Latest innovations and products in the offsite sections of the construction industry.

Construction material specialist, Euroform, is continuing to widen the variety of finishes available in its already popular EZWall cladding system range, which cleverly combines the advantages of modern construction techniques with the appeal of traditional brickwork. The range has been expanded due to an increase in demand for decorative cladding applications where installation is quicker and to a higher standard than traditionally built masonry walls.

Designed with aesthetics in mind, EZWall provides both a decorative and durable finish to vertical external walls and can even be matched to existing brickwork with its growing choice of sizes, patterns, stone and brick types. The improved cladding system range is a reliable solution for applications on domestic and commercial buildings, from garden to gable walls. EZWall can be fitted to all types of substrates including steel frame systems, timber frame systems and block work.

John Taylor, Technical Director at Euroform, said: “There has been increasing demand in the market to find solutions for creating authentic brickwork designs on buildings without the high cost of materials and labour. EZWall is as visually attractive as traditional brickwork yet far more cost effective to install on a multitude of substrates. Euroform offer an extensive and growing range of EZWall designs for any project.”

The cladding system is lightweight at approximately 35kg/m2 based on a 15mm slip, making it easy to handle and install. Its low weight also means EZWall can be used in areas that have no load bearing support structure, and no specialist tools or clips are required for installation.

The system benefits from full depth mortar joints combined with a dual weeping mechanism design which allows for superior drainage of accumulated moisture, developed for years of strength and durability.

For more information regarding EZWall please visit or email

Newcastle University’s innovative and multi-award winning Urban Sciences Building (USB) is using a combined smoke control and environmental ventilation solution that incorporates a SHEVTEC control system, which was engineered by SE Controls to meet the unique requirements of the project.

Designed by architects, Hawkins Brown, the 12,800m2 USB is the first structure to be completed on the 24 acre Newcastle Helix development and is home to the university’s world leading School of Computing, as well as providing extensive teaching and research facilities focused on digitally enabled urban sustainability.

The building incorporates a diverse range of innovative technologies, sustainable design features and fresh thinking, which includes a PV-T array, rainwater harvesting and a 560m2 wild flower green roof, as well as a bio-dome, which uses waste CO2 heat and water from the building to grow food for the university’s restaurant. Also, 4,000 digital sensors and embedded computing technology make it one of the UK’s most monitored high performance buildings.

As energy efficiency and sustainability are key aspects of the building design, these principles were also carried through to the glazed façades, curtain walling, environmental ventilation and smoke control systems.

Cladding and glazing systems specialist, Dane Architectural Systems, were involved from the early stages of the project and used Schueco FW 60 + SG, with AWS 114 ventilators including TipTronic concealed actuators.

To ensure they could meet the demanding design intent of the system, which required these vents to be linked to the BMS for managed day-to-day ventilation, Dane Architectural turned to SE Controls a specialist contractor capable of providing a fully compliant solution.

As the Automatic Opening Vents (AOV) have specific zone requirements and operate in banks of 3 for normal ventilation needs, SE Controls designed the operation of the smoke control system to maintain the functionality and flexibility of the TipTronic control, while integrating with the system and providing effective smoke ventilation to the building in the event of a fire.

To achieve this, SE Controls worked in close collaboration with Dane Architectural and developed the new OS2 TipTronic SHEVTEC Controller, which is dedicated to Shueco’s TipTronic actuator system, enabling it to provide effective smoke and heat exhaust ventilation (SHEV) to the building.

Following the production of a detailed design, which included integration matrices, schematic drawings, operational documentation and installation details, SE Controls installed more than 40 of the new OS2 TipTronic controllers at the USB.

Andrea Hayward, SE Controls Senior Key Account Manager on the project, explained:“ The Urban Sciences Building is a technological and sustainability ‘tour de force’ which reflects the advanced research activities undertaken at the university and we are delighted to have our own innovative technology incorporated within its design.”

Further information on SE Controls products, solutions and projects can be obtained by visiting, emailing or calling +44 (0) 1543 443060.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We always strive for innovation and excellence, coupled with a customer-focussed service ethos, and are proud and excited to have been shortlisted for an Offsite Award on another recently completed project. These awards are confirmation for ourselves that we continue to be forward thinking and creative.

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

For more information please visit

It was after the Second World War the UK saw a rapid demand for house building and solutions needed to be provided quickly and efficiently. It was during this time that new techniques and products were introduced to the building industry to meet these demands, but unfortunately there was an oversight in quality due to the extreme quantity that was being produced leading to many publicised failures.

Sixty years on and modern methods of construction (MMC) has seen a staggering evolution and investment. Legislations have forced a change in the way we build, based on climate change, performance based building standards and the code for sustainable homes. Much of what MMC promotes is efficiency, quality, environmental performance, sustainability and short time scales using better products and processes. The methods consist of offsite construction where parts are manufactured and assembled in a factory and brought to site already complete, or onsite construction which brings components and systems together onsite.

At Premier Guarantee we have a product and system approval process which has been developed to help manufacturers gain accreditation under our technical requirements. For developers and builders this is important as we want to make sure the MMC products and systems you use are approved by us and accepted by our warranty cover.

We are continuously working with manufacturers to expand our approved MMC products and systems. To see which ones have already been given the seal of approval, please see our product approval page.

For more information please visit

The term ‘Modern Methods of Construction’ (MMC) is often mentioned when discussions occur about the need to build more new homes. Richard Lankshear, Innovation Manager at NHBC, explains more about this approach…

At NHBC we have a specific way of assessing MMC Systems so we can understand the detail of the system and support our customers by carrying out a thorough review.

As such we identify MMC as offsite manufacture, innovative technologies and other non-conventional methods of construction that form the structure and envelope of the home. This includes sub-assemblies, volumetric and panelised systems manufactured off site as well as site-based MMC.

Not all offsite manufacture is necessarily a Modern Method of Construction as many conventional forms of construction are assembled offsite. We do not treat a system as MMC if the construction is described in the NHBC Standards and where the system components can be inspected on site.

We know that vast majority of homes are built with traditional cavity masonry – 74% in 2017 with 16% in timber frame and 1.5% in light steel frame with the balance in framed structures or unique systems.

However, what we are seeing is an overall much greater interest in MMC systems. In the past we received between four and eight innovative systems to review each year, but this changed dramatically from about 2015/16 with over 30 systems received in 2016. Last year saw a record 38 new systems submitted.

And this is also seen in the investment by house builders and housing associations in their own offsite production and the emergence of new, sizeable, manufacturers of MMC systems. The Government’s White Paper and the MHCLG report “Modernise or Die” set out the opportunities for greater use of MMC and industry is certainly responding.

The 2018 NHBC Foundation report “MMC: Who’s doing what”, identified “Quality” as the primary driver towards the use of MMC. This potential raising of standards is welcomed by NHBC, but it is not always achieved. What is clear from our review of multiple MMC systems is that quality is only achieved through investment – investment in design, in manufacturing procedures, in training and in construction.

For more information please visit

Cambium Gardens, located within walking distance of the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, is a new ‘urban village’ location surrounded by protected parkland. It offers 55 apartments and 55 houses in the leafy setting of Southfields, all carefully designed around a 200 year old oak tree, believed to have been planted by renowned landscape architect Capability Brown.

The project is designed to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, the development meets the Lifetime Homes standards with 10% wheelchair accessible and the Mayor’s London Housing Design Guide.

About the project

When McLaren Construction (one of the UK’s most successful privately owned businesses) involved Howarth Timber Engineered Solutions in this ambitious project, they shared with them a brief to construct very energy efficient buildings with large open rooms but keep the building mass to a minimum for their luxury development apartments and houses.

McLaren Construction teamed up with Howarth Timber Engineering Solutions, via the carpentry installers J A Stott, in order to use their expertise and the MiTek PAMIR software to meet the required specification.

Whilst working on the Cambium Gardens project, it was identified at an early stage that the pre-cast concrete slabs originally specified would not work and an alternative in the form of MiTek’s Posi-Joists was tabled. This lightweight solution allowed for the complex Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) ductwork & building services to be hidden within the floor joist zone, maximising the living space within the buildings.

Howarth Timber Engineered Solutions, using the latest EC5 compliant MiTek software PAMIR to design not only the Posi-Joist floor joists but also using the 3D capabilities of PAMIR, ensured that the MVHR ductwork was able to traverse the floors of the luxury apartments and houses. HTES worked directly as an integral part of the project design team producing interactive 3-D models and BIM compatible design solutions so that the entire design team could check and sign off the proposals before any work was carried out on site. The MiTek PAMIR software is able to produce not only .dwg drawings, but also .pdf files, CAD drawings as well as Industry Foundation Class (IFC) files – to be imported into Revit. This coordinated approach saved both time and money on the build for the Contractor, Architect, Engineers and M&E designers.

About MiTek

Based in Dudley in the West Midlands, MiTek specialise in the development of software solutions for structural timber engineering and the provision of steel connector products for floor and roofing systems.

From humble beginnings in the mid-1950’s, they have gone from strength to strength, growing both organically and through acquisition to become market leaders, operating worldwide by delivering leading software solutions that are second to none. Needless to say, this made them the preferred company of choice for McLaren in this project.


The modern roof designer needs to be able to design a roof very quickly. With several new enquiries arriving on their desk every day, they need software solutions that enable them to design and quote roofs in no time at all. This is one of the many reasons that it was used within the Cambium Gardens project.

Pamir’s speed of framing is undoubtedly amazing. In just four clicks of the mouse the user can input this sizeable building, fully framed and ready to price. With Pamir you can quickly edit the building dimensions and watch the roof dynamically re-frame. Whether you are moving walls, adding an attic room, changing the roof pitch, or mirroring roof features, Pamir’s powerful dynamic framing allows you to make the change in seconds.

PAMIR combines roof layout, truss engineering and high quality CAD output features, all into one integrated software platform. This means that roof designers have just one environment to learn and are more productive, faster.

Developed by MiTek’s large European team of software professionals, PAMIR has been enthusiastically welcomed by the industry and looks set to change roof and floor design as we know it.
In conclusion

Lend Lease, head of residential Richard Cook, said “Cambium will create a vibrant new community in the heart of Southfields and we are delighted to welcome councillor Cook and pupils from Our Lady Queen of Heaven today to mark this significant development milestone: the start of work on site.

”A highly sustainable scheme, Cambium delivers the best of contemporary and eco-friendly living for new and existing residents in the borough of Wandsworth.”

Lend Lease

McLaren Construction

McLaren Residential

Scott Brownrigg Associates

Structural & Civil Engineers:

Posi-Joists Supplier:
Howarth Timber Engineering Solutions

M&E Design & Install:

Posi-Joist Installer:
J A Stott Joinery

2018 felt like a breakthrough year for offsite construction, with developers across the country embracing modular methods and the government dedicating £420m to the development of new technologies. The building service sector has been amongst the most successful adopters of these approaches, achieving significant reductions in the scale and complexity of onsite work along, with greatly improved predictability.


As with other areas of the construction industry, the rising use of offsite approaches in the service sector is intimately linked to the adoption of Level 2 Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Building service engineers have traditionally been required to take a pragmatic approach to their work. Service specifications are often not finalised until projects are well progressed and practitioners typically must work around late changes in the design and layout of spaces when they arrive on site. In contrast, the collaborative approach of modelling, sharing and integration within Level 2 BIM, is now allowing service designs to be effectively ‘locked in’ before work even begins on site.

To give a sense of the scale of this change, the Building Engineering Services Association estimates that a typical BIM model may comprise just 70 standard drawing components for the main structure, compared with over 70,000 for mechanical and electrical services .

The ability of modelling software to automatically flag clashes has proven especially beneficial, allowing issues to be resolved at the design stage. The accuracy of these models is further aided by product-specific BIM objects, which are available from online libraries such as BIMstore. This certainty in design has been fundamental to the adoption of offsite approaches.


By moving fabrication of services to dedicated manufacturing facilities, chaotic building sites and occasional scheduling conflicts are replaced with a clear, controlled and safe process. Large modular service units can be fabricated in preassembled standard configurations to a reliable schedule. Fabricators are readily able to access all sides of the sections without restrictions, allowing focused quality control, particularly on large and complex service modules. Problems with availability of skilled labour can also be reduced as staff are able to operate from a single location.

Once completed, sections can be held in storage until the site is ready to receive them and larger modules can be lifted into place with heavy machinery, often eliminating the need for scaffolding. In addition, as large, complex sections can be installed in a single action, the time spent working on site is cut down and site waste is greatly reduced.

Several firms have already reported significant improvements in operating efficiency through the use of BIM Level 2 and modular construction. For example, NG Bailey has highlighted typical cost savings of up to 35% (including labour reduction costs of 40%) and overall programme time savings of 90% .

In Practice

One project to benefit from the use of offsite service approaches is Airedale International Air Conditioning’s Headquarters. Following a serious fire, the building needed to be quickly reconstructed. BAM Construction used BIM at the design stage, and made the decision to deliver the industrial development as a turnkey project to help save time and resources.

Nick Howdle, project manager from BAM Construction, discussed the project: “Using BIM has been an invaluable resource for ensuring that we could accurately estimate the costings and timings, including effectively overlapping M&E installations without incident. We would have struggled to achieve the programme without offsite methods. BIM helped with clash detection, and we had zero snags with the pipework. On a £1.3 million package that is highly unusual, if not unheard of.”

The use of BIM also helped the project team to identify solutions which could meet the demanding performance criteria. For example, all pipe insulation used on the project was required to have FM Approval, whilst the pipe insulation fitted within the research and development test chamber had to support an extreme temperature range of between -20 to +50 degrees Celsius. The product BIM object and accompanying literature for Kingspan Kooltherm Pipe Insulation showed it could meet these requirements with a slim insulation thickness.

Next steps

The rise of modern methods of construction is only set to continue this year, with five government departments now committed to making a ‘presumption in favour’ of offsite manufacture for suitable capital programmes. By utilising modular building services within this approach, project teams can help to achieve further savings in project timescales and costs.

For more information please visit

After a successful fully operational FAT at our factory in Barcelona with our client Box and Charnock, our pre-packaged Adisa boiler skid was precisely craned in to their Gresham Road project in Brixton, with only 15mm to spare. Gemtex provide off site fabricated plant room assemblies mounted on skid platforms. As well as all the benefits of offsite fabrication our boilers are ErP 2018 ready and meet the new class 6 NOx ratings.

Our skids and prefabricated solutions are manufactured in line with specific design requirements. Produced within the controlled environment of our factory in Barcelona, then delivered to site where they can be installed efficiently.

The Gemtex design team can assist you with the design phase at the start of your project so that your plant room is completely suited to the layout and requirements of the premises. We will also provide support for the commissioning and end user handover processes.

There are many benefits to purchasing plant room solutions in this way, including:

  • Assistance with the design phase
  • A fully customised layout to suit the constraints of your construction site
  • A plant room that is constructed in a clean environment that is free from dust and water, to ensure optimum performance
  • Significant labour savings, resulting in overall costs being reduced
  • All components are ordered through and delivered by one manufacturer
  • Delay-free construction, due to reduction in any potential onsite issues
  • Reduced health and safety risks, and less need for onsite hot work
  • A single delivery for all components, meaning a reduction in site traffic, congestion and therefore, carbon emissions
  • Skids will be witnessed tested in a fully operational condition on our factory test rig, and partially commissioned before delivery to save valuable time after installation
  • Various components are available to suit every design (filters, pumps, pressurisation units, tank alarms, etc.)

Efficient installation of your plant room

Gemtex will manage the construction of your skids and plant room solutions from start to finish. This will be carried out in line with our agreed schedule, which we will discuss with you before the project starts. By manufacturing the skids and other components, we make sure that your plant room is built to exact specifications. Once delivered to site it’s a simple case of connecting to the services for the buildings heating system.

For more information please email or visit

Spantherm is an innovative ground floor system from Creagh Concrete which is being adopted by a growing number of local house builders.

As housebuilders increasingly explore the opportunities for new ideas to reduce labour onsite and boost efficiency in the build it makes sense that they start with the ground floor. The initial appeal of Spantherm is clear, because a typical floor on a detached house or a pair of semis is fitted onsite in less than two hours.

Most builders opt for the work to be completed by Creagh’s expert fitting team, requiring no labour from the house builder; however the floor can also be ordered on a supply only basis for installation by the builder’s own team. Once in place and grouted, the floor achieves its full structural capability with 72 hours but building activity can commence on perimeter walls within 24 hours.


The speed of construction saves around a week off the total schedule when compared to the typical poured concrete floor alternative. A further advantage is that the factory made Spantherm floor come to site as single units combining the precast concrete and insulation material, so there is no requirement to stock or handle loose insulation. This feature also means that the installation of Spantherm is not weather dependant and creates zero waste onsite.

Each Spantherm floor is manufactured to the house plans provided, taking account of the required loadings and the positioning of services which penetrate the slab. Creagh’s technical team however, are on hand to measure the builder’s sub-floor works prior to manufacture, so any site issues are eliminated.

The Creagh flooring team work closely with each site manager to ensure the floors are available to call off when required and this level of cooperation greatly simplifies the process for the builder.


Everyone can understand the advantages of faster completion however Spantherm brings a second major benefit in the form of its excellent thermal
performance and the impact that brings within the most recent building regulations. Getting off to a good start with an energy efficient floor system is essential to a strong fabric first solution.

Designing and building energy efficient homes to meet current regulations can be a complex process but installing a high performance insulated ground floor is always a good start.

The regulations have been designed to make house builders consider more than just the physical performance of the structural envelope, they are now obliged to consider each individual component’s impact on the buildings overall energy efficiency and particularly the removal of thermal bridging.

All of these factors are combined within Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) calculations and this adds a further dimension for builders to consider as they seek the most cost effective specification for each house type.

Reducing Heat Loss

The design of Spantherm insulated concrete floor is optimised to provide the maximum practical insulating effect by combining high performance EPS and structural precast concrete in a single factory built unit. This provides a thermally efficient system which rates favourably against building regulation requirements and provides U values which are superior to that achieved by many alternative flooring products.

Combatting Thermal Bridging

Spantherm’s reinforced concrete structure has been designed in a way to minimise the thermal bridge at all the junctions between the wall and the floor units. It is this excellent thermal efficiency which gives the builder that good start to their total SAP calculation which can reduce the reliance on the use of expensive renewable technologies.

For more information please visit

Connex Offsite is a bathroom pod manufacturer based in a brand new factory in Newry, Northern Ireland and is part of a larger group of companies specialising in Construction, Engineering, Waste Management and Robotics.

Bathroom pods in recent years have revolutionised traditional construction methods and are now widely used in student accommodation, social housing, hotels and Residential apartments. By using offsite-manufactured products, contractors can benefit from a range of advantages including increased efficiencies, quality control, reduction in site management and time-saving.

Whilst the construction sector faces an anticipated 35% future growth, the training deficit in terms of skilled workers is currently running at a shortfall of 51%*. This lack of onsite skills, together with the issue of a transient workforce, which can only become more critical as Brexit progresses, has made Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) a priority for construction companies, enabling them to meet the sector demands of today and the future

Comparatively it takes six trades to supply traditional bathrooms on a large scale; using bathroom pods this reduces to one supplier. The pods consistent build quality gives the contractor the reassurance that they are supplying an unrivalled product that will meet the anticipated results for their clients.

In addition to the new 70,000 Sq ft factory, Connex Offsite has recently invested in a new Howick steel cold roll-forming machine. This has made steel framing possible, in favour of the more cumbersome and heavy welded box sections. The big advantage of this process is sizeable weight reduction and the ability to apply more flexibitily in design without any loss of structural integrity.

Main contractors who secure their orders before April 2019, regardless of the un-certainty that overshadows Brexit, can secure their cost and programme for the length of the scheme.
Bathroom pods are completely bespoke in design and specification to each project. Connex offer the service of producing Prototypes for the approval of the client before entering into mass manufacturing.

Our highly skilled team come together to offer a vast array of experience in construction, project management, design and delivery. Whatever the scheme, large or small, all projects are handled personally with the same team from start to finish.

For further information, please contact us on 02830 800088 or email

*All facts and figures from RCIS website