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

A variety of wall construction membranes, roofing underlays and accessories from Protect has been installed into an innovative new modular concept manufactured by Tingdene Homes, holiday and park home specialists.

Offered under the THL Modular branding, The Loft is a contemporary two-storey holiday home designed and manufactured completely offsite in Tingdene Homes’ factory, using cutting edge design and high end specification to meet the needs of the growing “staycation” market. Fully LABC product approved and constructed to UK Building Regulations, The Loft can be built to suit varied client needs ranging from a two or three bedroom luxury lodge to a two or four room hotel pod, club house or café. A number of Protect products were supplied and installed on THL Modular’s first show home, including Protect BarriAir, an internal airtightness membrane, Protect VC Foil Ultra used as the insulating low emissivity vapour control layer, Protect TF200 Thermo insulating low emissivity breather membrane for external walls and Protect VP400 Plus LR, a roofing underlay offering unrestricted wind uplift resistance, and exceptional vapour permeability.

Phil Harold, Quality Assurance Manager at Tingdene Homes commented, “The use of numerous Protect products for this development helped us meet specification and achieve our target U-values of 0.18 W/m2K for external walls and 0.14W.m2K for the roof element. With the numerous benefits of offsite manufacture over traditional construction including build speed, quality precision and reliability, we wanted a supplier who understood these principles to ensure our delivery demands were met. Protect supplied products quickly which enabled our process to run without interruption and facilitated swift turnaround at the factory.”

Protect’s range of wall, ceiling and floor construction membranes together with its roofing underlays and accessories provides a comprehensive solution to the modular build sector. In particular, Protect construction membrane products with reflective technology help deliver thermal efficiency benefits to meet low target U-values and ensure compliance with relevant Building Regulations.

For details of how Protect products can be incorporated into residential and commercial builds, please visit www.protectmembranes.com, email info@protectmembranes.com or call 0161 905 5700, quoting ‘The Loft.’

As one of the largest specialist off-site manufacturing businesses in the UK, Caledonian Modular offers much more than your everyday construction company. Founded over 50 years ago, they supply around the UK from a 40-acre advanced manufacturing site in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

Over the last few years’ Caledonian has achieved significant growth and now has a turnover of over £50m. A series of new contract wins look set to continue this success with a target of nearly doubling turnover by 2019, an objective they are will on the way to achieving.

Mind you, this kind of performance hasn’t come about on its own, but from a clear vision for the company, backed by a strong management team, and a focus on projects that are aligned with its key strengths and sectors that it understands; education, housing and healthcare. These include an ability to achieve up to 94 per cent completion of building modules off-site, meaning buildings can be handed over in up to half the time it takes for a traditional build, and with less disruption to roads and nearby buildings. Underlying this ability to consistently deliver projects on time and within budget is a commitment to excellence through the use of BIM, design for manufacture and assembly (DMFA) and lean manufacturing techniques.

A case in point is the £55m contract awarded to Caledonian by Laing O’Rourke to build the accommodation modules for Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station in Somerset. The contract comprises 1,496 en-suite bedrooms across 44 individual buildings at two locations. The first accommodation units rolled off the factory production line in March last year and were delivered 96% finished, ready for rapid completion. Each 34 bedroom block will be completed on site within just eight weeks from delivery. The entire HPC project is worth £18 billion across the board for the Nuclear Build programme, the largest modular government project across the entire country.

Another recent success, in partnership with their partner architects HLM, involved securing first place on the modular framework to provide permanent, component-based buildings and facilities for the ESFA’s new secondary schools block replacement programme. They won this procurement competition with others from the off-site construction sector, securing top spot against 64 other bidders. Being awarded first place immediately secured two projects with a combined value of £12 million, with the potential to realise further schemes within the £250 million funding allocated to the lot.

A track record of delivering these projects on time and within budgets means the management team can replicate their approach on each successive new contract – a great confidence builder with clients and main contractors. A case in point is the £25m contract awarded to Caledonian by Bowmer & Kirkland, announced in the last few weeks, for the 680 bedroom First Way Campus student development in Wembley.

The ability of Caledonian’s modular building system to help meet the strict deadline dates on this project, which required handover in time for Euro 2020, helped secure this contract. As did their pre-engineered fire compliant modular solution suitable for a high rise development, which rises from 7 to 11 floors.

Other recent contracts wins include the MOD Single Living Accommodation (SLA) for MoD Lyneham in Wiltshire as part of a £35m Kier development. Part of the Army Basing Programme, the project will create 296 rooms over 5 blocks, providing accommodation for troops returning from overseas and relocating within the UK. The latest contract continues a long partnership with the MOD, with the team successfully completing 1,145 rooms over 12 blocks on the same base for Kier in 2012/13.

Caledonian Modular prides themselves on the fact that their projects look as authentic as a traditional-build, indeed they are indistinguishable, while remaining as efficient and cost-effective as they do. By sticking to what they know – modular and off-site construction systems – underpinned by BIM, DFMA and lean manufacturing, this Nottingham based company is raising industry standards and demonstrating how modular buildings have the ability to resolve the UK’s building shortages quickly and efficiently.

To find out more about Caledonian’s modular building system, visit www.caledonianmodular.com. Alternatively, call 01636 821645.

A two-block 22 storey residential building topped out last month on the site of an old subterranean car park in Birmingham. Joe Bradbury was in attendance at the event, which proved to be a milestone for Creagh Concrete and a testament to the true power of offsite manufacture.

Standing on top of a 22 storey building in the middle of a city I hold dear was something I am unlikely to forget. As Editor of Building Specifier and regular contributor to trade publications within the construction industry, offsite construction is something I get to write about on a regular basis. But to actually stand on top of a tower block that was built using such practices brought with it a profound sense of what we are capable of as an industry when we set ourselves ambitious targets and knuckle down to achieve them.

Project overview

The two blocks house 323 apartments and have been built in a major contract by housing giant Galliford Try. The £40m project is part of a build-to-rent scheme for client Dandara Living, one that is expected to significantly boost the number of homes available in close proximity to Birmingham’s city centre once completed. Comprising two blocks of 17 and 22 storeys linked by bridges at each level, the development will feature studio, one-bed and two-bed apartments with balconies across all elevations.

The towers are the tallest structure completed by Creagh across their entire 43-year history; and as a proud Midlander and lover of Brum, I would pose the question: where better for such a feat to proudly stand than beside the existing Alpha Tower, a Grade II-listed office built in the 1970s, considered one of Birmingham’s most well-known architectural landmarks?

Offsite manufacture

The decision to use precast concrete systems for the bulk of the building’s structural frame, cladding and balcony units was taken at an early stage on the project. The brief demanded a robust finish on the building, which would limit the amount of ongoing maintenance required.

Precast concrete is the ideal material of choice for frame construction and cladding. With this in mind, the project team looked at various different options for the structure and its subcontractors, before settling on the team at Creagh Concrete to deliver and install the frame panels, cladding sections, balconies and floor slab.

Galliford Try Project Director Aidan Smith said “We knew we wanted the robustness that precast concrete offers and spent a lot of time researching our subcontractors. Creagh has the capability and experience to deliver both the hollowcore floor slab and the architectural precast concrete that we wanted. The screed that we place on top of the floor slab is there just to iron out any changes in level. It gives us a little wriggle room.”

The placing of each level is based on a turnaround time of just 10 days. Prefabricated bathroom pods, manufactured in Hull, are lifted directly into position at each level as part of the cycle time therefore it was important that these were delivered between days five to seven – any later runs the risk of disrupting the project programme.

With a turnaround time of just 10 days to place each level, the Galliford Try team is running the internal following trades just three floors behind.

In conclusion

The speed and efficiency of construction displayed with this project creates a real sense of momentum that I personally could feel when walking up the tower and standing on the top. Things are getting done fast and they’re getting done right. If works continue at such rapid pace, it would come as no surprise if the team hit their handover date of May 2019 with room to spare. (Remove)

Creagh Director and Co-Founder Seamus McKeague concluded “We are seeing strong interest in our rapid build concrete systems because developers now understand the true value of slashing programme times.

“Investors not only benefit from revenue gained by the early occupation of units but, also, from the mobility of their capital resource. Quite simply, shorter build times mean developers can complete more projects with the same pot of finance.”

City Mill Lock Island – a small man-made structure housing a working lock on the Bow Back Waters at Stratford, has been transformed by a new residential development designed and delivered by Architect and Developer Roberts & Treguer. Known as Blaker Island, the development is formed of two new Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) buildings built either side of a Listed and refurbished 1930’s lock keepers house. The two new buildings, Howards House and The Warehouse – a five storey apartment block, have been designed to passivhaus standard and provide seven spacious, modern homes with views over the Olympic Park and surrounding waterways.

The new buildings are built from Stora Enso PEFC certified Cross Laminated Timber which has helped to meet the high level of airtightness required for Passivhaus. Other key considerations for the specification of CLT include its ability to resolve limitations presented by the island site in terms of weight and access, possible only via a small foot bridge. Specialist hybrid construction firm, G-frame Structures, who supplied and installed the CLT, devised an innovative installation strategy to overcome the complex site logistics which enabled them to safely and efficiently deliver both superstructures in just six weeks.

Roberts and Treguer’s design concept for the development was driven by a desire to provide high quality, low energy homes that would be completely different to anything else available in the area. “From the outset a key part of our design intent was to build highly sustainable and energy efficient homes that would meet passivhaus standards and CLT has helped us to achieve this due to its high airtightness qualities.” Explains Bachir Nebia, Contracts Manager at Roberts & Treguer.

Airtightness details for Howard’s House and the Warehouse are designed to 0.6 ACH (air change) which is the maximum allowed for achieving Passivhaus standard. Windows are triple glazed and junction detailing between window and CLT wall panels has been carefully considered. Energy efficiency is further improved by a compact unit in each dwelling which combines MVHR with an air source heat pump to provide ventilation, heating and hot water. It is estimated that over a 60 year period a typical dwelling will save 192 tonnes of CO2 compared with a typical UK home.

Weight was also a key consideration in the specification of CLT: “We were going to be adding a lot of weight to an existing structure and this was a key factor in the material specification. The island has river walls all around it which are owned by the Canal Trust and we carefully considered the potential impact on them of increased weight.” Says Bachir.

“CLT is a more lightweight structural material than traditional construction materials and this enabled the project team to reduce the weight of the superstructure while still creating spacious, sustainable and energy efficient homes. We worked closely with G-frame Structures and timber engineer Furness Partnership on the detail design and the G-frame team developed quick and efficient solutions for the crane and installation strategy.” He continues.

Lee Murphy, Managing Director of G-frame Structures expands on this: “The site is a man-made island surrounded by water on all sides and this made other, more traditional methods of construction less feasible. In terms of overcoming such complex site constraints, CLT provided the perfect solution because it is lightweight, fast and efficient. The installation strategy we developed involved the erection of a 100 tonne mobile crane adjacent to the site which we used to lift in a self-erecting IGO50 mini tower crane to the island. This enabled the G-frame team to safely, quickly and efficiently install Howard House and the Warehouse apartments in a very short timeframe.”

These factors were key considerations for the structural design and CLT panels were specified to be liftable by the IG050 mini crane. Brick slip cladding further contributed to achieving a lighter overall weight for the buildings as well as allowing for walls to be formed from the CLT wall panel, insulation and cladding without dramatically increasing thickness.

The site layout also required the development of a cantilevered section at the corner of the Warehouse building to avoid the foundations of the foot bridge which are located close by. This was resolved by the introduction of Glulam beams integrated to the open façade and incorporating step-in level access to the bridge for servicing the building.

Sound separation at the Warehouse was achieved by the use of double-layer CLT walls around the full height central core which houses the lift shaft and staircase. The two walls are separated by only a 90 mm space and to overcome the inaccessible nature of this element of construction, G-frame Structures used discreet connections which also contributed to the overall aesthetic of the building.

Externally the development presents a varied streetscape and Roberts & Treguer have taken care to reflect the history of the Island and surrounding waterways. Though having the external appearance of one single house, Howard’s House is comprised of two spacious three bedroom homes. The design is based on the original home of the 19th Century chemist and amateur meteorologist Luke Howard which was originally situated on the island but demolished in 1934. Howard is known as the ‘Namer of Clouds’ for having developed the nomenclature system for cloud classification which is still used today.

Inspiration for the adjacent five storey block of flats, known as The Warehouse, is taken from the local vernacular of traditional warehouses to be found on the rivers and canals of Stratford.

The Warehouse is very generously proportioned with just one three bedroom apartment on each of the ground, first and second floors and a two bedroom penthouse on the third and fourth floors.

Bedrooms and large open plan kitchen/living spaces lead from a central hallway where the MVHR unit is located so that humid air can be extracted from the kitchen and bathroom and fresh air supplied to the bedrooms. The building features a recessed roof garden which has been achieved by an innovative solution developed by G-frame Structures and Furness Partnership whereby the beams effectively act as a cradle for the floor which hangs beneath.

Internally, all the new homes feature exposed CLT throughout with accent provided by a simple monochrome palette which contrasts well with the texture and colour of the wood. All homes on Blaker Island were sold on first viewing.

Recent press coverage has focused heavily on Offsite Construction providing the answer in a number of key sectors, due to the speed and efficiency of modular construction.

Premier Modular has been delivering award winning offsite and volumetric solutions for more than 60 years and prides itself on its ability to provide the highest quality buildings, offering a skilled and knowledgeable design and build service. Part of a large multi-national industrial group, Waco International, Premier has the strong financial backing provided by the Group, which has enabled it to build a substantial modular hire fleet. This coupled with the manufacturing capacity offered by a 22 acre site means that Premier is ideally suited to deliver quality buildings for both hire and sale throughout the UK, no matter how large or small.

Premier’s ability to deliver a modular solution on a massive scale is evidenced by the series of modular complexes they have provided at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. The buildings deliver 38,000 sqm of offices and welfare facilities to house all the management and technical personnel required for the construction phase of the new nuclear power station. The HPC requirement for the best temporary welfare and office facilities in the UK, delivered within a strict timescale, was a challenge Premier met and achieved and resulted in their being appointed to deliver an additional modular complex for the critically important infrastructure project.

Developing such strong client relationships is at the core of Premier’s approach and their recent partnership with ISG Construction has delivered 8 school facilities in 12 months as part of Manchester City Council’s Education Basic Needs framework. The first school, St Margaret’s CofE Primary School, was chosen by Manchester City Council to be their first pilot for delivering a project to BIM Level 2, including their first Asset Information Model. The 775m2 2-storey building provided new nursery facilities and 3 reception classrooms, enabling the school to expand and accommodate an additional form of entry. This scheme was named as the winner of the Digital Construction category in the North West Regional Construction Awards for 2018, as well as receiving Highly Commended in the Integration and Collaborative Working category.

Standardisation in construction delivery produces better end product quality, reduction in manufacturing costs, reduced design costs with less waste and can be achieved through the use of standardised components, prefabricated panels and modular construction.

This volumetric approach to construction was used in the award winning construction of a 5 storey student accommodation block, The Foundry, in Newcastle City Centre, delivered in partnership with Sir Robert McAlpine. This block consisted of a mixture of 54 studio flats, 105 ensuite bedrooms and 2 accessible rooms, associated living spaces, kitchens and study areas.

The speed of delivery for this project gave the investors a whole year of additional return and was a deciding factor in the project being named as the Project of the Year (up to £10m) at the Construction News Awards.

This approach has also been used to great effect in other residential projects and following their appointment to the CHIC BuildSmart framework, Premier have worked closely with their framework partners to develop standardised housing products, delivered within an EU-compliant framework – the perfect solution to the critically important delivery of housing stock highlighted frequently in the news.
The standard designs, coupled with CHIC’s existing proven materials supply chain, has resulted in a more cost efficient, quality product, with speed of delivery. Whilst the cost benefits of this scheme have been delivered by the development of a standardised product, flexibility is still available to procure bespoke designs and solutions where required.

Premier’s forward thinking attitude means that they are always looking for product improvements and innovation; Premier believes that the fire resistance of buildings is very important, whether for a temporary or permanent building. At Premier we feel it is not good enough to provide our clients with an assumption that our buildings are ‘fire proof’ based on various codes and data sheets. When developing our latest product, as part of our quality control during development, we ensured the product went through real life fire tests and received certification for this.

In a market where shortages exist, building standards are extremely high and sustainability is of growing importance, standardisation and offsite construction as delivered by Premier has to be a big part of the solution.

Timber frame and SIPs panel manufacturers can speed up the installation of windows and doors by using the Sidey Kitfix system. Pressure is on for builders and developers to get on and off-site faster. This means looking at ways to reduce the time spent installing windows and doors.

“With the Sidey Kitfix System, windows and doors can be accurately fitted at the factory stage,” says Steve Hardy, Managing Director of fenestration and offsite construction specialists Sidey Solutions. “It’s quick too – 11 windows can be first fixed in 23 minutes. They are installed when the walls are horizontal in the factory and the innovative Kitfix brackets are twist fitted to the window or door frame. Air tightness, thermal and acoustic seals can also be included at this stage.

“This system makes transportation simple and once on site, the panels are erected as normal. This means homes are wind, watertight and secure much sooner, and makes the build much faster. It also eliminates the need for separate deliveries of windows and doors, with no site storage required either.

“The latest changes to planning laws announced on 5 March mean there is even more pressure to get the job done quicker,” adds Steve. “Choosing Kitfix to install windows and doors will help builders and developers build fast.”

For more information go to www.sidey.co.uk.

Advances in construction techniques over the past decade have given rise to some genuine commercial, sustainable and health and safety benefits – all while improving efficiency and performance. However, as building regulations are updated over time and standards become increasingly stringent, these modern methods of construction risk failing to keep pace, particularly where thermal insulation is concerned. Chris Lea, Technical Sales Manager, SIG Performance Technology, explores why the construction sector needs to rethink its approach to reducing heat loss in a building and why the aerospace industry appears to hold the answer. 

Some of the major specification drivers for building design in modern times are the need to keep building footprint to a minimum, maximise internal rentable space and achieve the highest energy efficiency performance possible. Working within the confines of these design objectives, developers must also achieve accelerated build programmes in a bid to complete within budget and realise the return on investment as promptly as possible.

Fast track construction which uses steel or timber frame has become a tried and tested build method in the UK, particularly in high rise developments. As the exterior of these buildings is commonly a cladding finish, the challenge of reducing heat loss while maximising internal floor space and minimising building footprint comes to the fore. Crucially, the insulation has to be installed within the through-wall build up, but this construction suffers from cold bridging as soon as the rainscreen carrier system is installed. This is where innovative new insulation techniques are helping modern construction techniques to stay at the forefront.

Helping hands

The availability of 3D thermal modelling has proven a valuable technology in assisting the development of new solutions which address current construction challenges. After reviewing thermal models of buildings using rainscreen systems, the innovation team at SIG Performance Technology identified high levels of heat loss being caused by the helping hand bracketry in the support systems. Realising that a reduction in the cold bridging through the bracketry would significantly improve the overall performance of the building envelope, research began into developing an insulated clip-on solution.

After a programme of development, aerogel – most commonly used in aerospace and industrial applications – emerged as the most suitable insulant owing to its exceptional thermal performance and proven flexible properties. This led to the launch of CHI-GASKET, a patented insulated component which is simply clipped on to standard helping hand bracketry on-site. In doing so, the cold bridging is significantly reduced and means the insulation within the through-wall build-up does not have to compensate for this and consequently does not have to achieve such low U-Values. It is because of this that the CHI-GASKET is now considered from initial design stage.

Aerogel in action

The use of Aerogel as an insulant in helping hand bracketry is a unique application but one where a change in design process has enabled major developments to achieve core design objectives. This principle is also now being applied in modular buildings and offsite construction, where linear areas of heat loss at construction junctions prove a common challenge.

As the modular buildings typically have much tighter junctions than those constructed on-site, these developments present several challenges. Firstly, lower density insulation is more flexible and easier to install into tight frames, but these materials are generally lower performing from a thermal perspective. Secondly, rigid materials offer good thermal insulation, but require cutting to size, either on or off-site, which adds a layer of complexity to the construction process. Finally, both of these methods leave room for installation error, as the materials are being cut to size or pushed into place manually.

Offering a solution to this challenge is Aerogel. The material can be precision cut to size and fabricated to any bespoke shape to meet the exact needs of modular building specifications. Thermally excellent yet flexible, precision manufactured aerogel linings would deliver a much greater level of quality control and reduce labour time in construction – all of which align with modern methods of construction.

While the name Aerogel is probably more synonymous with NASA than with MMC, as the construction market continues to innovate with insulation, this could be set to change in the not so distant future.

Architecturally designed and built completely to spec, the new three-storey building on the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston Campus is full of unique features.

New office space was required to accommodate University academics: overall growth and construction work elsewhere on campus meant that staff were temporarily displaced. Planning permission was granted for a new office block, but only for 3 and a half years.

Not Just a Temporary Solution

The brief: the building needed to be temporary but not feel temporary, and it needed to be spacious, contemporary and light. Time was of the essence, but without compromise on finish.
Of the three companies asked to tender by the University, Wernick Buildings were selecting as the preferred tenderer based on a combination of cost, quality and programme A Wernick Buildings’ modular system allowed the architects to customise the internal and external finishes while maintaining the budget and schedule.

A wide range of features were specified from the outset: from architectural features such as the large sections of glazing, feature banding and projecting window surrounds, down to the finishing touches of skirtings, window frames and doors. The resulting space is befitting to its prestigious surroundings and listed neighbouring buildings.

Modular Installation and Feedback

After just six weeks in the factory, the 36 modules were loaded and ready for the trip from South Wales to Birmingham. The February installation was on schedule: even after allowing for some of the worst snow this country has seen for some time! Crane trucks manoeuvred the modules through mature trees on the site – giving the final impression that the building had always been there.

Kevin O’Flaherty, Senior Project Manager at University of Birmingham is responsible for a portion of the University’s ambitious capital programme, from the inception to getting the keys. Kevin, alongside the architects, worked very closely with the team at Wernick Buildings saying that he was in touch almost every day as decisions had to be made so quickly. Kevin found the Wernick team to be “highly professional and always wanting to do the best job”.

Kevin remarked: “I often hear “it doesn’t feel like a modular building” – the extra touches have really made the space and feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive from both staff and planning.”

Due to the nature of the modular system used, the University can choose to move the building: either keeping the current configuration or changing it completely. The modules are built to be stacked up to four-storeys high or reduced down to one-storey. Kevin, however, feels the building sits very comfortably in its existing setting.

Architectural Touches

Glancy Nicholls Architects Ltd, based in Birmingham and London, is a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Chartered Practice and was started in 2004. Wernick worked with the firm previously, also at the University of Birmingham. Wernick helped GNA to deliver a low impact building for researchers studying the surrounding woodlands. Read more about the BIFoR scheme here.

GNA architectural assistant Aiden Astle, who worked on the new office building, is excited about both projects’ potential to “challenge the misconception of modular buildings”. The office building, he added, is further proof of modular’s capabilities: “This project demonstrates that a limited time-frame doesn’t need to infringe on quality. This project has proven the flexibility of this method of construction and the results speak for themselves.”

For more information on modular buildings, click here, call 0800 112 4640 or email us here.

Studies show that people perform their work far more productively when employed in comfortable working environments. The team within Premier Modular have continually focussed on this during their product development phases and in their provision of temporary accommodation to support the UK’s construction teams. Premier’s buildings and services are supporting a large number of clients on a variety of significant infrastructure projects. A contribution to Premier’s success is a recognition of this productivity fact by many clients looking to maximise the performance of their staff and contractors throughout the life of their construction projects.

Premier have supplied around 40,000m2 of facilities in the last year that are currently supporting the construction of three significant UK infrastructure projects at Hinkley Point C, Sirius Minerals and HS2. On analysis there was a thread of common themes from these clients in their selection of office and welfare facility supplier. Firstly a business who had the capability and track record of construction of high quality and comfortable working environments. Secondly an innovative business with a can do attitude in terms of flexibility in product layouts and finishes. Finally and critically a company with a long history and proven track record of safe, reliable and focussed delivery in complex, difficult working environments.

All of Premier’s temporary accommodation is designed to be flexible in layout, combined with a minimum 2.7m ceiling height, 12m clear span and fully interchangeable configurations up to 5 storey height. These basic elements serve to create the basis of a great working environment, allowing for well ventilated and more comfortable office areas not hindered by structural columns.

Manufacturing through lean flow lines in Premier’s 5 factories in East Yorkshire, build quality levels are extremely high in this controlled environment and waste is dramatically reduced through smart design detailing, reuse and recycling.

Sirius Minerals’ project involves the construction of two deep mineshafts to access a polyhalite mineral deposit, connected to a 23 mile tunnel to transport the mineral via conveyor belt to Teesside, where it will be processed and shipped around the world to be used as fertilizer. Construction of the mine, one of the biggest construction projects in the North of England, began last year and is due to enter production in late 2021 creating up to 2500 jobs and £2.5bn of exports. Premier have supplied three office and welfare facilities for the mining staff and teams ensuring they work in an optimum environment. Premier’s client stated that “High safety standards and low environmental impact are the two major criteria that we have to fulfil for all our on-site construction, and Premier’s building design has allowed us to achieve that.”

Premier also achieved the aspirations of EDF energy for their temporary facilities; constructing 30,000 m2 of office, welfare and catering accommodation at Hinkley Point C to house over 5,000 construction workers, supporting the 10 year Nuclear power station construction build. Due to the complexity of the site restrictions, maintaining a motivated workforce is critical to the construction plan. The aspiration set was to have the best site office, welfare and catering facilities in Europe; something Premier is proud to have achieved as commented on by the site union representatives.

In an increasingly time pressured market, expectations of build quality and innovative design, need not be diminished. Creating the best working environment in your office and welfare accommodation for your employees and teams should not be underestimated. Partnering the correct accommodation supplier with the right product, attitude and demonstrable capability will pay dividends during any infrastructure project construction.

We caught up with Product Manager, John Mellor at Protect Membranes to find out about the company’s latest product development that offers a new solution for timber construction projects

Who is Protect Membranes?

We’re a UK producer of construction membranes for walls and floors as well as roofing underlays and accessories. Alongside our sister company Glidevale and its range of ventilation and building products, Protect has established a leading presence in the housebuilding sector, for both offsite and traditional construction. Our membranes are independently BM TRADA certified, meeting the required Building Regulations and NHBC guidance to prevent interstitial condensation and can deliver on technical performance attributes such as airtightness, vapour permeability and thermal resistance.

As members of the Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA) and the Structural Timber Association (STA), our products are STA Assure Gold Accredited. They are finely tuned for offsite installation and can be integrated easily within the relevant construction method, such as timber frame, CLT and SIP. With factories based near Nottingham and in Merthyr Tydfil in the UK, we are well placed to service customer requirements in offsite manufacture. We understand the importance of delivering the right product at the right time to meet stringent factory lead times.

What makes Protect Membranes different?

We are well known in the industry for pioneering innovation. A good illustration is our latest product – Protect TF InterFoil. This wall construction membrane is a first for the timber frame industry, utilising low emissivity membrane technology with airspaces to achieve cost savings on the build-up whilst maintaining a low U-value that does not impact on the wall’s footprint.

Can you tell us more about Protect TF InterFoil?

It’s is a highly reflective insulation breather membrane, UV and heat stabilised for long term durability. It is designed for use internally within a timber frame wall panel to enhance thermal performance when used facing two still airspace cavities either side of the insulation. When used as part of the membrane system with Protect TF200 Thermo, our reflective, vapour permeable breather membrane fitted on the outer face of the sheathing board on the cold side of the construction, and Protect VC Foil Ultra, a reflective air and vapour control layer (AVCL) on the warm side, a 0.18W/m2K U-value and lower can be achieved, meeting the Notional Dwelling Specifications set down in Building Regulations Part L1A. Combining these Protect membranes ensures that the still airspace cavities offer low emissivity and significantly reduce heat loss, thanks to the high purity, solid aluminium foil used on the membrane surface. The correct use of internal and external reflective membranes will form a radiant barrier and effectively block infra-red radiation to increase the thermal performance of the airspace.

So what benefits can Protect TF InterFoil deliver within a timber frame panel?

As well as the enhancing the thermal performance of the wall, the use of Protect TF InterFoil as described above can provide cost savings based on a typical 140mm deep timber stud. The system can reduce the thickness of rigid, high density PIR insulation boards required or facilitate a switch to a reduced thickness of fibrous (0.032/0.035 λ) or EPS insulation (0.03/0.032 λ), without impacting on the wall’s footprint. This can help maximise land space and overall affordability by not increasing the overall wall depth.

This new innovation of designing a timber frame wall panel with membranes and unventilated airspaces enables developers and manufacturers to meet stringent targets without impacting on the timber frame construction process or significantly increasing the cost of production.

How can you help?

At Protect Membranes we have an experienced Technical team who can advise on the use of our membranes to meet target U-values. If the proposed build-up details are provided, we can demonstrate whether Protect TF InterFoil can be used within the structure to achieve low U-values and generate cost savings. We also offer a free U-value calculation and condensation risk analysis service using membranes as part of the build-up to help specifiers and offsite manufacturers deliver added value within their overall design.

For more information please visit www.protectmembranes.com or email johnm@protectmembranes.com.