Article for Progress Magazine by: Paul Forrestor, Technical and Services Manager – RECTICEL
Paul Forrester, Technical Services Manager at Recticel Insulation, explains how limited interaction with end users doesn’t stop the company being a source of reassurance and making sure that customers are well looked after.
A lot of different people use insulation. And all of those different people use a lot of rigid PIR insulation – it now accounts for half of all insulation sales in the UK. Specialist contractors like roofers or floor screeders, general builders, members of the public – any and all of them can purchase insulation at any time.
We can’t supervise every single project into which our products are installed, but we can be ever-present should they have a question or comment. If consumers have a reason to get in touch, it’s usually because they need advice. Which board should
they use; what is the best way to install it; what level of performance can they expect from the product?
It’s important, therefore, that we have a support service qualified and confident enough to answer those questions and put minds at ease.
Everybody in the Recticel Insulation technical team has experience in the construction industry, whether a building-related degree, time spent in architectural practice or many years of service in the insulation sector.
The variety of questions we receive ensures we keep abreast of current trends because customers want to know about topics as diverse as building a state-of-the-art home to the Passivhaus standard, or eradicating condensation from the back bedroom
of a terraced cottage.
This in-depth understanding of our customers’ concerns means we can work with our trade associations, like the NHIC, to petition and influence government. Effective, long-term policy and supporting regulations are vital to deliver high-quality newbuild housing, and refurbished existing buildings, that are comfortable for consumers to live and work in.
The thermal performance and comfort of our housing stock is a key measure of successful government policy and insulation has a huge role to play in achieving that. If a customer asks what heat loss performance, or U-value, a particular construction will achieve, it’s vital that we give them the most accurate answer possible.
Recticel’s membership of the BBA Competent Person scheme for U-value calculations is one of the cornerstones of our technical support. When asked to calculate the likely performance of a particular construction, the scheme logo printed on the result acts as a reassurance that we have worked to accepted conventions – and that we haven’t made ‘best case’ assumptions on other aspects of the design that could give a more favourable but unrealistic outcome.
Calculations have to represent what is being constructed, or customers will be left with buildings that fail to perform as predicted – and they will be uncomfortable as a result.
Another area of reassurance that can be overlooked or taken for granted is product quality. If the customers purchasing our insulation aren’t doing so from us directly, then what is in place to make sure it is of an appropriate standard?
Like all construction products, the manufacture of rigid PIR boards is covered by the Construction Products Regulation. The CPR ensures that products covered by a European standard are manufactured to that standard and declared as such.
Performance characteristics for our products, and those of our competitors, are therefore declared consistently and to a defined set of test methods.
Products covered by the regulation cannot legally be sold if they do not comply. Consumers may not be aware of this over-arching regulation, although they may be aware of the CE mark that demonstrates compliance, but it means the products used in their homes have been thoroughly tested, manufactured responsibly and will do what is expected of them.
It can be easy to sneer at European legislation, but when it comes to construction products – including thermal insulation – this regulation is one that perfectly illustrates how consumers are protected.