Latest innovations and products in the building fabric section of the construction industry.

NVELOPE cladding support systems have been installed on Sterte Court, a development of high rise and low rise flats in Poole, which has received a facelift that has not only improved the visual appearance and sustainable factors, but also extended the buildings’ life for at least 30 years.

Sterte Court is a residential building in Poole, which dates back to the 1960s. When originally built, the two 10 storey and two 4 storey tower blocks consisted of 134 one and two-bedroom flats. Constructed with rendered concrete wall panels on a concrete frame, the buildings were poorly insulated. A project to upgrade the development began in 2013, when Poole Housing Partnership, an Arms Length Management Organisation, which was set up under the Government scheme to bring investment for improvements to homes across the Borough of Poole, got involved.

Poole Housing Partnership appointed Keepmoat as the main contractor for this £6.7 million project. With the aim being to improve the residents’ living conditions, reduce fuel poverty, and update the visual appearance of the four blocks, the project would take around 18 months to complete. When it came to focussing the attention on the new façade, NVELOPE’s NV1 cladding support system was specified to hold the vertical cladding in place, and fitted by Kent-based façade installer, Teiko Ltd.

“The project benefited from ECO (Energy Company Obligation) funding, which requires the systems used to be BBA certified, and for the installer to be PAS 2030 certified” comments Adrian Buckmaster, Technical Manager, Teiko Ltd. “NVELOPE is BBA certified and Teiko Ltd is the only installer to be certified for Rainscreen Cladding to PAS 2030 standard.”

A key requirement for this project was to improve the thermal bridging. Thermal bridges cause increased flow of heat and need to be considered in the design and installation of a façade system. Since the fixing of ventilated cladding must go through the thermal insulation into the substrate, it cannot be avoided. It’s therefore important to achieve a thermal decoupling of the substructure from the ventilated façade through thermal separation layers. NVELOPE’s N1 brackets are pre-assembled with thermal isolators which help reduce thermal bridging and also prevent a chemical reaction which could occur between the aluminium bracket and the lime in a concrete frame.

NVELOPE’s NV1 flexible point brackets were well suited for this project as they allow for expansion and contraction of the cladding when under strain from various weather conditions including strong winds. The NV ranges provides a secure fixing solution for façade materials including high pressure laminate (HPL), timber, weatherboard, fibre cement, fibre concrete, ceramic, thin stone, aluminium composite material (ACM) and many other metals. Stand-off sizes for the vertical ranges are from 40 – 300 mm.

NVELOPE holds extensive stock to ensure orders can always be met and where necessary, immediate delivery can be provided. All NVELOPE cladding systems can be engineered to project specific requirements thanks to the expertise of its technical design support service. This provides architects and specifiers freedom with an almost infinite range of façade appearance and layout options.

Manufactured in the UK and developed using the highest specification alloys, NVELOPE products and systems are ideal for supporting a wide variety of façade materials.

For more information please visit

The importance of BBA (British Board of Agrément) certification is well-known as an independent mark of approval for suppliers to the construction industry, and Cembrit has the distinction of having its complete range of fibre cement fully accredited by the organisation.

The BBA is the UK’s major authority offering approval and certification services to manufacturers and installers supplying the construction industry. BBA certification is a sought after accreditation, and one which is incredibly important to architects. Cembrit holds five BBA Certificates for its fibre cement slate range, ensuring that whichever system is chosen, architects can be confident in the specified product. To achieve this status, Cembrit fibre cement slates completed a comprehensive testing process and successfully met all the requirements set out by the BBA.

“BBA certification enables architects to specify Cembrit fibre cement slates with confidence,” says Ged Ferris, Marketing Manager of Cembrit. “Our fibre cement slates range provides a high quality roofing finish that is both attractive and long lasting. Architects specify the slates for use on both residential and commercial properties, and have in the past, praised the product for delivering the desired results.”

The Cembrit range of fibre cement slates includes Westerland, Moorland, Zeeland, Jutland and Diamond, all offering their own unique appearance. The slates are ideal for use on conventional pitched timber roofs with a rafter pitch of 20° and over, or hung vertically as cladding on external walls. The slates are complemented by matching fibre cement ridges, ventilation solutions and fixings.

Manufactured to the highest European standards using Portland cement together with a formulation of superior blended synthetic and cellulose fibres, Cembrit fibre cement slates are finished with a high quality, semi-matt acrylic coloured coating to the face and edges and a tinted, high performance binder to the back face. Cembrit fibre cement slates are the most accredited on the UK market.

For further information visit, or email

Flat roof manufacturer Bauder launched its revolutionary solar PV mounting system for biodiverse or extensive green roofs, Bauder BioSOLAR, at the inaugural ‘European Biosolar Roof Conference’ that took place in September at City Hall in London. Designed primarily for new build applications where environmentally friendly solutions are required to meet planning and BREEAM requirements; this integrated system addresses the misconception that green roof and PV technologies are mutually exclusive options.

The construction industry has long been calling for rooftop solutions that include a duality of technologies for environmental advantage, and a biosolar roof delivers just that providing reciprocal benefits in terms of maximising the energy output from the PV module and the footprint for the green roof. Bauder’s innovative BioSOLAR system uses the substrate and vegetation to provide the ballasted installation mechanism, removing the need to penetrate the waterproofing to secure the mounting units to the roof and making the most of the available area for vegetation, enabling the entire roof to qualify as a biodiverse green roof.

A key feature of Bauder’s unique system is that the front edge of the polycrystalline PV panel is raised 300mm above the finished green roof level, allowing light and moisture to reach beneath the panels whilst ensuring the mature vegetation will not shade the panels and can be easily maintained. The mixture of sunny, shaded and sheltered areas together with a variable depth of FLL compliant extensive substrate gives a matrix of different habitats that allow a broader range of plant species to thrive, and a rich foraging environment for bees and insects.
The biosolar solution also delivers advantages to the building, as the cooling effect of the vegetation and water held within the green roof system preserves the ambient temperature around the PV array, which in turn increases the solar output by over 5%. The PV mounting frame features a 100% recycled high-density polyethylene base board and consists of just three components – a quick fix angle support, profile module rail and module fixings – that make for an extremely quick and simple installation process.
Although well suited to new build applications, the Bauder BioSOLAR system can also be retrofitted on many existing roofs without the need for any structural modification to the building; and with Bauder able to supply and install all of the waterproofing, green roof and PV elements you can be confident of the significant synergy effects created by this energy efficient and cohesive system.
For more information please visit

Since it’s conception in 1588 Keymer has supplied quintessentially English, handmade clay roof tiles to specifiers, architects and roofers across the UK. Now in its 427th year, Keymer’s heritage and traditional attitude towards roof tiles and ornaments is now under the protection of Wienerberger – the leading supplier of wall, roof and landscape innovations. Whilst Wienerberger continues in its mission to develop new and innovative ways to manufacture construction materials, Keymer’s identity, and reputation for traditional manufacturing techniques is being robustly maintained. To explain more Richard Bishop, Category Marketing Manager for Roof at Wienerberger, told us more about Keymer’s past, present, future and why Keymer is perfect for restoration projects.

Keymer’s enduring success has been the quality of its tiles, and the beauty it has afforded projects across the country and the world.”

Keymer as it stands today

“The actual process of creating a handmade tile has hardly changed in the 400 years since Keymer’s birth. For example, all the tiles are still made out of Wealdon clay, which is native to the area and is a material employed by generations of roof tile artisans. Once the clay has been extracted, and allowed to weather naturally for a year, the clay is wire cut and is supplied to the tile makers that still apply sand by hand to give the tiles their distinct colour. Different amounts of Manganese Oxide in the sand give the different tones for Red, Antique and Elizabethan tiles – a process which a maker from 400 years ago would recognise.

“Even today the clay is then manually inserted into the mould, the excess is cut away with wire – in the same way cheese is cut – and the punch is finally brought down to insert the nibs, holes and maker’s mark. These tiles can be found on a huge range of both new and old properties and buildings and are identifiable by the handprints left on the underneath of the tile from the clay being slapped into the mould. Because the process of manufacture has remained almost unchanged for the past 400 years, Keymer tiles continue to be specified for restoration projects and new builds as they bring class and individuality to any roof.”

Brand protection and innovation

“The key to Keymer’s achievements has been its ability to evolve and innovate as times change – as one can imagine, in a lifespan covering six centuries, there has been ample room to adapt and improve. For instance, following the Clean Air Act the tall brick chimneys at the site were demolished meaning the company had to alter its manufacturing process. This was altered but without compromising on the quality of the finished product.

“At its core, the Keymer philosophy has always been to create, by hand, high quality roof tiles that stand the test of time alongside bespoke finials – the final furnishing to heritage roofs. For only the fourth time in its history, Keymer moved once again in 2015 to its new home at Wienerberger’s Ewhurst factory – a site that houses two of the original four clay phoenixes that stood guard at the four corners of each of Keymer’s previous homes – where its philosophy continues.”

The restoration

“The process behind the manufacture of Keymer roof tiles affords a vital advantage for restoration projects – flexibility. If a particular project has a distinct roof that needs new tiles to replace its unique cladding, without detracting from the overall aesthetic feel of the roof, Keymer can recreate tiles that match those that need replacing. This can be achieved through its time-tested techniques including the application of varying levels of Manganese Oxide, which make available a wide range of colours, alongside the hand made nature of tiles allowing for interesting and unique shapes to also be recreated. In short, the heritage nurtured by Keymer allows designers to rest sound in the knowledge that almost any roof – regardless of age, or design – can be renovated to an extremely high standard.

The products in practice

“Keymer tiles have been specified for a whole host of projects of different scales and budgets. Bewley Homes for example, in South Warnborough, specified Keymer’s Shire Tiles to ensure it was in keeping with the local, quaint village feel. Although the properties are not as old some projects using Keymer tiles – the Shire roof tiles link the homes with the local surroundings by adding a sense of heritage and timeless class. That said, Keymer tiles have also been specified for the regeneration of particularly prestigious projects including the birthplace of Shakespeare in Stratford upon Avon and Leeds Castle in Kent. These incredibly important heritage sites specified Keymer tiles to protect their individual histories without compromising on the aesthetics of the buildings. Such is the beauty of Keymer tiles that the Aston Martin Owners Club selected Traditional Antique tiles to roof its headquarters whilst the Anglo-Catholic Church specified tiles in Antique / Elizabethan mix to roof the awe-inspiring Tewkesbury Abbey, a building that was close to destruction only 48 years before the creation of Keymer during the dissolution of the monasteries.

“These case studies prove that the specification of Keymer tiles is in no way limited to properties of a particular age, or architectural school, as they sit upon the roofs of buildings built from before 1588 to 2015. They have been involved in church regenerations, the refurbishment of ancestral homes to the aristocracy and private new build homes.

“We are really excited for the future of Keymer. We have recently launched the latest Keymer Specification Guide, which includes a wealth of design and technical information and will, I hope, inspire future generations of architects and home builders.”

Tristan Cooke Business Manager for Mila Window and Door Maintenance explain why introducing a new transparent measure into their operation is good for clients and their residents, and themselves.
The repairs and maintenance specialist has been working in the social sector for nearly 30 years carrying out more than 1.1 million repairs; they operate to a resident satisfaction rate of over 98% – but it is the introduction of a new measurement ‘First Time Fix’ which Tristan is especially excited about.
“The success of our repairs and maintenance business is based on offering specific technical expertise and outstanding service which is focussed entirely around care for the residents into whose homes we go. Resident satisfaction levels across our whole client base are consistently high, and they are there for everybody to see on our website; we don’t hide anything”.
“But the extension to that is that we now measure our First Time Fix percentages. What does this mean? It is the measure we use to ensure that whenever and wherever we can we only enter a resident’s property once – we want to cause them the least disturbance that we can, and we try really hard to ensure that this is what happens”.
“Where we do have to make more than one visit it is where we have to measure something specific such as a glass unit which needs replacing or where we react to an emergency call out to enable access in the first instance before repair. But generally we work with the landlord to understand the specification of the products they originally installed so that our engineers are prepared and have the right materials and tools with them to do the job right first time”.
“It might seem like an obvious thing to measure, but the right processes, procedures, and supply chains need to be in place first to enable you to do it and we have introduced this as the next step in the development of our client relationships and our business. It is another measure of our performance which is transparent and there for everyone to see on the homepage of our website”.

Driven by us

“It is designed first and foremost as a customer care measure – any resident will tell you, having repairs and maintenance carried out in their home is great, it solves a problem for them and makes the quality of their life better – but they don’t want to see you two and three times. They want the job done there and then”.
“This is the essence of what First Time Fix is, delivering an even better level of customer care – and it is driven by us. It is not something we have been asked to do or tasked to do, it is our initiative and we are keen to offer it to all our clients. By working with them to understand the products they have installed enables our technical team to source suitable parts – many of which are obsolete for windows and doors installed over 20 years ago – to complete the job first time. We ensure we have stocks in place and work with our robust supply chain to ensure that we can call off everything we need when we need it– then we start the job”.
“The response has been terrific. Residents and clients are clearly very happy with what we are doing, it makes the whole process and delivery of the service so much smoother and customer satisfaction levels are even higher”.
“First Time Fix is a great measure for any repairs and maintenance business, for ours where we deal with so many varied specifications it is especially important, and our ability to introduce it and already be recording figures in excess of 92% is a great start point”.
“But we won’t rest at that, we want to see our First Time Fix percentage as high as our resident satisfaction levels at over 98%. Then we know as a specialist repairs and maintenance contractor we are delivering not only a truly cost effective service for our clients but an outstandingly supportive service for their residents”.

For more information please visit

Spectus Systems is inviting everyone to take a look at its brand new website after it has undergone a complete redesign with three core priorities: functionality, aesthetics and ease-of-use across a range of devices.

The aim from the outset was to provide a better experience for professional, trade and homeowner visitors whilst encouraging greater engagement and delivering a mix of product information, industry news and useful features.

Easy navigation is vital with users now demanding a great experience when accessing any website and dismissive of any that do not perform. Basics such as drop-down menus on the new Spectus site are therefore well researched and designed to be clear, simple and tailored to different users’ needs. The site also includes a search facility with results listed in a scroll-through format. The overall appearance is clean, fresh and uncluttered.

Developed for the connected world in which mobile Internet users now outnumber those accessing via static devices, the site is fully responsive and works with all iOS and Android operating systems. Users can therefore access the information they need on tablets or using smartphones whilst on the go, without compromising their experience. Fabricators and installers especially will benefit from the comprehensive information and excellent imagery included in the site’s Technical Hub and architects and specifiers will find a wealth of useful features, including NBS access and BIM objects.

The Media Centre provides industry news, opinion pieces, Spectus case studies and video content with regular updates addressing topical and emerging issues. Links to social media sites are included for a broader visitor experience and to promote engagement, all within a single source.

Commenting on the new site, Carmen Velilla, Spectus Brand Manager said “We are delighted with the new website. It’s achieved our aim of providing a simple, relevant and practical source of information and interaction. It looks great, too, and we believe visitors will love the change.”

Please visit to take a look!

SmartPly is set to revolutionise the way timber frame structures are designed and built with its latest technological innovation – the SmartPly VapAirTight structural OSB panel. With integrated vapour control properties and airtightness engineered into each panel, SmartPly VapAirTight has performed six times better than PassivHaus standard for air leakage, making it the ideal panel system for ultra-low energy buildings.

The result of three years of rigorous development by SmartPly and extensive testing at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, SmartPly VapAirTight is recommended by the Passive House Institute as a product for providing airtightness. Each panel features alternating layers of wood strands coated with a high quality formaldehyde-free resin and wax to deliver outstanding levels of airtightness. A specialist coating is then applied to add vapour resistance and provide a premium performance OSB solution for super-insulated and passive buildings.

“OSB is assumed to be airtight, but tests prove a huge variation in performance, between manufacturers and even between different production cycles,” explains David Murray, Innovation Manager at SmartPly. “Developed from our OSB3 system, SmartPly VapAirTight has integrated vapour control and unrivalled air barrier properties and will help to close the gap between design and as-built performance.”

Available in a standard 2397mm x 1197mm size, the panel uses a newly developed high performance coating to ensure consistently high vapour resistance across its entire surface. The smooth and durable surface has also been developed to provide superior bonding of airtight tape at panel joints. Where air and vapour control layer (AVCL) membranes are notoriously difficult to seal, SmartPly VapAirTight offers excellent seal adherence to prevent air leaks, condensation and structural damage.

Manufactured from FSC-certified timber to the specification detailed in BS EN 300:2006, the rigid panel is a sustainable, robust and cost-effective alternative to specialist AVCL membranes. With minimal risk of damage during assembly, transport and installation, airtightness should not be compromised thereby ensuring the panel performs as well on the construction site as in factory controlled conditions.

By the very nature of the product, SmartPly VapAirTight can also reduce waste and man hours, as site applied, or factory applied, air and vapour control layers are not required. The panels can be readily cut and fixed using standard timber frame fixings, removing the need for additional membranes, sealants and foams.

Suitable for both new build and renovation projects, SmartPly VapAirTight is a versatile, strong and cost-effective OSB panel system. If the UK is to meet its target of an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050 with all new homes built to be ‘zero carbon’, SmartPly’s latest innovation could play a vital role as part of a highly sustainable and fabric first approach.

For more information on the new SmartPly VapAirTight panel system, go to

With its expansive range of added value services, Marflow Hydronics is able to provide customers with far more than just a complete product portfolio.
The company’s highly skilled team of engineers has combined experience in a multitude of areas, including design, installation and commissioning, and Marflow Hydronics’ added value service promise means that customers are able to utilise this experience to help them throughout their projects.
Whether the customer is facing challenging water distribution problems, needs advice about various pipe layouts and configurations, requires technical support or help with design input, Marflow Hydronics’ range of products and services have been put together so that the company can offer the ideal solution for any HVAC application.
Chris Forbes, Managing Director, says, ‘Anyone can just sell a product, what makes us stand apart is the dedicated service that we offer to all customers. We want their projects to be as good as they can be, and we will happily support our customers in whatever way they need us to. There isn’t a member of the team at Marflow Hydronics that doesn’t believe in the added value we offer.’
To find out more about Marflow Hydronics go to and be in with a chance of winning a major games console.

Are your structural waterproofing designs based on a waterproofing risk assessment that has been produced by a suitably qualified specialist? Have you appointed a waterproofing specialist at an early stage of the system design to ensure it is suitably integrated with the overall design of the building? Is your waterproofing expert qualified to CSSW structural waterproofing surveyor standard? If the answer is no to any of these questions then a building insurance company is unlikely to issue you with a warranty.

The increase in the provision of residential basements, the development of new types of waterproofing system and the growing number of claims being made following the failure of structural waterproofing systems were all key drivers for recent changes in industry and insurance company standards – and the reluctance of insurance companies to issue warranties if these new recommendations are not followed.

BS 8102: 2009 (Code of practice for protection of below ground structures against water from the ground) and NHBC waterproofing standards both now include recommendations that any waterproofing system designs are based upon a risk assessment that is appropriate for the property and its intended use, and that the risk assessment is produced by someone who is suitably qualified.

INK Technical Services was established to help housebuilders, architects and other specifiers meet the standards’ requirements so insurance companies are satisfied that a robust waterproofing system is in place. The INK team represents nearly 100 years of structural waterproofing experience and includes CSSW qualified structural waterproofing surveyors. In addition to the production of waterproofing risk assessments, INK Technical Services offers a waterproofing design service; site inspections; reports on failed systems and proposals for remedial measures and approved contractor referrals.

For further information visit

Insulated external walls are an effective way to prevent energy loss from all types of properties. Ged Ferris, Marketing Manager at Cembrit discusses the incorporation of render-backer board, as a substrate in such constructions.

There are an ever increasing number of ‘green’ solutions becoming available to help cut wasted energy and in the process help the environment. The government driven schemes; the Renewable Heat Incentive and the much-talked about Green Deal, are concerned with improvements that homeowners can make with cutting edge energy saving technologies as well more conventional projects such as improving insulation. In fact, as many contractors recognise, significant heat loss from a building is through outside walls. There is of course cavity wall insulation available, but where that is not possible or desirable – a commercial building for example – external wall insulation can provide the same benefits.

Reduced costs

A typical installation of external wall insulation can cut heating costs by as much as 40%, with the additional benefits to the owner of a reduced risk of condensation and resultant decay of the building fabric. The education market has already taken up this trend and as cuts in education spending start to bite, this type of construction is likely to prove a popular choice for establishments looking for a modern and energy efficient upgrade.

External walls incorporating insulation are constructed as double skin, with the insulation shielding the internal layer and an air gap with a decorative outer skin providing the weather protection and aesthetic effect. Taste dictates that not everyone desires the same finish and there is a multitude of suitable materials, colours and textures available. Although a rendered finish is usually associated with block or masonry, the use of a good render backer gives additional scope for a coarse, textured or smooth finish that can be either painted, pigmented or left natural. The monolithic finish will of course eliminate joint shadowing, which can be an issue to some.

To achieve a desirable monolithic finish that will not only satisfy the design brief but also perform well in the long run, it is important to use a good substrate. A stable render backer will help achieve a better uniform exterior finish. Secure fixing and seamless joints are important preliminary steps that eliminate the potential for cracking.


Installing a render backer is a simple process but for maximum advantage it is a real bonus if the board is lightweight. This helps with manoeuvrability on-site and during the actual fixing process. A case in point is Cembrit’s PB board which incorporates polystyrene beads in its construction. This reduces the density of the board and also makes cutting easier. There is no requirement for mechanical cutting equipment, all cutting can be done with conventional hand tools. This also helps with safety eliminating the risk of nuisance dust.

The installer typically has to be aware of fixing too close to corners / edges as this can damage the boards. A recent development to solve this problem is a board with reinforced edges. In order that fixings can be completely covered with render, the edges are also chamfered meaning the fixing head is below the surface of the façade. Designed to fit neatly together to maximize stability at the butt joints, further reducing the risk of the render cracking along the joints, each of the boards characteristics reduces the risk of the render cracking along the joints or spalling above the fixing, which looks unsightly.

An alternative to rendered finish is brick slip or stone cladding. Such finishes require a strong and stable substrate onto which they are adhered. The best quality render boards can also fulfil this function. Truly versatile boards now coming onto the market will make a huge contribution to the energy efficiency and appearance of buildings for many years to come.

With an increase in demand for lightweight external cladding systems, contractors need to be up to date on the installation of render-backer boards. If specified, and installed correctly, a monolithic finish that is thermally efficient and a pleasing to the eye can be achieved with the minimum of fuss.