Haldane Fisher Steel Lintels Blog Photo of Keystone Lintels

How to avoid pitfalls when choosing steel lintels

A steel lintel is something that needs to last the lifetime of a building, so choosing the right one is crucial. There are dangers and risks involved in choosing cheap alternatives.  To discuss in depth what exactly to look out for Haldane Fisher has teamed up with  the market leader in the steel lintel industry, Keystone Lintels, to provide a comprehensive guide to the importance of quality, service, safety testing and certification in steel lintel manufacturing.

Third Party Certification

Third party certification is an extremely important part of the construction industry. Certification means that an independent organisation has reviewed the manufacturing process of a particular product. It has been independently determined that the final product complies with safety, quality and performance standards. A third party examination will typically include comprehensive formulation or material reviews, testing and facility inspections.

This valuable endorsement for the product’s performance gives specifiers and contractors extra reassurance that your products have been rigorously tested to industry standards.

BBA testing

The British Board of Agreement (BBA) is one of the UK’s leading bodies offering approval, certification and test services to manufacturers of products and systems supplying the construction industry. BBA experts assess, audit and test during the development of a manufacturer’s product. The resultant impartial reports provided by the BBA help manufacturers like us to make judgements on how to proceed with the development and these reports can be used as supporting evidence when applying for full BBA approval.

Products that receive BBA certification are recognised by building control, government departments, architects, specifiers and industry insurers such as the NHBC. It is a mark of quality, safety and reliability that provides reassurance that a product is fit for purpose. It is therefore vital for construction products or systems to achieve this certification if they are to gain a quick route to the marketplace

Steel lintels are critical structural elements and should be made in a factory that is governed by strict quality control manufacturing procedures. BBA certificates are awarded only to lintel companies who continuously carry out approved load testing and operate under strict quality control manufacturing procedures. Keystone’s Hi-Therm lintel, for example, is the only thermally broken lintel on the market that has trusted 3rd party certification from the BBA, which has tested the design, strength, performance, durability and fire resistance to ensure the product is fit for purpose.

Encouraging the safe development and adoption of innovative solutions in construction manufacturing is crucial and can be achieved through the provision of reassurance to manufacturers, users, local authorities, specifiers, industry insurers and key construction trade associations in the UK with the BBA.

CE Marking

A CE Mark demonstrates compliance with the appropriate manufacturing standard for a product. To apply a CE Mark, manufacturers, contractors and fabricators are required to demonstrate compliance with the standard BS EN 1090 – part 1: Execution of steel structures and aluminium structures.  A CE mark, therefore, is not a quality mark; it is proof of conformity to this regulatory requirement. It is a manufacturer’s declaration that the product complies with the essential requirements of the relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislation.

Keystone Lintels is covered by the following standards: BS EN 845-2 for standard lintels and BS EN 1090-1 for bespoke lintels. All fabricated steelwork, engineers, contractors and steelwork contractors should have amended their specifications accordingly to ensure only CE marked products are used on their projects.

Technical Expertise and Support

Keystone are Haldane Fisher’s key supplier for Steel Lintels.  Our preference is based on the confidence that is supplied with the comprehensive technical support provided with all Keystone products. With a free scheduling and specification service with quick turnaround alongside a bespoke lintels design service  which includes onsite measurement, Keystone technical expertise and support provides the reassurance every customer desires.

Keystone’s in-house design team use the latest thermal modelling software to provide our customers with  solutions for compliance with and beyond the latest building regulations.

Furthermore, Keystone utilise planning software to track every step – from technical enquiries, schedules or orders through to manufacturing and delivery.

It is this attention to detail and quality technical expertise that makes Haldane Fisher’s partnership with Keystone Lintels so relative to today’s construction industry, providing both quality and peace of mind from initial design right through to the on-site delivery .

For more information please visit Haldane Fisher’s Lintels section or contact your local Haldane Fisher Branch.

The Self-Build Journey – Drawing the Plans

Self Build Plans with Haldane Fisher

The Self-Build Journey – Drawing The Plans with Haldane Fisher

There’s no doubt that the urge to build our own home, just as we want it is a strong one. Look at 100 houses and you will always find something you don’t like. For some of us, we just ignore that irritation and buy the house. But for those who can consider self-build, then you no longer have to do this. Instead, you can have the house of your dreams. But getting that house starts with self build plans and this isn’t something you can do yourself.

The Design Process

Successfully designing a home takes a lot of knowledge and expertise but it helps if you, the self-builder, has plenty of ideas about what you want before you talk to professionals. Write down a wish list of features, sketch out ideas for room layouts, anything that you really want should go on a priority list. Then you can start talking to professionals who can give you confirmation about what will work and what won’t.

There are DIY options available and if you have the right experience of qualifications, then you can go down this route. But many who have done this find themselves falling foul to the planning permission department or running into a brick wall called Building Regulations. Using a professional can help negotiate around these issues.

Working Through The Ideas

Once you find the right person to work through the process with you, you can start sharing your ideas and all those notes you made. Look at the most important stuff, the things you can’t live without. Then look at the next tier of things, the stuff you would love if possible. Finally, there may be room for those things you would like but can manage without.

All of this will be done from the perspective of the rules and regulations that effect any property. Planners can help with questions such as materials, shape, height and orientation of the home so it pays to understand these questions from the outset, saving time down the line.

You may also want to consider factors such as the energy efficiency of the building and the sustainability of the materials. This matter will have more importance for some than others but should always be a consideration. Houses built with these factors in mind might even have a better chance of getting planning permission. Also, down the line if you want to sell the house, these factors can have an impact on the value and sale-ability of the property.


The other big part of this process is looking at the budget you have and what this will allow you to do. We would all love a huge house with loads of bedrooms, bathrooms and an indoor swimming pool but not every budget will stretch to it! But even a limited budget doesn’t mean a poorly designed house – it just means making the most of what you have.

Working with an expert may seem an extra expense but is one that will pay for itself in terms of project success and simplification of the process. Then you will firmly be on the way to your dream home.

Haldane Fisher are exhibiting at this year’s Self Build & Improve Your Home Show on the 17th – 19th February at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast from 10.00am to 6.00pm each day.  Why not bring your plans to Stand F22 and allow our team to assist you in the building process. Our self-build offering will include; AGA Cookers, Bathroom Sanitaryware, Hormann Garage & Entrance Doors and Engineered Timber including roof trusses and joists.

To get your free tickets to attend, use the Promo code NORTHERN at www.selfbuild.ie.

Fire Your Imagination – A Customer’s Guide to Buying a Stove

Haldane Fisher Stoves

Fire your imagination with Stoves available from Haldane Fisher

Wood burning stoves have long been a popular choice with consumers looking for efficient and natural ways to create heat in the home. The multi-fuel stove however is a relatively new addition to the market and it is quickly becoming popular for a variety of reasons. So might it be the perfect solution for your home?

What Are Multi-Fuel Stoves?

As their name suggests, multi-fuel stoves are able to burn different materials and are also referred to as mineral-fuel stoves. Typically, they can burn wood and coal as well as smokeless fuels although some do have different facilities and react differently depending on the fuel in use.

Because coal needs air to reach it to work properly, most multi-fuel stoves have what is called a riddling plate. This lets in air under the coals to generate the heat and also make it easy to remove ash that builds up once the coal has burnt. Wood works a little differently and burns best when sitting on ash, known as a firebox while the air circulates above.

Which Type Of Fuel Should You Choose?

As with most things, the fuel you choose to use in your stove will often depend on its cost. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of your fuel options.

Wood – This is a very popular fuel given that it is a renewable and natural source which makes it cheaper than most other fuels. Using wood will also create less ash which means that you wont have to clean out your stove as often. On a negative note, seasoned wood can be hard to get your hands on in the winter, therefore you will need to stock up on it in the warmer months.

Smokeless Coal – A smokeless coal such as anthracite will burn for longer and create more heat than wood. There are also still smokeless coal delivery services available making it less necessary to store it over the winter. As with wood there are some downsides to using coal. One of the obvious negatives is that it is quite a messy fuel to store and use. There is also more maintenance required as the stove will need to be cleaned out after each use and your chimney will also need cleaning more often than if you used wood.

Choosing A Multi-Fuel Stove

One of the issues some people have with multi-fuel stoves is that they may not be laid out correctly to use both coal and wood and tend to be limited to one or the other. Therefore, when choosing a multi-fuel stove look for ones that allow you to control where the air circulates depending on what fuel is being used.

You might also want to consider what type of fuel you will burn the most and go for a model that is primarily optimised for this. So if you plan to burn wood 75% of the time and use coal and other fuels only occasionally, then look for a model that is laid out for wood and can be easily adapted for other fuels. Also, make sure that if you are in a smoke controlled area that the stove can burn smokeless fuels – these are normally DEFRA approved.

Heat Output And Physical Size

The other two main considerations when choosing a multi-fuel stove is the physical size and the heat output. The size is a very variable area so there is almost always one to fit any space in your home. However, you should have enough space to leave a gap between the stove and other items, at least 150mm is recommended to the sides and 50mm at the back.

Heat output is how much heat the stove will create and this should be appropriate for your home. Too small and it won’t heat the room but too big an output and your room will be uncomfortably hot. Heat output is measured in kilowatts and the amount of heat you need can be worked out roughly with a simple measurement. Multiple room length by width x height in metres and divide the figure by 14 – this tells you the output you need from your stove to adequately heat your room.

We sell multi fuel stoves from renowned brands such as AGA, Henley and Firewarm that allow the customer to burn a range of fuels such as wood and coal. This allows the customer to decide whether they want to use the stove purely as a wood burning stove or use a range of fuels.

Which Type of Brick Do You Need?

When it comes to choosing building materials it may seem that you are overwhelmed by choice. However, each and every brick type that is available throughout the UK has its own set of benefits and is ideally suited to a range of purposes.

This guide looks at some of the most popular bricks and what type of build they are most suited to.

Clay Bricks

Common Bricks

Bricks that have no control on their appearance or colour are known as common bricks. They have a low compressive strength and are often seen as being lower quality then other types of clay bricks. These should only be used above ground and are most commonly found in internal brickwork.

Engineering Bricks

If you are looking for a brick with high compressive strength as well as low water absorption then the engineering brick is for you. They are most commonly used for below ground level work and for Damp Proofing.

Facing Bricks

Facing bricks are bricks designed to create a aesthetically pleasing external look to a property. They come in a variety of colours and sizes and are the most popular type of bricks used in building work.

There are a variety of different types of facing bricks including; wirecut, stock bricks and waterstruck.

  • Wirecut bricks are the most common in the UK. During the process the clay is passed through a brick shaped die, giving a sharp and crisp brick, followed with the look being determined by adding sand for texture. This clay is then cut into shape and fired individually in the kiln.
  • Stock bricks are moulded by machine with a tool called a frog indent. The wet clay is pushed into these sanded moulds and gives the bricks a soft texture and irregular shape.
  • Waterstruck bricks are released from their moulds using water. They do not contain any holes or frogs and are completely solid.

Reclaimed Bricks

As the name suggests, reclaimed bricks are those that have been reclaimed from other sources. Often demolition sites. These come in a variety of formats including handmade, facing and engineering.

It is usual for reclaimed bricks to be worn and have irregular sides due to their original use.

However, they also have a sense of character and uniqueness that appeals to many people.


Unfortunately handmade bricks are not common to find anymore, despite this being the traditional method of crafting bricks. These bricks often have a real sense of distinction when compared to machine crafted bricks, however, due to the rare nature of the handmade process now in brick manufacturing; these types of bricks can be costly.

So now you know more about the different types of bricks, you can decide which one is ideal for your property. Whether it is for internal brickwork, work below the ground or simply to make the property look great. Bricks really do have everything that you are looking for.

Why Choose Glulam & Posi Joists?

When looking at the construction of a building, one of the most crucial areas is the flooring. The design of the structure and the flooring used on this foundation is critical to the long term strength of the property as well as making for a well-designed and visually pleasing end result. Two of the newer ideas on the market are Glulam and Posi Joists. But what are they and why would you use them?


Glulam Example

Glued laminated timber, known as glulam, is a structural timber product that uses a number of layers of timber that are bonded together with a highly durable and moisture resistant adhesive made specially for structural jobs. Because of this design system, glulam is very flexible in its size with variations ranging from 45mm x 45mm right up to250mm x 1800mm x 30 metres long. It is an environmentally sustainable material that needs no mining or high energy processing in the way that steel or cement does and creates a warm and comfortable feel to any building in which it is installed.

Glulam is also lightweight, relieving stress on the underlying elements of the house and is one-sixth the weight of a reinforced concrete beam and two-thirds the weight of steel. Because it is lightweight it is also very easy to work with and is also fire resistant. It confirms to the Approved British Standards 4169:1988 and BS EN 386:1995.

With glulam being made as it is, it can also be created into various specifications depending on the needs of the property. It is very durable and can even work in very corrosive environments such as in a swimming pool where the humidity and chlorine levels can cause serious problems to other types of materials.

Posi joists

Reduced Posi Joists

Due to the ever changing demands for sustainable homes that also have a range of ventilation and heat recovery systems, more and more architects and builders are looking for open web flooring systems to meet these needs. One of the most popular of these are the posi joists and strut system. The combination of the lightness of the timber and the special steel web structures means that the system can cover greater distances than other forms. It also allows for a greater variety of internal layouts and a larger range of design freedom in domestic, commercial and industrial properties.

Another major advantage of the system is that there are far few components to put into place than in a traditional softwood floor. This means it is both cheaper and quicker to install. Carpenters don’t spend large amounts of time drilling holes and accommodating the electrics and plumbing facilities that are required. The system also requires less bracing material than other systems and there are no herringbone strutting required.

Finally, once the property is complete, the posi joist system allows easier access for maintenance and alterations than most other systems. So once ventilation and heating systems are installed, they can be easily reached for servicing and alterations. This can continue to save money in time and effort needed to do the work.

Specifying Materials For Your Self Build

Self Build Northern Ireland

Being hands-on with your self build project has many advantages but it can also be overwhelming when you realise the sheer scale of choices that you are faced with when deciding on building materials. Every aspect of the build will require a huge number of decisions and to add to the confusion you may find that your requirements change as the build progresses.  To make your life easier and ensure the build goes according to your schedule and budget you will need to decide on your materials and eliminate those that don’t fit with your budget or style early on in the process. 

Sometimes Alternatives Are Better

You may be tempted to go for authentic materials such as wood and stone but there are lots of modern alternatives which are a lot cheaper and in some cases they actually perform and look better. A good example of this is using slate and stone cladding instead of natural stone. Often alternative materials are easier to install than their natural counterparts so they require less skill to install. This will lower the cost of installation or make it easier for you to do yourself.

Which Wood To Choose

When building your own home it’s likely that you will be needing lots of wood for a variety of uses. Wood is a great building material as it’s strong and durable while being flexible and renewable and it looks great as well. The type of timber you choose depends on what you are using it for.

Wood is strong, durable, long lasting, restorable, recyclable, renewable and of course, attractive. With so many different types of wood available you should consider what you need it for and allocate a form of wood best suited to each job. For example engineered timber is perfect for flooring, pressure-treated timber is great for decking and western red cedar is ideal for fencing so the wood you choose depends on its purpose. Your budget also plays a big role in which wood you choose as you may want solid oak floors but may find that your budget only allows for laminate. Once again specifying the best materials to suit your decor and budget is important.

Know Where To Look

So where can you find the best range of materials to choose from for your self build? Thankfully there are some useful online tools available for specifiers to search a huge range of building products, materials and fixtures and they also act as a comparison tool which is ideal when you are faced with lots of choice.

Knowing where to source your materials and building products is essential for saving you both time and money when undergoing a self build as you can be assured that you have chosen the best materials that your budget allows and are able to eliminate others early in the process. As with any build good planning is vital and this includes specifying materials at an early stage.