Bill Price, National Commercial Technical Manager at Tarmac Cement explores the next frontier of self-build challenges.
In an era of true architectural innovation, it seems that anything is possible in the construction world. Fully eco-friendly properties with a BREAAM rating of up to 6 can be built and house extensions can be planned for the smallest of spaces, extending homes using the most minimal areas available (including below ground).
In addition, more people are picking up tools to work on their own homes, from projects in the garden to extensions and building from scratch.
This is largely due to the increase of people living in urban areas, where houses are built closely together and space comes at a premium. Homeowners looking to get more space in the same location are increasingly building in alleyways or back gardens to extend the surface area of their home by whatever means they can.
New homes are also being built in ever smaller spaces to meet demands of homebuilding driven by government targets. This demands architectural ingenuity and also real construction nous from builders who have to work in difficult spaces.
Self-builders building a home or extending their existing home into the back garden or upwards into the loft face a myriad of challenges in terms of the access to these new building areas.
What’s more, self-builders often have a small team, sometimes just themselves which makes carrying heavy building equipment around a challenge. Combine this with the difficult access and fulfilling the architectural designs can be nigh on impossible.
Construction materials are often heavy, and are packed in large quantities to reduce costs for bigger projects. However, these products often result in self-builders spending more, as they can’t use up the materials before they spoil. Cement is a case in point.
The majority of cement available to buy as a packed product comes in 25kg paper bags, for builders to split open with a spade and load up the mixer with half of the bag. When there are multiple mixes to be made in one day, this is no problem and builders can get through several bags of cement.
However, smaller projects managed by fewer people often only require one mix at a time, which means that half of an opened bag could be wasted.
It’s important that manufacturers can innovate, providing products that fit the needs of builders working in these challenging environments. Tarmac Cement’s 12.5kg Mastercrete Mixer Pack contains the exact amount of cement needed for one standard general purpose (1:5) mortar mix, meaning that bags will no longer be wastefully split.
For self-builders, this means that money and cement can be saved, as they can buy the exact size that they need. Half the size of the traditional 25kg bag, the new design is cutting waste by 11 per cent.
The smaller bag is also lighter, and has an inbuilt handle so it can be comfortably carried in one hand which reduces the risk of accidents and strains in the workplace.
This also makes it easier to climb up ladders and squeeze through alleyways, bringing the product to the project. Smaller bags of cement are therefore very useful for reducing both waste and worries for self-builders.
Another product that no self-builder should be without is a re-sealable tub of cement which is essential for small bespoke work on self-builds, such as laying paving slabs, fixing fence posts and doing small concreting tasks such as repair jobs or snagging indoors too.
The tubs are weather-resistant and can be kept outside, which is perfect when materials need to last longer. The tubs also have handles so that they are easy to carry and transport.
Customers just add water and can mix the product in the tub or simply take out just the right amount of product needed and re-seal the tub for future use. The tubs also offer customers a neat solution for reducing the mess on jobs and when transporting in vans.
For the self-builder, products that make them feel confident about the task at hand are essential, and the onus is on manufacturers to properly equip them with the best quality products. The acceleration in challenging self-build projects is only likely to increase, as space, particularly in urban areas, is at a premium.
With more people deciding to build their own property or to extend their existing homes, they need to have the right products to work on a smaller scale.
For the new frontier of self-build, the right products which can reduce waste and worries are essential.
For further information on Tarmac Cement click here.