New year, new innovations in house construction

Housing construction methods are constantly changing, with new innovations and ways of doing things constantly coming to the fore. 2015 will be no different with the launch of the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) new Innovation Park house.

The construction of the new Wienerberger e4 brick house is due to begin later on this month at the BRE Innovation Park in Watford. The house will be the first to meet BRE New Homes Standard which will be launched at Ecobuild in March. The house is being constructed by the world’s largest brick producer and was designed in conjunction with Arup.

To look at the planned external elevations, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is just like any other three bedroom detached house, albeit with a modern twist. What makes this house innovative is all the minor tweaks and changes. But perhaps what makes this home truly interesting is the links to construction history that have inspired this ‘home for the future’. This home will be constructed with a material that has been used for hundreds of years…clay.

The house will be built using a fabric first approach meaning that the energy savings are included in the very fabric of the house rather than bolt on renewable solutions. Wienerberger state, “the e4 brick house represents the pinnacle of the fabric first approach. By maximising the natural properties of clay bricks, blocks and roof tiles and combining this with the latest in construction innovation, the true environmental value and performance of the Wienerberger e4 brick house is permanently embedded in the building’s fabric”.

One thing that tends to stop innovations in construction becoming widely used is the cost to the bottom line. Now we all know that this should not be the case but that is unfortunately the ugly truth. However, Wienerberger suggest this will actually be economical for homebuilders to use. They suggest that using their ‘bronze package’ on ten houses, developers will actually save 10% so it will be really interesting to see what effect this will have on the industry and what the uptake will be.

Ecobuild is going to be extremely interesting this year. The announcement of the BRE New Homes Standard along with more details of the e4 brick house, could provide a bit of a shake up to the construction industry. It remains to be seen how the developers will receive this home but with such a well-known brick producer pushing the agenda forward and a cost saving too, surely there can only be positive feedback. One thing that is for sure, the construction industry needs to change and a fabric first approach is the minimum the industry needs to look at.

More details and opinions will follow and we will continue to give updates on the construction industry.

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