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Flat-pack kicks off with Wynyard debut

The Wynyard Estate development, originated by ex-Newcastle United chairman Sir John Hall and boasting the previous resident mansions of messrs Keegan and Shearer, is five miles from Tony Blair's constituency in Teesside. It is filled with exclusive developments, gated homes and many examples of self-build tastelessness.

One new home, which slightly breaks the mould, is described as a flat-pack house. Constructed in polystyrene and steel it will, in the course of a five-day erection period, take the shape of a five-bedroom 'Georgian-style'Hamsterley property.

Barry Miller, managing director of Bellway Homes North-East, says: 'From foundations to roof it will take five days [to build] compared with the normal 10 weeks for a traditional build. It will be the first of its kind to be built by a national housebuilder and will be sold at the same price per square foot as all other properties on the site.' As part of the commercial evaluation process, this house has undergone rigorous performance analysis, not least in terms of its saleability.

The 275m 2house - including habitable attic space - is built of prefabricated panels of single leaf steel construction, finished in waterproof insulated render, as per conventional external wall insulation methods. The 100mm, 1.5 guage lightweight loadbearing steel studs, set out at 600mm centres, can be configured to suit most plan layouts and are lined internally with 15mm Duplex plasterboard screw-fixed to the studs. Mineral wool insulation of 50mm is inserted and the studwork sheathed on the external face, with one layer of 15mm moisture resistant plasterboard and all joints are taped.

Then 80mm of expanded polystyrene insulation is adhered to the MR plasterboard substrate and finished with a mixture of acrylic base coat and cement with an embedded reinforcement mesh. Overall, the walls have a U-value of 0.26W/m 2K.The EIFS system (External Insulation and Finishing System) has a pedigree that extends back to post-World War II Germany where it was developed to repair war-ravaged structures as well as address the energy consumption caused by lack of insulation in masonry structures.

While there have been reports that EIPS has been prone to leaks in America (though not by this manufacturer) - relying as it does predominantly on the watertightness of the render layer alone as the main barrier to water ingress - the contractor will be evaluating its performance over time. For many, the additional attraction of this system is the ability to sculpt or add decoration and carry out modifications and repairs relatively easily. The detail shows how the polystyrene can be 'carved' to form the mouldings, architraves, etc, much beloved of this type of dwellinghouse.

In Wynyard, the work is being carried out by Teesside company WA Browne for Bellway Homes. The 'Hamsterley' will be on the market at around £350,000.

For information contact tel 0191 244 6658

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