Good grounding in community self-build

// the building envelope

HA Magazine's Technical Editor, Bruce Meechan hears from John Patch of Roger Bullivant about the foundation specialist's readiness to facilitate the delivery of community custom build across the country.

UK Construction Week at the NEC happened to coincides with the Conservative Party’s conference being staged in Manchester, while speakers at both spent much time talking about the delivery of new homes - preferably affordable ones and built at a much faster pace than our industry has managed for some years.

What stood out for me amongst some of the seminars and conversations I had around the halls, was the extent to which our RSLs and their supply chain partners are already prepared to help deliver the politicians' ambitions - companies such as Roger Bullivant Limited included.

For those who have not yet heard about Richard Bacon’s recently passed Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act, or current self-build schemes such as the one which is being carried out by Cherwell District Council at Bicester, then be aware that “Localism” and self-help are about to hit the housing market in a big way. In fact the chair of the Cherwell discussions in the TRADA theatre at Timber Expo suggested that the community self- build movement could generate £20 Billion pounds worth of work in the coming years.

It is also expected that many of these micro and macro developments will 'get off the ground' through serviced plots being made available for the erection of various design solutions. And rather than this being another political sound bite, my meeting with John Patch, a Director at Roger Bullivant, confirmed the piling and oversite specialist  is already in discussion with a large number of modular home-building companies; as well as being involved with the erection of a very relevant new exemplar project at the BRE's Watford Innovation Park.

John Patch commented: “Self-build seems a logical way of helping meet the country's need for new housing and the number of modular house builders - especially timber frame companies - coming to us has increased markedly.

"We have installed the base for Bill Dunster's new demonstration project at the BRE and have also devised a set of four varying systems for his company to develop projects with different ground conditions: such as he is proposing at Newport in Essex and also at Dagenham.”

In ideal conditions the detached properties will be raised on a ground bearing raft, while in marginal ground the load-carrying capacity will be improved using vibro-compaction. The third option sees an insulated slab supported on piled foundations, and then if there is the potential for heave – as often affects the London Clays – a void will be created beneath the slab.

At least twenty companies are looking to the modular build route as preferable to traditional but more desirable for energy efficiency.

John Patch continued: "In addition to timber frame there is also a real potential for solutions such as SIPs, insulated concrete formwork and high performance masonry solutions to match the demand for housing. Meanwhile we are also working with Light Gauge Steel Framing, a family run business which has previously specialized in the commercial sector, but has now come up with a very viable residential system. 

“There is similarity between our solutions for all of them in that you have the vertical support of piled or other foundations, and then they need an insulated slab, but with various hybrid edge details in order to accommodate the wall construction."

As with Roger Bullivant's well established support for house building clients and commercial project teams, the piling contractor has a full selection of rigs and other equipment available across the country, as well as highly skilled personnel, able to help get any scheme off to a well designed and executed start, within a predictable time frame and budget.

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