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Technical guide highlights superior quality of Isle of Man Cambar homes

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The superior quality of Cambar-style houses constructed in the Isle of Man in the 1970s is highlighted in a technical guide published by the Department of Infrastructure.

The information paper has been produced to provide lending institutions and those involved in the building industry with a better understanding of the specifications of Manx system-built properties. It will enable informed decisions to be made when altering, extending or financing the purchase of Cambar homes.

The guide, which is available to view on the Government website, reflects the findings of a government working group set up to looking into the construction of precast concrete panel housing in the Isle of Man.

The enquiry, headed by Richard Ronan MHK and Phil Braidwood MLC, was conducted after it emerged that banks had become reluctant to lend on certain Cambar-style homes, based on guidance from a 2002 UK Building Research Establishment report.

The working group held discussions with planning officers, banks, local members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and building professionals, including the original developer. It established a number of major differences between Cambar houses built in the Isle of Man and those erected in the UK.

Cambar properties in the Isle of Man, of which there are approximately 400, were constructed to a far higher standard, using better materials, methods and finishes. The technical guide highlights the ‘significant enhancements to improve the robustness and durability’ of the properties, including:

  • foundation designed to suit the local ground conditions
  • precast reinforced concrete panels manufactured under controlled factory conditions
  • zinc plated connecting bolts and washers used to link panels
  • all timber framing and preservative pressure impregnated
  • foil backed plasterboard and plaster skim used for internal finishes of all walls and ceilings
  • external elevations have two coats sand and cement render with waterproof additive and spar or pebble dash finish
  • structural joints between precast concrete units sealed
  • prefabricated roof trusses covered with exterior quality plywood sarking prior to fixing slater’s felt and battens, providing additional rigidity to the roof and external walls
  • party walls constructed in 200mm dense concrete brick or blocks and fire stopped to underside of roof covering and over party walls for added protection. 

Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK said:

‘This technical guide confirms that Cambar homes built here are far superior to those elsewhere. It shows that our planners got it right in the 1970s by insisting on higher standards than in the UK. My department has not received any adverse reports regarding the performance of these buildings. I hope the guide helps to further reassure property owners and encourages banks to make local decisions on mortgage finance.’

Richard Ronan MHK added:

‘I’d like to thank everybody who assisted the working group and contributed towards the publication of this guide. Real progress has been achieved on this issue and the technical guidance will instil even more confidence in this section of the local housing market. I recognise the concerns expressed by the owners of Cambar homes and hope they will take heart from the many positives to emerge from this process.’

The technical information paper ‘A brief guide to construction of Cambar housing in the Isle of Man’ can be viewed at and copies have been distributed to residents in Friary Park.

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