Case Study: 15 Blocks of residential flats transformed with steam

Project Info

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    Recent Projects

The project

The South East Office of the Nationwide Property Management Company asked Spectrum to perform façade cleaning and restoration on one of its properties. The Nationwide Property Management Company is an existing Spectrum client. We’ve carried out external cleaning and maintenance via rope access for some of their other properties, so the client knew exactly what our team, and our processes, were capable of.

As well as façade cleaning and restoration, the project also involved brick cleaning (20%), gutter cleaning (10%) and window cleaning (10%). This thorough clean meant that, by the end of the works, the entire property would be left looking as good as new. Due to the nature of the modern render clean, 80% of the work was carried out using 150-degree steam in order to achieve the best possible results.

The work at Spring Head Parkway in Kent was to be completed with 5 weeks. In order to bring the project in on time, Spectrum brought in additional water supplies to counter the low pressure on site and also scheduled some work for weekends and after hours. This was done at no extra cost to the client.

The site

The Spring Head Parkway site was made up of 15 blocks of residential flats. These blocks were widely spread out. This meant special access and planning were needed to communicate with residents to ensure gardens and terraces were kept clear at the required times.

The main issue with the Spring Head Parkway site was the heavy staining on the silicon-based render. This type of render is prone to particularly stubborn staining that can be very difficult to remove. Unlike other companies carrying out render cleaning in Kent, Spectrum uses super-heated steam to get rid of stains. This prevents damage to the surface of the building and ensures all discolouration is completely removed.

The logistics

There were a number of logistical challenges Spectrum had to overcome when cleaning the blocks on the Spring Head Parkway site. One of the first issues that needed to be addressed was access. The site was home to a large number of residents, all of whom needed to be aware of the works and cleaning schedule.

In order to expedite the process, Spectrum was given permission to communicate directly with the residents. While a number of residents were non-responsive, this direct communication made life easier for the client and allowed us to plan the works and ensure residents kept their gardens and terraces clear at the right times. In order to accommodate the residents of Spring Head Parkway, we scheduled some of the cleaning works for weekends and after hours. This was done at no additional cost to the client.

Another challenge was the low water pressure found on the site. As our patented modern render cleaning system relies on super-heated steam, we needed to ensure a reliable supply of pressurised water. To solve this issue, we brought water to the site in our self-contained vans. These vans can carry up to 1,000 litres of purified water and can be moved to wherever they’re needed.

In order to carry out the clean at Spring Head Parkway, our specialist operatives were required to work at height. Our team has undergone the relevant health and safety training to ensure they’re able to work using ropes and other specialist equipment. This allows them access to hard-to-reach areas like terraces and balconies.

Before we begin a clean, we ensure our surveyors have an in depth understanding of BS EN 13914-1:2016 Design: preparation and application of external rendering and internal plastering. Should there be any defects found during the survey of the properties, these will be reported back to the property management company before the work begins. This level of care is important as it helps to ensure no warranties are invalidated and that the client is kept informed at all times.

The clean

The blocks on the Spring Head Parkway site had been finished using a modern silicon-based render. While this type of render is good for weather-proofing and protecting buildings, it is prone to particularly stubborn staining. This is because discolouration works its way into the pores of the render, staining the surface deep inside and making it difficult to clean.

Because the staining was within the pores of the render, deep cleaning was required. As both jet washing and power washing could potentially damage the surface of the silicon-based render – and as soft washing would not have been effective – we used our patented super-heated steam treatment. This targeted treatment removes heavy stains like rust, without damaging the surface of the render.

Our patented P.A.S.T. cleaning process has 4 stages: P. – preparing the render and the area, A. – applying the biocide to the render, S. – Steam cleaning the render at 150 degrees Celsius and T. – targeting treatment at any stains remaining on the surface. When these four stages are used together, they’re incredibly effective at removing stains and cleaning modern render.

In order to ensure the treatments are applied correctly, our operatives receive COSH training. This covers the application of biocide — the chemical that kills algae and prevents regrowth. One of the most important stages of the process, the biocide helps to leave the property looking its very best.

In order to get the best results from façade cleaning and restoration, we 3D print our tools and equipment for each job we do. This helps us to give each property a deep, thorough clean and get the render looking as good as new.

On the Spring Head Parkway site, we were able to use our patented equipment to clean 95% of the blocks. Using these techniques allows us to operate from the safety of the ground, using rope access wherever necessary. As this approach means we don’t need scaffolding, it saves the client a huge amount on access costs.

The result

At the completion of the Spring Head Parkway project, all 15 blocks had undergone façade cleaning and restoration. We used our patented render cleaning process to remove the heavy staining that had built up on the silicon-based render and to clean the brickwork that had become discoloured over time.

A full building health check was carried out with gutters, windows and the roofline all completely cleared and inspected for leaks. What’s more, the project was brought in on time and on budget.

Our unique approach to render cleaning meant that scaffolding and heavy machinery were not needed on site. It’s estimated that this saved the client 60% in access costs alone. Over 2 decorating cycles, this will have saved the management company over £75,000.

Lucian, the MD on the project, said “It was great to be able to make a project that could have been very difficult so seamless and smooth by using steam and our custom-made equipment. We saved the client both time and money and minimised inconvenience to the residents with a huge saving in access costs, as we could do the work from the safety of the ground, without cherry pickers or scaffolding.”

The client added, “We were very impressed to see results that would have otherwise made you think it had being redecorated.”