With the well documented housing shortage said to be a ticking time-bomb and the government’s ambitious undertaking to build 200,000 homes by 2020 to address the shortfall, it’s clear that the traditional construction sector, in its current state, is unlikely to be able to meet the demand for new housing on its own.

The advance of off-site construction technologies in recent times would suggest that off-site manufacturing has the potential to play a major role in resolving this issue and increasing house construction capacity enough to meet demand.

Off-site construction aims to replicate the controlled environment that would usually be associated with manufacturing and apply it to the construction process by moving construction into a factory environment.

Constructing buildings in a controlled factory environment has shown numerous benefits:

  • Studies have shown that less labour is required for off-site construction and the assembly processes involved means workers require less training
  • Improved planning and standardisation can significantly reduce waste while improving the standard of workmanship. The increased predictability in the process also increases safety
  • The increased standardisation reduces construction time and protection from poor weather conditions also reduces delays

Freefoam Building Products manufacture pvc product ranges that are the perfect fit for off-site construction, whether fitted in the factory or prepared for final fitting later.

The External wall and roof are the two main elements of a buildings superstructure and the junction is critical for the long-term function of the building fabric. Freefoam roof trim system makes protecting the junction and the roof structure easy.

Freefoam roofline product range is lightweight and easy to handle as well as having the required durability, both for transportation and when fitted, which is why Freefoam can confidently offer market leading guarantees of up to 50 years on roofline products.

The Freefoam roofline system is designed to slot together with ease and includes a range of matching finishing trims for virtually any design scenario. This systemised nature means they can be fitted by a relatively low skilled workforce with minimal tooling and minimal waste, which aligns them perfectly with the benefits of off-site manufacturing.

Freefoam’s Fortex and X-Wood cladding ranges are specially designed for rainscreen systems, which are a modern approach to external wall construction, perfect for achieving the breathability and high insulation levels required in modern, sustainable timber wall constructions. When fitted with insulation materials the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Green Guide to Specification has given PVC cladding an A+ rating.

When fitted correctly, Freefoam cladding systems can be expected to protect the external fabric of the building for at least 20 years.

The cladding systems are extremely lightweight compared to similar alternatives which makes them ideal for transportation and, like the roof trim systems, are designed to be installed quickly, by general tradespeople.

Colin St John, Commercial Director explained “The controlled environment of off-site construction successfully replicates the benefits that we as construction product manufacturers have been accustomed to in our own factories for decades. High tolerance standards, product consistency, low waste and ease of assembly are already a minimum standard for all Freefoam products.

The evolution of construction into a manufacturing process dovetails perfectly with the systemised roofline, rainwater and cladding systems that we produce.

All Freefoam products are manufactured in a controlled manufacturing environment and have been designed to provide the precise standard of finish that is required in an off-site construction environment.”

Freefoam, a leading manufacturer of a wide range of innovative products for the building industry in Ireland, the UK and Mainland Europe, has made a valuable addition to its popular cladding range and launched Fortex Pro, a new style double shiplap board.

The new product features an increased width of 333mm and thickness of 9mm creating a stronger board through improved profile design and offers greater coverage at 1.665sqmt per board with a quick and easy calculation for specification purposes. Colour choice is important for any exterior building product and as colour specialists Freefoam have now added four new colours to this product range, Misty Grey, Cement Grey, Slate Grey and Cappuccino, making a total of ten. The combination of all these new features and the addition of superior colourfastness and weatherability properties using advanced skin technology makes Fortex Pro the perfect choice for all building professionals.
The Fortex® cladding range includes a double shiplap plank format 300mm wide, a weatherboard style at 170mm wide both with an attractive embossed textured wood effect finish and a 250mm wide board with an authentic render finish.

PVC-U cladding requires minimal maintenance once installed, a major benefit for property owners and a compelling feature for any property developer or public sector housing provider. With significant environmental credentials, being awarded an A+ rating from the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) ‘Green Guide To Specification’ when installed with standard components, the range makes a real alternative to timber and fibre cement products.

Aidan Harte, Managing Director, Freefoam, comments: “We’ve seen a surge in our Fortex cladding with sales doubling last year. Now is the right time to augment our existing range with a product specifically manufactured for the professional trade market. A robust board with an attractive finish and impressive range of colours will give our customers a valuable addition to their portfolio of products and a real opportunity to develop new business streams”