Build homes quickly but don’t compromise on performance, says Frank Brittain, Building Solutions Manager at H+H UK
The argument for building using modern methods of construction (MMC) was reignited at the end of last year when Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, confirmed the government’s commitment to its target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.
The latest house building statistics from the ONS1 show there is still some way to go with 204,530 dwellings completed in the UK in the financial year ending March 2022.
In order to reach the target we need to build more homes, more quickly. Offsite construction and MMC have a key role to play. It is imperative however, that in speeding up the construction process we do not compromise on the quality of build.
Almost 80% of new homes in the UK are currently built with brick and block but the word offsite tends not to be associated with masonry construction. Instead, it brings to mind prefabricated timber modules delivered to site and put together as whole units.
However, offsite and masonry are not mutually exclusive.
Housebuilders are keen to speed up production, but they are also largely risk averse. Masonry MMC solutions such as H+H’s Vertical Wall Panels present an ideal solution. They combine the reassuring characteristics of a high-performance masonry structure with the speed of offsite.
The H+H Vertical Wall Panel system is designated as an MMC under the Mark Farmer Review. It is also recognised by the NHBC and NHBC Accepts having passed rigorous testing to meet the construction body’s stringent standards.
It is a tried and tested solution. H+H Vertical Wall Panels have already been widely used across Europe for years and over 2,000 houses have been completed so far in the UK using the panels.
For faster construction
H+H Vertical Wall Panels are storey-high panels of aircrete used to form the inner leaf of external walls, separating walls and internal partitions as appropriate. They are fabricated offsite and craned into place for a fast, panelised building system.
The overriding advantage is the speed of build – and this is best demonstrated where the panels are used as part of a complete housebuilding package.
When combined with prefabricated timber floors and a prefabricated roof system, Vertical Wall Panels provide a system-build solution that can construct the superstructure of a house from foundation to roof within five days onsite.
This provides a watertight shell for follow on trades to move into once windows are installed, and one which is constructed using a material they are familiar with so no additional training is required for site workers.
A high-performing system
Aircrete is a lightweight masonry material, combining proven durability and high acoustic, thermal and airtight performance with the ease of use that comes with a lighter material.
H+H aircrete has a Class A1 fire rating and is proven to meet Part L building regulations. It has also been used on projects built to achieve the Future Homes Standard and Passivhaus standard.
Vertical Wall Panels are manufactured in a range of heights with a width of 600mm and a thickness of 100mm. Separating walls are constructed as two leaves of Vertical Wall Panels with a minimum of 100mm full fill insulated cavity between. This, with effective edge sealing, will provide a zero heat loss party wall.
Site acoustic testing has demonstrated that high levels of sound insulation can be achieved and this is reflected by H+H’s proprietary acoustic Robust Detail E-WM-31.
Furthermore, an Environmental Product Declaration is available for H+H Vertical Wall Panels.
As aircrete can be cut on site, it is easy to accommodate window and door openings while providing infill sections as appropriate. This also gives the flexibility needed to adjust panels to cope with site tolerances and onsite modifications and means less product waste on site.
Design variations and detailing can be accommodated and, if required, Vertical Wall Panels can be used in combination with thin-joint large format blockwork.
With the outer leaf off the critical path, cavity insulation can be installed to the complete façade, enabling it to be visually inspected for damage or gaps before the outer leaf is applied.
H+H Vertical Wall Panels combine the cost benefits associated with offsite construction with the reassuring familiarity and performance of masonry, offering an MMC system that stands the test of time.
To find out more about the system visit: https://www.hhcelcon.co.uk/Vertical-Wall-Panels