Month: December 2016

Pebbledash and insulation – do they work?

23 12/16
Pebbledash and insulation

Pebbledash and insulation – do they work?

Whilst pebbledash is not the most fashionable finish these days, we do still get some requests for it, particularly in combination with insulation. Some installers have been creating the impression however that pebbledash cannot be installed on insulation. In this blog we are going to look at what you can and can’t do with pebbledash!


shutterstock_151991690 Sand Cement and modern Pebbledash

There are a few different types of pebbledash and different ways to install them. Old fashioned pebbledash, which can be seen on properties up and down the country, is a very simple sand cement mix, with the stones applied to the wall in 2 simple steps – a one coat application of the render, and then the dash application. The render is typically more than an inch thick, and in some cases much thicker. It is durable and effective, but the system is liable to cracking due to the one coat style of application and the material used.

Modern dash systems have a few more stages. There is a base coat with a fibreglass mesh sunk into it (something which is not possible with sand cement), and then a dash receiver, specially designed to hold the dash when it is applied. This means that they are much more flexible and resistant to cracking and are more lightweight.

Insulation systems with pebbledash

Despite what you might think, there are systems out there that will allow you to pebbledash them. Whilst adding sand cement would add too much weight to the insulation, modern dash systems are much lighter, and system manufacturers like K-rend offer a pebbledash system which is compatible with the insulation.

Pebbledash solid wall insulation

Differences in installation method

Installing pebbledash on insulation involves a bit more work than a typical mineral or silicon render. There are extra steps in the process, a difference in the skillsets required for installers and more expensive materials. The process is a bit longer as well, which all adds up to increased cost for the customer.



We would suggest that a typical EWI and pebbledash installation will set you back around £130 per square meter on average, which is 20-30% more than a standard render option. In our opinion, pebbledash is only really worthwhile if you are trying to get your property to match others on the street, or if you are having to meet certain planning constraints. It probably doesn’t have any particular benefits over other modern render systems to warrant the extra cost. There are plenty of customers who still need their property to have that pebbledash finish however!

When is the best time to insulate your house?

21 12/16
Pebbledash a

Solid wall insulation Walessolid wall insulation wales

We get requests for insulation all year round, but especially when the winter begins to bite. But much like when you get a boiler, the winter is going to be much busier than the summer, because that is the time when the insulation is most needed. In this blog, we are going to look at some of the pros and cons of insulating in summer and winter and help you plan for your EWI installation.


Insulating in Summer

Installing insulation in the summer is the ideal scenario. Whilst the Welsh weather is never exactly dry, the summer is always going to be the best time to carry out insulation works, or any building work for that matter. With a good stretch of weather, the average house can be insulated in just a couple of weeks in the summer and drier weather means there is less likely to be any issues.

Insulating in Winter

We install insulation 12 months a year, so if you are feeling cold this winter and want to get EWI without waiting for the warmer weather, it is definitely an option. There are a few things to bear in mind during this time of year however. When the temperature gets down into single figures, the silicon render that we prefer to use takes a long time to dry. Couple this with the rain that tends to visit our shores a little more often than we would like, and you can end up with a disaster where the top coat gets washed off the wall before it has the chance to set.

There are a couple of ways around this – we can cover the site to ensure the walls do not get wet, which will add some additional cost, or we can use a more traditional mineral based render, which dries better in the lower temperatures, but will require painting.

Solid wall insulation Wales?

When is the best time to insulate your house?

Whilst we are happy to install your insulation at any time, if you can afford to wait until the drier weather, the job will run much quicker. The best thing is to give us a call and discuss your requirements, and we will try to be as flexible as possible and book you in for a suitable timeslot to suit you.

External Insulation in Wales

18 12/16
Why use External Insulation in Wales?

Why use External Insulation in Wales?

External insulation is big business in Wales, and in this blog we are going to tell you why it is so effective in this part of the country, and why you should get external insulation for your property.

Why is EWI Effective against Damp?

In a wet and windy place like Wales, your external walls face a daily battle against the elements to keep your home dry and warm. Driving rain attacks your walls and can make its way through brickwork and into your internal plaster. This is really bad news because you can end up with mould and damp throughout your home.

For many years in exposed parts of the UK like Wales, thick renders with pebbledash have been used to help create a coating that stops moisture from penetrating the brickwork. This works reasonably well at stopping penetrating damp, but it doesn’t really deal with condensation, where moisture in the air condenses on the exposed walls.

EWI on the other hand, deals with both penetrating damp and condensation based damp in one go. It actually warms up those external walls and prevents condensation from forming, whilst also preventing damp from penetrating through the brickwork.

EWI for Cavity Wall Properties?

Cavity wall properties are normally insulated by pumping insulation into the gap between the bricks. In sheltered areas where driving rain is less of a problem, this is a good way to insulate the property. In Wales however, many homes are subject to more intense weather than say, the East of England. It means that properties in these exposed areas, if cavity insulated, can cause damp as the insulation bridges the gap between the two layers of brick and creates a pathway for moisture to get at the internal walls. In this case, EWI may be a good alternative, as it protects against penetrating damp and will avoid the issues that can arise with cavity insulation. It will also help make the walls even more well insulated than cavity insulation, as the insulation can be much thicker than in the standard cavity.

So for an area like Wales, EWI is a good option to prevent and negate damp.

Thermal Imaging – Do you leak heat from your home?

14 12/16
Thermal Imaging inside

Thermal Imaging Survey

Do you leak heat from your home?

Thermal Imaging – Do you leak heat from your home?

Do you leak heat from your home?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell where the heat is escaping from your home – is it those draughty windows? The front door? Are your walls poorly insulated? It is not quite as straight forward as it first appears.

Where do you lose heat?

If we take a reasonably well draught proofed property, there are several main places that heat can escape: through the roof, the walls, the windows and the floors. Which is the most important of these 4 places? That will somewhat depend on the property in question, but the average house will lose around 35% through the walls, 25% through the loft space, about 10% through the windows and 10% through the floors. Various other minor areas account for the rest of the heat loss. If you live in a detached house with solid brick walls, the proportion lost through the walls will be higher, whereas a cavity wall mid terraced property loses much less through the walls.

Why are walls such a big factor?

Walls account for much more surface area compared to the roof or the windows.

Wall usually outnumbers window area by 4 or 5 to 1, so even if your windows are in a really bad condition, the walls will usually be the main source of heat loss.

Thermal Imaging – A new technology for homeowners

There is a really useful technology that can help you work out where the cold spots are in your property. Maybe you have a particularly cold room, or suspect there is a heat sink in a wall – thermal imaging can pick this up and tell you exactly where the heat is being lost on your property.

We offer this service to our customers at a cost of £199 inclusive of VAT – you get detailed images back of any problem areas and a recommendations letter suggesting what steps should be taken as a result of the survey.

Just get in touch if you want to book a Thermal imaging survey

What can go wrong after installing solid wall insulation?

07 12/16
render dirty

What can go wrong after installing solid wall insulation?

In this blog we are going to look at some of the most common problems we see on installations and how you can avoid them!

1 . Silicone on solid wall insulation

silicone problem

We have noticed that the biggest problem after installing solid wall insulation is silicone.

Where silicone is used around windows or verges, it can degrade quite quickly.

Even the best silicone sealant will fail if continually exposed to water, and this can lead to damp problems internally.

We try to minimise the use of silicone wherever possible by the use of appropriate beads and trims wherever we can,

but you may need to reseal any silicone you have installed every few years.


2. Cracks and mechanical damage




It is quite unusual for cracks to appear on the wall of their own accord, but we do sometimes get customers calling because they have accidently damaged the render.

One customer actually drove their car into the wall whilst parking! In this case you need to contact us within 48 hours of the incident and we can then look to resolve the situation.

A patch is always possible, and usually not particularly difficult, although it will likely leave a scar in the top coat even with the best workmanship.



3 Render is getting dirty and green on solid wall insulation



Especially in gardens, it is not uncommon for the wall to discolour to a greeny colour on some EWI jobs.

This is usually down to the type of render used and not the application.

Cheaper acrylic renders are especially prone to this form of discolouration, as they tend to collect dirt more than a silicon render. Silicone render is self-cleaning, meaning that water does not sit on the wall like it does with acrylic – water will run off, helping to keep it clean and prevent the build up of biological matter.

If you have acrylic render it is recommended to jet wash regularly and in some cases it may need repainting. If you are yet to install your system, consider using a render with a biocide mixed into the top coat. This will help prevent the growth of any organic matter on the wall.


4 Ventilation issues

 ventilation issues solid wall insulation


We always extend ventilation ducts, but you will see some installers covering them up. The vents are there for a reason!

Covering the vents can cause damp and condensation build up, so ensure your vents are open and if draughts are an issue,

look at modern ventilation boxes which will reduce any draughts whilst still allowing air to circulate.

 5 Do not plant any plants next to external wall insulation


solid wall insulationAny plants should be kept at least 10 inches away from the wall, which will help prevent any dirt or organic material building up on the wall.

Plants covering the insulation will also prevent the self cleaning properties of the render from taking place as usual.

As well as plants, you should not grow any creeping plants or climbers on the wall. This can cause stress to the system as it grows and can cause cracking. If plants are grown up the wall it may affect your guarantee.

There are some other issues that may arise, but these are some of the most common.

These problems can be the result of poor installation or poor upkeep by the customer, but either way, most are resolvable situations, so please talk to your installer to get further advice. We also carry out regular remedial works, so if you wish to get a quote to fix your render system, just give us a call.

What External wall insulation warranty

06 12/16
External wall insulation warranty

What warranty will you get with your EWI and how does it affect insurance

External wall insulation warranty

External wall insulation is a long-term investment. Most system manufacturers will offer manufacturers warranties in excess of 25 years, so you should be able to live in your property safe in the knowledge that the system is going to last.

Unfortunately, occasionally the EWI will fail. This could be down to faulty materials or poor installation. As installers, we see plenty of EWI jobs that have been installed incorrectly by rogue traders, and have to come in to fix the problems. In this blog we are going to look at warranties and guarantee schemes – what you should look for and how you claim.

What external wall insulation warranties cover

There are a few basic kinds of guarantee available from an installer.

They are as follows:

  • A Company guarantee for workmanship – Most companies will at least offer this and there is a statutory requirement to offer a basic guarantee on building works.
  • The length of external wall insulation warranty and what is included and excluded will vary, however. Be Constructive offers a 10 year warranty as standard on most system specifications and this will cover any failure in the system caused by the workmanship.
  • System Manufacturers Warranty – This type of warranty is on the product only, and it comes from the manufacturer not from the installer. It is quite limited in that it doesn’t cover incorrectly fitted systems, only problems directly caused by the materials themselves. This is usually offered by all good installers, and can only be offered by installers who are approved to use the product in question. For example, Be Constructive are accredited to install EWI Pro and K-Rend systems, and can offer a 25 year manufacturers warranty as a result. Companies not offering this are likely not accredited to install the system, so be wary!
  • Industry Backed Guarantee – This type of external wall insulation warranty is designed to cover the customer for an extended period, much longer than the average lifespan of an installer company. Typically these guarantees are for 25 years or more and will cover you even if the installer goes out of business. Be Constructive offer this kind of warranty as an optional extra via the GDGC scheme. There are other guarantee agencies out there like SWIGA as well. This type of extended guarantee is often a pre-requisite for government schemes, but for private work it is not – as such, we like to offer our customer the choice as to whether they want this type of guarantee or would rather save their cash and go for a company guarantee – it is completely up to you!

What is covered in an external wall insulation guarantee

Hopefully the above should give you an idea of what to expect, but of course every policy will vary depending on the system and the installer. For example, we provide cover on the system itself, but only offer a standard guarantee on the associated pipework. We often extend pipes that are many years old, and cannot reasonably be expected to last another 25 years – especially when we are merely extending the ones that are already there! We also state that silicone sealant may need to be reapplied periodically over the life of the system, as silicone will definitely not last that length of time (this is why we try to limit the use of silicone wherever possible).

Maintenance of an EWI system

Whilst the covered provided may be comprehensive, it is expected that the customer will undertake some maintenance over the lifetime of the system. EWI is generally quite maintenance-light, but there are some key areas that will need to be maintained – we will take a look at these in detail in the next blog!