John Baillie, Managing Director of Windoor, discusses the advantages of specifying building products for housing projects that are manufactured using offsite construction techniques.
The construction site is a very busy place where a great deal of skill is required from site managers and engineers to ensure that projects run smoothly and the order of works and scheduled material deliveries arrives in the correct order and on time. Of course, more deliveries mean more people on site and a greater requirement for health and safety precautions, as all these individual components come together to complete the overall development. One of the best ways to manage this is for deliveries to be swift and efficient; ensuring delivery personnel are off site again as soon as possible.
Aside from personnel, many developments can be carried out on quite tight sites and therefore it is important that materials are not sat onsite too long, reducing valuable workspace and causing logistical problems.
The aim is to achieve speedy efficiencies onsite; which reduces costs, should not come at the expense of quality or consistency in quality on the build and this is where the benefits of offsite construction really comes into its own. To use an example, at Windoor our balcony systems are a pre-fabricated modular system, which means that whilst they are bespoke to each individual project, they are manufactured in our own factory environment, by our own team of specialists who work within our strict quality control standards. This means that each unit is consistent, has the same team working on it, and is finished off with quality components under strict factory conditions.
The system is powder coated for long-term durability and being finished in our factory eliminates environmental issues such as inclement weather or damage and soiling from pests including pigeons during construction. It also avoids any risk of damage on site from other materials or equipment including cross contamination to any internal workings from onsite debris, maintaining the high standards of operation of the system. All components are clean, fully operable and smooth.
Our factory manufacture includes the coming together of the two major components; ie the system railings and the glazing, which is also carried out in clean and controlled conditions. It is imperative that where there are seals and joints, these are clean and accurate so again the factory environment allows the highest standards and consistency across units. Every railing and every glazed panel or balustrade panel is checked so we know that the balcony has left our factory in perfect condition.
Once the balcony order has been fulfilled, it is then transported and delivered to site. We only use professional and experienced logistics teams who know how to handle the balconies. They are securely packaged and stowed for transit to avoid any damage so they remain in perfect condition.
Balconies arrive onsite ready to be fixed to the building. The interface between the Windoor system and the façade is made with aluminium flashings and EPDM gaskets. The installation process is clean and depending on access can be done alongside other trades with little or no disruption. At this point the balconies can be installed whatever the conditions without detriment to the quality of the installation, this process is carried out by our own specialist team of installers who are all specifically trained.
Depending on the order of works, the balconies are usually installed once all the wet works are complete. The installation team work alongside the major contractors and the installation is swift and clean. The balcony pods or stacks are fixed externally to the building with not only minimal disruption to other works but also to the residents themselves, who can even remain in situ whilst the balconies are installed. The only internal access required, once installation is complete, is for finishing’s and décor.
The system is suitable for developments where a previous balcony existed or not. It can be manufactured to affix onto the existing concrete slab or it can be fully constructed as an ‘extension’ to the building with its own fully supported floors and roofs.
Partnering during a project is hugely important. From the initial design stage with the architect to the construction phase, maintaining good communication is a key issue with offsite construction and that is something we really pride ourselves on at Windoor. Some site issues do not materialise until the construction phase and therefore it is useful for these to be fed through to the manufacturing team so that any adaptations can be made whilst the system is still in the factory.
We continually monitor customer satisfaction levels and that process includes responses from the contractor. Feedback we have received to date is that Windoor are an excellent partner both off and onsite with the system itself being of high quality and there being a good collaboration onsite with the installation team.