Britain’s current housing boom, combined with housebuilders across the UK having to play catch up to overcome project delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in a huge surge in demand for building products.
Here, Lewis Turnbull, Technical Manager for Ibstock Concrete’s Building Products division, which includes the market leading Forticrete brand, outlines the importance of successful supply chain collaboration and sustained production levels of innovative building materials, such as large format roof tiles, to support developers in meeting this increased level of demand by improving the productivity of the build process.
A recent report by the NHBC highlighted that new property registrations fell by more than 20,000 in quarter two of 2020 due to restrictions being implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as lockdown restrictions were eased, there was a significant bounce back in quarter three for the industry as COVID-19 safe sites were able to reopen, resulting in the number of new home completions rising to 33,440, just 4% below 2019 figures.
Whilst this increasing demand to pre-COVID 19 levels is positive for everyone involved in the construction industry, it has presented its own challenges. For developers, one of the most critical, aside from implementing stricter health and hygiene measures on-site, has been industry-wide product availability issues, particularly as manufacturers themselves have had to adapt to new ways of working to get manufacturing levels back up to where they need to be to meet this demand.
The good news is that this challenge is being met head on, with the supply chain working extremely hard, and in closer collaboration with developers, than they ever have before, to ensure the right products are available, when they need them.
As demand for new housing continues to rise, we are also seeing more and more housebuilders looking to explore new methods of building, combined with the specification of alternative building products, to reduce build times and help overcome the existing backlog, whilst also minimising resource and material costs for future developments.
One particular trend that is growing in popularity when it comes to the roof for instance, is the installation of larger format concrete roof tiles, which can successfully increase the rate of building, without impacting the quality and durability of the roof.
Forticrete’s wide format concrete tile, SL8, offers a cost effective and easy to install solution, which enables developers to reduce the materials required on site by 20%. This is due to only eight tiles being required per m2, compared to 10 traditional tiles per m2.
Whilst this not only supports housebuilders in minimising initial expenditure, it also facilitates a reduction in resource and associated costs, as the installation time is significantly reduced.
Large format concrete tiles also work to improve the sustainability of the entire development, as the level of waste products on site is significantly reduced. This is achieved through the tiles’ innovative construction, which provides superior strength to help reduce the frequency of breakages on site, whilst also ensuring the continued longevity and suitability of the roof.
However, it is important that durability and efficiency doesn’t overtake aesthetics, as the exterior of the property makes the first impression. When specifying wide format interlocking concrete tiles, developers can choose products that are available in a range of colours and feature a thin leading edge, replicating the visual appeal of natural slate.
The SL8’s streamlined construction features two nail holes and a thin leading edge, which provides roofers with enhanced fixing flexibility when interlocking the tiles, aiding quicker and easier installation, without compromising on the overall visual appeal.
Whilst installing building materials such as large format concrete tiles can improve the efficiency of construction on site, developers should also examine their specification and planning processes to ensure the most proficient materials and methods are being utilised for future developments, in order to successfully meet demand.
Manufacturers are actively aiding developers in this process, with Forticrete’s team of technical advisers working collaboratively with housebuilders to identify the most sufficient building materials for future constructions, whilst also ensuring existing project requirements are fulfilled.
This includes the utilisation of resources such as Forticrete’s online fixing specification system, which enables developers to receive instant information regarding the most suitable building products, as and when they require it. Taking advantage of supporting services such as this enables housebuilders to streamline both the initial design stages and the actual development of the site.
As the industry progresses and becomes accustomed to new COVID-secure methods of construction, manufacturers are also adapting to the ever-changing environment to support developers in achieving more proficient methods of building, to successfully overcome previous delays and facilitate current demand.
By choosing building products such as wide format concrete roof tiles, developers can not only increase the rate of construction, but simultaneously minimise the level of expenditure and resource required.