The last 3 months since my last rant have shot by rather fast as we head into the glorious depths of the English autumn and winter. Once again we are experiencing some fairly extreme weather, 225mm in the Lake District in 1 day is apparently a 1 in 100 year storm. This is quite like the 1 in 100 year storm that happened nearby a year or two ago!! Can the English weather get any worse??
In early September we had the Self-Build and Design show at Westpoint in Exeter. This was the best show we have ever attended in terms of sheer number of enquiries and interest on the stand. In the 2 days we were there we spoke to over 400 people who were interested in the whole range of products. Many of these, as you may guess, were self-builders who were really excited by the simplicity of both the Hemcrete and the Thermoplan systems. Both are great systems for self-build as they require little formal training to be able to construct the finished structure.
The projects that we are involved with are still growing in number thankfully as the 3 years of promotional work bear fruit. They range from people using small quantities of Sheep’s wool to insulate VW Surf vans to social housing projects involving tens or hundreds of new houses. It is great to see that the general public is much more interested in the topic than ever, a much broader range of people come to see us at the events we attend, it is also becoming ever more exciting seeing how people are using sustainable materials to build and renovate some fantastic looking buildings. One day, when I have time, I’ll get some photos of them all and put them on the website!!
The sustainable or ‘Green’ construction market has been hit by the economic downturn but it mostly seems to have delayed projects rather than stopped them altogether. Government intervention in the social housing construction sector has really helped get a lot of projects off the ground, especially with Hemcrete as this can now really compete economically with ordinary materials at code level 4 and above which is now required for these projects. Now that the Government grants have now run out there still seems to be quite a noticeable momentum to sustainable construction projects and the market is becoming fiercely competitive with some manufacturers really making a concerted effort to take on the large mainstream producers. Whilst in the short term this is obviously a painful time for everyone, in the longer term it may be just what this sector of the construction industry needed to gain a better foothold.
In late September, at the Genesis Centre in Taunton, we ran 1 day and 3 day seminars on the Udi Systems range from Unger Diffutherm, the inventors of wood fibre insulation (diffutherm). Bernd Unger and Sabine Groeneveld flew over from Germany to impart their extensive knowledge of these materials on a groups of people including architects, developers, builders and several home owners. The course was designed to give participants a good understanding of wood fibre insulation and for those on the 3 day course, certification allowing them to become registered installers able to give the 15 year warranty on the installed systems. It was a real success and since, we have had an increase in enquiries for these truly brilliant systems as there is now a small network of registered installers able to back up the products.