Client: Rykneld Homes
Rykneld Homes is a large social housing provider, responsible for managing, maintaining and improving approximately 8,000 properties in and around Chesterfield on behalf of North-East Derbyshire District Council.
In 2021, the organisation appointed Sustainable Building Services (SBS) to deliver a new external wall insulation project based on its previous track record. SBS is exceptionally experienced in treating solid-walled dwellings and had previously delivered three successful phases of work on hard-to-treat properties for the same client. The project encompassed both REEMA and Spooner homes. SBS won the first contract through competitive tendering, but it was awarded subsequent works by direct call-off under the Efficiency East Midlands (EEM) Solid Wall Insulation Framework.
SBS has repeatedly won a place on the EEM Framework since 2013. It was ranked Number One Supplier and received the EEM Project of the Year Award in 2018. The company has successfully installed EWI to over 6,000 homes under the framework.
Over one third of Rykneld Homes’ properties are of non-traditional construction and improving these homes is an integral part of the client’s long-term regeneration programme.
In the initial phase, the work focused on BISF properties, which are difficult and expensive to heat and do not retain warmth, leaving residents with large energy bills. These steel framed homes were originally designed and built by the British Iron and Steel Federation to help meet the huge housing requirement following the Second World War. Over 35,000 BISFs were built in the UK between 1944 and 1950. They are easily identified by a vertically profiled steel sheet which clads the upper floor.
SBS, together with its sister company PermaRock Products Ltd, worked closely to design innovative, bespoke solutions for each property archetype. The intention was to deliver quality and value whilst maximising energy efficiency for the client and its residents.
The project, valued at £2.43 million, was funded by the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery (LAD) scheme, phases 1A and 1B. Its main aim was to significantly improve the insulation, thermal efficiency and appearance of 113 BISF system-built houses located on the Mickley Estate in Alfreton. It also entailed similar works to two Unity Non-Traditional properties. The homes comprised semi-detached and terraced two-storey houses, and semi-detached bungalows. 113 of the 115 homes would be occupied during the works.
SBS and system designer PermaRock worked with Rykneld Homes to determine the design and detailing appropriate for each of the properties. The proposed solution would dramatically improve the thermal efficiency and external appearance of the homes, with the added benefit of significantly extending their lifespan.
Upon completion, residents would have a more attractive home that was easier to heat and a more comfortable place to live. They would also receive large savings on their energy bills.
The first part of the project was delivered to a challenging timescale because it was a LAD 1A pilot scheme. This meant that the properties, in Mickley, North Derbyshire, needed to have all insulation work completed by the end of March 2021 in order for Rykneld Homes to access the available funding.
The funding was made available to housing providers for reducing carbon emissions. It has been estimated that the completed work on these homes will result in a saving of over 100 tonnes of carbon each year.
Funding for a second phase – the completion of a further 101 BISF Non-Traditional Properties and 39 Unity Non-Traditional homes in Unstone and Dronfield – was provided via the LAD 1B scheme.
A third phase of works, focusing on 175 Non-Traditional homes of Airey, Reema, Unity and Foamslag construction, began in November 2021. This was funded via the LAD2 scheme and was delivered under the new energy efficiency design and installation standards, PAS2030:2019 and PAS2035:2019.
SBS appointed a full-time Site Management Team to the project, comprising the same experienced and fully qualified personnel who had successfully managed the three previous phases of work. This ensured further consolidation of established working relationships and contributed to a process of continuous improvement.
A dedicated Resident Liaison Officer (RLO), recruited locally, managed the customer journey on all phases of the work. This involved a comprehensive programme of engagement and liaison with any residents who were directly affected by the works, together with their neighbours, nearby businesses and the local community. The RLO lives locally, which meant that she had an in-depth understanding of local community issues.
The Site Manager monitored and managed delivery of the project on a daily basis, supported by the Contracts Manager, ensuring Health & Safety standards were maintained. Unannounced HSE Audits were conducted every month, unannounced, by SBS’s independent HSE consultant. The company checked to ensure full adherence to all policies, procedures and Risk and Method Statements (RAMS).
Holding Point Inspections were completed for each stage of the work, in line with SBS’s PAS accreditation. Each of these ‘stop points’ requires signing-off by the Site Manager who must confirm that the work complies with all quality criteria. This ensures that all work is completed to the highest standards as workers cannot continue until the inspection has been passed. Additionally, PermaRock staff also complete audits of the work to check that the highest standards are maintained throughout.
Individual Delivery Plans were developed by the Resident Liaison Officer for homes where vulnerable persons were present, in order to minimise disruption and to fit in with any specific requirements. SBS was able to work flexibly and amend the programme; for example, to accommodate regular visits from medical practitioners. Residents were continually updated on progress through letter drops, newsletters, RLO visits and telephone calls.
Due to the large amounts of metalwork used in the construction of these homes, corrosion is a major concern. Prior to the EWI installation, SBS needed to ensure the integrity of the structures. It did this through the inspection and appropriate treatment of steel stanchions. Existing corrugated steel cladding was stripped, and new timber frames constructed.
Various enabling works were required prior to fitting the EWI system in order to accommodate the additional depth of the walls. This included roofline, electrical services, communications and gas works, all of which were completed by certified tradespeople. Any wall-mounted items were removed or temporarily relocated to scaffold prior to works commencing, and were properly reinstated once the work was completed.
SBS ensured that services were maintained for residents throughout the works.
The first stage of the process entailed fitting the homes with PermaRock 90mm EPS Insulation, which was fixed to all external walls and finished with a Dash or Silicone Finish. Brick slips were also added to the properties as aesthetic architectural features.
As a result of the installation, heat energy losses through the external walls were dramatically reduced. The enhanced energy efficiency will inevitably translate into valuable savings on residents’ energy bills. The system will also protect the fabric of the houses from bad weather and allow damp structures to dry out. It can also help to eliminate condensation and damp, making the properties more comfortable and providing a healthier living environment for the occupants.
Each EWI installation came complete with a 25-year guarantee.
SBS strongly believes in leaving a legacy of regeneration in the areas where it works, maximising the value returned on the client’s investment. This includes using local suppliers and subcontractors whenever possible in order to boost the local economy. As SBS has worked in the region for many years, it has a well-established supply chain and has also supported EEM in ‘Meet the Buyer’ events in the area.
Local supply chain partners included, amongst others:
In addition to the existing core team, SBS recruited two new site managers; one for the Mickley scheme and a second in March 2021 to allow management resources to move across and mobilise other LAD schemes for Rykneld Homes.
In both cases, the employment continued into the next phase of works.
In addition, SBS commissioned its training partner, Think Construction, to conduct on-site training for 10 operatives. They earned NVQ Level 2 qualifications in External Wall Insulation Works.
One of the new site managers also received related training: NVQ management of External Wall Insulation. Similarly, the project QS was trained over two months to Retrofit Assessor level. He is now registered and beginning training to the Retrofit Coordinator standard.
As part of its commitment to deliver community benefits, SBS completed roofing works to a local facility, The Hut Leisure & Community Centre. It also completed a secure entrance into the basement, a rear entrance extension with flat roof, a secure shutter door and associated internal improvements. The work, which was organised on conjunction with Rykneld Homes, was delivered at no additional cost. (See accompanying photos.)
SBS made a further contribution to the local community with a donation of £1,000 to Ashgate Hospice. Working across North Derbyshire, the charity provides specialist palliative and end-of-life care, free of charge, to patients with a life-limiting illness and their families. In 2021, it was named as a beneficiary of the local council’s Chair’s Appeal. The donation was marked by a presentation at Chesterfield Town Football Club. (See photos.)
Swifts are in serious decline in the UK, and this can be exacerbated if nesting holes are blocked up during renovation works. A colony of the birds migrates to the estate for the summer so, to mitigate any risk to nesting sites, SBS procured and fitted 50 swift boxes around the Mickley Estate and in the grounds of the local infant school. Here, as part of their environmental education, pupils painted the boxes prior to installation.
The time constraints on the LAD 1A project in Mickley meant that, contrary to usual practice, scaffolding had to remain in place on approximately 60 properties over the Christmas 2020 period. In order to show its appreciation for the residents’ understanding, SBS sent them each a Christmas card and provided them with Tesco Gift Cards.
SBS also organised a raffle with prizes including Christmas hampers and additional gift cards. All households affected by this phase of the scheme were invited to take part. This helped to maintain good will and good community relations.
"I would just like to thank you and every member of your team for the works carried out at my property. From you initially coming to visit me to explain the work involved and right up to the finished job, I cannot thank you all enough. Every member of your team have been polite and courteous. Most of all, the speed it has taken to complete it has been absolutely amazing. You should be very proud of the guys who did the rendering; they worked non-stop and were constantly tidying after themselves. Your management team have constantly been on the estate and always answered any questions. You are all absolutely fabulous. I can honestly say the rendering has made a huge difference and I am finding I am having to turn my heating off because I am so warm in the house."
J Foster, Eckington
"SBS helped Rykneld Homes deliver a couple of fantastic community projects alongside the EWI works in Mickley. They have helped protect threatened wildlife by erecting swift boxes on the properties where we know they nest. They also enabled local school children to learn about the birds, by putting boxes up at the local infants school. SBS also did some vital work to the local community building, bringing a storage facility back into use. This will enable more groups to use the building and in turn, improve wellbeing for local residents."
Jude Milburn, Rykneld Community Involvement Officer