Open goal for large-span market

Ultraframe has launched its goalpost, which allows Ultraframe installers and builders to create open-sided grand designs with clear openings in excess of 6.5m, and doors in excess of 10m. Marketing director Alex Hewitt explains.

Homeowners are becoming ever-more adventurous when adding a conservatory or glass roof extension to their home, and the designs that were once classed as ‘grand designs’ are becoming more and more the norm.

Popular designs typically include large spans of sliding or bifolding doors, or even two or three sides that are completely opened up, for the ultimate wow factor. These large spans of glazing or open space are a crucial aspect of contemporary conservatory and extension design for many homeowners, and so while they are not our product, they are an important consideration for us when designing and refining our roofing systems.

While stunning, when creating designs that feature these extra-large openings, the stability of the extension is a serious consideration that must be addressed right from the design and specification stage.

In simple terms, when either opening up the side of a conservatory, or including a large span of doors in the design, the front corners must be securely anchored to the ground, and lateral stability must also be considered to counteract movement of the structure from side to side, which can occur during periods of high winds or heavy snowfall.

This means that sufficient structure is needed at the corners and the host walls, using structural posts, window returns, brick pillars or goalposts.

Goalposts are a great way to support large open spans and manage lateral stability risk. Many builders and installers use their local steel fabricator to create a bespoke steel goalpost, which is incorporated over the top of the open span and have worked in this way for many years. This process also involves a structural engineer to carry out the necessary calculations at considerable cost. The steel itself is a relatively cheap option, but it is very heavy, and specialist machinery such as a genie-lift will need to be hired to manoeuvre the steel goalpost into place – a procedure that I’m sure any installer or builder will confirm is extremely tricky.

This process of ensuring the structural stability is complicated as it involves different parties carrying out the structural calculations, manufacturing the steel, and manufacturing the roof, and there is a huge leap of faith for the installer or builder to have confidence that they will all work together as intended.

The new Ultraframe Goalpost was created to eliminate all of these issues and allow our customers to create showstopping grand designs with confidence.

The aluminium goalpost is something unique to Ultraframe and has been tailored to work in perfect harmony with Ultraframe roofing systems. Specified at the time of ordering the roof, Ultraframe’s in-house structural engineers use the company’s bespoke software to run all the necessary calculations, ensuring the correct specification of goalpost for the project in hand. The goalpost and roof are then designed and manufactured to work perfectly together and, as with all Ultraframe roofs, the structural specification of a roof featuring the new goalpost will be designed to withstand the worst possible wind and snow loads at the exact location that the conservatory or extension will be installed.

Ordering the goalpost from Ultraframe is simple and hassle free, because unlike the alternative of dealing with the roof order, steel fabricator and structural engineer separately, everything is specified in one order.

The goalpost also offers huge benefits on site. Engineered aluminium beams are as light as they are strong, and come in lengths no greater than 7m (only marginally longer than profile from some systems houses for carrying purposes) and can be joined with another post at a fixed point for larger spans. This means that they are light enough to be lifted into place, as opposed to hiring machinery such as a genie lift.

Our new goalpost can also be supplied with a beam deflection kit if needed for each specific project. This nifty piece of kit basically acts as a cushion or spring, allowing the header beam to safely deflect by up to 6mm without affecting the head of the door frame and the smooth operation of the doors below.

The goalpost can be concealed within the Ultraframe internal pelmet or left visible and powder-coated in the colour of the homeowner’s choice. Our goalpost can be used on any shape or style of glass roof or Livinroof extension.

In terms of the door spans possible, this is extremely exciting. For projects with bifolds the goalpost can be used on door spans of up to 6.5m, and for larger scale projects featuring lift and slide doors with intermediate structural posts where the doors meet, we can cater for doors in excess of 10m.

Being able to safely tender for projects with openings of this size really does allow our customers to access opportunities in areas of the market that may previously have been too difficult for them – both technically and financially. Our new goalpost and beam deflector kit not only provide a hassle-free route to structural stability, but also a real opportunity to open up new areas of the market in terms of the types of projects that our customers can now get involved in, and we can’t wait to see the projects that they use these exciting new innovations on.