Month: March 2017


How to Deal with Cracks in Brickwork Before Rendering

29 03/17
crax on external wall insulation surrey

How to Deal with Cracks in Brickwork Before Rendering

We come across many older properties with brickwork in really poor condition. This might be because the brickwork has become cracked and damaged over the years due to exposure from the elements, it could be due to structural issues within the building, or it could be where old render has been removed and damaged the brick underneath. In many cases where old render is removed, the bricks underneath are substandard anyway, and in desperate need of repair.

What has caused the cracks?

As part of our initial survey we will take a look at any cracks in the brickwork to see what has caused them. In some cases where we suspect a structural issue, we might recommend a survey from a structural surveyor to ensure there is not a more serious issue. In this case it would not make sense to render until the problem is resolved.

If the damage is merely superficial or easily remedied with some levelling mortar, we may be able to repair this as part of the job.

Levelling out surfaces prior to insulation and render

If there are uneven surfaces which could cause cavities when covered with insulation, or create a uneven base coat in render only jobs, we will sometimes recommend levelling out the surface with a specially designed levelling mortar. This fills all the voids and ensures that you have a quality surface to render on to.

Strengthening Brickwork prior to rendering

If the damage is severe, but not structural, then we may suggest adding a strengthening metal mesh. As seen in the photo, this metal mesh is fixed mechanically to the brickwork to hold the brick together and ensure a stable surface to render on to. We would then cover the mesh with a mortar layer before proceeding with the regular basecoat, fibreglass mesh and top coat.

Why do we ensure stable brickwork?

Many rendering companies would not bother to carry out this sort of strengthening work, but we insist upon it because we have to offer you a long term warranty (10 years for render only and 25 years for insulation and render). Without this sort of groundwork, you are more susceptible to cracking and failure of the render system, so don’t take the second best option here.

Does strengthening the brickwork cost more?

The cost will depend on the amount of brickwork affected by the cracking. If much of the wall needs to have metal mesh, there will be a fairly considerable increase in cost. If it is only a patch here and there, the cost is only going to be a few hundred pounds. Well worth that extra investment to ensure a long lasting finish.

We use the best coloured renders

27 03/17
coloured render

At BeConstructive, we make sure we use only the best products. As the render is the final stage of an external wall insulation system, it’s got to be perfect. That’s why we only use coloured-through renders. Whichever colour you choose, you can rest assured it will stay looking great for many years to come.

What makes our coloured render different?

Traditional renders comprise a mixture of sand, cement, lime and chemicals. When these renders are used, they can take weeks to dry. They then have to be painted over with your chosen colour. We can get your job done quicker by killing two birds with one stone! We do it differently because our render is coloured.

Having the job finished in one coat means no hanging around for the render to dry before painting, so the job will be done sooner. It will also be cheaper to use one material, instead of separate render and paint.

Another benefit of coloured through-render is that is more robust. A layer of paint will show the render underneath if it gets scratched or cracked. The coloured render we use is highly pigmented, and as a result, damage to the top layer will be much less obvious. This means you won’t have to re-render again in a few years’ time. Doing the job right will save you money in the long run.

Our coloured renders, available in several different finishes – silicone, silicone silicate and acrylic – can be used on almost any substrate. This gives you the most choice possible when choosing your external wall insulation materials.

Choose coloured render for your external wall insulation

Finishing your external wall insulation with a high-quality render is really important. It’s relied upon to protect your external wall insulation, so it needs to do its job. We always recommend choosing coloured render rather than paint because it’s adaptable, strong and weather-resistant. The EWI Pro renders we use are breathable, meaning they prevent damp, and flexible, making cracking very unlikely.

Best of all, the render looks great! Whatever colour you want your home to be, it can be mixed without fuss. The price of colours varies depending on the cost of the pigments.

To find out more about how much the materials typically cost when it comes to coloured render, EWI Store have written a really useful blog post ‘coloured render cost per m2’.

Get in touch today to find out more about external wall insulation, or for a no-obligation quote.

Spring is the best time to insulate your home

22 03/17
external wall insulation spring

Is spring a good time to insulate your home?

With the milder weather we have seen over the last few weeks, we have seen a big uptake in interest for solid wall insulation. While spring cleaning starts inside the home, it can also be a good time of year to turn your attention to exterior building works. So is it a good time to look at external insulation?

Spring is actually one of the best times of year to insulate, and in this blog I am going to tell you why.

Insulation protects from overheating

Despite what you might have read in the papers, insulation has the dual benefit of keeping your home cool during the summer, whilst keeping it warm during the winter. Why is this? Insulation works by preventing the movement of heat through your walls. If the outside is warmer than the inside, as the case might be in summer, that warmth will enter the home much more slowly if there is insulation present.

It might be a little counter intuitive, but its true! The important thing to do is to open your windows overnight, then close them in the morning before the temperature starts to rise. This traps cool air in the house, and with good insulation, it should stay cool through much of the day.

Hot weather can slow down a job

Whilst we cannot do much work in the rain, equally when the weather is too hot it might slow the work as well. In the height of summer, when temperatures get above 25 degrees, we may need to stop work. If the walls get too hot, render will dry too quickly, and may lead to cracking. In a heatwave, we often have to down tools for a few days until it is right for the rendering stage of the job.

Of course, if you get the work done in Spring, the heat should not be a factor.

Installers get busy in summer

The summer is our busiest time of year. Whilst we get many calls in the winter, many customers want to wait until things like the school holidays to get their works done. We often have a 2-month waiting list during these busy times, whereas Spring is usually not quite as busy. That means it is a really good time to book us in and get the dates you want.

Spring is a great time to look at carrying out external building works. Don’t wait around until Summer – chances are we will be too busy to get the work done until autumn, by which time the cold weather might be back!

We are now partnered with the National Insulation Association (NIA)

16 03/17
National Insulation Association (NIA)

BeConstructive is now a member of the The National Insulation Association. The NIA represents solid wall insulation installers and manufacturers in the UK. Its Code of Professional Practice is an extensive set of guidelines which ensures that members of the public only encounter the most professional tradespeople. Hopefully it will be a mutually beneficial relationship in the years to come!

It was a long and rigorous process, but we have passed their strict regulations and are now part of their trusted network. We are pleased that our customer service and standards of workmanship have been recognised, as we take pride in every job we do.

Having external wall insulation installed is not a cheap investment, so customers should feel sure that the people doing it are professional and thorough. NIA approval gives peace of mind, as they are committed to raising standards in the insulation industry.

Before giving us membership, the NIA checked every element of our work, including health and safety protocol, technical training, installations, guarantees and customer service.

BeConstructive is one of the UK’s leading installers of solid wall insulation.

All our installs are covered by both a 25-year manufacturer warranty and a third party workmanship guarantee. We also offer Stroma certification for peace of mind.

We are members of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the National Insulation Association (NIA). We are also members of the AECB, Constructionline and we are a HAS-accredited contractor.

To be honest, we are pretty proud of all these things, but what is most important is the final results. We have a wealth of experience and we value the number of clients who have trusted us with their homes. When you choose BeConstructive, you can rest assured you are in safe hands!

 

The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner you can benefit from a warmer home and lower fuel bills! When we install external wall insulation you will receive an independent 25-year guarantee from the Solid Wall Insulation Guarantee Agency.

Insulation materials

11 03/17
polysterene

Insulation materials

EPS in the UK

Be Constructive gets through a huge quantity of insulation materials and it is very important for us that not only is our work energy saving, but also that the carbon we produce is kept to a minimum. As a company specialising in low carbon technology, it is important that the product we use are actually as sustainable as possible and offer the customer not just a carbon saving solution, but a low carbon installation process as well.

Sourcing EPS with EWI Pro

Expanded polystyrene is a really bulky product – you can fill a whole truck with it and it will only weigh a few hundred kilograms. It is also quite low value – it is the cheapest part of the insulation system as a whole. Many companies will source their EPS from abroad, but EWI Pro, our favoured system designer, decided that there was a better way.

They now work closely with a UK based EPS manufacturer to produce the insulation materials here in the UK. That means less transport costs, less carbon emissions as a result of the transportation, and quicker delivery for larger orders direct to site.

Making EPS with minimal waste

EPS is made from small pellets which are heated and expanded to create the low density insulation boards. This process is really efficient because there is almost zero waste in the process. The only wastage is where an odd thickness of insulation is required which may result in some offcuts.

UK EPS means UK Quality

Using British EPS is great not only for the UK economy, but also because we can be much more certain of the quality of the final product. All the EPS manufactured under the EWI Pro name is made in accordance with British Standard BS EN13163:2012. This standard means that you can be sure the EPS we use on your walls is of excellent quality, fit for purpose, and that the insulation has the insulating performance.

Is EPS bad for the environment?

EPS is very inert, meaning that it will not react with anything at a dump or in the outside environment. This does not mean that you should not dispose of EPS carefully, but it is relatively less harmful to the environment than many other insulation and building materials. EPS can also be recycled, where many other building products cannot.

Is Rockwool better than EPS?

It really depends on the job you have as to which is better. We use a lot of EPS because it is cheaper, and needs less thickness to achieve the same u-value as rockwool. However, Rockwool is great for breathability and to reduce street noise, whereas EPS has no effect on this. We recommend carefully discussing your requirements with one of our surveyors and understanding whether Rockwool would add any benefit for your installation. We are happy to provide a quote for both options to allow you to decide the best course of action for your property.

External wall insulation-cables and pipes

02 03/17
solid wall insulation cables and pipes

External wall insulation -cables and pipes

Should you bury cables or pipe?

Every EWI installation will have at least some electrical or telecoms cables on the walls – it is to be expected. The questions is what to do with these items when you get EWI installed. You have a couple of options open to you – but it basically boils down to extending and putting the items on the outside of the insulation, or burying the items under the insulation. In this blog we are going to look at the pros and cons of each scenario, and the different ways this can be achieved.

 

 

Burying soil pipes and down pipes

We really recommend not burying any soil, waste or downpipes. Whilst it is possible to bury them in the insulation, there are numerous problems that can arise when this is carried out. Firstly, if there are any leaks in the pipes, or you need to get to the pipes for any reason, you will have to hack through the render to reach them. There will be a huge amount of patching involved as a result and a high cost to make good the rendered surface. Undiscovered leaks can cause the wall to become damp and case mould inside the home. Even if the pipes are sound, there is always the danger that someone could drill through the pipe in the future and damage it when they are fitting something else to the wall.

The easy answer is to make sure that whoever installs your insulation extends all plumbing, whatever the works involved. In some cases it might be necessary to bury small bends or runs of pipe, and in these cases they should be clearly marked and pointed out to the customer. Gas lines especially must be extended, as accidently drilling into them could be very dangerous.

Burying cables in the insulation

So if burying pipe work is a bad idea, what about cabling? There are a couple of different types of cables – electrical cables that carry a significant current, and telecoms cables that do not. Power lines should never be buried because the insulation can cause them to overheat and thus pose a fire risk. Telephone and tv cables could technically be buried, and this is the one type of cable that we sometimes offer to bury for the customer.

 

Why bury cables?

Some customers want their wall to look as tidy and clean as possible, with minimal cables showing on the wall. Thus it may be that the cables are buried in the insulation. This does not necessarily pose a problem, but you need to be aware of the following concerns:

  • It is easy to drill through cables when fixing the insulation. As you can see in the photo below, you can score the EPS to show exactly where any pipes or cabling are and therefore avoid drilling a fixing into the cables.
  • Cables could be damaged in future. Even after the insulation work is done, the customer may wish to attach an item to the wall and in doing so damage the cables embedded in the insulation.
  • Customer may need to reach the cables. This is not such a big concern as with plumbing, because you can always run a new cable, but if you need to get to the cable, you are out of luck.

Chasing your cabling is the answer

If the customer is very keen to hide the cables, but not bury them in the insulation, the alternative is to use a plastic cover which will conceal the cabling on the wall. Chasing is very cheap and highly effective, although it doesn’t quite make for the clean wall that burying the cables does.