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Buildings of heritage can be a challenge for developers, especially when tasked with finding the balance between traditional aesthetic and modern performance expectations. Here Tony Wereszczynski, Technical Director at Marley Alutec explains how developers can get rainwater and eaves specification right when dealing with heritage style properties.

As much as we may marvel at the delights of modern architecture, many people, including myself still believe you can’t beat a traditionally styled building. In fact, research indicates not only do we prefer the styling of traditional homes we’re also willing to pay up to 15 per cent more for them.[1] However, aesthetic value should never be the sole attraction of a property, and what traditional homes might have in terms of looks, they can lack in terms of building performance and efficiency.

The best course of action then is to design a property, which draws from the principles of heritage design but is crafted out of high-quality building materials, giving the owners the best of both worlds. This was the case with a recent project we worked on at the wonderful Warren Wood Manor, an opulent £19 million mansion in Hertfordshire complete with a 24 car private garage, cart and hay lodge and a 45-horse stable.

The project was unique; whilst the mansion and garage were both new-builds the property’s carriage house was a pre-existing structure. As an old feature with a traditional design, the carriage house was in need of significant but sensitive renovations to upgrade its performance. The mansion on the other hand was a new build property but needed to complement the existing traditional heritage. The developers therefore didn’t want to lose the estate’s historic charm so they needed to find building materials, which suited the traditional style but were technologically advanced. This would allow them to avoid an aesthetic clash between the stable and the mansion.

Nowhere can the clash of old and new be more obvious than on a building’s external envelope, particularly on rainwater systems, which are clearly visible and provide a frame for any home. Rainwater systems can be particularly tricky to improve without disrupting an existing aesthetic as they often use cast-iron, which has a distinctive appearance. Cast-iron rainwater systems however are very costly to replace, extremely heavy and require a lot of maintenance. Therefore, any alternatives that can address these issues and yet remain a close match visually are very attractive to developers.

At Warren Wood Manor, the developers elected to use the durable and strong products from Marley Alutec’s Aligator range. The main house was equipped with an Aligator Ogee No.46 rainwater system and 102mm Traditional circular downpipe, whilst the carriage house was fitted with the Aligator Classic rainwater system and 63mm Aligator Classic circular downpipe. All the products were specified in Marley Alutec’s exclusive Heritage Black paint.

The paint perfectly emulates the style of traditional cast iron pipes – delivering the authentic historical appearance required on listed buildings or in conservation areas, but without the drawbacks associated with such a heavy and high-maintenance material. What’s more, as it’s an architectural grade polyester powder coat paint finish, the system is fade resistant and does not require repainting, unlike cast iron.

The Aligator range has internal joints and concealed brackets, offering a sleek and unobtrusive solution. Approximately 65 per cent lighter than cast iron downpipes the range is easier and safer to install. With a patented Aligator Snap-fit joint system, installation times are reduced by up to 40 per cent compared to traditional bolted systems. Furthermore by using marine-grade aluminium the product is far more durable, reliable and resistant to damage than steel, roll-form or PVC rainwater systems.

Speaking on the project, lead developer Tony Penfold commented: “When evaluating suppliers for downpipes we searched extensively, eventually choosing Marley Alutec for a host of reasons. The main one being the quality of aluminium as a building product, especially when used in rainwater goods, is far superior to other materials.”

The benefits of using high-quality building materials are plentiful, for one, the technical advancements of the last couple of years mean almost all building materials now far outperform those that came before them.  What’s more, using highly sustainable materials like aluminium ensure systems don’t need to be frequently changed.  For example, the products installed at Warren Wood Manor are made from marine grade aluminium and have a life expectancy of 50 years or more. What’s more, they need near zero maintenance, only requiring occasional aesthetic cleaning.

When pursuing a sensitive refurbishment or new build project, you need to be constantly juggling many things and at times the process can be confusing and difficult. If you persist however, what you’re left with is a property that mixes the benefits of old and new. Choosing the right material is essential, as is finding a design that blends with its surroundings. Using a trusted supplier like Marley Alutec and high-quality building materials like marine grade aluminium ensures you can do both.

Aluminium guttering by Marley Alutec Warren Wood Manor
Aluminium guttering by Marley Alutec Warren Wood Manor
Aluminium guttering by Marley Alutec Warren Wood Manor
Aluminium guttering by Marley Alutec Warren Wood Manor
Aluminium guttering by Marley Alutec Warren Wood Manor


Product: Aligator Ogee No. 46 rainwater system

               102mm Traditional circular downpipe

               Aligator Classic rainwater system

               63mm Aligator Classic circular downpipe 

Colour: Heritage Black

Project Type: Private Housing

Client: Homeowner

Developer: Tony Penfold


We offer technical advice and support from initial design to installation, to discuss your project call 01234 321996 or email 

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