Housing Specification Blog

Case Study: Overclad solution improves 800 homes in the North East

November 21, 2012 Alexandra Blakeman Innovations

In today’s guest post Marley Eternit looks at how a fibre cement overclad solution provided a cost-effective method of improving the energy efficiency and aesthetics of over 800 properties in the North East.

Before renovation…

Local authorities across the UK are considering how best to improve the energy efficiency of their existing domestic portfolio to ensure that all of their properties meet current standards of thermal efficiency.

Thousands of homes constructed from pre-fabricated reinforced concrete panels, such as Myton and Reema, were built in the mid-twentieth century and still continue to provide affordable social housing. However, they generally lack any form of insulation and, as around a third of heat is lost through the walls, bringing them up to modern thermal performance standards is a priority.

Housing providers are therefore faced with the decision of whether to demolish the properties and rebuild or refurbish them to meet modern standards of energy efficiency. An increasing number are choosing a fibre cement overclad solution to improve the comfort, energy efficiency and appearance of their properties. With a continued squeeze on capital budgets it is a route being chosen by clients in both the public and private sector.

South Tyneside Homes, the ALMO (Arms Length Management Organisation) which manages South Tyneside Council’s domestic portfolio, was faced with such a decision as over 800 properties in the district were built from precast Myton concrete panels in the 1940’s and, like many buildings of this era, lacked any form of insulation.

As heating costs continue to rise, South Tyneside Homes was facing increased pressure to upgrade the thermal performance of a number of their properties to avoid residents falling into fuel poverty. Another concern was that many of the concrete panels were showing signs of deterioration and required regular, ongoing maintenance.

…and after the overclad solution had been applied

Refurbishment of the properties using a fibre cement overclad solution was identified as a more sustainable and cost-effective than demolishing and re-building. The benefit of choosing a fibre cement overclad solution is that it enables this by adding insulation to the exterior wall. And, unlike internal wall insulation, it can be installed without disrupting or impinging on valuable living space.

South Tyneside Homes therefore identified 800 properties across the district for refurbishment as part of their Decent Homes programme, which aims to address fuel poverty in the area. It was a priority that the improvements made were cost-effective and caused minimal disruption to tenants, and that meant avoiding them having to vacate their homes whilst the work was carried out.

Fibre cement Cedral Weatherboard was specified as part of a rainscreen system because it provided a cost-effective and durable method of improving energy efficiency, whilst tenants remained in the homes. This was achieved by mechanically fixing 60mm of rigid foam insulation (0.29W/m²K) to the exterior faces of the concrete panels. The Cedral Weatherboard was then nailed to timber battens in a shiplap configuration over the insulation and vapour barrier to create a rear ventilated cavity, providing the properties with enhanced weather performance benefits.

Using a fibre cement overclad solution also improved the appearance of the properties, as the concrete on the original Myton panels had become to show general signs of deterioration. Grey Brown coloured Cedral Weatherboard was specified to compliment the other materials used as part of the exterior refurbishment, which gave the homes a modern, fresh appearance.

The fibre cement overclad solution will help keep maintenance on the properties to a minimum because, unlike timber, it does not warp or shrink, nor does it need to be re-painted. With a life expectancy of at least 50-years it will provide a long-term solution.

Chris Jones Project Manager at South Tyneside Homes explained: “Cedral Weatherboard was a cost effective and durable method of refurbishing the properties. We are confident that it will provide us with a long-term solution. Overcladding with fibre cement makes the properties more energy efficient for residents and fulfils our requirement to modernise their appearance.”

The refurbishment project carried out by South Tyneside Homes has gone on to win the National Energy Action Award.

With millions of homes across the UK requiring some form of thermal upgrade, a fibre cement overclad solution is often the most practical way forward. The properties in South Tyneside have been transformed on a relatively limited budget, compared to demolition and new build. Ultimately, the people who benefit are the residents with lower heating bills, more comfortable homes and places where they want to live.”

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