Problems That Dry Lining Companies Frequently Encounter Construction Essay

When air barrier consists of plasterboard dry lining, dry lining companies have to omit the 'out of sight, out of mind' approach that may have been implemented prior to the amended Building Regulation of Part L. Any defects in the construction of any liner wall subsequently show up in the pressure test. An air leakage audit is then required to identify mid-air leakage paths if the building fails the specified airtightness requirement. (www. mcconsultingengineers. ie)

Generally the challenge experienced by dry lining contractors is the interface junctions between two different elements, e. g. where the dry liner wall meets a column or a concrete wall. Problems may arise due to insufficient detailing, incompatibility of materials, insufficient co-ordination between trades, etc. (www. bath. ac. uk)

Remedial works to the environment barrier may be very expensive, disruptive and prolonged for the dry lining contractor. Remedial sealing is therefore extremely difficult for the contractor. A means in which to enhance the air barrier is to ensure that subsequent trades do not compromise mid-air barrier. The air barrier may be compromised by another contractor accidentally damaging it or deliberately penetrating it to be able to complete their work to programme of works. It really is vital that the damage caused to the barrier be repaired immediately. (www. mcconsultingengineers. ie)

Voids created in the walls for air ducts or piped services significantly reduce the probability of the area attaining its required airtight specification. An area with several penetrations is less likely to achieve a larger airtight value when compared to a room with fewer penetrations, since service penetrations in and out of any building contribute as a major way to obtain air leaks. (www. seda2. org)

It is common for design drawings for dry lining contractors to contain little if any information on the location of the principal air barrier or airtightness issues. This ultimately ends in those involved with constructing the environment barrier for the building not being conscious of the positioning, its purpose, the importance of maintaining continuity of the air barrier, nor regions of the construction where particular focus on detail is required to ensure airtightness. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

A problem experienced by dry lining contractors is that the designers do not specify exactly where the airtight layer is on the drawing. The designer will not identify the airtight envelope on drawings for the contractor. Consequently on site the airtight envelope is not labelled, therefore other contractors are not aware of its location. Having less awareness amoung contractors and designers is detrimental, e. g. if an operative must drill a hole through the dry liner wall or ceiling to thread pipes or cables through they aren't aware that the penetration must be resealed afterwards. It's important that such penetrations are managed in a far more handled manner than they currently are from the dry lining contractor's perspective. (www. bath. ac. uk)

If joints are unavoidable then design-in a seal. This may be difficult for dry lining contractors as the method chosen to seal joints will depend on how big is the gap between components, the quantity of likely movement, the practicalities of application and the need for weather / air tightness. (www. mcconsultingengineers. ie)

All buildings proceed to a larger or lesser extent depending on its use and this movement should be accommodated in the look from the outset. That is troublesome for contractors as movement or expansion joints should address airtightness as well as movement. Not absolutely all joints accomplish that, so careful deliberation is necessary through the design stage. (www. mcconsultingengineers. ie)

Dry lining contractors are confronted with a multiple of complex details for the external airtight envelope. Complex answers to airtightness will tend to be more prone to poor execution and potentially to greater vulnerability to differential movement, failure of sealants, and dislocation of components etc. (www. environ. ie) (www. seda2. org)

Due to a lack of information on the commercial sector, the author were required to resort to the residential sector, as the fundamentals are similar. ''One of the main air leakage paths within the united kingdom dwellings is plasterboard dry lining (Stephen, 1998 & 2000). Problems arise with plasterboard dry lining when air can freely move into the gap between your plasterboard and the masonry wall, especially where plasterboard is fixed to the wall using adhesive dabs. The environment gap between the plasterboard sheet and the masonry wall then become a plenum, effectively interconnecting all the leakage paths within the dwelling. '' (Johnston, Shenton, Bell, Wingfield, 2004:17)

Figure 1 Discontinuous ribbons of adhesive used to seal plasterboard dry lining.

(Johnston, Shenton, Bell, Wingfield, 2004:17)

''Service penetrations are known to be a substantial route for air leakage (see Stephen 1998 & 2000). The report on Robust Construction Details (DEFRA, 2001) states that particular care on site should be paid to service penetrations and everything service penetrations should be sealed with expanding foam or other suitable sealant, whether in the wall [Dry liner wall], ground floor, intermediate floor or ceiling Observations from site illustrate that little attempt has been made to seal nearly all service penetrations through walls, ground floors, intermediate floors and ceilings, and where attempts at sealing have been made, the penetrations are usually inadequately sealed and inappropriate sealants have been used to seal gaps around the service penetrations. '' (Johnston, Shenton, Bell, Wingfield, 2004:19)

Figure 2 Diagram illustrating sealing of service penetrations [Source: DEFRA, 2001]

Site Supervision and Workmanship

A major factor that influences air leakage is the particular level and quality of site supervision and workmanship through the construction of your building. Similar types of buildings with similar details may have completely different air leakage rates. As a result workmanship is often citied as the principal reason why airtightness standards aren't achieved in the construction sector. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

From the authors personal experience during industrial placement all aspects of dry lining work needs to be inspected as work proceeds. It is rather complex to inspect the airtight barrier on the building once work is complete on site, as it is normally included in internal fixtures and finishes. Great awareness and concentration is required on inspection, to ensure that air barrier is not defective in any way, paying particular care to parts that will be hidden on completion. (www. mcconsultingengineers. ie)

Once awarded the contract and mid-air barrier involves plasterboard dry lining, it's the dry lining contractors responsibility that the airtight barrier is achieved. An issue faced by contractors is usually that the employees are not aware concerning their contribution and duties for the overall airtightness. (www. seda2. org)

Consequently the problem of 'good or bad' workmanship generally speaking is an integral factor with air tightness. This is what makes the supervision and inspection for the dry lining contractor's more challenging to control. (www. seda2. org)

Due to too little information in the industry sector regarding dry lining contractor's site supervision and workmanship, the author resorted to the residential sector, as the fundamentals are similar. Stamford Brook is a development of around 700 cavity masonry dwellings being constructed on area of the National Trust's Dunham Massey Estate near Altrincham in Cheshire. At Stamford Brook an example of a perceived workmanship problem was the maintenance of a continuous ribbon of plaster adhesive round the perimeter of the plasterboard dry lining. It was observed that with very careful attention to detail and enough time allocated, a substantial reduction in the amount of air leakage was attained using plasterboard on dabs. (Miles-Shenton, Wingfield & Bell) (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

Another conclusion from Stamford Brook was that it was impossible to divorce workmanship, not only from design but also from other issues of construction management such as training, communication and quality control. It had been clear that many operatives were wanting to carry out a high-quality job but that, so far as airtightness was concerned, it was complicated for them to be clear about what that they had to do or who was simply responsible for achieving an airtight envelope. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

Quality on site

It is of paramount importance that parties involved on the project from client, contractor and consultants to all or any site staff and operatives and off site suppliers understand the concepts of air tightness and exactly how they are involved in playing a vital role to that aspect of construction. It only takes a minute portion of the dry lining wall of the building to be permeable to ensure failing to comply. This finally results in the remedial works which are costly for the contractor not to mention the impact it could have on the building programme all together as time passes delays. Therefore it is essential that an endeavour is put into practice to educate the staff and that all the staff works a team. Issues of thermal bridging, continuity of insulation and the correct construction of designed details need to be addressed to ensure that airtightness is achieved. (www. hrsservices. co. uk)

Although airtightness testing is carried out a few weeks prior to practical completion of a project, it is essential that the dry lining contractor has an excellent system in place so that remedial works aren't necessary. Dry lining contractors also needs to try to obtain the airtightness test at a time where in fact the barrier is complete and when remedial works are relatively simple to execute. The airtight test generally consists of two tests, once when air barrier is complete and one before the handover stage. (www. seda2. org)

Airtightness testing is normally carried out a couple weeks prior to practical completion of a project. The airtight test generally includes two tests, one when the air barrier is complete and the other before the handover stage. It is best practice that the dry lining contractors strive to achieve the mandatory air permeability rate first-time round. Then they can improve that rate by addressing issues in the audit that is likely to accompany it. Dry lining contractors also needs to try to obtain the airtightness test at a time where the barrier is complete so when remedial works are relatively simple to perform. If for instance mid-air barrier is not complete but the key contractor is adamant of experiencing an air leakage test. The incomplete barrier would need to be momentary sealed with an impermeable material; this is a timely and complex procedure. The result of the test could also end up being an unfair reflection of the dry lining contractors work thus far and the positioning of the leaks may be more difficult to locate. (www. hrsservices. co. uk)

Quality Policies

Dry lining contractors have never implement an improved strategic quality policy in order to succeed in maintaining airtight construction. Quality of workmanship and satisfactory construction of details are the primary issues affecting companies as of yet. With the stringent Building Regulation in place, increased emphasis on quality policies need to be honored. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

High-quality workmanship is actually significant, but workmanship sadly always is apparently of poor quality because of the context where the staff has to work. Stamford Brook studies show that Buildability of designs, lack of detailed design, insufficient specific training and the lack of an over-all quality control procedure underlies many workmanship problems. If careful attention to detail and satisfactory time allocated, the technique of airtight construction can increase dramatically. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

Some issues that the quality policy may incorporate to enhance it are an improved management strategy, communication and quality control. Operatives are usually wanting to construct to the required specification of detail but 'short cuts' are taken in-order to complete the task in the required time. Operatives are not aware that they are accountable for the attaining the airtight envelope, which the common trend of days gone by of 'cutting corners' is not acceptable in today's practice of the industry. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)


On - going overview of the design is very important. The project management do not ensure that details of all design changes involving elements of the external envelope are distributed throughout the design, procurement and construction teams. This might have consequently effects for dry lining companies. (www. environ. ie)

Not all project programmes reflects dry lining contractors required sequence for effective formation of air barrier and insulation installation. Some trades aren't permitted access to form not only the area of the insulation layer or air barrier for which they are really responsible, but also to ensure that continuity is achieved between their works which of other contractors. (www. environ. ie)

An ''Air Tight'' milestone is not always included when compiling the programme. This puts immense pressure on dry lining contractors if the air barrier is fails the environment tightness test. Ignorance of this date prevents management to schedule thorough envelope pre-test inspections and test dates in advance of the ultimate product. (www. environ. ie)

Once air barrier involves plasterboard dry lining, it's the dry lining contractor's principal liability to deliver air tightness performance overall and the probably task on any but the smallest jobs will be the co-ordination between management. The contractor must be clear that he carries responsibility for the entire air tightness and in turn must ensure that personnel and operatives are clear about the extent of their responsibilities. Experience shows that the best performance has been achieved by contractors who hire a dedicated individual / team to transport responsibility for air tightness, to inspect the works and instruct as required. (www. seda2. org)

The issues of air tightness are closely associated with issues of good or bad workmanship on the whole for contractors. This may make the issue more sensitive and more challenging to regulate. Even simple buildings are immensely complex therefore the most crucial aspect of all is the creation of a standard culture of careful, tidy, accurate and airtight construction, something which can't be simply forced through the performance specification. (www. seda2. org)


Every year defects in the UK construction industry cost at least 1 billion to rebuild or repair. A number of the defects will be the result of poor communication, for example, an inadequately detailed drawing, operatives being given the incorrect instructions or technical information not being available. Improvement in communication should result in an increase in the quality of the build and a reduction in the amount of defect occurrence. (projects. bre. co. uk)

Studies at Stamford Brook have emphasised the critical nature of communication and the actual impact it may have on airtight construction. It really is vital that there is an improvement in flows of information both upwards and downwards in the formal management structure in company's, a good example of this can be operatives reporting an incorrect drawing to the website office and the website office will contact the key contractor's office, where the incorrect detail can be rectified. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

Frequently at Stamford Brook and a great many other sites observed throughout the united kingdom, design information had not been available, not at a sufficient level of detail, confusing, complex or simply not referred to by operatives. This lack of information tended to lead to a rather diffused process as operatives followed their instinct rather than using detailed design information, which ironically had not been present.

(www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

Also there did not seem to be any particular well toned mechanism for feed back of information on air tightness performance and specification. It was not clear the way the design and construction lessons were being absorbed for use in making vital improvements to processes or actual designs. This is linked with the necessity for a evidently defined quality control process, for without such a process there may be no definition of problems, identification with their causes or framing of solutions. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

Majority of personnel and operatives mixed up in procurement and construction of the building fabric aren't aware nor understand the need for insulation continuity and airtightness. Having less awareness associated with these issues, results in components being engineered from the design for cost savings. (www. environ. ie)

Awareness is not raised at key stages during a project, for example, briefing procurement offices and site tool-box talks. Because of this parties can not plainly identify where and how insulation continuity and the environment barrier should be maintained. Operatives directly involved with constructing the insulation and air barrier do not draw focus on difficulties experienced on site or request direction. This insufficient communication will probably have detrimental effects on construction. (www. environ. ie)

Operatives not directly involved in the building fabric aren't entirely aware of the importance of insulation continuity, the air barrier and the flagging up of any breaches through these "lines of defence". They do not treatment potential thermal bridges or air leakage routes brought about by their own activities, or to seek help from other trades, depending on the nature of the breach. (www. environ. ie)

Quality Control

''Quality control is critically important to a successful construction project and really should be honored throughout a project from conception and design to construction and installation. Inspection during construction will prevent costly repairs following the project is completed. . . For construction projects, quality control means making sure things are done according to plans, specifications and permit requirements'' (Satterfield, 2005:1)

Many dry lining contractors have no system in place for monitoring the quality of their processes and products. Experience illustrates those contractors without Quality Assurance (QA) hinders them to check for insulation continuity and air tightness. An effective QA control is the fact that insulation continuity and air tightness are considered during all design changes and material substitutions affecting the external envelope. An ill-formed design change may jeopardise the ultimate performance of the building envelope. The lack of a QA process in a firm indicates that they don't inspect finished works especially the building envelope. Therefore prevents management to inspect that all works are properly constructed prior to being covered over. (www. environ. ie)

Construction quality can have a significant impact on air tightness. An overwhelming conclusion from the Stamford Brook Field Trial and from general observation of the UK house building industry all together is the fact that quality control processes are really diffuse with a number of actors playing similar but different roles which are almost always completed in isolation. It really is perhaps not surprising that with no clear air tightness quality control process set up, sequencing is often from the phase and known errors have a tendency to be repeated again and again. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

Another quality control issue observed at Stamford Brook that can lead to air tightness concern for contractors is the several tolerances that were constructed to by different trades. Items and components that are made off site to high tolerances tend to be fitted into structures built by trades that aren't operating to the same degree of precision. As a result, performance and workmanship issues can occur when construction is outside these tolerances. (www. leedsmet. ac. uk)

Quality control is not really a primary objective for all the members of an dry lining company. Managers do not take responsibility for maintaining and bettering quality control. Employee participation in quality control is not sought after nor rewarded, for example the introduction of new ideas. Consequently, quality improvement is not served as a catalyst for improved productivity. (pmbook. ce. cmu. edu/13)

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