Weatherproofing penetrations on modular buildings for schools

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Innovating the weatherproofing of penetrations for modular building installations through collaboration

Close up look at a commercial rooflight installed at Cherry Tree nursery

Modular buildings are rapidly growing in popularity for both permanent and temporary structures and for any application from dwellings, offices, and schools to hospitals and specialised laboratory and research facilities. Ensuring an effective weatherproofing of the structure’s roof and vertical penetrations is crucial to protect both services to the structures and the building users from the elements.

The June announcement by the Department for Education (DfE) of a £3bn investment into a two-tier modular schools’ framework in England over 48 months, underlines the commitment of the UK government to support modern methods of construction. Portakabin is amongst five contractors appointed to deliver off-site built primary schools with gross internal areas (GIA) of less than 6,000m2 under lot two of the procurement scheme. Portakabin, as the leading manufacturer in the industry, aims to modernise the traditional construction methods with innovative technology behind steel-based buildings and prefabricated modules. The objective is a fast and cost-effective delivery of user-focused buildings with minimal impact on the environment.

Portakabin is renowned for precision engineering and the delivery of complete turn-key solutions. Each Portakabin modular building project is shaped by unique requirements to support its function, but precision at the point of installation is crucial. The weatherproofing of varied vertical and horizontal penetrations requires speed and flexibility, and the traditional construction methods did not correspond with the demands of the modular approach.

Known for their expertise in weatherproofing penetrations of any type, Jones and Woolman UK were brought in to collaborate with Portakabin and provide high-quality weatherproofing solutions for completed building envelopes regardless of the size and number of the modules used. Established as innovators of solutions and processes, Jones & Woolman UK were involved in the conception stage of the designs and worked extensively with both Portakabin and the subcontractors to find the most effective specification, application, and scheduling to suit modular builds. The result of this cohesive approach was implementation of changes that lead to lower construction costs whilst producing exceptional results in record time.

Roof top view of installed commercial rooflights installed at a nusery

Delivering weatherproofed learning spaces for positive learning experience

Cherry Tree Nursery and Keeble Getaway Academy are projects immensely important to the local communities and futures of the children they serve. The state-of-the-art Early Years Centre in Ayrshire and the modern, spacious Academy in North Yorkshire are purpose-built turnkey facilities. Cherry Tree Nursery was built, installed, and handed over in four months. The 29 modules of Keeble Gateway Academy took 6 days to install. The speed of the delivery did not impact the quality of the construction but was vital to meeting the local demands for educational spaces.

The common objective for both projects was to create a positive learning experience. Daylight, ventilation, and thermal comfort are key to building spaces that promote the wellbeing of pupils and teachers, and the DfE output specification outlines the requirements for compliant visual environments and sets minimum requirements for air quality, thermal comfort, and acoustics. Part of the specification was the provision for energy efficiency and low maintenance. Effective implementation of weatherproofing supports building energy efficiency and maintenance costs.

The efficiency of modular construction lies in the ability to prefabricate as much of the building as possible. Most of the construction is undertaken in a controlled environment and the manufactured modules are ready to assemble on-site. The weatherproofing of some services, vertical glazing, and certain M&E installations among others, may be completed in the factory environment. This is however not the case with all building penetrations and in some instances, it may not be the most efficient approach.

To deliver the necessary daylight and air, roof penetrations were required for rooflights and for upstands used for mechanical ventilation. Further service penetrations were also needed for the air pump ducts in the Cherry Tree Nursery project. Jones & Woolman UK worked with the main contractor Portakabin, the rooflight supplier VELUX Commercial and many others to streamline the installation process, giving Portakabin complete scheduling flexibility of the project.

The resulting process changes were underpinned by the flexibility of the weatherproofing solution and meant that the M&E components, upstands, roof windows and service hatches were installed on-site. This allowed for rapid installation that eradicated any water ingress issues and delivered within the demanding project schedule. The traffic on the roof was kept to a minimum protecting the joints between modules secured by bolts and the silicone joints and significantly cutting down labor costs.

The Jones and Woolman UK weatherproofing solution does not require additional penetrations for fixings, as would have been the case with traditional flashing and plate installation, creating a more aesthetically pleasing finish to the roof. This also leaves a considerably smaller area to be checked for leaks and a faster, more cost-efficient repair process if required. The long-term building maintenance requirements are also significantly lower as a result. The moldings and the specialist method of installation that Jones and Woolman UK have developed, instead of traditional fixing methods to weatherproof the service risers and curbs, avoid thermal bridging, leaving the U-values unaffected. The benefit is greater thermal efficiency and improved building energy performance. For peace of mind, the complete weatherproofing installation is covered by the industry leading Jones and Woolman UK 25-year warranty.

To discuss your next modular building project requirements in greater detail or to find help with weatherproofing modular buildings for schools or other sectors, contact one of our experts.

Roof top view of rooflights installed on Cherry Tree nursery

Key benefits of Jones and Woolman UK penetrations & weatherproofing systems

Scheduling flexibility
We can be reactive and adaptable with the installation schedule and work to the contractor’s requirements. Our ability to seal both vertical and roof penetrations in situ, in all weather conditions, gives you the flexibility to choose the most efficient critical path for your project.

Quick installation
The unique process behind our simple-sounding cut-fit-seal approach means that our weatherproofing can be fitted on-site under extreme scheduling pressure without an impact on the quality of the installation. The prospect of water ingress during installation is eliminated, protecting the modules and any preinstalled mechanical and electrical systems.

All of our solutions and the work we carry out are covered by our industry-leading 25-year warranty for added peace of mind ensuring you don’t have to deal with the impact of leaks and face expensive maintenance and repair costs. We also recently celebrated 40-years of trading and look forward to another 40-years and beyond, building long-lasting relationships with our clients and suppliers.

Involving our expertise in the early planning stages of a design gives the architect confidence that their design ideas are fully supported. The precision of our delivery is uncompromising, protecting the building envelope whilst crucially not impacting the aesthetics. Your design remains the focus.

Process improvement
Our expert knowledge makes the weatherproofing application easy, taking the pressure of the modular manufacturing process and saving time and money. There is no need to consider separate processes, timings, and cost for the sealing different building penetrations. We will provide you with a complete weatherproofing solution package based on your needs.

Weatherproofing and building penetrations at Fulham FC’s updated stadium

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Fulham FC’s football ground, also known as Craven Cottage, has recently been transformed with the construction of its new riverside stand. And the team at Jones and Woolman UK have made sure to fully weatherproof every building penetration as well as the roof and on this £80m structure.

Stadium weatherproofing and building penetrations

The impressive development, which backs up to the River Thames, is built on marine piling, extending buildable space into the river and allowing the riverside path to be opened up to pedestrians and cyclists. The stand features two tiers of seating, increasing the stadium’s capacity by 8,650 people. Once completed, it will also serve the broader community with restaurants, events spaces, a boutique hotel and a health club with rooftop pool.

With so much going on inside the Riverside Stand, it’s no surprise that hundreds of building penetrations were required, from water and soil pipes to electrical supplies, HVAC vents and data and communications cables and cable trays. To help make the stand more sustainable, a significant portion of the roof is also covered in solar panels, meaning even more roof penetrations were needed to feed the electricity into the building.

Tom West, project manager at Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd says that Jones and Woolman UK were called in to make sure that the roof was weatherproofed and that all of the vertical penetrations were fully sealed against weather ingress.
“Jones and Woolman UK was recommended by one of my colleagues who worked with them on a previous sports stadium weatherproofing project,” he explains. “He said he was really happy to work with them, and that’s how J&W got involved in the project,” he adds.

Weathering the challenges

Tom explains that this was an extremely complex project, with challenges ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to industry-wide shortages of labour and materials.

With much of the construction work being carried out from barges on the Thames, he had to organise barges and plan for the tides. Plus, the football stadium was still in regular operation throughout the building programme. Work had to be paused on match days for safety reasons and inspections had to be carried out to ensure that players, team management, the press and ball boys could access the unfinished stand safely.

Tom says that all of these challenges meant that scheduling the weatherproofing work was sometimes difficult. “We had to be reactive to how the project was going, and that sometimes-meant minimal lead times for getting the J&W team out” he explains. It was sometimes tricky, but he liaised with Steve Smith, technical manager at Jones and Woolman UK, on a regular basis and “work was always completed within our time restraints”.

Weatherproofing and building penetration goals

To weatherproof the roof and building penetrations, Jones and Woolman UK had to use a variety of skills and techniques. Through our design and build service, fibreglass service risers, upstands and details were custom-made to fit around the penetrations, and everything was sealed with our GRP cold-applied liquid.

“The result looks great; they’ve done a really professional job,” Tom says, noting that the team dealt with the access issues and other challenges really well. “They’ve had a lot of patience, the guys on site were great to work with, the workmanship is good; I can’t fault them for anything,” he adds.

If you’d like to learn more about our range of weatherproofing and building penetration services or discuss your weatherproofing requirements with a member of our team, please get in touch. You can phone us on 01922 712111 or contact us using the form on this page.

Weatherproofing complex commercial roofs across the UK

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For retail, and commercial buildings in general, reliable weatherproofing is a must, as it protects valuable stock. It can also ensure a pleasant indoor environment for customers and staff by protecting the building envelope and supporting its U-values and performance. So when steel-frame building experts A. J. Lowther & Son needed to weatherproof building penetrations on some new retail units, they called in the team at Jones and Woolman UK.

A wide range of weatherproofing services

The buildings, one located in Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire and two side by side in Bishop’s Cleeve in Gloucestershire, were commissioned by a private client. Each three-storey unit was designed to house a supermarket on the ground level, with a gym, cafe and office space in the upper two storeys.

Jones and Woolman UK helped to install rooflights and upstands on one of the buildings and we ensured that all building penetrations for M&E services were fully protected from water ingress. We also installed GRP linings to weather the terraces of the cafes.

Because of the town-centre location of these buildings, planning permission required unusual rooflines to fit in with neighbouring properties. This meant that the roofs weren’t typical commercial flat roofs, but rather tiled pitched roofs with gables and dormers.
Jamie Mills from A. J. Lowther & Son, adds: “Conservation rooflights were specified in order to meet local planning requirements in keeping with the local vernacular.”

Weatherproofing unusual rooflines

The challenge of the unusual rooflines wasn’t a problem for the team at Jones and Woolman. Our extensive experience working on a wide range of roof types, from commercial to domestic, meant that we were able to install the rooflights and weatherproof the building penetrations without any difficulties.

Jamie says that he was very happy with the results. “A. J. Lowther & Son have worked with J&W for many years,” he explains, adding that he is always happy with the quality of work and level of service he receives from Jones and Woolman UK. He notes that, in his experience, no other company works to such a consistently high standard, or provides the same level of warranty on their products and services.

Roof weatherproofing services

With more than 40 years of experience, Jones and Woolman UK has worked on weatherproofing and building penetration projects across the UK. We are proud to provide the highest level of service and quality. Our work is also covered by a 25-year system warranty.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help with commercial weatherproofing, or any other services, please get in touch on 01922 712111 or use the form on this page.

GRP building penetrations and weathering for Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre

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As part of a £317m project to open a new plastics reprocessing and waste management centre near Bristol, Jones and Woolman UK helped to ensure all building penetrations were fully weatherproofed and capable of withstanding the potentially corrosive environment.

Viridor’s new Avonmouth Resource Recovery Centre comprises an energy recovery facility (ERF) and plastics recycling and reprocessing plant. Situated less than ten miles from Bristol city centre, the facility will process 1.6 billion plastic items and divert 320,00-tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill every year.

The massive construction programme began in 2017 and was officially handed over to Viridor in December 2020. There were 20 principal contractors engaged during the build and, at the peak of construction, around 500 people were working on the site, resulting in around three million hours of on-site work. This included laying 173km of power cables and installing 167 tonnes of pipework.

100 building penetrations

Jones and Woolman UK was proud to be part of this project, working to ensure that all those cables and pipes travelled in and out of the buildings in a weatherproof, corrosion-proof, secure, and attractive manner.

“We installed weathering details on around 100 building penetrations, including cable trays, water and soil pipes, vents and flues,” explains Steve Smith, technical manager at Jones and Woolman UK.

With so many different vertical penetrations to work on, the project required careful planning. To save time on site and streamline installation as much as possible, Jones and Woolman UK prefabricated many elements at its factory in Walsall, including upstands and closure flashings. “We generally make GRP moulded items, but we also use galvanised steel and stainless steel fixings,” Steve notes.

Corrosion resistance

A significant concern for the project was corrosion resistance. Due to the nature of the waste processing and plastics reprocessing facility, it is highly likely that building elements will be exposed to corrosive chemicals.

GRP is widely considered to be corrosion resistant, as it doesn’t react to most acids, chlorides, or solvents. However, a plastics processing facility posed unique challenges, so the Jones and Woolman UK team had to carefully consider the materials and finishes used in the project.

“There was a risk that the chemicals in use at the Avonmouth facility would be corrosive to GRP,” Steve says, “So we ensured that the most durable resins and fleece reinforcements were used.”

A shining example of building penetrations

As well as being functional, the building penetrations also needed to match the building aesthetically.

“The building has a metallic silver finish,” explains Steve. “We always try to colour-match penetration detailing with the external cladding, but metallic finishes are notoriously difficult to replicate,” he says.

Of course, it’s not just about colour matching, “We must also consider the percentage of gloss and texture to get a good match with metallics,” Steve adds.

Using a special metallic paint, which is compatible with the laminates used, the team at Jones and Woolman UK were able to create a finish for the penetrations that blended in well. “We were delighted with the final appearance,” Steve says. “If you don’t notice the penetrations, we know we’ve done our job well,” he adds.

A facility for the future

The Avonmouth ERF forms part of Viridor’s strategy to end plastic waste export, increase UK plastic recycling capacity and invest locally. As such, this is a project that will be providing value to the country, and the planet, well into the future.

As part of this, the Jones and Woolman UK team stand by the building penetrations and weathering work completed at the site, with the entire system being covered by a 25-year system warranty.

To find out more about building penetrations and weathering systems from Jones and Woolman UK, or to discuss your project with a member of our team, please contact us on 01922 712111 or use the form on this page.

Bespoke penetration solutions for Gloucestershire Energy from Waste facility

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Gloucester energy from waste wide project shot
Gloucester efw wide roof shot
Gloucester efw roof panels
Gloucester energy from waste building

When a robust weatherproofed vertical penetration system was required for the EfW facility in Gloucestershire, Jones & Woolman UK were recommended by FK Group – a leading full building envelope contractor – to provide a bespoke solution. As a part of the weathering system, various penetrations were needed to protect specific aspects of the building’s systems. Complex vertical penetrations were required to house and protect cable trays, pipe networks and bridges, while the design of the ventilation, installed perpendicular to the roof, had to take into account water deflection to guarantee weathertightness. There was also a need to weatherproof chimney stacks towering up to 60m.

The Gloucestershire facility was built to manage non-recyclable residual waste in a way that would benefit the environment, economy and local community. This is achieved by the incineration of waste at extreme temperatures and the management of the gaseous products of the resulting combustion. The aim is to generate, amongst others; electricity, recyclable metals and aggregates. Gloucestershire EfW processes 190,000 tonnes of waste per year and the net energy output is estimated to reach 14.5MW, powering 25,000 homes in the region.

Weatherproofed vertical penetration system designed around the needs of the building

Jones and Woolman UK is often specified by architects and designers because they are able to design bespoke, completely watertight solutions protecting the fabrics of any building and its mechanical and electrical components. Especially in commercial environments, the function of the building is underpinned by the continuous performance of intricate components, of which the protection from the elements is critical. 

The Gloucestershire facility, however, required a more complex solution. Neil Boylan, contracts director at Jones and Woolman UK explains, “Due to the nature of the facility, we had to design a solution that would not only stop water penetrating but would also prevent air leakage. The gases generated needed to be either vented out by controlled methods or contained in refuges for safe disposal, depending on their composition. The bespoke design of the weathering system achieved complete airtightness, preventing potential harmful gas leaks.”

The biggest challenge was providing weatherproofing for the chimney stacks on-site. Neil Boylan continues, “We had a chimney system with an incinerator exhaust, around 40m tall and another chimney that spanned 60m. The whole system expands and contracts in response to the burn and combustion cycle within the facility. The weatherproofing installed to the vertical element had to offer elasticity and flexibility capable of dealing with the continuous change in size and temperature whilst retaining its absolute weatherproof and airtight characteristics. The installation had to be completed within a 1-week window to fit in the project deadline and to keep the costs on target.”

Investing in survey, innovation and design to deliver on time and within budgets

The solution was delivered whilst other trades were already working on the site, making the timing of each step essential to maintaining the complex scheduling. The expert teams at Jones and Woolman UK met the challenge head-on.

After the site survey, one week was allocated to design a solution that ensured complete performance to the required needs of the brief and accurate placement of each component to provide seamless integration. In the planning and design stage, Jones and Woolman UK had to also consider moisture created by the steam generated during the process cycles. Installation on a moist surface would have not been possible.

A further two weeks were assigned to manufacture an innovative solution to an exacting specification and to complete extensive checks to ensure performance even under these unusual conditions using their comprehensive in-house design and build service.

Further time was then spent to carefully plan and carry out the installation around the already busy site schedule. This approach meant that the complete weathering and cladding penetration solution for the Gloucestershire EfW was installed in 1-week as specified by the client.

Supporting the client with an as standard full-system warranty

The facility will run around the clock, with planned maintenance of only 14-days per year over the 25-year waste management contract. The weathering solutions designed, built and installed by Jones and Woolman UK carry their comprehensive warranty of 25 years and will therefore support the overall maintenance schedule of the facility. 

Neil finishes with, “Following the success of our innovative design and flawless installation of our bespoke roof and cladding penetration and weathering system at Gloucestershire EfW, we have been approached with enquiries for similar applications in Scotland.”

Jones and Woolman UK’s experts have taken on an incredible range of projects across varying sectors over the last 40 years, so if you need help with your next development, contact them today for your bespoke installation solution, or you can discover more about their extensive range of services.