George Eliot hospital required a new 30 bed ward for orthopaedic elective & general elective patients as part of the Trust’s five-year estate strategy. A high quality, HTM and DDA compliant building was required urgently.

Wernick Buildings were appointed under a Pre-Contract Services Agreement to design the building through to RIBA Stage 3. After demonstrating they could provide an economically viable, single storey solution, Wernick were formally appointed as principal contractor.

By engaging with a modular provider before producing a design, the hospital were able to work with Wernick to take full advantage of the benefits of modular construction which included maximising the amount of fit out that could take place in the factory to reduce time on site. It also facilitated closer collaboration on the specialist requirements of the building, for example using the hospital’s preferred contractors to provide medical gasses.
Manufacturing the building in a factory environment gave the project several advantages. Firstly, the building could be constructed while the foundations were being prepared, drastically reducing programme length. Manufacture was also not affected by site conditions like the weather, making the programme even more reliable.

The building was comprised of 33 modules, including a unit to link the new wards to an existing building on site. which were manufactured in Wernick’s dedicated factory in Port Talbot. These were transported to site by lorry, then craned into position and bolted together to form the complete building.
While the initial programme was 20 weeks, the outbreak of the coronavirus made the hospital’s requirement more urgent. By implementing longer hours and working weekends, Wernick were able to condense the programme to just 14 weeks.


Determined to deliver the project on time, Wernick worked with their subcontractors and the hospital to devise working methods that would allow them to continue work on site, including strict social distancing measures. These new working methods were communicated through daily briefings and site signage. The closer collaboration early in the process which had minimised the amount of work needed on site also facilitated safer working while maintaining programme. Reduced time on site also meant minimum disruption to the rest of the hospital during this crucial period.

The completed single-story building, delivered on time and on budget, consists of 1000 sqm of gross internal floor space comprising 33 modular units. The fit out includes bedhead trunking incorporating medical gasses, nurse call systems, access control and CCTV, fire escape ramps and nurse stations. Externally, the building is finished to match existing buildings on site.

Kirstie Webb, Head of Estates & Facilities for George Eliot NHS Trust, commented:
“Excellent product, finished ahead of time and within budget. This is particularly impressive as it coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic first wave.”

The use of panels in construction is far from a new idea, but the innovation in manufacture and performance in panels has been significant, if little understood. Stuart Devoil, Group Head of Marketing at James Latham brings some of that innovation to light.

James Latham was founded in 1757, when they first imported hardwoods into Liverpool. But, much like construction panels, they’ve progressively moved forward to remain at the cutting edge of panel materials technology. In fact, Lathams has always been ahead of the panels game, being the first UK importer to set up a panels business in the early 1900’s. They were the first stockist to take delivery of MEDITE MDF in the UK, and the first importer to stock TRP plywood from Weyerhauser. With a history like this, and the experience gained from these firsts, it is fair to say that Lathams lead the way when it comes to panels.

Products such as WISA Spruce plywood demonstrate the qualities a business like Lathams expect. WISA is another historic company, with links to Lathams going back many, many years. Their sustainability credentials, teamed with some of the most stringent certification in the market, makes them a trusted supplier. Perfectly suited to volumetric and offsite construction, WISA Spruce panels offer stability, predictability and consistency necessary for repeatable, accurate modular units. Whilst a traditional plywood in appearance, the materials and manufacturing process make it stand out. Finnish spruce is renowned for stability and once peeled and pressed produces a plywood that remains flat and stable in use, whilst the Class 3 exterior grade glue line means concerns over delamination are a thing of the past. Available in a multitude of sheet sizes in T&G and square edge variants, and including a Euroclass B flame retardant option, it is the perfect product for offsite builds.

Another product which offers outstanding fire performance is the newly launched SMARTPLY MAX FR B. What makes this product unique is the manufacturing process. Individual flakes (or strands) of wood are treated with a water-based FR solution before the panel is manufactured, meaning the fire protection is maintained all the way through the panel. This allows it to be cut or machined without losing any of the fire performance. The boards are then produced using ContiRoll® technology, meaning panels of practically any length are achievable. Much like rolling out pastry, the OSB panel goes under rollers on a continuous conveyor, allowing the panels to be cut only when the desired length is achieved. Panels of up to 2.8 x 7.5m are achievable, making them ideal for Modern Methods of Construction. A structural, moisture resistant, flame retardant Euroclass B panel, up to 7.5m long! What more could the sector ask for?
Well, perhaps something to help with weight? One of the most innovative products to arrive in Latham stocks recently is the amazing Ultralight panel from Spanish poplar plywood experts Garnica. Poplar plywood is very light anyway, due to the nature of the species.  However, Ultralight takes that one step further by using two 4.5mm poplar plywood faces, either side of a 9mm ultra lightweight XPS foam core, effectively creating an 18mm SIPS panel weighing just 250kg/m3. Ideally suited to ceilings, walls and furniture, the Ultralight panels are available with a number of face options, including real wood veneers in a number of species, or High-Pressure Laminate variants. Furthermore, the panel can be made (to order) using Garnica’s Duraply on the faces, which offers a 15-year external warranty. While well suited to construction of buildings, Ultralight has also started to find itself very popular in the garden building, mobile home and leisure accommodation sectors.

So there we are, a trip through the world of panels which, possibly, has breathed a little life back into a subject that many may see as ‘commodity’. Like Lathams, the panel industry does not stand still and has adapted very well to MMC. Products listed here are available throughout Latham’s network of 12 depots in the UK & Ireland.

For more information, email or visit the website below.


The availability of high quality modular buildings has been a huge advantage for hospitals and health trusts faced with urgent need for additional facilities, and increased pressure on funding.

Rapidly deployed modular buildings can offer a design life of up to 60 years but can be delivered in a fraction of the time taken for conventional build methods, making them an attractive option.
However, there is a concern that the drive to get the best value is often driven simply by the lowest price or fastest turnround, without taking into account vital requirements for patient care, in particular infection control and patient comfort

One area of primary concern is ensuring appropriate ventilation of modular buildings that is compliant with the highest standards and not simply meeting the minimum requirements within guidance documents.
Many buildings are supplied with no mechanical ventilation or air-handling system.  That may be considered adequate ventilation to meet those minimum standards, but adequate and appropriate are not the same thing.
Specific clean-air handling design for the internal configuration of each building should be a requirement to ensure appropriate air flow accommodating patients.
Ventilation is a crucial tool to protect patients and staff from the spread of potentially-harmful pathogens, and ensure their comfort and safety.

Infection prevention and control is vital in healthcare settings at any time, but that has been a primary focus during the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

Research into Coronavirus has indicated that the greatest danger of transmission is via aerosol-based routes and droplets carried in exhaled breath.  Ventilation and airflow is therefore increasingly important.
When specifying a modular building and choosing a supplier, hospitals and health trusts need to carefully evaluate the need for clean-air ventilation and its impact on a specific space configuration.  The underlying concept of factory-built accommodation is rapid production for a mass market at the cheapest price – not specifically designed and engineered modular building solutions for the medical sector.

Professor Cath Noakes from the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds addressed the virtual Healthcare Estates Conference in October 2020 on the issue of ventilation.

Professor Noakes is leading research into ventilation, indoor air quality and infection control in the built environment.
She acknowledged that there is little data from real-world medical settings about COVID-19 transmission, but evidence from community settings shows the highest risk is probably within indoor environments and over short ranges.
In addition to droplets settling on surfaces, and the virus transmitting directly between people during physical contact; there is also evidence of airborne transmission of COVID-19, particularly in poorly-ventilated spaces.

People are at their most contagious when they are largely asymptomatic, so that it becomes increasingly important to consider ventilation of spaces housing patients.

She pointed out that airborne aerosol particles need drag force to keep them up and gravity to bring them down.  But air velocity in a room is known to impact on this and various-sized particles can remain in the air for a significant amount of time, often travelling quite far from their original source.

This is where clean-air ventilation can have a significant impact.

“If a space is well ventilated you can’t completely contain the virus, but the ventilation will dilute the virus and the risks are technically lower,” reasoned Professor Noakes.
This view is reflected in the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Association’s recently-updated REHVA COVID-19 Guidance Document, which cites ventilation as the principal engineering control to help control infection, thus giving further weight to the vital role ventilation plays in the COVID-19 response effort.
It states that in hospitals with an optimal 12 air changes per hour (ACH) ventilation rate, aerosol transmission is mostly eliminated. But, in poorly-ventilated spaces, it may be dominant.
Professor Noakes suggests that in a hospital context it is not the obvious patient wards that will be most affected as these tend to be better ventilated.
Instead, estates and facilities managers and IPC teams need to also consider smaller, more-relaxed environments such as staff restrooms, waiting areas, corridors and treatment rooms.
“Hospitals need to consider where they are ventilating and what impact this has on a particular space,” Professor Noakes said.

However, mechanical ventilation is not provided in the standard specification of modular buildings.   Compliance with HTM 03-01 simply means that the supplier has met the minimum standards required. In addition, as with any natural ventilation method, the air flow and air change rates cannot be guaranteed as they are subject to external factors such as wind speed and direction.

The HTM 03-01 standard dates back to 2007, and therefore does not take into account the latest thinking on the need for clean-air design within the types of modular buildings increasingly used by hospitals for patient accommodation.
When it was produced in 2007 the use of modular buildings was very limited, but now they are seen as vital tool for increasing healthcare facilities.  An updated version of HTM 03-01 due for publication early in 2021 has received specialist input to address the latest thinking on clean-air requirements in patient accommodation.

Ventilation systems are complex solutions and their impact depends on the type of technology and, critically, how it is deployed.

The risks faced by healthcare workers treating patients with viruses that can be transmitted through the air are highlighted by research published in August 2020 by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

Researchers from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in the UK and Turku University of Applied Sciences in Finland examined these risks and how different forms of ventilation can protect staff who are treating patients in hospital isolation rooms, the study, called ‘Reducing aerosol infection risk in hospital patient care’, was commissioned by IOSH because while the risks to frontline healthcare workers when caring for patients with viruses are well known – less known is the optimal design of mechanical ventilation systems. The aim was to see how an engineering control approach of optimising ventilation methods can reduce these risks.

Dr Julian Tang, a consultant virologist at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and an honorary associate professor at the University of Leicester, argues that: “The most-effective form of control is the ventilation engineering level of control.

“That means that we have to try and improve the amount of clean-air in the environment compared to the amount of contaminated air.

“The research has shown that there are certain types of ventilation – beyond just different speed and volume of ventilation – that can benefit healthcare workers better without being detrimental to the patient.
“And this report has tried to highlight those particular designs to show that if you are going to build a new hospital with new isolation rooms, these sorts of design are what you might want to follow.”
David Hartley, managing director at medical modular building specialist MTX welcomes the report: “The IOSH report focuses particularly on treating patients in isolation rooms, which are typically provided with a minimum of 10 air changes per hour of mechanical ventilation.  It underlines the importance of mechanical ventilation in reducing airborne aerosol infection.
“At MTX we recognise the importance of engineering air movement and clean-air flow pathways within modular buildings – particularly those housing patients.   Those factors are a vital consideration for our engineers when assessing the performance of the buildings we provide for health trusts and hospitals.  We have the technical expertise and experience to work with clinicians and facilities teams to ensure the building is fit for purpose in every case.
“Optimum airflow is accepted as an important factor in the health, wellbeing and comfort of patients and staff.  It is much more difficult and expensive to retrofit air handling systems to modular units, which is why it is so important to give it full consideration at the design and build stages.”

David Guilfoyle, a director at consulting M&E engineers DSSR which works with MTX adds:  “Ventilation has become much more of an issue with the emergence of COVID-19, and it has reshaped the priorities for ventilation requirements.  We work with MTX to ensure that the air handling provision is effective, bringing maximum benefit and enhancing the safety of patients and staff.”

DSSR designs central air handling for each modular unit produced by MTX according to how it will be used, the patient group and the internal configuration.

Mr Guilfoyle explains: “You have to walk in the shoes of the people who will be working in that building.  If you simply follow the basic HTM guidance you are not walking in their shoes. HTM is a baseline, not a target “Without talking to the clinicians and the infection control team you cannot possibly design an air handling system that is fit for purpose.  You must know the configuration of the beds and know how they are to be used.  Then you can design the system around the clinical requirements, not simply pump air into the room.  The configuration, positions of walls and corridors all influence the effectiveness of the air handling system.

“For example, people talk about 6 or 12 air changes per hour (ACH) ventilation rate in terms of volume, but that rate depends on the configuration.  Previously one of the priorities for air exchange was mitigating the effects of medical gases that could affect staff.  Now it is more about infection control – a priority that has gained momentum over the last year.
“Six ACH may be quite appropriate for one layout, but a different layout occupying the same floor space may require 12.  It is a bespoke solution every time with MTX, and clients get the benefit of flexible M&E design by experts in their field who understand the needs of staff and patients.

“We must also take into account air dilution rates – which reduce the particulate content of the air – a vital tool in reducing airborne infection of a virus like COVID-19.  In addition, clean-air pathways can be custom-designed according to the configuration of each individual modular building.

“If you want to capture the ‘bad air’ and vent it – then it all comes down to the pathways you create through the design of the system.”

Mr Hartley points out that factory-built units are too often simply mass-produced shells; they are not engineered for a specific purpose which may vary from one hospital site to the next.

“It is not one-size fits all.  For example, people who deliver a building in just a few short  weeks may be working hard to fulfil a need – but the building they produce may be a basic shell which could as easily be a schoolroom or an office.  Modular buildings used for patient care should be specifically designed and engineered for healthcare use.”

“Taking into account the threat from COVID-19 it is apparent that more attention needs to be paid to ensuring mechanical ventilation is considered in every case when designing and creating modular buildings.”

DSSR has been involved as a technical expert in updating the HTM 03-01 memorandum to make it more fit for purpose in modern healthcare. The new version is currently being ratified for publication early in 2021.

The pandemic can be credited with pushing the construction industry in the right direction. Many processes have changed and there is no need to go back to the way it was. The technological advances that would have happened over the next few decades, have now been achieved, due to the pandemic’s dramatic acceleration of technology adoption.   

Most buildings are tested for airtightness, air permeability, and air leaks with outdated and intrusive technology, making tests difficult, time consuming and expensive. Yet it is critical to quickly locate and accurately quantify air leaks in rooms and buildings. There is now a solution from Coltraco Ultrasonics who have brought testing for airtightness, and air permeability into the 21st Century. Air leaks with a diameter as small as 0.5mm can now be detected and quickly located with the Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520.

In March 2020, the world as we knew it fundamentally and suddenly changed, however, innovation continued to evolve and thrive. There was an urgent requirement within the NHS to prevent infection spread in hospitals and contain the virus by maintaining negatively pressurised ICU Wards and ensuring their airtightness. UK Government put out a COVID-19 emergency response grant through InnovateUK for technology to help the NHS. In June 2020 Coltraco Ultrasonics was one of the winners. The grant was for adapting their already award-winning watertight integrity technology into technology suitable for room airtight testing. Like many businesses, Coltraco Ultrasonics was transformed by the pandemic. In just 8 months Coltraco Ultrasonics had successfully designed and manufactured 2 innovative solutions to help the NHS and healthcare settings with infection control and the building sector to ensure effective ventilation through airtightness.
Following from this need to contain the spread of airborne diseases, Coltraco Ultrasonics swiftly saw the demand for this leak detection technology to be re-designed for the built environment. Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 is a new solution to ensure that buildings are airtight so that people can be confident that they are returning to “safe buildings” and “safe working” by properly ventilating them. This is to ensure that all ventilation systems are operating effectively, and thereby enhance indoor air quality (IAQ) which has now become a poignant issue.
For the first time, with minimal training, the user can locate a leak, quantify the leak site, calculate the air flow rate through it, and generate an air permeability value for the room. You can then take accurate remedial action where necessary and have full confidence in both the airtightness of your room, and the effectiveness of your ventilation in circulating clean air.

Human Resources and Facilities Management Teams are tasked with keeping buildings and spaces comfortable, sustainable, efficient, safe, healthy and well maintained, and this list keeps growing as buildings, including residential buildings are expected to deliver more. More can include addressing the effects of Climate Change by making a building more energy efficient. More after this pandemic will include a critical appraisal of indoor air quality.
Seventy per cent of the world’s population spends an estimated 90% of its time indoors, and the World Health Organisation estimates that in 2020 there were more than 6 million premature deaths due to air pollution much of it attributed to poor IAQ. Digitalisation has the power to evolve buildings from being fixed passive structures into highly interactive and richly informative systems. Homes are becoming more autonomous, so that the mechanical components inside of the spaces created can ensure that occupants are safer, healthier and more comfortable.

Air filtration has never been considered a hot topic, but reflecting on what we know now, perhaps it should have been. Air quality plays an important role in our physical and mental health, and with COVID-19 good air filtration could mean the difference between sick and healthy, and in some cases, life and death.  A fundamental requirement for energy efficient mechanical ventilation and for effective air filtration is achieving a minimum level of air tightness in buildings. Air pollution is an increasing concern, as is maintaining an adequate level of Oxygen within the built environment.
The air we breathe is made up of multiple gases, however for a human to function normally the air must contain enough oxygen. Under normal atmospheric pressure we normally inhale air that contains 20.9% oxygen; if this falls even by one or 2 %, then functionality starts to become more laborious and the environment turns hypoxic, meaning that oxygen levels are low and could be harmful. Humans like fires need to have a constant and assured level of oxygen, and as we consume oxygen, more must be delivered to us.

The design choices being programmed into buildings right now will be with us for years to come. This is a good thing because of the increased emphasis being placed upon, “Build tight, ventilate right.” COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic disease we will suffer, but our spaces will be better prepared for when the next one strikes. Frequent, regular and periodic testing for air tightness, air permeability, and quickly locating and quantifying air leaks in buildings, so that immediate remedial action may be taken, is now possible. Indoor air quality is a key issue in building design for homes, offices, hospitals, schools and factories. Our living and workplaces, be they at our homes or elsewhere, are where we need to be safe and productive.

This pandemic has shown the true value of good ventilation systems in buildings. There is a newfound respect for a hitherto poorly understood area of building engineering services. As we move on from a Government rescue plan to a Government recovery plan, an essential component of “Build back better,” should include frequent, regular, and periodic, mandatory testing for air tightness in the built environment.

Thanks to Coltraco Ultrasonics and their Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 this is now a faster, better and cheaper process.

In recent times, three major themes have emerged for developers: satisfy the urgent demand for homes, minimise environmental impact, and how best to make those homes more efficient or “smarter”.

Water Services on Tap – The business benefit of plug and play systems
Despite the industries best efforts to meet housing demand, on site delays can impact schedules and completion dates. With utility connections often the weak point in project schedules.
Water supply is perhaps the most important item within the critical path of construction and is probably the most difficult to achieve. Imagine a situation where your services can be fully installed, with surface mounted meters allowing ‘plug and play’ style installation.  With Groundbreaker water management system, you have that ‘plug and play’ option – no need to imagine.
The only system of its type, it is designed to be installed at any time during the construction period.  Fully compliant with Water Regulations, it provides an accessible, safe and secure location for the water meter and controls to a specific property.
The concept is simple.  Water services are connected to an externally mounted, pre-installed water service controls.  This allows flexibility in the management and scheduling of connection to the mains supply.  For modular build projects the pre-installation and certification of plumbing can facilitate early approval of water services to a plot.
There is no need for boundary boxes or meter housings in the footpath, and this simplification of the connection allows for improved efficiency and reduces the time required for highway closures and cost of reinstatement.

Design out leak paths:
Comply with Water & Construction Industry Guidelines with “Water Safe” initiatives
The unique location of the Groundbreaker water management system allows for an unjointed water supply, minimising the risk of developing future leaks.  Installation of Groundbreaker meets the best recommendations of Water UK and the Home Builders Federation and in some water company areas, such as Portsmouth Water, are now the standard required for all new properties.

Future proof properties
Water Metering is the future.  Utility companies have not been slow in recognising the benefits of a ‘Smart Home’.  The ability to interrogate and manage energy usage at any given time of day or night has been recognised as an effective way for householders to reduce usage and manage costs
Gas and electricity meters located on external building walls has enabled easy upgrades and introduction of countrywide ‘Smart Meter’ programme.  However, the traditional location of a water meter in a metal-covered hole in the public highway is not conducive to this new way of thinking. A ‘Smart Water Meter’ located in such a situation is exceedingly poor in transmitting a signal even to a local pick up.
The best location for a ‘Smart Water Meter’ is on an external property wall  – co-located with other utility meters. With Groundbreaker water management system, properties are future proofed to allow for easy installation of ‘Smart Water Meter’ technology as it is introduced across the UK.
Recent field trials of Groundbreaker have proven that the range of such meters can be over 3Km (2 miles).  The impact on data collection is massive.  The improved data transmission range could allow for single point data capture in towns the size of Norwich or Coventry.

Bringing Water Supply into the 21st century
If you are looking for a way to bring water services into the 21st century, Groundbreaker’s range of water supply management products can be the way forward for time and cost efficient installation and replacement of water supply.

For futher information on the Groundbreaker water management system visit:



The world is reaching a critical tipping point with global warming. Every year, climate records are being routinely broken, CO2 levels in the atmosphere rising annually, and sea levels continuously creep up as vast ice sheets are melting and collapsing. In 2019, the UK Government declared a national climate emergency, meaning everybody has to take action against this global threat.

To help protect the planet’s eco-system from being plunged into a whole new state, the thermal performance of buildings will be crucial in the fight against climate change. SFS, building envelope specialists, has developed a whitepaper that explores the effects of rainscreen subframe systems on the overall thermal performance of external walls, the specification process, and unique solutions to reduce heat loss through the building envelope.
The climate change emergency
The biggest problem facing buildings today is the performance gap, where buildings use more energy in their operation than originally predicted by compliance calculations. It’s not uncommon for quoted heat loss and/or energy consumption of a building to be up to ten times greater than forecast.
It’s no surprise that future building standards need to be tighter to bring down such high levels of heat loss and energy consumption. While improvements to Part L of the Building Regulations have been mapped out to the ‘Future Homes Standard’, there is still little focus on achieving the quality assurance that would ultimately avoid the performance gap. At the same time, construction products and techniques must continue to improve to bring operational energy efficiency in line with designed energy efficiency.

Calculating an accurate U-Value
Energy efficiency can only be tackled by understanding the thermal performance of rainscreen walls, where building fabric heat losses are most prevalent as external walls are responsible for 35% total heat loss of a building. Part of that process for understanding how much heat loss a building has is finding out its U-Value.
However, when a U-Value is calculated, it must take into account where insulation is penetrated by the thermal bridges of a rainscreen subframe system. Many materials which bridge the insulation layer have a higher thermal conductivity than the insulation layer, creating higher rates of localised heat loss.

Reducing heat loss through rainscreen subframes
The careful selection, specification and installation of an optimal thermally efficient subframe system, supported by the appropriate thermal modelling is crucial.
Part of that specification is choosing the right rainscreen subframe system. Developments in recent years means that newer systems now have lower thermal conductivity, allowing contractors to choose a solution to lower the loss of heat.
The solution
The relationship between the design and realisation of a building is key for greener building projects. Only by having the right specification for your rainscreen subframe can you guarantee that your external wall construction performs as well as intended.

So, what is the solution? SFS has been working on rainscreen subframe solutions that provide key energy saving contributions to any project featuring cladding.

To find out more how the SFS’ NVELOPE® system can be optimised to your project to achieve the thinnest build-up and make your building greener, CLICK HERE to download the whitepaper.

CLT (Cross laminated timber) is growing in popularity and can offer many advantages, as a sustainable energy efficient building method.
It has been used in many construction projects, predominantly within the commercial sector such as schools and hospitals.

CLT is an engineered timber product, produced in a controlled factory environment from sustainably sourced timber.  It is formed of kiln-dried spruce or pine boards which are laid on top of each other at 90° (three, five, seven or nine layers depending on structural requirements), and then coated with a layer of adhesive and subjected to immense hydraulic pressure to create large, stiff, dimensionally stable panels.  Often referred to as ‘Super Plywood’, CLT offers high strength and the structural simplicity needed for cost-effective buildings, as well as a lighter environmental footprint than concrete or steel. It also provides numerous other benefits, including quicker installation, reduced waste, improved thermal performance and design versatility.

The STA have recognised this and produced a comprehensive document in March 2017 – The STA Advice Note 14, Robustness of CLT structures. This document provides good practice guidance for the design, detailing and installation of CLT building structures.  A critical element to their successful use is to ensure good moisture management, as whilst the system is robust, poor installation can let the design down.

Fig 1 (produced by STA) shows how a CLT structure is built up with the correct installation of insulation, on the outside of the frame.  The CLT should always be on the warm side of the insulation to avoid unnecessary moisture fluctuations, which also brings the added benefit of mitigating any potential cold bridging issues, as they are adequately catered for with the external envelope of continuous insulation. It is preferable for this insulation to be moisture open to allow the wall to breathe and reduce the risk of built-up moisture within the envelope. The cavity provides extra protection throughout the life of the building. The STA have produced further guidance in January this year (Laminate/Mass timber structures – Durability by Design Technical Note 23). This note concludes with some best practice advice which includes the following – Ensure the external wall make up allows for vapour diffusion from the interior to exterior vented spaces (BS5250 standard to be referenced and followed in a design).  Air leakage control membranes and sealants checked to avoid moisture vapour traps.  Thermal Insulation should be placed on the exterior side of the laminated mass timber panels.

BS 5250 gives good guidance in the moisture management of CLT structures. This advice incorporates many of the above principles and the placement of membranes to reduce the risk of damaging moisture issues.

The A. Proctor Group provide a self-adhered, vapour permeable, air tight “breather membrane” that can be installed either behind or in front of the insulation.  This decision can be made dependent upon the project location, and works programme for follow on trades. In some circumstances it may be appropriate to utilise the membrane in both locations. Once Wraptite® is applied to the CLT on the outside, the envelope is immediately protected from water ingress such as rain during the construction, which may be beneficial if the insulation is not to be installed immediately.  The unique properties of Wraptite also provide the airtight line on the external side of the CLT panels offering, long term protection, and less risk of damages to the airtight layer from internal finishes. The high vapour permeability of the Wraptite provides the “breathing wall” which will help reduce any potential moisture build up that may have happened during the build process and wet trades.

As Wraptite is vapour permeable, it is moisture neutral and protects the building from unwanted moisture build up once it is occupied, such as heating/everyday occupier activities.  It’s characteristics therefore keep the envelope free from the risks of interstitial condensation.


Once the insulation is installed, depending on its type , it may be advisable to install a second layer, this time on the cold face of (outside) the insulation, to avoid moisture pick up through the insulation and potential loss of thermal performance. This can include the use of a reflective material to further enhance the thermal performance of the structure, this time with APG vapour permeable Reflectashield® TF 0.81.

For any moisture concerns or questions, The A. Proctor Group have years of experience  across all areas of the building envelope, such as pitched roofs, walls and floors.  Our team of technical experts at Head Office and external Regional Technical Sales Managers are all very well educated in the companies HAMM (Heat Air Moisture Movement) principles to ensure an effective balance is reached, ensuring a healthy building envelope.

For more details visit our website where you can find details on all APG solutions along with links to our informative range of webinars.

Timber frame construction brings many benefits to the housebuilding industry, including quicker build times, quieter assembly, fewer deliveries to site, cost savings and a reduction in defects. Underpinning these advantages, Norbord’s engineered wood-based panel products are an integral part of many timber frame systems. They are regularly seen as the number one choice for all aspects of home building, be it the structure, flooring or interior.

Norbord’s high quality boards are available in a wide range of grades and, with minimal finishing required, speed up construction. The products are incredibly versatile, offer value for money and have good environmental credentials with a low carbon footprint as all are made in the UK. In fact, all Norbord panel products are net carbon negative and so can help the builder achieve sustainability targets.

Ideal for structural applications and offering great value, Norbord’s SterlingOSB Zero is stronger and tougher than ply, with no knots, voids or de-lamination. It is the first OSB product to be made in the UK with zero added formaldehyde, so it is a ‘greener’ board that meets all standards with ease. The range comprises panels specifically designed to fulfil the full range of timber frame applications, including structural use in dry or humid load-bearing conditions.

When it comes to dry lining applications, SterlingOSB Zero StrongFix is precision engineered with a custom groove for metal C-studs at 600mm centres. The consistent density of OSB means fixtures and fittings of up to 400kg can be attached anywhere on the panel and achieve secure anchorage.

Fire protection during the construction phase is a crucial area where Norbord products can help. SterlingOSB Zero Fire Solutions builds on the inherent benefits of the company’s other OSB products. Its development was in response to the Structural Timber Association’s guidelines for reducing fire spread in large timber frame buildings when fire resistant dry lining finishes are not yet in place.

For flat roof decking and flooring applications, SterlingOSB Zero Tongue & Groove is the go-to solution. Advanced, high-strength flooring is provided by the CaberFloor system, the most specified moisture-resistant P5 flooring.

Versatile, stable, durable and designed to be easy to lay, the CaberFloor range includes CaberShield+ and CaberDek. CaberShield+ offers a permanent waterproof coating on both sides while CaberDek has a strong, waterproof and slip-resistant peelable film that, when removed, leaves a clean, finished floor. They are enhanced by CaberFix, a range of specially developed powerful sealing and fixing systems.

When it comes to quality finishing and architectural details, CaberWood MDF is the ideal solution. This versatile range is designed as an economical alternative to hardwood but without the inherent defects of knots or grains. The boards are engineered with consistent density for multiple uses, including mouldings. As with other Norbord ranges, there are products for all applications.


Norbord strives to offer the panel products required to meet the exacting needs of timber frame construction. Support on a product and technical basis is provided as and when required through dedicated product support and technical advice teams.


Samples of SterlingOSB Zero, and Norbord’s other construction panels, can be ordered on the website,  Head to the housebuilder page on the website to download a selection of tools including a fully-interactive guide to all Norbord products and a checklist to make sure you have everything you need for your build.


For further information, call 01786 812 921 or visit



Envirotile is a revolutionary roof tile system with a unique fixing system which is fully compliant with BS 5534 and it can be installed to a minimum of 12.5° pitch.

It is significantly lighter than other tiles making Envirotile extremely suitable for use on modular and timber frame constructions. The lightweight tile aids the build by minimalising differential movement in such structures.
Plus due to the unique fitting system developed by roofers, installation is simple and easy, saving time compared to traditional tiles, and offers a complete dry fix system with no mess cutting.

The sustainable choice
Envirotile is manufactured from 75% recycled product and is fully recyclable at end of life.
It is backed by GreenSpec which is the foremost ‘Green Building’ resource in the UK. Independent of companies and trade bodies and launched in 2003 with government funding, GreenSpec promotes sustainable building products, materials and construction techniques.

Envirotile is available in two finish effect options – our original tile with a textured finish and our latest addition of the slate-effect finish – both are aesthetically pleasing in all aspects.
The textured finish tile is available in Terracotta, Brown, Slate Grey and Anthracite Black, and the slate-effect tile in Terracotta, Brown, Slate Grey and Anthracite Grey.
Plus ridge, hip and end caps all available to ensure the roof is completed to the same green credentials.

Designed to perform
Envirotile has undertaken rigorous testing with many professional bodies so that we can ensure that it is more than fit-for-purpose and will withstand all the British weather will throw at it. So much so that we guarantee it for 40 years.
They are also fully guaranteed to perform against severe UK wind loads in any designated zonal area within the UK and we offer a free replacement service for dislodged roof tiles caused by gale force winds up to 65mph (subject to our Terms & Conditions).

• Cost saving, sustainable roof tile
• BBA certified
• Conforms to BS 5534:2014
•  Greenspec Endorsed
•  80% lighter than concrete tiles for easier handling and safety
•  Only 12 tiles per sq. m
•  Choice of standard and slate effect across 5 colours to match most roof types
•  No harmful dust created during the cutting process
•  Proven and tested at a low degree pitch of 12.5° against wind driven rain
• Weather tested to 147mph wind loads
• Improved grip surface
• Virtually unbreakable
• Anti-fungal properties
• Low maintenance
• UK manufactured
• Ridge products available

At less than 8 kilos per m², Envirotile is the lightest synthetic roof tile making it the ultimate choice within lightweight roofing, yet is virtually unbreakable.

Traditional materials such as cast iron drainage would perhaps not immediately spring to mind for “modern methods” of construction such as Pre-Assemblies and offsite construction, but Saint-Gobain PAM has proved that it’s time to change thinking about cast iron.

The new Pre-Assembly service promotes early collaboration at the design stage which is key to reap the benefits. The service offers 3D modeling, BIM, Pre- Assembly, full logistics support to and on-site, and post-installation review. The benefits mean there is less time changing designs, less construction time on site, more consistent quality, and ultimately this is one more step to making the building ready for use earlier.
Architects, designers, and specifiers are using better tools to developing projects, and Saint-Gobain PAM’s BIM models are designed to make it very easy to design the right system the first time and also give you the benefits of using the Pre-Assembly system.


CLICK to watch the video on the service and an overview of BIM


As an example: located at Hyde Park Corner, London, The Peninsula Hotel will bring a new level of distinction to the British luxury hospitality industry, catering to both hotel and local guests. Saint-Gobain PAM has been working in close partnership with Fitzpatrick Mechanical Services to maximize efficiency and use pre-fabricated stacks for this prestigious project. Using the construction plans they came up with many repeatable sections that can be fabricated at PAM’s Telford factory and shipped straight to the site for fast installation. Compared to a conventional installation, there is an estimated saving from using the pre-assembled solutions of about 60%.


CLICK to watch the animtion and see how this could work


Cast iron drainage is indeed proving to be an ideal solution for Modern Methods of Construction providing total flexibility, significant cost savings, excellent fire safety, the best acoustic performance, excellent sustainability credentials, and a long life span.

Saint-Gobain PAM has currently put together a range of over 40 stack arrangements in 100mm diameter as standard and will design bespoke ones to suit your project.

For more information please visit the WEBSITE  Telephone 01952 26259 or EMAIL the Technical Department