Today’s forecast: weathered products if you don’t invest

on 28 May, 2013

Having spent many years in the construction industry, witnessing numerous peaks and troughs, there's one thing that has remained consistent: the unpredictability of the weather here in the UK.

The fact that you can't rely on the weather, in construction terms, is simple; sourcing better-quality building products is the best way to deal with what nature throws at us.

In particular let’s talk about plastic versus metal guttering. Whilst plastic products can do the job adequately, metal guttering has the capacity to deal with much harsher conditions from storms to heavy snow, with less risk of failure.

For some time now, choosing metal over plastic has been a lifestyle choice for self-build projects, as the synergy between building a ‘home' as opposed to building a ‘house' has paved the way for owners to specify materials that will withstand the test of time. But this is changing and metal gutters are becoming much more commonplace. The shift is due to a number of key factors: housing associations are investing in the long-term 'health' of their housing stock, the reliability of metal lowers the risk of water damage to property, it’s aesthetically pleasing, more eco-friendly and has a longer life-span.

Plastic guttering’s life expectancy is as varied as the ranges on sale but rarely is quoted beyond 20 years. This compares with a minimum of 30 for steel, 50 for aluminum and 100 for cast iron. Surprisingly, cost-wise, steel and plastic are on par with each other and steel is already a popular alternative to plastic on the continent, whereas aluminum and iron are a little more expensive, which is relative to their longevity.

Whilst I'm sure many housebuilders would like the brownie points for using eco-friendly, recyclable metal products, the cost implications cannot be ignored. However, we should be weighing up the short-term outlay against the long-term benefits - metal is a superior material and your investment will pay off over time. The importance of using good-looking products cannot be underestimated either – cheaper metal imitation products simply don’t have the same curbside appeal.

As the climate changes, here at Alumasc we need to ensure we are equipped to deal with our customer needs by offering cost-effective, great-looking solutions for every type of project, whatever the weather.

Paul Hetherington is managing director of Alumasc Rainwater and Harmer Drainage.

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