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 by by Team Melin

Have you ever wondered what a typical day for an air tightness testing engineer might be like? To be honest, this blog won’t give you an idea of that, because it highlights a fairly atypical day for one of our own air tightness testing engineers, Rhys.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with MBC Timber Frame on a regular basis. They build timber frame homes to the Passive House standard and our team provide the air tightness testing for projects of theirs across the UK.

We received a call from them asking if we could carry out an air pressure test on a self-build in Scotland. You can read our Passive House Case Study to find out more about this project, but what it doesn’t necessarily tell you is the story behind the air test that we provided. We’ll let Rhys share that in his own words…

The Call to Action - Monday, November 21st

I take a call from MBC Timber Frame, who ask us to provide an air pressure test at Strathcorran. After checking Google maps, we discover that it’s a hamlet, situated at the head of Loch Carron nestled in the Scottish Highlands and one of the most northern points of the British Isles!

With customer service being one of the many pillars Melin was built on, we accept the mission.

The usual approach would be driving to Scotland, testing and coming back, which would take the best part of 2 days. Instead, we decide to ship our equipment to Inverness, take a short-haul flight, test and return. Sounds simple, right?

Destination Inverness

The Adventure Begins – Thursday, November 24th AM

It‘s the morning of the epic Inverness expedition. The starting point; Melin HQ, the finish; Strathcarron.

We depart God’s country across the vast and beautiful M4 motorway, across the border to Bristol airport. Knowing the route very well, the Sat Nav is on hand for an accurate arrival time.

Unfortunately, this proved to be the first of many hiccups along the journey.

Against my better judgment, and assuming the Sat Nav couldn’t possibly be wrong, I end up 15 minutes away from the airport with 30 minutes to go until the gate closes.

Thankfully, a bit of Welsh charm allows me to gracefully sail through airport security and board the morning flight to Inverness International.

I fly over the beautiful Brecon Beacons, past Liverpool and arrive at the picturesque landscape which surrounds the city of Inverness. Once we land, things go smoothly. Once through arrivals, the van hire company collect me in a brand new Ford Transit with all the extras you could possibly want.

I arrive at the Parcel Force depot in record time to collect the equipment that was shipped earlier in the week, consisting of 3 individual parcels.

With everything going so smoothly, something was bound to give.

The Nightmare Begins – Thursday, November 24th PM

I am greeted with the words ‘two of your three parcels have arrived’. Swiftly followed by the sound of my jaw dropping! The first two parcels contain the fan and frame. They are here and waiting for me. The remaining parcel, containing the fan inverter, digital gauge, tubes, door canvas, and everything else I need, was left behind in Coventry!

Retrotec air testing equipment

Image source - Retrotec

It now won’t arrive until at least 3 pm the following day. My hotel room, van and flight have all been arranged based on a one-night stay.

With an extra night’s stay looming, Melin HQ is drafted in to come up with a solution to this unforeseen, unpleasant and unwelcome situation.

I spend the next few of hours contacting local air testing companies, air tightness fan stockists and even air testing governing bodies. Basically, anyone who is remotely involved with pressure testing in some shape or form. But, to no avail.

After countless calls, overpriced equipment hire and even a tester who would not let me borrow equipment without accompanying me on my test, I wave the white flag and surrender myself to an inevitable extra night’s stay.

Now I have to inform the client that our test will have to take place a little later than planned. Thankfully, they’re very understanding and I make my way to the hotel hoping that tomorrow will be a bit more productive!

The Test Begins – Friday, November 25th AM

My 2nd day in beautiful Scotland.

Unfortunately, most of it is spent killing time around the hotel and waiting patiently for my 3rd parcel to arrive.

Despite being supplied with a tracking number, according to the website, the parcel is still in Perth at 1 pm. After a few calls, the parcel finally arrives at 4 pm and I’m on my way to the site… 24 hours later than planned!

I pass endless lochs and streams as I wind through green hills and vast mountains. Being a proud Welshman, I don’t want to admit that the Scottish Highlands are as good as the Welsh countryside, but it comes pretty close!

Loch Carron

Once at the site, situated on the shore of Loch Carron, and after the builders have finished exploring the hire van, I’m ready to set up and do what I came all this way to do.

Passive House Strathcarron Loch

The Adventure Ends – Friday, November 25th PM

The test goes without a hitch and I’m on site for barely more than an hour.

Since I was technically a day late, the least I can do is help the builders pack up.

Before leaving, while making conversation, the builders mention that they’re heading down to Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast for their next project. Thinking of my experience so far, I politely ask if they’re able to take our testing equipment back with them so that I can pick it up the following week.

They agree. Result!

Passive House Strathcarron

I spend my final night in a local Inverness restaurant that serves haggis with every dish on the menu!

After a good night’s sleep, I head home. Can’t wait to see what happens with the end-of-build test!

You’ll be glad to hear that not all of our air tightness tests are as eventful as this. But it hopefully shows you the lengths we go to at Melin to get the job done, whether you need a BREEAM assessment, SAP calculation or sustainability statement!

If you have a project you’d like us to work on, get in touch and let us go the extra mile for you.




Melin Consultants Team
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