Product / system manufacture
Yorkshire and The Humber
TH Michaels (main contractor); Sothall Roofing (sub-contractor)
As part of an ambitious social housing programme, Rotherham Council has installed a new photovoltaic roofing system on an apartment block in Maltby, South Yorkshire. Simon Dixon, Sandtoft’s training manager, explains the scope of the project and how the roofing contractor has successfully delivered the solar solution.
Following funding from the previous Government's Homes and Communities Agency, Rotherham Council is half-way through constructing 127 properties on six sites across the town.
The new council houses are the first to be built in Rotherham for 30 years. All of the properties are being built to meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes as well as Lifetime Homes, and Building for Life Silver Standards. These are way above the typical house-building standards and incorporate a number of measures to ensure the properties are very energy efficient.
As part of the construction programme, TH Michaels was appointed to build a block of four apartments in Maltby. In line with the Council’s strict environmental requirements, solar panels were required on the roof. These had to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible, so the contractor opted for a building integrated photovoltaic system rather than a bolt-on product.
Sandtoft’s PV48 solar roofing system met the brief as it can be integrated with most types of roof tile or slate, regardless of the manufacturer. To improve aesthetics, the black photovoltaic panels are supplied with matching flashings that are unobtrusive and maintain the straight vertical lines on the roof.
Sothall Roofing was chosen to install the PV48 system which was integrated with fibre cement slates. Supplied as a complete system and ready to install, the PV48 is MCS accredited and has been specifically designed for installation by roofing contractors. There is no need for a separate solar installer which reduces the number of trades on the roof and saves time. And, the training takes less than one day even for those roofers with no previous experience of fitting solar products.
A key element of the training is the use of a ‘template’ for setting out the roof, enabling the roofer to correctly position the counter battens and hooks that the solar panels will be fitted on to.
Following the setting out, the flashings are fitted. These have been designed so that the roofers can simply flash the area where the panels are going to be installed. The flashings are very similar to those used for fitting roof windows, so are familiar to roofing contractors thereby significantly reducing the risk of poor workmanship and subsequent weatherproofing problems.
The whole roof is then tiled. As the roofers can stand in the area which is designated for the panels, they have better access to the roof, making it easier for them to complete the tiling. This also minimises the requirement for roof ladders.
The panels, which each measure 1.4 square metres, are quickly and simply installed at the end of the roofing process, so there is no need for the roofers to work over the solar modules. This helps to improve safety and reduces the risk of any damage. And if security is a potential issue, the panels could also be installed just before the scaffold comes down.
Wayne Bartholomew was one of the roofers responsible for installing the PV48 for Rotherham Council and gave us feedback on the project. He said: “I’ve installed other solar products before, including integrated and bolt-on systems, and the PV48 is by far the easiest one to fit.
“The setting out is the most challenging aspect of the training, but the template really assisted with this. Once we’d established how to set out the roof, the rest of the installation process was very straightforward. We spent a day with Sandtoft’s training manager learning how to install eight panels on the first elevation. The following day, we fitted the remaining six panels in just four hours without any assistance from Sandtoft.
“I am a traditionally-trained slater but times are changing, so I recognise that I need to adapt and expand my skills to meet customers’ needs. There has been an obvious and recent shift towards using solar, so it’s vital that roofers take the opportunity to learn how to install them effectively. Any training in this area is very valuable and adds another important string to a roofer’s bow.”
The roof was completed within TH Michael’s tight construction schedule, ensuring that the new tenants can look forward to a high-quality, aesthetic property that reduces carbon emissions and protects them from rising electricity bills.