Bureau Veritas has applauded the government’s swift response to officially ban the use of combustible material in external walls in new buildings, in a move that has surprised many in the construction industry.
The amended building regulations guidance in Approved Document B, which will give legal effect to the combustible materials ban announced by the government earlier in the year, extends further than anticipated to include all parts of external cladding in new and change of use buildings with a floor over 18 metres and above and applies to residential buildings, hospitals, student accommodation and dormitories in boarding schools.
The announcement follows the Government’s response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s proposals on the Hackitt report earlier this year. The amendments come into effect from 21st December 2018 and any existing Building Regulation applications will only be exempt if site work has commenced within a two month period from that date; by 21st February 2019.
Andy Lowe, Technical Director of building control at Bureau Veritas, comments: “This is a welcome first step in the crusade to improve the industry’s approach to fire safety following the Grenfell tragedy. The government moved quickly in passing the amended regulations and perhaps exceeded expectations by including not only new but also change of use buildings. The quick turnaround may also have caught some off guard, with not much time to ensure that new buildings of this type do not include timber cladding or combustible insulation.
“There are much wider discussions and ramifications for the construction industry still to come, with the government also making clear that it expects immediate action to speed up emergency remediation works to replace unsafe cladding on existing high rise buildings. Here, the onus is very much on building owners and developers, with an emphasis on costs not being passed on to leaseholders. There is also some debate around how the amended regulations can be interpreted when it comes to balconies and timber decking. It will be interesting to monitor progress on this and how the industry responds over the coming months.”
Bureau Veritas is a leading testing, inspection and certification company with a vast experience of the building control sector. Bureau Veritas Building Control UK combines technical expertise and market-leading systems with unrivalled industry experience to deliver building control services to some of the biggest names in construction.
Bureau Veritas will be proving additional guidance on the amended regulations via a series of seminars, alongside a technical briefing note. For further information, call 0345 600 1828 or visit www.bureauveritas.co.uk