Nicholson Roofbox® vs Jones & Woolman UK’s solution

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The Nicholson Roofbox® is a weatherproofing solution for building services, and an alternative to Jones and Woolman UK’s own weatherproofing system for service risers. The two approaches to weatherproofing building services are very different. The Nicholson Roofbox® showcases an off-the-shelf solution, while Jones and Woolman UK provides a bespoke approach to preventing water ingress.

As an off-the-shelf product, the Nicholson Roofbox® undoubtedly represents a convenient solution. However, that convenience must be balanced against whether it is the right solution for an individual project. Does the Roofbox® align with the building’s architectural vision? And is it better for the project overall to engage a weatherproofing specialist earlier in the design process

What is the Nicholson Roofbox®?

The Nicholson Roofbox® is a factory-made cabinet, available in different sizes and specifications to accommodate service penetrations. The various models of Roofbox® can accommodate multiple pipework and duct runs.

Instead of weatherproofing multiple service penetrations, only the Roofbox® itself needs weatherproofing. Once installed, it allows access for running and inspecting the services within, making for a convenient solution that carries little risk of water ingress.

What is Jones and Woolman UK’s weatherproofing system?

At Jones and Woolman UK, we create safe and reliable covers and seals of any shape or size, including clusters of multiple services. We insulate and weather service risers at curb level, directly to the services. Our solution is seamless, doesn’t restrict the direction of the services, and removes the requirement for ‘dog kennel’ style detailing.

Standard weatherproofing details are available on our website, which can be employed at any stage of a project to help achieve the right level of integration between building envelope and services. And we are often called on in an emergency, to address a problem that has arisen on site.

We can provide in-situ weathering for service risers in existing buildings. However, an even better way is for us to be involved from the early stages of projects. We work with clients to develop solutions for new build projects and can provide a vital connection between different members of the project team.

Complex service riser weatherproofed in London
service riser installed at sky studios elstree
Service-Risers weathering system
Service-Risers installed

What disadvantages are there with the Nicholson Roofbox®?

Where a system like Jones and Woolman UK’s looks to minimise the impact of service penetrations on the performance of the building envelope, the same may not necessarily be said of the Roofbox®.

Roof cabinets, like the Roofbox®, are marketed on the basis that the building services design is not usually known in the early stages of a project. The ability to accommodate more services than might be anticipated is therefore promoted as an advantage.

However, the larger the cabinet, the larger the penetration through the building envelope, creating a significant thermal bridge. Cabinets are insulated, but compared to modern roof U-values they are still a comparative weak point in the thermal envelope.

For building envelope efficiency, thermal bridges should be kept to a minimum rather than being made bigger ‘just in case’. But if you don’t make a roof cabinet bigger ‘just in case’ then you are left with a restrictive solution that doesn’t allow services to be added after installation. Jones and Woolman UK’s service has no restriction on services coming through the plant deck, and services can even be added after installation.

And as an off-the-shelf solution, the Roofbox® is not designed with the aesthetics of the specific project in mind. They are, of course, very well finished, but designed to be a universal solution to an issue that is unique on each building. They are purchased and installed to perform a function; not to align with the architect’s vision for the finished building.

This leads into another drawback that applies to roof cabinets generally, as Matthew Jones, Sales Director at Jones and Woolman UK explains: “Roof boxes and cabinets are often installed and weatherproofed crudely, so the finish is not as good as it could be. It also means the sealants and fixings are more prone to water ingress and associated issues, which is precisely what the roof box is supposed to guard against.”

Using a design and build service compared to a Nicholson Roofbox®

Improvising solutions on site, or relying on off-the-shelf solutions, can spoil the architectural vision of a building and have a negative impact on the building envelope performance. 

By contrast, Jones and Woolman UK can be part of the design team. Starting at the concept stage, our early involvement enables us to design and manufacture a high-performance weatherproofing system that works with the building.

Our cold-applied liquid GRP system can accommodate any type of roof system, can be applied to horizontal or vertical penetrations, and it is backed by a 25-year warranty to reduce risk and offer greater peace of mind.

Early involvement also means we can offer a dependable schedule of service and a high degree of installation flexibility that works with the sequencing of the project, helping to deliver on time and to budget. The principal contractor therefore enjoys the confidence of knowing their programme schedule is less likely to be disrupted.

Cost may also be something else worth considering. Whilst it could be assumed that purchasing an off-the-shelf solution would be cheaper than a more bespoke weatherproofing service, this may not be the case. Once you factor in the purchase of the product, the delivery and installation of the roof box, the overall cost is very comparable to a bespoke solution such as J&W’s. Additionally, roof boxes usually come with a five-year warranty as standard whereas a Jones and Woolman UK solution is backed by a robust 25-year warranty which offers significant benefits and highlights the confidence a bespoke solution can afford a project.

To find out more about Jones and Woolman UK’s weathering system for service penetrations, contact us about how we can help on your next project.

Top 6 most common commercial weatherproofing mistakes

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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.

How do service risers help achieve improved U-values?

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When carrying out work on a building’s fabric, the structure’s U-value is a critical consideration. This is especially true when dealing with building and roof penetrations since the holes created will need to be properly constructed and sealed to keep the U-values as low as possible.

Here at Jones and Woolman, we understand the importance of U-values, and that’s why we’ve developed our unique GRP service riser solutions for commercial buildings. These have been designed to provide a thermally efficient seal around roof penetrations, ensuring that the thermal efficiency of the building fabric is maintained.


Service risers and U-values

There are many different ways to measure a building’s environmental performance, and the main focus is generally on carbon and energy usage. The amount of heat that leaks from a structure plays a big part in how easy it is to maintain the internal temperature – and that’s where U-values come into the equation.

Also known as thermal transmittance, the U-value is calculated by determining the rate of transfer of heat through a structure and dividing it by the difference in temperature across the structure. Individual materials have U-values, but it’s the overall U-value of a building that ultimately matters. This means that all the materials used must be considered, as well as workmanship and the standard of installation.

Design can also play a part in a building’s U-values. For example, when finding a solution for service risers in a building, common ‘dog kennel’ or cladded ‘shed’ systems can have a detrimental impact on thermal transmittance. The GRP service risers from Jones and Woolman UK, however, are designed to protect and seal in important systems – such as air conditioning equipment, electrical systems, factory plant and other building services – while also preventing unwanted heat loss from the building.

Service risers from Jones and Woolman UK – the better option

Here at Jones and Woolman, our fibreglass roof penetration solutions and service risers have been developed to ensure optimal U-values. They are a particularly good option for concrete insulated flat roofs on commercial buildings, but can also be used with other roof constructions.

In addition, our installation teams are experts at creating finished results that are weatherproof and effectively insulated, without gaps or cold bridges that could negatively affect a building’s U-values.

As well as the improved U-values of Jones and Woolman UK service risers, our solutions also have a lower profile than other options. This is ideal for building aesthetics, as the riser is less noticeable once installed. It’s also beneficial in locations like London where space and planning permission can be an issue. Other benefits include a quicker installation time, longer lifespan and a more cost-effective effective solution.

To find out more about the benefits of GRP service risers, and to discuss your requirements with the experts at Jones and Woolman UK, please contact us today.