Loughborough researcher searching for ways to build a million new homes

A Loughborough University researcher hopes his study into house construction could revolutionise the way homes are built in the UK.

Research Engineer Ron Lang is in the final stages of a four-year project looking at alternative methods of housing construction.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, houses in Britain have typically been built with some form of masonry cavity wall construction. Unfortunately, the construction of cavity walls has become progressively more complex in recent years, especially as energy efficiency standards have become more stringent. This complexity not only increases construction time, but also the skills required to construct homes, and the number of potential defects.

Whilst many researchers continue to look for ways to move the production of houses away from site and into factories, Ron believes there is a solid case for developing traditional methods.

He said: “We have a historic love of masonry construction in the UK, using local materials and labour to deliver robust housing. Additionally, the flexibility of site-based construction is well-suited to our volatile housing market.”

To identify alternative construction methods, six full-scale test walls with varying specifications have been constructed at Loughborough University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering. The walls were constructed under site conditions to allow Ron and his team to assess the build process for each alternative solution.

He said: “If we can simplify on-site construction, we can improve the quality of our homes, speed up the home-building process and help the government to achieve its target of one million new homes in England by 2020.”

The University is hosting a project Open Day on Friday 6 November 2015 which will welcome colleagues from the construction industry to provide important feedback on the methods tested, and the practical issues of on-site wall construction. 

Ron added: “The views of the people who build our houses are critical if we are to improve buildability and productivity; Practical issues are very difficult to identify and measure, and have a major impact on the skill level required to deliver good quality.”

The project is jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Leicestershire-based company, Aggregate Industries (part of the LafargeHolcim group). Industry support has also been received from Gusto Construction, Tarmac Building Products, Forterra (formerly Hanson Building Products) and Low Therm Solutions.

Anyone interested in attending the Open Day should contact Ron on a.lang@lboro.ac.uk

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