Offsite construction embraces fully-finished products

Offsite and modular construction is growing rapidly in the UK, with developers increasingly looking to build within a factory environment wherever possible. Studies by companies such as AMA Research suggest this trend will increase rapidly as the UK looks to ‘build back better’ post-Covid, with the modular market forecast to grow by 14% between 2020 and 2024. After all, the ability to pre-build large parts of a structure makes it easier to keep tradespeople socially distanced on site, while a factory is a far more controllable environment.

The secret of a successful offsite build is to specify high-quality, fully finished products that can be fitted at the factory before the building or module is transported to site as one. Modern construction techniques are increasingly enabling the creation of high-tech products that cut down on installation time, with finishes that are added at manufacture, reducing the time that wet trades need to be on site in the final days of the build.

Take architraves, door frames, door linings, skirting and window boards, for example. Previously these products would be manufactured out of wood and fitted on site as part of the first fix. Then, when the house moved to the second fix stage, tradespeople would return to sand, prime and paint them according to the building’s final décor.

But there are now alternatives to this traditional, labour-intensive building method.

The team at W.Howard Group now offers a wide range of fully finished, wrapped profiles for door frames, skirting, window boards and architraves that can be installed either on site or in a factory setting, making them suitable for both modular building and more traditional construction methods. The profiles require no paint finishing on site, increasing the speed of the build as it removes the slower processes of the wet trades.

Instead they are either veneered or foil wrapped, depending on the developer’s specification. W.Howard Group offers premium, real wood veneered profiles, wrapped around MDF cores, that offer the same look and feel as solid timber, but without the risk of knots, shakes, warping and twisting.

The company’s foil wrapped range can be supplied with finishes including wood grain, solid colours or in high gloss, with ultra-hardwearing PVC wraps that replicate the top-class paint finishes that many homeowners prefer. The profiles can also be supplied in modern, printed designs to match melamine and laminate finishes, enabling the skirting to follow the designs of fitted kitchen cupboards, for example. Also available from W.Howard Polyco are impact-resistant laminate finishes, as well as a range of fully lacquered veneers such as oak and walnut, and designer veneers like Tabu and Alpi.

Also exclusive to W.Howard Group is the KOTA range of MDF profiles; a tough, impact-resistant solution that uses Eastman Cerfis™ technology to create a smooth white coating that, again, doesn’t need painting.