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.”

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Technical Editor Bruce Meechan looks at the range of very low carbon solutions available from a major timber frame manufacturer based on the Shropshire – Mid Wales border.

As an offsite manufacturer working across a variety of sectors including commercial, residential and education, Lowfield Timber Frame is well used to being presented with different technical challenges; and to meeting them through the use of different solutions that reflect the versatility of what is arguably nature’s most versatile material.

In essence, Lowfield has in recent years, responded to the demands of both clients and architects for PassivHaus and Near-to-Zero carbon buildings employing twin-wall timber frame, structural insulated panels (SIPs) and now a closed panel system based on timber I-joists.

Darren Jarman, Managing Director for Lowfield Timber Frame, told MMC Magazine: “We have an extensive product range that enables us to respond to clients targeting PassivHaus standard or other very low energy solutions; and we will work with their architects and assessors or other specialist consultants in order to ensure all the details – such as the floor wall junction or foundation connection, achieve the required levels of insulation.

“Some ten years ago we supplied a twin-wall timber frame system for the principal of Munro Associates who was building a new home up in Pitlochry, Scotland. That achieved the level of U-value necessary for PassivHaus – by filling with Warmcel recycled newspaper insulation; and now we are working with PYC Warmcel on a solution featuring 300 mm thick I-joists supplied by Metsa Wood for a social housing scheme featuring low rise homes. We have also built to PassivHaus standards using the Kingspan TEK system; so our product range can really cover all the bases and offer clients solutions to suit their individual needs.”

The architect, Mungo Munro commented: “We do a lot of work for housing associations as well as clients in other sectors, though this was a self-build where Lowfield produced a timber frame to my own design. I went for a double timber frame as it virtually eliminates any cold-bridging and achieved a U-value far better than the Building Standards required.”

Amongst the other highly sustainable projects Lowfield Timber Frame has helped deliver recently is the Telford Town Park Visitor Centre, offering bicycle hire and a café as well as classroom space. The original intention was to build the walls from straw bales, but the cost would have pushed up the budget so the specification switched to the Kingspan TEK system.

The jointing arrangement for the SIPs system helped keep the air leakage rate to around 1 m3/m2/hr at 50 Pascals. The addition of a high performance vapour control layer as part of the building envelope meant the overall airtightness figure for the finished structure outperformed the PassivHaus requirement at 0.58 m3/m2/hr. In terms of insulation value, combined with Kingspan Thermawall TW55 boards, the U-value for the Tek walls was 0.14 W/m2K.

Lowfield also contributed to the conversion of an eyesore, asbestos-clad packing shed into a stunning studio on the outskirts of Leamington Spa; which earned the architect, Sjolander de Cruz, the RIBA Sustainable Project of the Year Award.

Teachers and pupils at a Northamptonshire school are excited to start the academic year in new and modern classroom facilities thanks to the arrival of a sustainable timber framed building.

Leading joinery manufacturer, Scotts of Thrapston, were approached by the 210-pupil Weldon Church of England Primary School following an enquiry for a new classroom by the headteacher Lynne Wildman who was looking to replace an old inefficient and ineffective mobile classroom building.

She explains: “We had been looking for years for a solution to the problem of an old mobile classroom that was being used for classes of our Key Stage 2 children. I discovered Scotts when I was looking through one of their fliers after it was placed on my desk.

“Scotts’ modern and efficient standalone classroom structures seemed to be the perfect answer to replace our dilapidated building. From the very first contact I made with the company they have been responsive and easy to work with coming up with a bespoke solution to meet our needs and providing a fantastic environment for our children to learn in.”

Scotts, who have been making and distributing timber products since 1920, first started creating education buildings in 2014 and like the rest of the company’s projects, Weldon Primary School’s new classroom was constructed and ready for use in a matter of weeks.

Mrs Wildman was delighted with the completed classroom, commenting: “The old building was small, cramped and had no running water. The end result is amazing, better than we could have imagined. It’s just so airy, bright and the children will love learning in there.”

An education in timber frame

Scotts offers a core range of education buildings but more often than not, provides bespoke solutions to meet its customers’ individual needs. Each of the designs, including the one at Weldon CE Primary School, are ideal learning environments as well as being environmentally friendly.

The buildings are designed with plenty of windows, allowing in lots of natural light, saving on electricity bills and allowing for plenty of ventilation when opened making it more pleasant to be indoors.

Philip Goldstone, Scotts of Thrapston’s business development manager, explains how the company perfectly combines traditional craftsmanship with the latest technology. He said: “Ultimately our education buildings are designed to make the best use of the space available and to provide optimum energy efficiency.

“We believe that the ideal learning environment begins with a building that inspires and motivates by its architectural form. To achieve their full potential, pupils need to feel comfortable in their environment and research has shown that acoustic conditions can have a profound impact on both children’s learning and staff performance. The feedback we have had from the pupils and the teachers who have used the new classroom is that they all enjoy their new environment.

“The Scotts design service takes into account all elements of the building design including light, ventilation, thermal comfort and acoustics. The right amount of light, both artificial and natural, is crucial. We advise on door and window positions based on a building’s orientation – avoiding light from south facing walls which can result in uncomfortable solar gain in summer and western aspects which can lead to unpleasant glare on winter afternoons.

“Space is also a huge consideration and a stand out feature of Scotts’ education buildings is the high ceilings that provide a feeling of spaciousness.

“The beauty of Scotts’ education buildings is that they can be completely tailored to suit the setting and are designed to precisely meet the end user’s specification. As well as the classroom the buildings include a lobby, cloakroom, washroom and store and we can also cater for any special needs requirements, accessibility issues or existing structures that need to be taken into consideration.”

Inspirational structure

As an added benefit, children are able to see the new building take shape. Pupils at Weldon CE Primary School took an interest in the construction of their new building and although there was a fence put up around the site, the structure remained visible so that the children could watch its progress. Some of the children have been so inspired they are considering careers in building and architecture when they grow up.

Offering a range of highly affordable and versatile sizes and shapes, Scotts of Thrapston can provide a multitude of products for any school looking for either a refurbishment or an extension on existing buildings. With affordable pricing and quick-build times, it really is the perfect option for any school looking for a change.

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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.

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