Astronomical Winter Equinox
5 December 2016
Strong technical support and advanced design has enabled Ludlow builder Terry Angell to build what is thought to be the largest ever Equinox tiled roof to be erected in the UK – despite never before having worked with the innovative roof system devised by Eurocell.
The roof itself is the largest that the company has ever supplied, measuring 12.5m x 6.5m at its widest, and forms a distinctive P-shape using five hips and a valley for which the company’s own design engineers undertook the structural calculations to ensure that the roof was strong enough to meet Building Regulations.
“The pitch of the roof would have been impossible in timber because it would never have been strong enough to carry the snow that would fall on it”, comments Terry Angell. “It’s certainly strong enough now – I’ve jumped up and down on it”.
The original building is a 90s-built two-bedroom cottage at the top of Clee Hill, Shropshire, which stands some 365m above the surrounding countryside and looks out over to the Brecon Beacons and the landmark Hay Bluff, which dominates the Wye Valley. The conservatory-style extension on this side of the house takes full advantage of this panorama while accommodating a snug, complete with wood-burning stove and television, and a dining-cum-living room.
The decision to specify an Equinox tiled roof took Terry by surprise, as he had recommended that the homeowner should contact Eurocell to discuss windows but the area manager, Jonathan Mack, had put forward this quick-to-install roofing system.
The homeowner, Andy Fleming, was impressed – not only does it carry a 25-year guarantee but it also provides a comfortable living area that costs less to heat or cool than comparable systems. This market-leading thermal performance is due to solid insulation panels integrated in the structure which are approximately ten times more effective than ‘A’ rated windows.
Terry was more than happy to take on the challenge. “I was looking forward to being on a learning curve because you’ve got to keep up to date with modern materials and methods in this line of work. Otherwise, you risk becoming a dinosaur”.
In the case of Equinox, the learning curve is as gentle as can be because the roofing system is devised specifically to make installation simple and make the installers’ workload as light as possible. A three-man installation team can complete an Equinox tiled roof in just two days, and it will be watertight on day one, so it can be safely left overnight.
Also Equinox kits offer a ‘one box solution’ – all the roof components, sealants and fixings required to install the roof to the highest standard are delivered to site in one container. Eurocell provides the technical support that installers need to be sure of getting the right fit first time, every time. Once it has received all the dimensions, Eurocell engineers will create all the components required, including the tile sheets, hip end caps and ridge and hip top cap using state-of-the-art equipment.
Except in this case: recognising that this particular project was very large, Eurocell delivered all the parts on a 38-tonne trailer and sent out two members of its technical support team.
“It was colossal – breath-taking. Like a giant Meccano set. But it was all there, cut to size, and it was just a case of working out what went where”, recalls Terry Angell.
The system has a 5 to 350 pitch variable ring beam assembly that increases the types of roofs that can be replaced while adjustable angles on the hip, valley and ridge add up to easier fitting, and ensure that tiles and ridges sit correctly for finishing. All rafters sit flush with the hip and rafter too, providing greater strength. Thermal breaks avoid moisture build up, and air gaps within the roof allow any moisture to dissipate quickly – so there is no danger of internal condensation, unlike some tiled roof systems.
The roof was up and, within three days, Terry was able to start fitting the insulation and plywood. In this particular project the roof has been tiled using composite tiles together with roof windows, but Eurocell can also offer a speedier alternative with its SlateSkin GRP system. This reduces the time spent positioning and nailing tiles as each sheet consists of multiple tile courses, so it is up to 50% faster to fit than other traditional conservatory tile roofing methods.
In the event, Terry was very happy with the results and says: “I’ll definitely use it again”. And the customer? Andy says: “It’s a lovely big open space that’s light, airy and warm and makes the most of the view. Now, on a clear day, we can see for 60 miles”.