This prefabrication special watches a four-bedroom showhome go up in six weeks and takes a look at energy-efficient timber frame
  • Wooden staircase kit
    Developer Beechwell Estates has used Arnold Laver Timber World staircases for access to mezzanine decks in a development of one- and two-bedroom apartments in Chesterfield. The staircases were trialled in the 12-unit first phase of the warehouse conversion and are now being used in the whole project. Supplied in kit form, the stairs have beech wood treads, steel supporting structure and internal railing. Rise, going, height, depth and rotation are all adjustable, so they can be adapted to fit available space.
    Arnold Laver Timber World

  • Bathroom installation
    Twyford Bathrooms' Total Install is a re-engineered package of installation techniques for baths, bath panels, WC suites and wall- and floor-mounted basins and pedestals. Baths, for example, come complete with a factory-fitted, tubular leg set which flips into place, while shorter feet have threaded inserts for fast adjustment and leveling. Fixings are standardised to reduce the number of tools required. Bath panels are supplied with magnetic fixings. The full package of measures is reckoned to have reduced the installation time for a bath from 30 minutes to just three minutes.
    Twyford Bathrooms

  • Silence those floor joists
    Crest Nicholson Residential has ordered Silent Floor TJI joists for the latest phase of its Ingress Park scheme in Greenhithe, Kent. Trus Joist's Silent Floor system has been developed to solve the problem of squeaky floors in new homes. The joists are manufactured with Microllam laminated veneer lumber for the flanges and Performance Plus enhanced oriented strand board forming the centre of the web.
    Trus Joist

  • Fast-fit cladding system
    Eurobrick's cladding system enables walls to be built three times faster than with conventional masonry, and can be installed by semi-skilled labour. It consists of brick or stone slips, which are bonded to an insulated, waterproof backer panel. Dry-pack mortar is piped into the joints and finished like traditional pointing. The system is installed by approved installers, trained by Eurobrick.

  • Windows service
    Bowater Windows has launched its Prime Connection, a division providing a design, fabrication, installation and commissioning service for PVCu windows, doors and conservatories. Prime Connection's business is split into three sectors: modular build, supply-only and supply-and-fit. For modular build, the division can provide just-in-time deliveries to suit factory-style operations. It provides a supply-only service to specialist installers working for medium and smaller housebuilders. Supply-and-fit is aimed at very large housebuilders.
    The Prime Connection

  • Tiles for victorian roof
    Wimpey Homes has saved on time and cost by specifying Forticrete Roofing Products' Gemini roof tiles alongside Plain Tiles at Byron Court, an apartment building at Woolton Park, Liverpool. The building's design emulates surrounding Victorian architecture, boasting three steeply angled 70 octagonal roofs on turrets at three corners. The design of the roof, and particularly the turrets, posed a challenge for roofing sub-contractor Avonside Roofing, which created the 45 splay-hip detailing by cutting each joint individually on site. Around 3000 small-format Plain Tiles were used for the turrets, but the main roof was covered with the larger single-lap interlocking Gemini tiles. These offer the same appearance as plain tile, but are faster to lay and more cost-effective.
    Forticrete Rooing Products

  • Rrehau training courses
    Rehau has opened a training academy to provide a range of training courses for specifiers and installers of its underfloor heating and plumbing systems. The academy has courses every month for the rest of the year.

  • Energy-efficient bungalows
    City & County of Cardiff Council has replaced a set of post-war prefabs in the Gabalfa area of Cardiff with 18 energy-efficient bungalows that have earned SAP ratings of up to 98. The homes have solar heating and passive stack ventilation and are fitted with Passivent passive ventilation systems.

  • Bathroom pods
    RB Farquhar has won a £1m contract to supply 250 prefabricated bathroom pods to Miller Homes and co-developer Applecross for residential projects in Edinburgh. This is the manufacturer's first bathroom pod contract for a housebuilder, although it produces almost 4,000 units a year for hotel chains and university halls of residence.
    RB FARquhar

  • Sheep's wool insulation
    Sheep's wool insulation supplier Second Nature UK has provided natural insulant for a council housing scheme in Hadston, Northumberland. The 15 bungalows are part of a £2.5m project for Castle Morpeth council and are constructed entirely from sustainable resources. The bungalows are made from slow-growing compact spruce, sourced from the Arctic circle and have Second Nature's Thermafleece insulation in the walls.
    Second Nature

  • Walling system
    Hanson TiS is building a three-bedroom demonstration house in a day in Manchester to show off the potential of its Wonderwall G2 brick-slip faced composite walling system. The 1400 ft2 house is made from four fully factory-finished and decorated steel-framed modules, linked using polyurethane backer rods and sealed with polysulphide mastic. The composite panels on the modules have steel frames and stiffeners infilled with polystyrene insulation.
    Hanson TiS

  • Timber frame insulation
    British Gypsum-Isover's Isowool Timber Frame Batt HP can be used in 89 mm stud timber framework to provide Part L's new elemental U value for external walls of 0.35. The innovation from Isowool avoids the necessity to move up to the off-the-shelf stud size of 140 mm, which has been estimated to add £5/m2 just in timber to timber frame build costs. The product can also be used in sloped roofs to create high levels of living comfort for rooms in the roof.
    British Gypsum-Isover

  • Cladding tiles
    Eternit Building Materials has come up with two new sets of colour options for fibre cement cladding panels. Its Natura range of natural-looking panels is available in a stone-like ivory, grey or anthracite finish, while Multiclad comes in 25 pastel and primary colours, and can be produced to order in any RAL colour.
    Eternit Building Materials

    What’s the spec?

    Queen Elizabeth Park, Guildford, Surrey

    Laing Homes built its 1827 ft2, four-bedroom showhome at Queen Elizabeth Park in less than six weeks instead of the usual 22 weeks, by using timber frame and maximising build efficiency. A year ago the company carried out a time and motion study and found that 47% of a subcontractor’s working day is actually downtime. Laing eliminated that to get its showhome open early, pulling out all the stops on site. It brought the project team together early, organised just-in-time deliveries of build materials apart from the timber frame and windows, closely sequenced trade contractors, and arranged for the project architect to be on site for an hour and a half each day to resolve any queries. Laing will be building more timber-frame homes on the site, but admits the speed of build of the showhome was a one-off, driven by the desire to generate maximum sales. “We couldn’t sustain it for every unit on the site,” says Rameen Firoozan, regional managing director with Laing Homes. “But we are focusing our attention on how to remove downtime to get greater efficiency. It will benefit customers in creating more time at the end for us to spend on the finishing process.”

  • Project team
    Laing Homes
    John Thompson and Partners (masterplan), The Omega Partnership (houses)


    The benefits of prefabrication for the housebuilding industry are self-evident, but why should the average homebuyer or housing association tenant prefer a home that has come from a factory over the traditionally built article?

    This is one marketing challenge that the housebuilding industry has really yet to get to grips with. To the industry, prefabrication is still regarded with some suspicion, the word inextricably linked in its long memory with temporary post-war homes and the collapse of the timber-frame housing market following that World in Action documentary of the early 1980s. Most people who have tried living in the factory-built products, however, have no such hang-ups. “It is just like an ordinary house,” occupants often say, “but it is quieter, and it is warmer.”

    The latter is a benefit that housebuilders and housing associations could be promoting to buyers and tenants, but the savings need to be presented in a way customers can understand. Manufacturer Kings pan commissioned consultant XCO2 Conisbee to carry out an energy modelling study of its TekHaus timber Structural Insulated Panel system. The study looks at the energy costs, as well as the carbon dioxide emissions, for a typical three-bedroom semi-detached family house. Four levels of construction are taken into account for the calculations: conventional timber frame complying with the revised Part L which demands a wall U value of 0.35, base TekHaus with a wall U value of 0.21, the same TekHaus system with mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, and a greened version of TekHaus with an additional 25 mm of insulation and improved glazing specification. Annual gas heating cost for the conventional timber-frame house, based on occupants going to work/school most weekdays, came out at £60. For the basic TekHaus home annual heating cost was reduced to £36, for the medium spec TekHaus it was £24, and for the greened house it was just £16. With a second-hand home costed at £360, any option offers a massive saving to buyers and tenants. “The beauty of the system is that it is very simple to build and structurally efficient, says Robert Webb, managing director of XCO2 Conisbee.

  • Downloads