Benefits of marrying offsite construction with external wall insulation

Benefits of marrying offsite construction with external wall insulation

Ken O’ Neill, offsite business development manager for Sto, discusses the benefits of marrying offsite construction with external wall insulation (EWI) and how collaboration is boosting efficiency.

As the urgent need to build more homes increases, offsite construction has a key role to play. Prefabricating components and structures in a factory enables homes to be delivered more quickly and with greater control. Quality can increase as can efficiency, safety standards and sustainability credentials.

To maximise the benefits of prefabrication, collaboration with specialist manufacturers will ensure systems used in the process meet developers’ specific needs while keeping production schedules on track.

Raising standards
Highly versatile, external wall insulation and rainscreen cladding (RSC) systems are ideal for off-site construction. They can be factory applied to a wide range of structural panels, including timber and steel framed structures. Once the EWI or RSC is installed, a wide range of façade finishes can be achieved using render, colours and textures, and brick slips.

Engaging with an EWI manufacturer in the project’s early design stages will ensure the most appropriate system is prototyped and developed. The substrate build-up and the components needed to meet the project’s specific performance requirements such as thermal efficiency and aesthetics must all be considered. These components must work together as a system otherwise it may not perform as expected once installed or meet Building Regulations. For this reason, it is strongly advised to work with a single supplier and avoid changing the design or substituting products at a later point in the process.

In line with this need, manufacturers are developing components offering cost and productivity benefits too.

After the design has been established, an experienced EWI manufacturer will be able to provide technical guidance and support in advance of any testing throughout the production process.

A manufacturer’s expertise will also help to ensure the installation of the modular wall panels runs smoothly on site. Bespoke method statements can be developed providing guidance on the most effective and efficient process for applying the EWI or RSC system.

Driving efficiency
Thanks to ongoing research and development, specialist products have been designed to further increase productivity. These include adhesives and base coats which dry much quicker than standard products used on site.

A further benefit is that these products can be delivered to factories in bulk quantities using silos with spray machines. These enable up to 1,000 kg of the adhesive and base coat to be directly sprayed onto the modular panels enhancing productivity.

Prefabrication partners
With the potential to deliver a significant proportion of new homes, off-site manufacturing will continue to grow. Specialist manufacturers are ideally placed to respond through innovative products and technical expertise. As a result, modular developers can benefit from tried and tested façade solutions and more streamlined production processes.

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