Friday, 25 June 2021

 Are You In Short Supply?


Over the last year or so, the construction industry, like many others, has been negatively affected by the pandemic. The fight for materials is the biggest problem which isn’t always apparent to outsiders. The demand for certain materials has put such a strain on the struggling sector, which has not only meant that they are hard to come by but that their cost has skyrocketed.


Earlier this year the Government asked the Construction Leadership Council to keep an eye on this problem. It then went on to set up the Products Availability Taskforce. 


This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the supplies, or, as in this case, the lack of them. I honestly thought we would start to see a difference, a progression out of this mess by now. However, we’re slowing sinking further and further, workers are being forced to have time off due to supply issues and costs are climbing because of the demand. 


One such material which has seen the prices skyrocket is timber. Not only is the pandemic being held accountable for the lack of materials but we have also had Brexit to deal with. Now, whether you’re a remainer or a leaver, the fact remains that this was never going to be an open and shut case.


It has been said that 80% of the softwood used in building comes from Europe, it’s the third most imported construction material. This highlights the importance of this material to us as an industry and it also shows how the current situation can easily affect the supply levels. 


There are many other materials which we’re seeing in short supply, such as plastics, cement and steel, just to name a few. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep projects running, and to stick to deadlines. The public has seen the construction industry carrying on throughout, and we have been lucky in many ways. But what they don’t see is the rise in costs, and the lack of materials. 


The rise in costs has got so high now that it means we are having to let people go. Companies (especially the smaller ones), are held to such a tight budget that there isn’t enough room to fluctuate as much as is required in order to source the materials needed. So, something has to give. Materials aren’t an option to give up so it comes down to your taskforce. 


This is an ongoing issue, one which I really hope we can deal with. Basic materials are now carrying a premium. There are people cashing in on this situation, there always will be. But I can guarantee that it isn’t your local builder down the road, or the person who has had to up their prices for a job they quoted for you. 


We are going to have to work together to get back some normality and just hope that this situation is temporary. 

Friday, 18 June 2021

 What are Vapour Control Membranes? 


A vapour control membrane is something that you will have heard of if you’re in the construction industry. But what exactly is it and what options are out there? 


VCL’s, or Vapour control layers, are critical building components which protect the building from potential degradation. They can be made up from polyethylene, aluminium foil, polyamide film (smart barrier), oil-based and latex vapour barrier paints, insulation and wood.  (varying by type and thickness) 


They are there essentially to restrict the movement of warm, moist air from inside the building to the fabric of the building. These layers can be used to restrict the air flow through the walls, floors, and roof. They prevent high levels of condensation from forming in the fabric of your build. If condensation did build up in the fabric, then that can cause all manner of problems, such as decay in timber, corrosion in metals, and even frost damage in masonry. 


So, that’s the basics on VCL’s but what options are there out there? 

I’ve been following a company called ‘Passive Purple’ for a while now and they have come up with a much simpler solution. This fantastic idea, I believe, will, if it hasn’t already, flood the construction industry. It could help reduce time, cost and condensation build-up, while also helping with the airtightness of your build. It’s quite honestly the perfect solution for most builds. I’m yet to understand why you would use anything else.  


Passive purple offer the complete airtightness package of supply and install of Passive Purple Liquid Vapour Control Membrane” -


One of the great things about this product is that it needs no staples or tapes for installation, unlike a lot of other membranes. This product does offer complete airtightness and vapour control and will stick to almost any surface. 


With most new technologies it really does come down to the application and the skill of the technician who is installing the product. This new product really does make life easier and due to its amazing colour can clearly be seen to which areas it has been applied. It can be sprayed, rolled, or brushed on dependant on the material you’re applying it to. 


Passive Purple is fast becoming one of the sought-after products when discussing Passive House, Airtightness, or Vapour Control Membranes. This started as a family run company and now its products are being used and stocked all over the world!  This company is certainly keep your eye on. 


Passive Purple  is BBA and  LABC approved! This means it can be used with confidence and that this product will do exactly what it says it will! It is a breathable, airtight membrane which is weatherproof. If you’re looking to build a Passivhaus, or just even to build more economically, this is the ideal product for you! 


“Passive Purple External is applied onto exposed facades as a protective membrane. In just two coats, using an airless spray machine, like a Greco or something similar, or a paint roller, your exterior is protected from the elements and able to boost the efficiency of the building”. -

Why don’t you check it out for yourselves? I have no doubt in my mind that Passive Purple is the one to watch!

Friday, 11 June 2021


Bricks made from clothes? Say whaaat...?


Unfortunately, the impact from COVID19 on the construction industry continues. The delay in materials is affecting many of us, but can we really just live in hope that normality will resume ASAP? 


Maybe now is the time to look elsewhere, to consider other options? There are many different avenues when thinking of building materials. I’m not suggesting you swap materials halfway through your build, this is never a good idea! Not only could you give your site manager a potential heart attack, but you could also alter the way your build ‘works’. However, if you’re looking for your next project, perhaps alternative materials could work for you?


What we have to remember is that the construction industry produces an extortionate amount of waste per year. In the UK it is said to contribute to over a third of the UK’s total yearly waste. That’s a huge amount, unthinkable actually. There are ways in which we can each play our own part in ensuring our individual carbon footprint is lowered, which collectively, could have a massive positive impact on our industry’s waste per year!


When thinking about eco materials there are various different avenues to consider, from recycled plastics, to bamboo, but the one that caught my eye recently was bricks made from clothes, AKA FabBRICKS. Each brick uses roughly around 2-3 t-shirts, or an equal amount of material. The material is then mixed with glue and put in moulds and pressed. The bricks are then left to dry. The drying process can take about 2 weeks. After the drying time they are then ready to use. Even the machine which is used to compress the bricks is manual, so no energy is wasted by electricity! 


Now the bricks themselves can’t actually be used for construction per se, but they are said to be excellent insulators for both acoustic and thermal purposes. Obviously, they can also be used as a design feature, an internal feature wall perhaps, or maybe you might even like to use them to make furniture for your home. The bricks themselves come in 4 different sizes so they are really universal. 


These bricks are fab! They could really make an indentation on our wasteful industry. The opportunities for them are endless and they really can add a bit of ‘flair’ to your build. Can they stop our industry’s waste alone? Of course not, but they are a good start. 


We all have clothes we no longer wear, which are perhaps old/marked/holed. Why not recycle them into something which is sustainable? The clothes themselves will be shredded so you don’t need to worry too much about any holes. You can literally recycle everything, ‘holes and all’. 


Don’t shut yourself off to different materials just because you don’t know much about them. We’re lucky to be living in a society where we are constantly trying out new concepts, and, in turn, that means a lot of the research is done for us!


Perhaps next time you build you’ll include some FabBRICKS in your design?

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