What are the benefits of fibreglass roofs?

Share page here

Fibreglass roofs (also referred to as GRP roofs) are a popular choice for commercial buildings. On a traditional flat roof build-up, a fibreglass weatherproof layer offers numerous benefits over alternative solutions, such as single ply and bitumen-based layers, to name a few. These benefits include:

  • Increased durability
  • Lower maintenance requirements
  • Easier to repair
  • A stronger weatherproofed seal
  • Increased energy efficiency
  • Broader aesthetic design

Fibreglass (GRP) is made from thin strands of glass woven into a mat. The fibres are combined with a resin and form a strong, flexible product which can be easily moulded into a variety of shapes. This makes Fibreglass (GRP) an excellent choice where complex detailing is required. Pigment can also be added to the resin to create a wide range of colours.

Compared to a traditional bitumen-based and single ply weatherproofing layer, fibreglass offers higher resistance to foot traffic and impact from objects including, but not limited to, hail, dislodged tiles from neighbouring buildings or tree branches. The ease of maintenance and life expectancy of over 30 years, with correct installation and maintenance, makes fibreglass flat roofs a very attractive specification option for commercial buildings.

What is the durability of a fibreglass roof?

Fibreglass is a durable and long-lasting material that can withstand harsh weather conditions such as extreme temperatures (both hot and cold), wind, rain and hail strikes. In addition, fibreglass has high resistance to the effects of UV light. A fibreglass flat roof is installed with no seams, creating a continuous surface which is highly resistant to water ingress. A properly installed fibreglass roof will have a long lifespan and require minimal maintenance.

Research shows that a properly maintained fibreglass roof can last for 30 years or more compared to around 20 years for a traditional bitumen felt based roof covering.

How much maintenance does a fibreglass roof need?

As with all roofing systems, to ensure that they perform as intended for the life of the building and look their best throughout the years, they should be regularly inspected. Reputable flat roof weatherproofing installers may offer warranties that cover their products and installation. These warranties can be very beneficial and long-term (up to 25 years in some cases), however, regular inspections, with around one a year, may be required to maintain this benefit.

Because of the durability and longevity of GRP fibreglass, however, the only expected maintenance typically required for fibreglass flat roofs is to keep them clean – this helps the surface maintain its striking finish. Cleaning fibreglass flat roofs simply involves removing debris, such as leaves, tree branches, moss, or other growth and giving the surface an occasional wash with a mop.

Fibreglass Flat Roofs With Roof Light
GRP Fibreglass Flat Roof
GRP fibreglass for curves installed on a building
Fibre-Glass-Flat-Roof install
Fibre Glass Flat Roof with a railed off window on the right-hand side

Are fibreglass roofs difficult to install?

Fibreglass is a lightweight material that is cold applied meaning no torch or flame is required to heat the membrane. This can reduce the installation time and avoids the need to use bottled gas and torches (hot works). The fibreglass layer is applied using a roller and a resin topcoat provides the tough, final finish. An easier installation saves considerably on time and costs.

Is a fibreglass roof more expensive than a traditional system?

The belief that fibreglass is a more expensive system is a misconception when looking at the overall long-term picture. The lifespan of a fibreglass membrane itself is typically longer than that of felt or single ply solutions. The higher initial cost of a fibreglass finish is offset by the longer lifespan of the roof. This means that overall, there is a long-term cost benefit to using fibreglass.

Fibreglass roofs and fire performance

Fibreglass has high resistance to the spread of fire which is an important consideration when specifying a roof. A roof must satisfy the requirements of the Building Regulations Approved Document Part B which applies to fire safety in construction. Section B4 covers the requirement of the external walls and roof of a building to adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls and roof of the construction, as well as from one building to another. The full document can be freely downloaded here for more information.

We provide a complete roofing service from initial site surveys, as well as design and installation of a roofing system, through to aftercare and are approved installers of cold-applied liquid fibreglass roofs.

To find out more, please visit the fibreglass roofs solutions page and contact us for any project requirements around fibreglass roofs.

How much maintenance do fibreglass roofs require?

Share page here

As with all roofing systems, fibreglass roofs should be regularly inspected to ensure that they perform as intended for the life of the building and look their best throughout the years. Reputable flat roof weatherproofing installers may offer warranties that cover their products and installation. As these warranties can be beneficial, and in some cases long-term (up to 25 years).

Because of the durability and longevity of GRP fibreglass the only expected maintenance typically required for fibreglass flat roofs is to keep them clean – this helps the surface maintain its striking finish. Cleaning fibreglass flat roofs simply involves removing debris, such as leaves, tree branches, moss, or other growth, and giving the surface an occasional wash with a mop and soapy warm water.

How often should a fibreglass roof be checked?

It’s a good idea to carry out a visual check on a fibreglass roof at least once a year and after any severe weather, particularly hail and high winds. This check can be carried out by the building owner/inspector or a professional roof covering installer for greater peace of mind. Any damage that has occurred can therefore be addressed before it becomes a bigger problem. If there are trees located close to the building, these can cause issues with cleanliness and should be trimmed regularly. Additionally, any blocked drains and gutters should also be regularly checked and cleaned out.

Fibreglass Flat Roofs With Roof Light
GRP Fibreglass Flat Roof
flat roof repair and replace
Fibre-Glass-Flat-Roofs with obstructions
GRP fibreglass architectural mouldings commercial clients

How frequently should a fibreglass roof be cleaned?

Cleaning a fibreglass roof should be carried out at least once a year and can be part of a standard maintenance regime, without the need for specialist help. However, depending on the roof structure, building height and access requirements, maintenance may require an expert. This is particularly true for commercial and industrial applications. Drainage points and gutters should be cleared of any material such as leaves and debris to ensure water is able to freely flow from the surface and avoid build-up.

Fibreglass roof maintenance and safety

When working at height, such as on a roof, it’s important to ensure safe practice, and working at height precautions must be taken. Guidance regarding working safely on roofs is provided in the Health & Safety Executive document HSG33 which can be found here.

Jones and Woolman UK, established in 1979 and based in the West Midlands, provides roof and vertical penetrations, access hatches, upstands, weatherproofing and GRP moulding solutions. Jones and Woolman UK provide a complete roofing service from initial site surveys, as well as design and installation of a roofing system, through to aftercare and are approved installers of cold-applied liquid fibreglass roofs.

To find out more, please visit the fibreglass roofs solutions page and contact us for any project requirements around fibreglass roofs.

The 4 most complex weathering details for data centres

Share page here

When it comes to data centres, continuity is key – they need to keep running no matter what’s happening outside. Heavy snow, heatwaves, driving rain or hurricane-force winds, it doesn’t matter: data centres can’t stop, or the results could be terrible for the businesses and services that rely on them. That’s why ensuring reliable and durable weathering for data centres is so important.

So, what needs to be done to keep the British weather outside so the servers inside can keep running? Let’s look at the four most complex waterproofing details for data centres.

Weatherproofing of vertical penetrations installed on a data centre
Weatherproofing of external cable trays installed on a data centre
Weatherproofing of cable trays installed on data centre
Weatherproofing of external structure installed on data centre

1. Roof penetrations for cable trays

Between electrical distribution and data, there are a lot of wires and cables that go into and come out of a data centre. These are typically run on cable trays and often enter the building through a roof penetration.

Due to the open nature of them, weatherproofing cable trays can be tricky. It usually requires a combination of upstands and access risers, along with careful waterproofing and expert knowledge to ensure that wind uplift does not become a problem.

2. Vertical wall penetrations for cable trays

If the cable trays don’t enter the building through the roof, they probably enter through a vertical wall penetration. As mentioned above, weatherproofing cable trays is difficult, since the trays are open and the bundles of cables they hold can be oddly shaped.

Depending on project requirements, the penetration can be protected using weatherstop units – these are box-like structures on the outside of the building that create a protected entrance for the cable trays. In other situations, a weatherproof seal may be applied to the area around the cables to prevent any rain or wind ingress.

3. Service risers for HVAC equipment

Cooling and climate control are hugely important for data centres – all those servers are pumping out a lot of heat and keeping everything cool requires a lot of HVAC equipment and ductwork, as well as ventilation terminals. That equipment is typically found on the data centre roof, using service risers to connect them to the building below.

HVAC plant for data centres is usually very large and heavy, so the roof penetrations will need to be structurally sound. Custom-made upstands can provide support and improve drainage around the machinery. Reliable seals around the ductwork and vents are also essential to prevent leaks or potential damage caused by rainwater ingress or heavy winds.

Safe access to the HVAC must also be carefully considered, and any weatherproofing should be durable enough to withstand foot traffic.

4. Roof access hatches

Speaking of access, roof access hatches are another important area of consideration for data centre weatherproofing. These hatches make it easy for workers to access the roof, either to attend to the HVAC equipment and other machinery found up there, or to carry out other maintenance.

The complex detailing around access hatches typically involves an upstand for structural support, as well as weatherproofing where the upstand and roof surface come together. The roof access hatch must also be structurally sound and reliable, as workers will be passing through it, with the added hazard of them working at height. This means that the overall structure and its weatherproofing should be free from trip hazards, and, again, capable of withstanding foot traffic.

Complex detailing for data centres: Jones and Woolman UK

At Jones and Woolman UK, our team has extensive experience in carrying out all sorts of building penetration and roof weatherproofing projects, including several data centres. We can provide a comprehensive range of services, from site surveys to design, build, installation and maintenance, and we can also carry out commercial roof repairs where required.

To learn more about complex detailing for data centres, and how we can help ensure your facility is fully weatherproofed, please get in touch here or call us on 01922 712111.

Why is effective weatherproofing crucial for cable tray installation?

Share page here

In today’s highly connected and electrified world, cable trays play a hugely important role in how we power our buildings and share information, so protecting them with effective weatherproofing is key to mitigating risk and keeping operations running smoothly.

What is a cable tray?

From data centres to factories, shopping centres to office buildings, cable trays are everywhere. Often, they go unnoticed, but as soon as you start looking for them, cable trays are easy to spot on the walls and roofs of buildings. They are also likely to be hidden from view, weaving their ways through interior walls and roof spaces.

Cable trays are support systems, creating a rigid route for cables and wires to travel from one point to another. As an alternative to conduits, cable trays are preferable as their open nature makes it easier to change wiring or install new cables, as they can simply be laid in place, rather than fed through conduit pipes. However, this can also pose a challenge for weatherproofing.

Weatherproofing cable trays

The point where cable trays enter a building can be vulnerable to wind and rainwater ingress, so careful planning and effective weatherproofing of the building penetration are critical.

The effective weatherproofing of cable trays helps to keep weather out, preventing damage to the building envelope, avoiding thermal breaks, maintaining the indoor environment and helping to keep the various cables and wires protected. It can also help to keep out birds, rodents and insects. Fire safety and the preservation of fire walls are also important considerations.

The best method for weatherproofing cable trays will depend on whether the cables are entering the building through a vertical wall penetration or a roof penetration. Other factors such as how the building is constructed, exposure, and how many cables there are. Aesthetics may also play a role in determining the best solution.

In vertical wall penetrations, weatherproofing cable trays is often carried out using a weatherstop sealing system. From the outside, this looks like ductwork or a series of boxes attached to the side of the building. These create a sealed entrance for the cables to make their way inside, and must be carefully weatherproofed. In some cases, sealants such as GRP weathering systems may be used, enabling a cable tray to penetrate a wall without ductwork or other protective structures.

For roof penetrations, service risers are used to ensure a weatherproof seal around cable trays as they enter the building. As well as being waterproof and windproof, these must also be structurally sound. Upstands and other supporting structures may be used, along with products such as GRP sealants, to create a suitable solution.

Cable tray weatherproofing from Jones and Woolman UK

With so much to think about when weatherproofing cable trays, it’s easy to see the benefits of getting expert help when dealing with cable trays and building penetrations.

With more than 40 years of experience, Jones and Woolman UK have extensive experience in weatherproofing roof and wall penetrations. We offer a complete range of services from design and installation through to maintenance, and have worked on a wide range of projects including data centres, offices, shopping centres, airports and factories.

Our GRP weathering system comprises a fibre-reinforced, cold-applied liquid that can be used with any type of cladding and single-ply membrane roofs. The system is versatile and reliable; it can be adjusted to suit penetrations of any size or shape, and it can also be tinted to match the rest of the building design.

To find out more, visit our dedicated page about data centre weatherproofing. You can also contact us to discuss your project in more detail – or call 01922 712111.

What is a cable tray?

Share page here

A cable tray is a support system that creates a rigid structure for wires and cables to travel along. An alternative to open wiring or electrical conduit systems, cable trays are easy to install and maintain. Their open designs also make it simple for new cables to be added or for wiring to be changed since the new cables can simply be laid in the trays, rather than fed through conduit pipes.

Cable trays are often used on external walls and roofs, before cables enter the building through a roof penetration or vertical wall penetration – and effective weatherproofing of cable trays is critical to prevent wind or rainwater ingress. They may also be found within ceilings and internal walls, under floors, and they may also be used to support wires and cables as they cross open spans.

Typical uses include supporting electrical distribution cables, control and signal instrumentation and data and telecommunications cables, including both copper and fibre-optic cables. Cable trays are found in all types of buildings, including commercial, office, and retail spaces, as well as factories, schools, hospitals, and leisure facilities. They are also extremely important for data centres, as these applications rely so heavily on the electricity supplies and data that flow through the cables that enter the buildings.

Many different types of cable trays are available. GRP cable trays are a popular choice due to being non-metallic, lightweight, and easy to install. Metallic cable trays are also commonly found; these are usually made from galvanised steel, stainless steel, or aluminium.

Various designs and formats are also available, including channel-type, single rail, ladder-type, trough-type, and mesh/basket types. The right choice will depend on project requirements and client preferences.

As experts in custom GRP mouldings and weatherproofing, we can provide a complete service for all your cable tray and building penetration requirements. You can find out more by visiting our data centre solutions page, or submit an enquiry through the get help with your project form.

Top 6 most common commercial weatherproofing mistakes

Share page here

Getting roof weatherproofing right is essential for any building – it protects the building envelope from damage caused by damp, rainwater ingress and wind, and it also protects the contents of the building and the building occupants. 

Over the years, we’ve been called out to repair hundreds of commercial roofs, and there are several weatherproofing mistakes we often see – many of which could have been easily avoided with careful planning, expert knowledge, and a skilled hand. 

Here are the six most common commercial weatherproofing mistakes we’ve seen, along with advice on how to prevent problems, mitigate damage and ensure proper repairs are carried out.

1. Neglecting maintenance

The amount of maintenance required for a commercial roof will depend on how the roof is constructed and what kind of weatherproofing is used. 

Many commercial roofs are flat roofs covered with bitumen, EPDM, metal, or thermoplastics, and these require regular maintenance and inspections to check for buckling, cracking, pooling, shrinking, damage, or deterioration. Any issues will need to be addressed quickly, as it doesn’t take long for a small problem to grow into a much larger one.

However, GRP (glass reinforced plastic) roofs, also known as fibreglass roofs, require almost no maintenance. Regular cleaning is all they need to retain their appearance and durability. GRP roofs have an expected lifespan of at least 25 years, and many last much longer than that. Of course, no roofing system is entirely problem-free, so even GRP roofs should be checked regularly to ensure they’re in good condition.

2. Not investigating underlying problems

When you notice a crack in the roof covering, discover a leak or spot a bit of pooling water on a flat roof, your first instinct may be to quickly patch up the problem and assume it’s taken care of. 

However, many roof weatherproofing issues are symptoms of underlying problems. For example, pooling water could indicate a poorly designed roof, weak or damaged roof structure or, in the case of roofs covered with a hot bituminous system, improper mopping that created voids in the membrane. 

If these underlying issues aren’t recognised – usually with the help of a commercial roofing expert – and properly dealt with, the problem is likely to return and increase in severity.

3. Blocked drainage or inadequate drainage

Standing water is a significant problem for commercial flat roofs for several reasons. For one thing, it adds weight, which could cause sagging and deterioration of the roof surface. For another, standing water is more likely to find its way through imperfections in the roof surface. It also encourages the growth of plants and moss. 

Keeping drains, gutters, and downpipes clear is part of good roof maintenance and will help ensure water leaves the rooftop quickly and efficiently. However, other drainage problems, such as a poorly designed roof or not enough drainage, will require the knowledge and skills of an expert roofing contractor to put things right.

4. Poorly constructed roof penetrations

Commercial buildings are likely to have a variety of roof penetrations, ranging from rooflights, access hatches and lift shafts to openings for HVAC equipment, chimneys, manufacturing plant and other machinery. If these penetrations aren’t carefully planned, constructed, and weatherproofed, there will likely be problems with leaks and drainage.

Ideally, roof penetrations should be considered early in the building design process. Working with a commercial roof expert will help to ensure that the penetration is constructed and weatherproofed adequately. 

However, roof penetrations are often installed after roof construction is complete – sometimes years later when the building is undergoing a change of use or refurbishment. In these cases, a roof penetrations expert can provide advice and guidance on the best locations for penetrations, the types of support required and how to weatherproof the installation for long-term reliability. 

And if an existing roof penetration is suffering wind damage or rainwater ingress, an expert can provide advice and carry out remedial works to resolve the problem.

roof penetration installers tall pipes on top of a roof

5. Improper repairs

We often see cases where previous repairs were carried out using the wrong materials or installation methods. Sometimes this simply means that the repairs didn’t work or only lasted a short time. However, a bad repair job can cause more roof damage.

For example, it’s not unusual to see metal roofs that have been patched up with caulking and plastic roof cement. These materials are not fit for purpose and are likely to fail, especially in extreme weather conditions. On single-ply membrane roofs, roof cement can damage the roofing surface, as the solvents in the cement may dissolve plastics like PVC and EPDM.

The lesson here is that if commercial roof repairs are needed, it may be tempting to DIY it or find the cheapest rate around. But it usually pays to have a knowledgeable professional survey the damage and carry out repairs that will remain structurally sound and weathertight for years to come.

6. Not enlisting the help of a commercial roof weatherproofing expert

As we’ve already mentioned, calling in an expert with specific knowledge of commercial roof weatherproofing is the best course of action for building, repairing, or renovating a commercial roof.

Jones and Woolman UK has extensive experience in commercial roof weatherproofing, and we have worked on a wide range of projects, from shopping centres, schools and factories to data centres, airports, and sports arenas. Our cold-applied liquid fibreglass roofs provide a robust, reliable, and weathertight surface, and the system also works with all kinds of roof penetrations to provide a weatherproof seal.

We recommend getting in touch from the very earliest stages of a project. That way, we can provide advice and liaise with other teams to ensure the best results using the most straightforward methods. However, our flexible system, combined with our ability to design and build bespoke GRP components, enables us to successfully deliver reliable weatherproofing, backed by our 25-year guarantee, no matter how far along the project may be.

Get in touch to find out more about commercial roof weatherproofing, or discuss your next project with a weatherproofing expert, you can also call on 01922 712111.

Tribute for Graham Sidney Jones

Share page here

Image of Graham Sid Jones, co-founder of Jones and Woolman UK

It is with great sadness that we can announce the passing of Graham Sidney Jones, one of the founders of Jones and Woolman UK.

Known to everyone as Sid, he will be remembered for always doing things his own way. That’s probably what led him to start Jones and Woolman UK in 1979 with his business partner and two sons, Daren and Steve. The company began as a small factory in Birmingham, manufacturing fibreglass products; after a few years, it began specialising in roofing.

Sid was an influential part of the company for decades, and through his hard work and dedication, Jones and Woolman UK grew into the business that we are so proud of today.

Although he retired a few years ago, Sid was close with many of our team members, having worked side-by-side with many of them for years. He also built lasting relationships with many customers.

Sid will be greatly missed by his family and colleagues, and we will remember him fondly.

The need to review weatherproofing methods for modular building application

Share page here

The focus on efficient modular buildings is growing, highlighting the need for a review of weatherproofing methods and materials. The popularity of modular buildings is partially caused by the increasing pressure to deliver buildings faster and more cost-effectively. Fast-changing regulations that mandate significant improvements to the building performance are also a factor. The Department for Education (DfE) modular framework agreement announced at the beginning of 2020, with an investment of £3 billion, indicates a wider government shift toward modern methods of construction (MMC). This means that other traditional construction methods, such as weatherproofing, will need to be reviewed to ensure they are compatible with the modular approach and reflect the same values.

What are the benefits of modular construction and what are the challenges to wider uptake?

The need for more schools, hospitals, and other commercial buildings in the UK, whilst ensuring their impact on the environment and its resources is reduced, requires a shift within the construction industry to deliver an increased number of commercial spaces using fewer resources. Compliance with regulatory standards and the quality of these structures is also crucial to ensure performance, longevity, and an environment pleasant for building users. Modular building’s streamlined design, manufacture, and installation processes, using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), makes them well placed to ensure the UK’s needs can be quickly and efficiently met.

MMC aims to streamline the most skill and labour-intensive stages of manufacture and installation and is key to the success of modular buildings within the commercial sector. Moving as many construction processes as possible into a controlled manufacturing environment has the potential to improve efficiency and protect resources, however, challenges with compliance and a lack of understanding of application has meant uptake was initially slow. Growing financial support from both UK Government and private investors, changes to legislation, and increasing needs for commercial structures is now opening doors to an increased use of modular buildings.

The impact of weatherproofing on the building performance

High performance weatherproofing is vital to the function of any building type and to maximise its lifecycle. Many traditional weatherproofing methods that worked well in conventional construction, however, do not necessarily fit modular assembly and may not align directly with the modular value of efficiency. Demands on labour and materials, lack of speed and flexibility and the resources and processes established weatherproofing use, are some of the issues causing this disconnect.

Improved planning and improvements to traditional weatherproofing application methods, or systems, may alleviate some of the issues. In the long run, improvements to existing methods are not sufficient. Weatherproofing systems will need to be evaluated in terms of the whole design, manufacture, and assembly of the building. A purpose designed weatherproofing solution can therefore provide the right platform to streamline the construction of modular buildings in the future.

Jones and Woolman UK have over 40-years of experience in the design, manufacture and installation of weatherproofing solutions on some of the most challenging and exciting projects in the UK and abroad. The experience and reputation as industry innovators has placed Jones and Woolman UK well to work with developers and contractors to improve the delivery of weatherproofing for modular buildings. This innovation started within the initial planning process. Incorporation of weatherproofing into the initial design of modular buildings allowed for better allocation of on and off-site application of weatherproofing. This meant the final stage of projects, usually the most resource intensive, is handled more time and cost effectively and the finished weatherproofing is of the highest quality.

To find out more about the benefits of modular construction and the considerations for weatherproofing of modular building construction, download our whitepaper ‘Streamlining weatherproofing in modular construction’. For advice on building penetrations and weatherproofing systems and how these can be designed for your next project, contact our team of technical experts.

Why is weatherproofing of modular buildings important?

Share page here

The increase in specification of modular buildings is driven by the construction efficiency and quality it promises. Effective weatherproofing is a crucial steppingstone to achieving the efficiencies modular buildings set out to deliver.

The need for additional housing, schools, hospitals, and improved infrastructure is increasing across the UK. This need has resulted in pressure to speed up project delivery and reduce the cost of construction to cope with demand. This is intensifying project scheduling and straining the supply chain whilst performance targets for buildings are becoming more stringent.

The impending changes to Part L and Part F, as part of the Future Homes Standard, reflect Government plans to improve the energy efficiency of buildings to reduce primary energy demands and lower carbon emissions, with the overall aim to decarbonise the grid by 2050. Effective weatherproofing has a huge role to play, as it is a prerequisite for a well-performing building envelope.

Modular buildings and a net-zero future

There is an obvious need to increase the energy efficiency of our buildings to combat climate change and deliver zero carbon buildings of the future. The focus of the construction industry is shifting towards the use of more sustainable methods and materials in order to reduce the carbon footprint further. New UK legislation also sets compliance targets for the design of healthy buildings. Provisions for sufficient fresh air and daylight [EN17037] for the occupants are especially important for both wellbeing and performance of occupants. In the ever-changing landscape of construction, the industry now finds itself in a position where traditional construction methods simply cannot deliver projects matching all performance markers.

The call to revolutionise the ‘underachieving’ construction industry was at the heart of the Egan report, summarised as: “..the Task Force wishes to emphasise that we are not inviting UK construction to look at what it does already and do it better: we are asking the industry and Government to join with major clients to do it entirely differently” [Rethinking Construction, 1998].

The notion of revolutionising construction is at the heart of the Construction 2025 document produced by the Government in collaboration with industry. The report sets out a vision for the future of UK construction:

  1. A 33% reduction in both the initial cost of construction and the whole-life cost of assets
  2. A 50% reduction in the overall time from inception to completion for new build and refurbished assets
  3. A 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment
  4. A 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials

A failure to follow through with these changes would further jeopardise our path to a low-carbon future.

What steps have been taken so far?

The modular approach to construction is not a completely new approach. We have seen previous attempts in the 1950s through to the 1970s, but a lack of supply chain stability and the perceived temporary nature and reduced life expectancy meant uptake was slow. More recently, we saw a more widespread deployment of BIM modelling to streamline design and provide a blueprint for a more efficient construction phase. Although improvements have been made, these are incremental and do not satisfy the objectives of the report. A completely new approach was required and contractors and clients in the UK are now getting to grips with MMC with a focus on off-site fabrication and modular methodologies.

Jones and Woolman UK have been at the forefront of innovation for over 40-years and are well positioned to take on the challenges of MMC. Our recent involvement in large modular projects across a variety of sectors has demonstrated that early involvement of a weatherproofing expert is crucial to realising the benefits of modular methodology for any project.

Our whitepaper ‘Streamlining weatherproofing in modular construction’ focuses closely on the role of modular buildings and how effective weatherproofing is helping to improve the efficiency of our buildings to deliver net-zero carbon by 2050. If you would like to find out how effective and flexible weatherproofing can help improve the energy efficiency of your project without impact on your scheduling, contact one of our industry experts.

What are the four challenges for the weatherproofing of modular buildings?

Share page here

The challenges construction (and weatherproofing) face in order to achieve 2050 net-zero targets are considerable. It is no longer enough to do things better; the industry needs to look at innovating and doing things altogether differently. The ‘Construction 2025 Document’ outlines the joint strategy from both government and industry for the future of UK construction through four pillars:

  • 33% reduction in both the initial cost of construction and the whole life cost of assets
  • 50% reduction in the overall time from inception to completion for new build and refurbished assets
  • 50% reduction in green gas emissions in the built environment
  • 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction materials

Modular construction offers solutions that can help achieve the targets across all pillars.

Cost of construction

Prefabrication of the most resource intensive areas of construction allows for better use of materials and better allocation of resources, and as a result is more cost-effective than traditional on-site construction.

A high level of prefabrication means that the end-to-end quality is guaranteed, mitigating risks and reducing defects in buildings. As a result, building efficiency is greatly improved providing long term savings by reducing energy demand and the need for frequent maintenance.

The implications for the lifecycle cost of the building lie in the flexibility of the modules that can be exchanged. This could be used to upgrade a plant room that is coming to end-of-life but also to change the design of the building if required. Operational maintenance and repurposing of buildings become considerably more cost-effective.

Speed of delivery

Modularisation leads to standardisation of processes which in turn lead to improved efficiency and productivity on site. As we know, the construction phase can be subject to lengthy delays caused by unpredictable events that impact the delivery schedule of projects. A high level of prefabrication shortens the less predictable construction phase and as a result, more development can be delivered on schedule.

Energy efficiency & sustainability

The increased focus on carbon reductions and primary energy targets are driving factors in modern construction. Volumetric modular buildings are designed and constructed to higher sustainability standards and are capable of far superior energy performance if the building envelope is weathertight and thermally efficient.

Use of modern materials, reduced site traffic, less waste and the possibility of building recycling reduce the embodied carbon of construction. The Current Practices and Future Potential in Modern Methods of Construction quote that overall, when comparing the energy used to construct a building, modular methods can deliver the same building using 67% less energy than the traditional method.

Import and export trade gap reduction

In the current context of Brexit, which is still causing some uncertainty, and the impact of the Covid-19 crisis across industries, it is difficult to project where the priorities will lie in the months ahead. For off-site construction to be efficient, a large-scale operation is required, and this is only possible with the support of UK government. There is a need to unite the sector, upskill the workforce and strengthen the supply chain. Department Government infrastructure strategies are expected to focus on construction with a promised increase in spending to £5.6bn. A large part of this strategy is faster project delivery, led by the newly created ‘Project Speed’. The Department for Education announced an investment of £3bn in off-site school procurement in England aiming to deliver over 30 schools in the next four years. Modular construction will undoubtedly play a central part in the UK economy.

Modular construction holds answers to many of the challenges that the construction industry faces. Weatherproofing modules off-site and on-site is one of those challenges that need to be overcome to ensure modular benefits, such as increased thermal efficiencies, are retained. Jones and Woolman UK have been involved in numerous modular projects and through 40-years of innovation are able to work with their partners to devise weatherproofing systems and streamline construction strategies. Materials, techniques and completed systems have been vigorously tested across various climates and applications to deliver a long-lasting, thermally efficient building envelope for modular buildings.

To read more on the considerations for weatherproofing of modular buildings and their benefits, download our whitepaper ‘Streamlining weatherproofing in modular construction’. Contact our team of experts for help with specification and design or any other advice on building penetrations and weatherproofing systems.