Barrow House, Edgbaston

Project: Barrow House, Edgbaston

Alumasc’s Facades and Roofing divisions have joined together to provide a single source solution for the £1.8million refurbishment of Barrow House – a nine-story high rise in Edgbaston.


The 1970s block is owned by Birmingham City Council, and was the first high rise refurbishment carried out under the CWM (Construction West Midlands) Framework which is managed by Acivico.


The external works comprised the application of the Swistherm External Wall Insulation (EWI) system to all four elevations above ground floor level, with a Swisslab EWI Traditional Brick Skip system to the ground floor areas and a Derbigum insulated roofing system, all from Alumasc.




Alumasc’s specified solutions totally encapsulated the building.  The systems were applied by Alumasc-trained and registered installers, Bersche-Rolt Ltd for the facade and Brindley Asphalt Ltd for the roof, giving peace of mind to the Client.  This was further reinforced by the specified systems being BBA approved and covered by comprehensive warranties.




The main aim of the project was to extend the life of the block by 30 years by carrying out structural repairs and external refurbishment of the building.  Barrow House was constructed as a no fines concrete shell, with no cavity or insulation.  As such, the building was cold, damp and discoloured.


The main challenge on the building façade was that the original mosaic tile finish had to remain due to budget constraints, despite Alumasc’s recommendation to remove it.  Alumasc’s technical team were able to overcome this by devising a solution that meant the tiles could be overclad with the Swistherm system by the use of additional fixings and specialist adhesive in certain zones.


On the Roof, Alumasc carried out a comprehensive condition survey with multiple core sampling to ascertain the condition of the existing substrates. The waterproofing system in place was defective and the saturated insulation called for a complete strip to deck; an ‘overlay’ solution would not have been adequate due to a large volume of trapped moisture within the system and poor condition of the existing asphalt covering.


Derbigum bituminous flat roof membrane was specified due to its high performance properties including flexibility, durability, excellent fire ratings and stronger Dual Reinforcement.  




Alumasc’s EWI system, with 110mm mineral wool insulation greatly improved the thermal performance of the building. The silicone render and brick slip façade offered improved aesthetics and maintenance.  


The roof is now fully insulated to current Building regulations and incorporating design falls to existing RWO locations; providing a robust waterproofing system fully integrated with the Alumasc EWI Scheme to offer a complete design solution to the waterproofing requirement.


Residents now live in a warmer, weather-tight, condensation-free environment and are delighted with their improved living conditions and lower utility bills.


Acivico architect, Gary Franklin, explains:


“Whilst we are yet to carry out specific tests at Barrow House, figures from similar projects have shown a reduction in energy usage ranging from one third to half of that prior to refurbishment. In addition, the exterior staining and discolouration that Barrow House suffered from due to water penetration has been eradicated, and the whole block is now far more aesthetically-pleasing.”