The first of five homes in an extensive housing development for Mid-Wales Housing Association have been built at a rapid rate and tenants are already enjoying their comfortable new homes. This is, in part, due to the popular H+H Rå Build method of construction implemented by building contractors at RT Bishop Ltd based in Churchstoke, Montgomery.
Designed and built for Mid-Wales Housing Association, RT Bishop has completed work on the first stage of the development with a further 22 homes planned to take shape in the coming years. These are all environmentally-friendly homes integrating some of the latest technologies including solar panels on the roof and air source heat pumps for sustainable heating. The project consists of five, two-bedroom homes.
So far the properties have all been allocated to applicants from both Powys County Council and Mid-Wales Housing. Funding for the cost of the development was assisted by Powys County Council and the Association as well as the Welsh Government. Adopting a different approach to how the houses were allocated, Mid-Wales Housing Association took mitigating factors into account. All applicants had to both already live and work within the community and also do voluntary work within the community.
As with all builds the contractors had to adhere to Building Regulations but this project was particularly interested in achieving a high thermal performance. The H+H Rå Build method using the Thin-Joint System helped in achieving this goal. The homes are built to meet a number of design standards including the Code for Sustainable Homes (Level 3 plus), Life Time Homes, Secured by Design, Welsh Government Design Quality Standards and the Welsh Housing Quality Standards.
Rå Build method is an inclusive package which comprises large format aircrete blockwork and quick-setting Thin-Joint Celfix Mortar. The construction creates a weather-tight masonry shell, for a time-efficient, cost-effective solution.
Efficient build system
Director at RT Bishop, Robert Bishop, said that the process of using H+H’s Rå Build method meant that they were able to produce the inner leaf of the external walls in just five weeks; three weeks faster than had they used other building methods. This not only saves time on the job site but also money as it takes less manpower to lay the lightweight blocks.
“We decided on H+H because the preference was to build with traditional masonry materials and the Rå Build method makes for a far easier and quicker build. The method enabled us to build the inner leaf of the building before the outer skin went up meaning we could continue with the first-fix faster,” Mr Bishop said.
The H+H Thin-Joint System using specially designed Celfix Mortar remains the most efficient build system to use in order to increase the speed of a build. Combining Celcon Plus, Jumbo Blok or MultiPlate ranges of aircrete blocks enables walls to be built very quickly without having to wait the conventional 24 hour window for traditional mortar to set.
Celfix Mortar is cement based and designed to replace the traditional sand:cement mortar. The mortar bed starts to set within 10 minutes of application and reaches design strength in just one to two hours enabling blockwork to be built extremely quickly. This means that the inner leaf structure can be built independently of the outer leaf and a full weather-tight shell can be erected in a matter of days, not weeks.
The advantage of the Rå Build method’s quick application is that internal first fix work by other sub-contractors like electricians can get to work in a weatherproof environment while the exterior of the structure continues to be built.
Adding to the benefits of Celfix Mortar is its ability to be used from 0°C and rising. Approved by the NHBC, the new extended temperature range will enable an increase in productivity during the colder winter months. Builders using the H+H Thin-Joint System to lay aircrete blocks, like RT Bishop, will be able to start work on site earlier in the day and will potentially be able to work on days that previously would have been little onsite activity.
Having used H+H Celcon Blocks in the past Mr Bishop decided to trial the Rå Build method and the positive results mean he will not hesitate to build in the same manner in the future. Backed by the assurances of the H+H team, providing technical advice and onsite guidance when needed, the build method allowed for fast and efficient construction.
“I am very pleased with the end result as it all went up a lot quicker than I thought it would by using the complete Rå Build method,” said Mr Bishop.
“We have used timber frame in the past but now, after using this system, we will definitely go to H+H again.”
The Mid-Wales Housing Association have been delighted with the results of their five new two-bedroom houses in Churchstoke which they believe will be more pleasant and economical to live in. It has been a successful project for Mr Bishop and his team who are looking forward to progressing with the rest of the development in the near future.