Future for concrete is set firm

Concrete continues to provide significant commercial and environmental benefits says Robin Horton, Sales & Marketing Manager, Coltman Precast Concrete Ltd.

An important building material since Roman times, concrete is now the most widely used construction product in the world.

As a building material it has many inherent benefits and is one of the most durable, versatile and cost-effective building products known to man.

Concrete has environmental attributes that outperform both steel and timber and, with its excellent thermal mass, concrete can help achieve reductions in energy consumption in residential, commercial and industrial buildings by up to 50%.  It is also completely non-combustible.

And, unlike timber and steel, Britain is self sufficient in concrete production, as well as having an important export business - thus this £5 billion sector is a valuable contributor to the UK economy.

British Precast, an organisation representing the precast concrete and masonry sectors for the UK construction industry, has identified some of the key advantages in specifying a precast concrete solution.

These include, among many others:

*  Excellent value.
*  Factory quality.
*  Built-in fire protection.
*  Low noise transmission.
*  Long spans.
*  Low maintenance.
*  Attractive finishes.
*  Reduced site waste.
*  High span/depth ratios.
*  Energy conservation.
*  Strong and durable.
*  Lowest whole life cost.
*  Sustainable.
*  Just-in-time delivery.
*  Reduces on-site risk.
*  To BS and EU standards.
*  Uses recycled materials.
*  No production delays due to weather.
*  Strength increases over time.
*  Engineered solutions.

Similarly, the Precast Flooring Federation has also indicated some of the distinct advantages in the use of precast concrete for floors at ground, first or upper levels.

*  Significantly improved heat, sound and fire insulation.
*  High speed installations.
*  Completely squeak free.
*  Works well with long spans.
*  Ideal base for underfloor heating.
*  Rot, damp and vermin proof.
*  Safe installation by trained and experienced teams.

And, with the growing movement towards 'off-site construction' - now more commonly referred to as 'modern methods of construction' (MMC) - precast concrete is playing an even more crucial role in the building process.

A recent survey of new home buyers on 'modern methods of construction', undertaken by the UK new homes website smartnewhomes.com, has shown that whilst more than 80% said they took the construction method into consideration when buying a new home, around 49% indicated that they would have no real problem with purchasing a new home built using MMC.

This represents a somewhat changed view from previous years, when buyers attitudes tended to favour more traditional construction methods.

A survey from the Halifax Bank found that first time buyers could not afford to purchase a home in 92% of UK towns and cities.

And, following Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott’s challenge to housebuilders to provide affordable (under £60,000) homes for first time buyers, some developers have already successfully responded.

Flintshire-based housebuilder Redrow Homes launched its 'Debut' range of properties with an initial groundbreaking development at Willans Green, Rugby.

Consisting of 103 one and two bedroom units in three storey buildings grouped around informal courtyards, they originally went on sale in May 2005 with prices ranging from under £50,000 to £100,000.

The homes were built in three weeks thanks to the use of an innovative construction method, combining several pre-fabricated elements, including walls, floors and roofs.
Coltman Precast Concrete was selected to design and manufacture 19 precast concrete external staircases that provide access from the ground floor to the entrances of the first floor properties.

The staircases each consist of a seven rise flight with an integral top landing and an upstand on both sides.  The upstands support raking brickwork to give a clean and largely maintenance free finish, as well as protecting the buildings’ services that are located under the semi-exposed landing areas.

Robert Briggs, Redrow Homes (Midlands) Ltd’s Commercial Director, said: “Coltman was awarded this contract due to their previous record of pricing and service, and also their willingness to meet a very tight deadline for initial design and deliveries.  We are very pleased with their performance.”

Coltman’s Sales & Marketing Manager, Robin Horton, commented: “We were given just eight weeks from our first meeting with Redrow to design, produce and deliver the staircases. Not only were they wanted very quickly but they were a different type of staircase from those we are normally asked to make. Despite this we delivered and erected them on schedule so that the development could be completed in time for the planned opening”.

Redrow claims it is one of only a very few housebuilders currently offering hope to struggling buyers in the shape of a truly affordable home. With the Rugby properties quickly snapped up by eager buyers, similar Debut style developments have been implemented in Chorley, Lancashire and Castle Vale, Birmingham, with others set to follow.

Coltman is one of the largest independent suppliers of high quality structural precast concrete components to the housing, commercial, industrial, health and leisure sectors of the construction industry nationwide.

Established in 1972, the company’s product range includes prestressed hollowcore wideslab and solid prestressed wideslab for flooring and roofing, staircases, landings, balconies, terracing and wall units, as well as bespoke items.

Its customers include some of the country’s leading names in architecture, construction, civil engineering, housebuilding and property development and Coltman has been involved in numerous prestige projects, ranging from multi-million pound city centre redevelopments and quality housing to civic cultural centres and premier sports arenas.

Some Useful Links:
British Precast: www.britishprecast.org
Precast Flooring Federation: www.precastfloors.info
The Concrete Centre: www.concretecentre.com
The Concrete Society: www.concrete.org.uk
SmartNewHomes: www.smartnewhomes.com
Redrow Homes: www.debutbyredrow.co.uk
Coltman Precast Concrete: www.coltman.co.uk

- ENDS -

A high resolution photo image to accompany this release is available by clicking here.

Photo Caption:
Coltman Precast Concrete is one of the largest independent suppliers of high quality structural  precast concrete products to the housing, commercial, industrial, health and leisure sectors.


Bird & Moore Ltd, Advertising,
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The Old Vicarage,
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Staffordshire, ST14 8AA.   
Tel: 01889 565111.
Fax: 01889 565700.
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Contact: Neil Moore, Managing Director


Coltman Precast Concrete Ltd,        
London Road, Canwell,               
Sutton Coldfield,                     
West Midlands,                   
B75 5SX.                              
Tel: 01543 480482.                 
Fax: 01543 481587.                   
Email: robin.horton@coltman.co.uk                        
Web: www.coltman.co.uk
Contact:  Robin Horton, Sales & Marketing Manager

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