1,200 Property Scheme Successfully Completed

PermaRock designed and produced a series of bespoke solid wall insulation systems for a 3-phase scheme for Nottingham City Homes. This entailed the treatment of more than 1,200 homes, and preparatory work involved designing detailing for 30 different property archetypes. Phase 1 focused on 355 properties in the Lenton Abbey area, all made of solid brick but comprising a mix of semi-detached, mid-terrace and end-terrace houses. Phase 2 focused on 135 NCH properties in Sneinton and the third phase entailed treating 560 solid brick properties in Aspley.

The project required exceptional commitment from PermaRock. Before the contract award, it worked at-risk with the client (Nottingham City Homes) and installer Sustainable Building Services (UK Ltd (SBS) to design systems that would satisfy local planners' concerns about preserving the distinctive appearance of the brick-built stock. Staff attended numerous meeting over a 4 month period and produced hundreds of drawings and visualisations. The design of bespoke brick slip finishes in a special 'Nottingham Red Brick' colour was an important step towards achieving consent.

The key operational challenges of the scheme itself were to maintain outstanding quality and a good rate of completions. To these ends, PermaRock and SBS developed a bespoke training centre close to all the work sites.  PermaRock created specially built, full-height walls within the centre, each replicating the features of a particular property archetype. The centre also provided models of all of the key detailing interfaces for each archetype, and a full set of drawn details to illustrate the required detailing.

Here, PermaRock delivered training to over 400 operatives, making them wholly familiar with the various archetypes. Each operative was provided with an overview of the scheme, including the architectural design requirements (agreed with the city’s Planning Department) and given full instruction on how the system was to be installed to each of the archetypes in order to achieve the thermal, durability, integrity and aesthetic requirements. This tailored training made an invaluable contribution to progress on site, since the trained workers were then able to move directly from one property type to another.

Uniquely, PermaRock also assigned two of its own technical inspectors to work full time on the NCH sites, inspecting all works and ensuring everything was completed strictly to specification. They worked alongside SBS's own site managers and inspectors from the energy company E.ON, which provided additional project funding. This added layer of quality assurance helped to achieve a 100% handover rate and resulted in zero defects on all three phases of the scheme. PermaRock staff also shared office space with NCH, SBS and various supply chain partners. This close working environment encouraged good communications and a shared approach to problem-solving.

Another unusual element was the requirement to produce pre-measured, pre-cut detailing on a house-by-house basis. Many contractors will typically measure and cut insulation boards on site but, in an effort to increase speed and maintain the highest levels of quality control, PermaRock agreed to survey each property individually and to produce and deliver pre-fabricated materials. These included a pre-cut 'feature band' to replicate a characteristic design detail apparent on the properties. Every property had sills measured individually and bespoke sill house packs produced. PermaRock also worked closely with other suppliers (e.g. of windows, roofline and adaptation materials) who were asked to take the same approach. This required excellent communication and logistical control but the results were worth the effort. The scheme was ultimately delivered 3 months ahead of schedule, allowing scope for a further extension.

In order to help extend the benefits of the scheme to other local families, PermaRock and SBS worked closely together and made intensive efforts to encourage private residents to take advantage of the same work while the contractor was on site. Through concerted resident engagement work, more than 100 additional households ultimately benefited from solid wall insulation improvements, part funded by ECO and Green Deal Communities funding.

The results were outstanding. KPI data showed consistently ‘excellent’ customer satisfaction scores and a predictability score (time-by-property) of 98.6%. Quality standards were excellent; all properties were accepted at handover, with no rectification notices issued in any of the three phases.

Leanne Edmond , Assistant Project Manager at Nottingham City Homes said: "SBS and PermaRock have provided NCH with an outstanding delivery model that focuses strongly on quality. The collaboration with PermaRock ensures that the technical installation is of the highest standard possible and their self-motivation to exceed expectations and delivery KPI targets is a credit to both companies."

Such was the scheme's success that it featured as an example of industry best practice in a major independent report commissioned by the UK Government. Dr Peter Bonfield's report 'Each Home Counts' cited the scheme's emphasis on quality, the clarity of the offer, cost certainty, consistency of delivery, supply chain collaboration and the maintenance of "the highest quality standards" by the project partners. The report specifically alludes to the value of the bespoke training centre, the allocation of two PermaRock technical inspectors to the scheme, and the extent of positive collaboration between PermaRock and other partners. These were all held to be key reasons for the scheme's success and the recording of zero defects.