Craghead External Refurbishments (County Durham)


Client:- Private Homeowners & Durham County Council
Funder:- ECO Private Funding from EDF Energy & British Gas
No. of Units:- >150 to date
Period:- January 2012 - Present
Value:- Circa £2m to date
EWI Specification:- Alumasc External Wall Insulation System & Structherm Solid Wall Insulation System (Non-structural)

As a result of numerous years of work in the mining village of Craghead, County Durham, Westdale Services were the sole EWI installer on approximately 150 dwellings. In addition, the final phase of approximately 54 dwellings is currently ongoing and on completion will mean that Westdale have installed EWI to every solid-walled property in the village (approximately 90% of the village’s housing stock).

We believe this may be the only scheme of a truly community-wide magnitude in the UK. As a result, we have now commenced refurbishment of a neighbouring village, funded via the GDHIF, Green Deal Finance & ECO via British Gas.


Signage at Craghead Social Club, Front Street

In addition to the volume and social impact of the scheme, the finish specified by Durham County Council was for a ‘new brick’ effect whilst still retaining the original features & character of the buildings. In particular, we would like to bring focus to the mid-phase of the scheme which completed on 28th March 2014. The contract was for 22 properties on Edward Street and 23 on Front Street. Front Street is the hub of the village and contains a number of private houses, flats and shops. Being both the focal point of the village and also the busiest area, the years had taken their toll on the buildings, with the area becoming run-down and dilapidated in appearance. As a result the EWI installation had a drastic effect and gave a dramatic transformation to the village centre. We were able to incorporate difficult details right into the EWI systems, such as shop signage and frontage. To complicate things further, the rear elevations on Front Street were as high as five storeys, presenting obvious problems!

Edward Street is adjacent to Front Street and features a grand set of terraced properties on the corner of Front Street, numbers 18-22. These were particularly challenging to complete as the features and details to be retained included brick corbels, stone arched effect window headers, stone mullions & differing levels of brickwork. We feel that the finish on these properties is unlike any other EWI finish in the UK and showcases what is possible when using a highly skilled and efficient workforce.

18 Edward Street before treatment.

18 Edward Street before treatment.

18 Edward Street after treatment.  New brick effect with traditional features fully retained.

18 Edward Street after treatment. New brick effect with traditional features fully retained.

We also rendered some boundary walls with stone tops, to match the render work on the properties. The major challenge encountered on this project was the inclement weather; Craghead is located at a high elevation and remains exposed to the elements. On average, the village of Craghead is approximately 2°C colder than the nearest towns, Stanley and Chester-Le-Street. Down-time experienced due to temperature was excessive and was made worse by heavy rain/snowfall and high winds preventing any wet works or working at height. Couple this with a tight deadline for ECO funding and we had a major challenge, which we feel was overcome.

As a result of the scheme the property values in Craghead have soared from an average of approximately £25,000 to around £80,000. The houses are warm, dry and energy efficient. The convenient and scenic location of the village has encouraged new residents to move in and existing residents are taking new found pride in their housing. An all-round win-win situation for the village.

It has now become apparent that some new build properties are being built within the vicinity of our refurbished terraced houses.  We're hearing news that the local planning department asked the builders to use bricks that are 'in keeping' with our rendered finish!

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