Scores of Woolaway homes in Aberdare refurbished with Structherm

Social housing in a town in South Wales has received a new lease of life, improving its structural integrity, thermal performance and external appearance, thanks to external wall insulation specialists Structherm. More than 70 ‘Woolaway’ non-traditional concrete homes in Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taff, a house type which in the 1980s was designated by the Building Research Establishment as inherently defective due to numerous structural defects, have benefited from Structherm’s expertise.

These defects include cracking in the precast concrete columns and precast reinforced concrete (PRC) panels, high rates of carbonation and low levels of chloride in the concrete and corrosion of the bolts which fix the panels to the frame.

Wales’ largest social housing provider Rhondda Cynon Taff Homes, which took over 11,000 properties from Rhondda Cynon Taff Council, specified Structherm’s unique Structural External Wall Insulation (SEWI) system as it provides a structural solution to the buildings’ defects which a standard external wall insulation system could not.

The buildings, which were built in the 1940s, were also losing heat due to their lack of insulation, leading to higher fuel costs for residents. As an added benefit, the SEWI system also improved the thermal performance of the properties, bringing them up to modern standards, and improved their outward appearance.

The SEWI system was installed by local contractor Thomas CMS Ltd. Director Mike Kelly said; “This was a new system our staff hadn’t used before, but they received thorough training and a qualification from Structherm in a few days. It’s been simple to install and in terms of improving the structural integrity of non-traditional homes it is an excellent system to use.”

The project was initially planned for only 68 homes in the village, but as the work progressed and the benefits of the SEWI system became apparent, additional private properties were added to the project, improving the energy efficiency and appearance of even more of the local community’s housing.

David Challenger, Commercial Manager of Rhondda Cynon Taff Homes, said: “The decision was made after looking at several options to use the Structherm SEWI system due to the robust design of the exoskeleton details in conjunction with the desired façade finishes that were required.

“This was the preferred option, giving an added 30 year life span to these homes. The benefits that have been reported by our tenants are reduced heating costs, a more pleasant living environment and the look is outstanding.”

David Harrison, Managing Director of Structherm, said; “The inherent structural defects of these properties needed to be addressed, and we have been working closely with Rhondda Cynon Taff Homes to ensure these defects are corrected through our unique SEWI system.

“Structherm’s proven SEWI system is an absolute necessity when resolving these issues in this type of concrete precast reinforced buildings, and we would encourage housing providers facing similar problems with any non-traditional properties to get in touch with our sales team.”

Structherm are the only provider of a structural external wall insulation (SEWI) system, and with over 30 years’ experience in treating varying property types, including metal frame, timber frame, in-situ and pre-cast concrete, Structherm have built up a wealth of technical knowledge and provide a comprehensive range of EWI systems.

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