Innovation Solves Construction Problem

RoofBLOCK, a new Northern Ireland product that provides an effective solution to problems arising from deterioration of roof timber, has won the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIoB) prestigious innovation award.

Marketing support for the unique product, developed by Andrew Schofield, a Newtownards civil engineer, is being provided through Invest Northern Ireland’s Passport to Export programme.

The importance of the innovation for the construction industry has also been recognised in a SMART award from the Department of Trade and Industry towards research and development work.

“RoofBLOCK addresses the problem arising from the deterioration of timber that every builder uses for overhangs between brickwork and roof tiles. Over time weather produces a deterioration in the timber and this will eventually require costly repair work for homeowners. Current construction techniques effectively build obsolescence into every home.

“I designed RoofBLOCK, essentially a shaped concrete block, to replace the conventional timber overhang. A series of tests by Queen’s University, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in England proved that RoofBLOCK was an effective alternative. BRE found that the product was more cost-effective than existing timber techniques

“Other benefits include constant weather protection and greater productivity on the building site, resulting from the elimination of joinery work around the roof and the need for bricklayers to fill in any brickwork disturbed during the roofing process,” he adds.

The CIoB award citation described RoofBLOCK as “a significant building innovation that provides a solution to a long standing problem.  It is well engineered and constructed from traditional materials with the potential for high lifecycle performance”.

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s managing director of Innovation and Capability Development, says: “This is a radically new product with substantial business potential in Europe and further afield.

“We are assisting the company to harness this business potential by means of a marketing and distribution strategy. This has included support towards market research in the UK and to identify potential manufacturing partners,” she adds.

Mr Schofield was also invited recently to give a presentation about the new product to the influential US National Concrete Masonry Association in Virginia.