Meeting housing demand with roofing refurbishment

// the building envelope

Meeting housing needs is not just a case of building more and more homes to satisfy a demand, but ensuring that maintenance and refurbishment programs are in place to ensure that existing properties are meeting current legislation and standards.

When a new home is built, all current standards are taken into account. So how do you make sure that a post war property - many of which had only an original life expectancy of a couple of decades - offer security and sustainability benefits comparable to the brand new properties?

The UK has an abundance of post-war properties throughout. Once World War II came to a close there was a significant lack of homes, so the short-term plan was to rehouse people using properties that were easy to construct (yet as a result some of these property types suffered from a short life expectancy). This would buy time to build long term, long-lasting properties while easing the burden of the many families without their own homes yet against all odds, many of these homes are standing today including BISF (British Iron & Steel Federation) properties, Hawksley Bungalows and Cornish Units. The endurance of these designs is more related to constant refurbishment and maintenance programs by the Local Authorities and Housing Associations, than a testament to the original build of each home.

Lightweight steel roofing has become a public sector problem solver in this regard as it demonstrates an ability to exceed the benefits of traditional roofing materials such as slate, such as the low weight design ensuring a swift installation (and ensuring that residents are bothered by construction for the minimal amount of time). Lightweight steel roofing can also double as a cladding solution, which is ideal for a particular post-war property type: the Cornish Unit.

Built in the 1950’s, Cornish Units are distinguished by their Mansard roofs and are still very common throughout the UK. The vertical section of each Mansard roof can suffer due to fixings corroding through time, leading to tiles becoming dislodged (and vandalism is also a concern). When rejuvenating a Cornish Unit, authorities need to ensure that the roofing can withstand duress from the elements and vandals and provide years of service.

Bridgwater, Somerset is a location with a large volume of Cornish Homes, many of them  - approximately 75% - looked after by Homes in Sedgemoor, part of Local Authority Sedgemoor District Council. The plan has been to bring them all up to Decent Homes standard within a five year span, especially with regards to insulation. To do so, HiS needed to specify a roofing system for both the roofs and mansards that could help achieve this goal, yet not damage the structure and foundations. The solution was to choose Metrotile Shingle, a lightweight steel roofing system that offers protection against the elements (and other security concerns) in a tile that weighs just one seventh of traditional roofing materials such as slate of clay.

Chris Willmott, who is the Property Investment Manager for Homes in Sedgemoor was involved with the specification of Metrotile for the project. He stated:

“We decided to choose a metal sheet roofing system due to the reduced material and install costs, reduced installation times, its lightweight nature, its attractive appearance, reduction in carbon used compared to manufacture and transport.”

Lightweight roofing has proven to be an increasingly popular choice for Housing Association refurbishments, due to enhanced security and sustainability benefits in addition to the rapid installation time offered by the lightweight design and it is the increased number of benefits that have seen the material become adopted in other building projects, such as brand new homes, newbuild and refurbished schools and even Fire Service training roofs.

Metrotile UK is about to increase the size of their range with a new product launch imminent. To keep up to date with this and for anything else related to Metrotile, they can be contacted via,, Twitter via @metrotileuk or from Mon-Fri 9am-5pm on 01249 658514. Metrotile will also have a stand at the upcoming Homes Event at the London Olympia on the 16th & 17th of November where they will be able to personally answer any of your questions.

View The Latest Issue