frederick Gibberd College. These were secured under separate DfE frameworks and will require the company to act as Lead Designer and Principal Contractor, delivering both projects from feasibility, through design and planning.
The approach will maximise the extent of onsite groundworks prior to the modules arriving on site, which are delivered and installed with final decorations, floor coverings and furniture completed at the company’s Newark based manufacturing facility. This significantly reduces onsite works and disruption to the school and local community and maximises quality control and efficiency, reducing the overall project timescales.
The new £29m Sir Frederick Gibberd College will comprise a 1,200 place secondary school built over three storeys, including a school hall, dining hall, drama studio and a 500 place sixth form teaching area as well as sports facilities and all associated external works and sports pitches. The design incorporates concrete floors and, being a component-based system, allows greater flexibility in design whilst delivering a DfE compliant solution as well as all the efficiency and time saving benefits of a modular build.
Work being undertaken at Haygrove School in Bridgwater will utilise Caledonian’s component based school solutions to replace the main school building with modern and efficient off-site manufactured teaching environments. The construction work is being undertaken while the school remains open with works carefully planned to ensure minimal disruption to both the school and local community. The three-storey building will consist of classrooms, double-height hall and studio spaces, offices, kitchen and associated rooms for educational purposes, along with enabling, groundwork’s and external works.
Both schools incorporate factory installed concrete floors to deliver an acoustically compliant, comfortable, safe and durable environment for occupants.

High quality student accommodation
Other projects within the large education order book include working with Bowmer & Kirkland on a £25m contract to manufacture accommodation modules as part of a £54m development for the University Campus of Football Business, First Way Campus in Wembley. The 678 bedrooms have now been manufactured at the Newark facility. At 10 storeys, the project really shows what is possible with its modular building solutions, which, on this project means bedrooms are 96% complete prior to shipping to site.
Fire compliance capabilities of the modular system featured highly in the selection process, due to the high rise nature of the 10 storey development. Caledonian gave the client and design team confidence by providing a pre-engineered fire compliant modular solution suitable for a development of this scale.
More recently, and working with ENGIE, Caledonian secured another student accommodation project, this time a £10m order at Station Approach, Hereford. The project will provide Hereford College of Arts and the city’s new NMiTE University with 178 student bedrooms each with its own study area and en-suite bathroom, along with other areas of accommodation. Caledonian was selected as the modular building partner because of its long track record in supplying high quality student accommodation, willingness to collaborate with project partners and ability to deliver value
for money.


A variety of wall construction membranes, roofing underlays and accessories from Protect Membranes has been used by modular construction specialists Totally Modular as part of an innovative pilot scheme, built offsite on behalf of social housing provider Citizen in partnership with Coventry City Council.

Built in compliance with BOPAS, CML and LA Building Control requirements, the scheme involved the manufacture of a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom two-storey dwelling in light gauge steel frame, built in controlled factory conditions in Totally Modular’s premises in Birmingham. Using this volumetric modular approach, a series of four fully furnished modules were created, delivered to former disused land in Willenhall and craned into place before being connected together onsite.  Taking just twenty weeks from build to delivery, time on site was reduced significantly in comparison to traditional housebuilding construction.  With offsite construction seen as an ideal way to combat the national housing crisis and deliver a quality, precision product, the pilot was deemed to be successful with the potential for roll out across Citizen’s housing stock where suitable land is available.


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A number of Protect products were supplied and installed in both dwellings to help ensure the management of moisture within the structures. This ensured condensation control and strict airtightness levels were met to help meet a minimum levels of 4.00m³/h.m.² or lower. This included Protect BarriAir, an internal airtightness and vapour control layer to contribute to energy efficiency and Protect Zytec, a roofing underlay offering strong wind uplift resistance and good vapour permeability.  The roof structure also included Protect RediRoll, a universal dry fixed ventilated ridge and hip system, to deliver 5,000mm2/m of ventilation as well as the Protect Eaves Skirt and dry verge system.
Mick Pettitt, Director at Totally Modular commented, “Protect’s comprehensive package of solutions was the perfect fit for this project to help us meet the detailed specification, using materials that we know are tried and trusted.  In particular, the use of BarriAir helped to achieve strict airtightness and vapour control, contributing to an outstanding energy efficiency rating for both properties that exceeded Building Regulation requirements. The dwellings achieved a 97 and 98 EPC ‘A’ rating, which compares very well to the average rating of band ‘D’ for properties built in England and Wales.   Protect understood our needs and provided detailed technical support along the way, whilst ensuring our products were delivered on time to meet our busy schedule.”
Richard Whittaker, Director of Development at Citizen, said: “The products supplied by Protect were ideal for the modular homes and helped them achieve a high energy rating. There are so many benefits to modular housing which include reduced disruption at site, high thermal efficiency and quick completion. We’re looking forward to seeing the use of modular homes increase in future.”
Protect’s range of wall, ceiling and floor construction membranes together with its roofing underlays and accessories provides a comprehensive solution to the modular build sector, helping to ensure the whole building envelope and internal structure can be controlled in terms of moisture management, condensation control and thermal resistance.
For details of how Protect products can be incorporated into both residential and commercial builds constructed offsite,


please email info@protectmembranes.com

or call 0161 905 5700, quoting ‘Totally Modular’

or visit www.protectmembranes.com

Now that the glamour of being photographed beside the latest renewable technology of wind turbines and solar farms has worn off, the principle of Fabric First is being recognised as a more immediate and reliable process of improving energy efficiency in buildings.   

Even without the subsidies and grants awarded for generating energy, the benefits and long term economy of improving the performance of building fabric has at last been recognised as more significant in the equation of balancing our environmental impact.
FABRIC FIRST has become the strapline for sustainable construction.  After all, if you build a decent stable with a well fitted door, the horse (ie. energy) wouldn’t be able to bolt and, given the improved comfort levels in the building, probably wouldn’t want to anyway!
Retaining energy in the building reduces energy demand and the detrimental effect of lost energy on the ice caps.   Reducing energy demand reduces energy costs and environmental impact.   The more passive buildings are in terms of energy needs, the more the environmental impact is reduced – permanently.
FABRIC FIRST – Insulation is the key ingredient
By improving the performance of building fabric – thermal insulation, air tightness, elimination of cold bridges – energy demand is reduced.   ICF (Insulating Concrete Formwork) building systems do just that, as a complete formwork system to contain the concrete structure they are also a complete insulation system to contain the energy.   ICF (Insulation Comes First) is a primary means of reducing energy demand in buildings, and the Wallform ICF system has been designed and detailed to maximise the efficiency of the building envelope.


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The simple logic of ICF construction enhances the overall performance of the building – insulation on the face of the wall where it is most effective, complete insulation with good airtightness and no thermal bridging.   With nothing to rot, corrode or deteriorate over time, a Wallform structure will last significantly longer than other forms of construction.
Although build costs are increasingly competitive as ICF becomes more popular, long life expectancy places Wallform ICF ahead of alternative building methods in terms of both Total Life Costing and carbon footprint.
AND – should the building reach the end of its useful life, the materials can be recycled into a new generation of building materials.

While ICF construction is a practical route to raising performance standards, UK construction still has to overcome the problem of productivity which has not improved in recent years.   Efforts to upgrade the performance of traditional building methods have complicated the building process and constrained output.
Wallform ICF, on the other hand, actually simplifies the building process, speeding up the rate of build at the same time as producing a strong structure which is fully insulated and airtight in its basic format.   Other than use of a concrete pump to place the concrete, the building process does not require any specialist tools or equipment to achieve high rates of productivity.
Quality of construction is also improved as the materials’ functions overlap – no leakage of concrete through the formwork means no leakage of energy as there are no gaps in the insulation.   Similarly as the structure is built, the concrete seals it with a high level of airtightness.   First fix services are then recessed easily into the insulation substrate, with no effect on airtightness.
The practical building technique means that upskilling the existing workforce is a relatively smooth process of transition.   The introduction of ICF methods causes minimal disruption and is an opportunity for the existing workforce to raise levels of output in the process of adopting a Modern Method of Construction.    Site performance is improved and the processes of procurement and management made easier as a consequence of a simpler building method.