Affordable housing is a hot topic in the UK, with the Government and developers across the country working to provide people with a route onto the property ladder. Specialist developer Pocket Living is ensuring this for Londoners, building modular homes exclusively for first time buyers. Contractor, Legendre UK, is currently constructing 149 one-bedroom flats at Sheepcote Road HA1 in Harrow and is using products from Spelsberg’s IBT range for the project.
Speeding up residential developments
Solving the housing crisis relies on building affordable homes quickly. Pocket Living aims to achieve this by providing modular style homes. At Sheepcote Road, the development features standardised 38 sq. m flats with few variations. This aims to speed up the construction process while ensuring quality housing that meets building regulations.
Legendre UK is also contributing to this. Sheepcote Road HA1 is being built with a continental frame, where concrete is used for the façade and internal walls. The method saves time by eliminating false ceilings and dry lining. Importantly, it also allows for electrical services to be embedded into the concrete itself.
“This is an approach Groupe Legendre uses regularly in European projects, but this is the first time we have applied it to a UK development,” says Hippolyte Mounier-Vehier, Site Manager at Legendre UK.
Setting electrical infrastructure in stone
On-site, concrete is poured into the metal lined shuttering and formwork, where it sets in place. Legendre UK then removes the formwork, leaving a smooth finish and installed services exposed. In this process, any electrical infrastructure, like enclosures and conduit, needs to be installed on the formwork before pouring can begin.
There are multiple challenges in this application. First, an enclosure needs to hold its position during the concrete pour, mandating strong mountings to secure it to the formwork against the heavy concrete. Failure to do so risks severed connections. No leakage into the enclosure can be tolerated either. This can prevent electricians from installing or fixing equipment later down the line.
Providing concrete benefits
To avoid these outcomes, Legendre UK utilises the IBT system from Spelsberg, a leading enclosures expert. The range allows electrical enclosures, junction boxes, lighting outlets and more to be fitted into formwork and concrete poured around them.
“We were familiar with Spelsberg from a previous project, but we chose them because they offered a ready-made solution for embedded electricals in concrete. The boxes support British Standard socket sizes and feature strong magnets that allow easy connection to the formwork. The design also means we don’t have to carry out any time-consuming modifications,” Hippolyte explains.
The strong couplings and support spars of the IBT series keeps everything in place during pouring, while a patented diaphragm system provides a strong seal to stop concrete ingress. Once everything is set and formwork removed, cables and fittings can be installed into the exposed units. Complementing the goals of the Sheepcote Road development, the IBT system enables electrical installation to be completed quickly.
“We use around 30 Spelsberg boxes per flat at Sheepcote Road, which house lighting, socket outlets and smoke detectors. We’ve even collaborated with Spelsberg engineers to use the boxes in other applications such as housing radiator pipes. It’s much easier for us to specify everything from one supplier,” adds Hippolyte.
“The service has been good, Spelsberg has kept deliveries flowing to support the project. Their team has collaborated with Legendre UK, mechanical and electrical engineers throughout construction, maintaining good contact. The resources available online for their products have been especially helpful.”
Ready-made solutions for affordable housing
Chris Lloyd, Managing Director at Spelsberg UK, says: “We are proud to be contributing to affordable housing in the UK by supplying these solutions to Legendre UK. The IBT range was designed to specifically support these construction methods and has a proven track record in residential developments and hotels.”
Once the Sheepcote Road development is complete, each of the houses will be available to local first-time buyers at a 20% discount compared to market value. Both an eight storey and five storey building will feature roof terraces and a communal garden. Furthermore, 16 of the 149 flats will be wheelchair adaptable.
Modular homes and continental frame construction can clearly speed-up modern residential developments and alleviate the housing crisis, getting new homes on the market faster and giving people in areas with high house prices a chance to become homeowners. With its IBT system, Spelsberg has a ready-made solution for these projects, helping to usher in a new era of comfortable and affordable UK housing.