054 RCI 0717

RCI July 2017

INSULATION Making off-site work on site If the UK’s current housing shortage is to be successfully addressed, quicker, smarter methods of construction will need to be applied, as there is a growing sense of urgency that steps must be taken to ensure that in terms of UK housing, supply finally meets – or even comes close – to matching demand. Off-site construction fits the current requirement for houses being built with speed, cost-efficiency, the environment – and most importantly – quality, in mind. Indeed, a study by the Modular Building Institute found modular construction techniques mean a building can be completed and ready for occupation 50% faster than using traditional on-site methods. The growing popularity in prefabricated solutions isn’t solely based on speed, however. Off-site manufacture makes for safer on-site working conditions as it requires fewer staff and less machinery to install. Modular solutions can also reduce the potential impact of bad weather on build times, whilst faster weatherproofing of structures will reduce delays for internal trades. The off-site option offers greater flexibility, providing buildings that can be reconfigured more easily to suit changing requirements. Another major benefit is reduced waste, as according to a UK Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report, off-site construction generates up to 90% less discarded material, emphasising its cost-effectiveness. 054 JULY 2017 RCIMAG.COM New solutions The insulation industry is constantly looking for innovative solutions to ensure buildings comply with regulations. A recent addition to support the off-site approach is our L-Ments; the room-in-aroof system which can be installed making the building watertight in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks. The system applies the ethos of ‘Modern Methods of Construction’ to traditional insulation solutions. Rather than cutting insulation boards to fit between the timbers or trusses of a pitched roof which can lead to thermal bridging and lower performance, a panel is manufactured on a PIR production line incorporating structural timbers within the panel. It combines the benefits of traditional roofs and off-site roofs while minimising the downsides of both, constructed off-site to tighter tolerances and higher standards. Each panel combines breather membrane, counter battens and roof timber which are prefabricated off-site in one insulation product. The panel edges are rebated to form a shiplap joint, therefore once installed and fixed, the potential air gaps and cold bridges found in a traditional roof are all but eliminated. All this performance within a single system makes life simpler for specifiers and architects. The versatile design allows for a much faster installation with the potential for a standardstyle roof to be watertight within just four hours of the product arriving on site. Available in five different lengths up to 6.5m, L-Ments panels can be lengthened beyond this by joining on an intermediate purlin. Once produced, they are transported to site as a ready-to-install element with breather membrane and counter battens already installed. Its PIR insulation core offers a thermal conductivity of only 0.023 W/mK, making it among the most efficient insulation products available. The first project in the UK to use L-Ments was based in Burley in the heart of Hampshire’s New Forest, where it was applied in the construction of a self-designed and built new home to near-zero carbon standards. Despite the persistence of some inclement weather and the contractor having no experience of the system, 25 panels (195m²) were installed in under seven hours. Also, the asymmetric roof design incorporating two different pitches was easily accommodated during installation. Fast, flexible option Whether a project is new-build or refurbishment, as long as there is a supporting gable end and purlins to fix the panels to, L-Ments is an option. The panels are delivered to site in a similar fashion to trussed rafters that most contractors are familiar with, which can then be lifted or craned into position. Once installed, the remainder of the housebuilder trades can then be swiftly commenced speeding up the process to a finished build. As the L-Ments panels include the breather membrane and counter batten, fewer materials need purchasing and stored on site. In line with traditional construction, L-Ments can accommodate both dormer windows, solar panels and a faster, easier fit solution for rooflights. As a system, it provides a thoroughly modern roof without the need to learn difficult new techniques. L-Ments, with its speed of installation and outstanding thermal conductivity provides roomin a-roof living space cost-effectively; making it increasingly difficult to argue against prefabricated practices becoming more prevalent in future building projects. Off-site progression could be crucial to creating modern energy-efficient homes at the speed the country so urgently needs. www.recticelinsulation.co.uk By Kevin Bohea, Recticel’s commercial director


RCI July 2017
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