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ADVERTORIAL BACK TO THE BLOCKS


Jenny Smith-Andrews, Head of Marketing at H+H UK Ltd, considers the RMI market and why it is so significant for aircrete


F


or aircrete manufacturers the RMI market means extensions and the majority of domestic extensions will use cavity wall construction to meet


the performance requirements of building regulations and the aesthetic demands of planners.


So it is good news that in the strange


economic conditions of 2020, the demand for home improvement is back with a vengeance. Market analysis by Barclays Bank suggests that in September, spending on home improvements was up over 25% on the same month last year.


With all of us having far more time at home and also spending far less on holidays and leisure activities, it seems that this is one area of the economy which could remain positive well into next year. Mortgage comparison website money.co.uk suggests that 73% of homeowners surveyed in July admitted that they would continue to spend as much time as possible at home despite restrictions (at that point) easing. When your home ceases to be somewhere


you come back to after being out and starts to be the place you spend most of your time, then it’s natural that owners need their homes to provide more than simply living space. The same survey asked homeowners what their ideal home would include. Dedicated workspaces are, not surprisingly,


a priority for 34%, but so are home gyms (17%), garden rooms (21%) and separated spaces to give privacy to individual family members.


Many of these changes will be difficult to


accommodate without enlarging the footprint of the house, and the recent expansion of permitted development rights give even greater scope for home extension projects. Such extensions will need to comply with building regulations, most notably the thermal performance requirements of Part L1B. Where the external wall will – or may in the future – constitute a party wall with a neighbouring extension, the wall will also need to comply with Part E relating to sound insulation.


At the same time, the rules governing permitted developments also require an extension to blend in visually with the existing buildings. This typically means a brick façade and limits the potential for glass or timber structures to be added to existing properties. All these requirements point to the specification of brick and block cavity wall constructions, with aircrete being lighter weight and more flexible in use. Being able to cut blocks with a handsaw is a particular advantage when designing tricky finishing details.


Masonry walls are a particular priority November 2020 www.buildersmerchantsjournal.net


when it comes to kitchen extensions as they will provide the strength needed for fixing loadbearing cabinets, shelving or appliances into the wall structure. Changes to permitted development rights


introduced in August 2020 allow more scope for double height extensions and for adding stories to existing properties. For some forward-thinking homeowners (and some Building Control Officers), this means that single story extensions built now are adding in spare structural strength to allow for the addition of extra stories in the future. In aircrete terms, this could mean


considering the use of High Strength or Super Strength blocks in place of the standard Celcon Blocks more commonly used for regular domestic extensions. It would be a very brave person who


predicted a prolonged or dramatic growth in any sector of the economy at the moment but, for once, it would seem that an investment in bricks and mortar does seem to be one that many people are finding attractive.


For technical information on the application of aircrete blocks for extensions and more information on H+H products, please visit www.hhcelcon.co.uk


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