Offsite construction is widely recognised as a time and cost-effective, accurate and sustainable method of building. More than simply an alternative to traditional build processes, offsite manufacturing drives the construction industry towards quality and also fills a huge gap in the sector’s skills shortage. To articulate its tangible benefits, Jemma Ison from IG Masonry Support highlights how the offsite manufacture of products such as brick slip soffit systems are making a difference to the industry, helping the construction supply chain respond to its biggest challenges.
Offsite manufacturing has moved on leaps and bounds since the infamous prefabs of the 1940s and 50s. Nowadays, stunning aesthetics can be achieved by utilising the latest techniques in offsite engineering , which is of particular merit when complex brick features are the desired ‘look’ for a building.
There are many advantages of using offsite methods, and its benefits can be reaped throughout the supply chain. Architects, for instance, have greater creative scope to create intricate brickwork designs that are guaranteed to translate well onsite. This seamless transition results in greater efficiencies and productivity. With contractors consistently working to tight margins, this benefit will no doubt be music to their ears.
As well as offering a high-spec translation, offsite methods ensure the same quality finish every time. IG Masonry Support designed and manufactured five soaring corbelled brick slip feature arches with intricate bond patterns which span the entrance façade of the Hendrick’s Gin Palace foyer in Scotland. In total ten arches featuring on the front elevation were successfully manufactured to the same quality finish in factory-controlled conditions and fitted seamlessly with the brickwork onsite. Internally three deep soffit arches were also supplied by IG Masonry Support. The same levels of consistency and quality were essential on the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) project. Over 1000 brick slip feature arches and just under 3km of offsite cornice were manufactured and designed. It would have been a time-consuming, highly-skilled task to create arches and cornice using traditional methods onsite, therefore IG Masonry Support utilised its offsite solutions to create identical arches of various designs and cornice detail that would achieve the architect’s desired aesthetic and streamline productivity onsite.
The uniformity that was essential to these projects can run the risk of being compromised if traditional trades are employed. However, with modular construction this replication simply isn’t an issue. Taking the construction of complex brick features offsite into factory-controlled conditions drives the level of quality and consistency that is needed to achieve architectural excellence. Where barriers to creativity are unwanted, offsite construction is a worthy solution.
Rethinking the way we design, engineer and construct buildings will help deliver projects quicker, better and with a greater degree of precision. Building better with these modern methods of construction plays a part in plugging the skills gap by reducing onsite labour whilst addressing the high demand for new buildings. In recent years the UK has fallen behind its European neighbours by depending on skilled trades at the expense of any mechanised processes or components that reduce site working. Offsite manufacture provides better working conditions, reduces build schedules and improves environmental performance in the construction process.
The design possibilities which offsite manufacturing offers can, often, reach further than the capabilities of traditional build processes. Whilst conventional methods are still essential to the industry, on some large-scale developments it simply isn’t feasible cost-wise to use highly-skilled craftspeople. Besides, if cost isn’t an issue it might be hard to find these experts; due to the skills shortage they are becoming harder to locate. Yet, with offsite methods this gap can be filled.
Achieving deep brick soffits and intricate brick bonds around window heads and openings is quick, easy and cost efficient to achieve with our Brick On Soffit Systems (B.O.S.S. and B.O.S.S.+). These tailor-made bespoke solutions are designed and manufactured to meet the client’s specification. The systems are highly adjustable, enabling architects to design various shapes and depths of brick soffits whilst accommodating a wide range of bond patterns.
IG Masonry Support designed and manufactured the B.O.S.S. systems for 57 Broadwick Street and Stonebridge Park, London. On the first project, a combination of straight and curved B.O.S.S. units as well as deep soffit panels were created to achieve a range of deep-tiled soffits, slender brick piers, and tile and brick banding on the building’s façades. For Stonebridge Park, London, B.O.S.S. units were designed and manufactured for the intricate corbelled brick feature on the main entrance. This design was delivered in separate components that facilitated optimum adjustability so the intricacy of the design could be achieved without compromising on the speed or quality of construction.
IG Masonry Support’s latest innovation, B.O.S.S.+, is a mechanically-fixed brick slip soffit system. As well as being an easy-to-install, quality system, B.O.S.S.+ was developed to meet with the fire safety regulations highlighted in Approved Document B, building regulations for non-combustible materials for use in the external walls of residential dwellings over 18 metres in height. For added security, all the brick slips on this BBA-approved product are attached to the stainless-steel framework with a robust mechanical fix.
IG Masonry Support has combined experience with innovation to design and manufacture the most practical and advanced range of ‘patented’ stainless steel masonry support solutions, brick slip soffit systems and intricate brick features for the construction industry. We provide comprehensive technical support for all our products and offer a free design service for our range of off the shelf and bespoke solutions. No matter how ambitious the design, our easy-to-install solutions can deliver significant reductions in installation time by up to 90%. Any higher initial costs can be offset by saving time and money in terms of labour. A quality finish that meets the required aesthetics and blends seamlessly with the surrounding brickwork can also be achieved.
The perception of offsite manufacturing is changing rapidly, mostly as a result of the benefits it offers. Its advantages can be felt throughout the supply chain; not only does this solution offer endless creative scope for architects, it ensures that time and labour costs can be saved onsite which is ideal for contactors working to tight margins. But most importantly, it guarantees a consistent, high quality finish every time.