A compelling case: Gable wall spandrel panels

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In light of the Government’s 300,000 homes a year target and its recent push for higher quality in housing, Tim Tasker of Pasquill puts the case for why gable wall spandrel panels should be found on every building site across the UK.

Thanks to their desired aesthetic, gable walls are increasingly becoming more popular with housebuilders and developers.

Gable wall spandrel panels – precisely manufactured off-site with timber and craned onto timber framed or masonry support walls – are a simple, more efficient and safer way to build, providing an alternative to the traditional inner leaf of an exterior masonry gable wall.

With that in mind, here are the top five reasons why gable wall spandrel panels outbox bricks and mortar every time:

1. Compliance first

Providing the panels have been installed with careful detailing of the connection to the head masonry wall, they can provide excellent thermal performance.

An investigation into performance found that scenarios during thermal testing were compliant with the minimum surface temperatures/fRsi requirements of BR 497:2016, and the associated heat loss (y/Psi-value) for use in SAP calculations.

2. Health and safety

We all know the laws of health and safety are the priority on any worksite, and thankfully gable wall spandrel panels can significantly reduce risks when compared to their traditional counterparts. This is in part because they significantly reduce the amount of time spent working from height, but also because they are usually stringently manufactured in line with regulations.

Manufacturers can engineer the gable wall spandrel panels to meet your exacting requirements, and should ensure they withstand design loads, wind loads and the acceptable permitted deflection limit of the outer leaf of masonry.

Ultimately, any steps that can be taken to improve health and safety are a must.

3. Speeding up the process

As with all off-site manufacturing solutions, gable end spandrel panels can be expertly prefabricated in a factory and delivered just at the right time. Not only does this have practical benefits, such as saving space and reducing waste, but it also allows a quicker build as there’s no need for the mortar to cure. One study even suggested that time savings of 50-60 per cent can be found when large elements can be fabricated.

Traditional brick and block gable ends and party walls are open to the elements during construction and curing and cannot be erected during certain weather conditions. With Gable wall spandrel panels, you only need to monitor wind speeds when craning spandrels into position – the hard work’s already been done off-site, helping you to get the job done on time.

4. Time is money

If something saves time, it’s almost certainly going to save money too. Because they’re manufactured off-site, gable wall spandrel panels can save on-site build time compared to traditional brick and block.

Gable wall spandrel panels also allow continuity of work during installation, allowing the rest of the site work to continue as normal.

5. Reassuringly strong

There’s a misconception that bricks and mortar are stronger than timber frame solutions, but engineered products can possess the same properties and strengths associated with steel or concrete.

Units designed in line with the NHBC Technical Guidance on spandrel panels mean that their panels must resist wind loads acting on the gable end walls, and any loads imposed by the outer layers of cladding.

A popular roofing option

Gable wall spandrel panels are a revolution in roofing, and provide a wide range of benefits for architects, builders, health and safety officers and ultimately homeowners.

If you think the panels are right for your project, consult an expert. Specialist manufacturers  have the knowledge and expertise to ensure safety, compliance and cost-efficiency with each spandrel they design and produce.

Tim Tasker is technical manager at Pasquill.