As a government funded research project, we need to be accountable for the progress we’re making across the different work packages. The second review of the Project took place earlier this month and we are awaiting feedback and recommendations from the independent review team on how best to achieve results for the remainder of the project.

‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’

Installing blower door for air tightness testing during Pilot Day 1

Building performance evaluation is a key part of the project. Our first pilot day took place in February at Hale Construction’s Chiltern Close scheme for Wales & West Housing Association in Llanishen. The development consists of 82 apartments in a series of 3-storey blocks. The test series featured the common blower door test of air tightness and a novel Pulse test, along with the Smart HTC and co-heating test and thermography tests.

Results are currently being analysed and will be shared once available. The day represents an important step in gathering insight on how to tackle the performance gap in construction and where innovative techniques can best be used to address it.

The pilot day was organised by Diana Waldron from Cardiff Met University with tests carried out by Build Test Solutions, SOAP Retrofit and iRed. A second pilot day is planned in Mid Wales later this spring.

Build tight, ventilate right

The Good Homes Alliance guidance on building performance methodologies for social housing developers we commissioned earlier this year is taking shape. The first draft of the content has been issued for comment and a workshop is planned for May where stakeholders will discuss the design and use of the guidance. The guidance will look at why airtightness matters, how it’s measured and reported and will include specific considerations for timber construction.

Timber frame futures

Our report on timber frame use and perceptions is now complete and includes a series of recommended interventions to accelerate adoption of timber frame systems in social housing. These include;
● collaboration amongst manufacturers around technical and market development
● guidance on outcome-based performance specifications for energy efficient low carbon construction
● guidance on using a material specification for timber frame construction
● guidance to help eliminate defects, improve efficiency, simplify servicing and maintenance in timber frame construction
● a series of case studies showcasing a range of alternative procurement methods where client aspirations for a particular technical approach have been maintained.

Building the low carbon homes of the future

The team have recently visited a number of timber frame manufacturers to investigate the buildability of the build solution led by Rob Thomas of r+m studio architects. Buildability tests of the system are planned to take place over the next few months in close collaboration with Welsh manufacturers.

Progress and synergies with other project work packages were discussed at a third workshop with the design team and BM TRADA in February.

Welsh Timber Windows on the horizon

As a direct result of our windows workshop in December 2019, Woodknowledge Wales have put together a programme to develop and implement a set of standard windows specifications for social housing that will be third party certified. More information on this new project here.