An updated version of Approved Document B – the government’s guidance for how to meet the requirements of Building Regulations 2010 – has been published. It includes guidance for demonstrating that new buildings meet the required standards of fire / life safety.
From a cladding perspective, the headlines in England, as introduced under the November 2018 regulatory ban, are as follows:
Regulatory restrictions apply to the external walls of certain buildings with sleeping accommodation over 18m. The buildings within the scope of this restriction include: hospitals, dormitories, student accommodation, sheltered housing and apartment blocks.
All significant external wall materials on the building types listed above must essentially be non-combustible (i.e, European Class A2-s1, d0 or Class A1).
The restrictions do not apply to hostels, hotels, boarding houses, commercial buildings, or any buildings below 18m. However, the commercial and reputation implications of using combustible cladding materials need to be carefully considered.
The situation in Scotland is more robust. A ban on combustible cladding materials will apply to buildings with a storey height above 11m, both to domestic and non-domestic properties and comes into force on 1 October 2019.
TFT has experience of navigating this evolving situation, including the coordination of cladding safety investigations and remedial works.
Combustible material and residential balconies: new Government advice
The Government has urged building owners to remove combustible materials from residential balconies. This follows a number of significant balcony fires in London in the past 12 months and is an acknowledgement that balconies constructed from combustible materials can promote rapid external fire spread.
Timber has become increasingly popular in recent years to provide balcony decking, solar shading and privacy screens. Amendments to the Building Regulations in December 2018 specifically prevent the use of combustible material such as timber for balconies on certain residential buildings over 18m in height, but the new Regulations do not apply retrospectively. However, the latest Government advice relates to existing buildings, particularly residential properties with multiple dwellings and includes low-rise buildings under the 18m threshold.
Building owners need to establish what materials have been used, assess the risks, keep residents informed and advise the fire brigade if urgent concerns exist.
The Government Advice Note states that: “the clearest way to prevent the risk of external fire spread is to remove and replace any combustible material with one that is non-combustible (classified as A1 or A2-s1, d0)”.
TFT has experience of coordinating external wall/fire safety investigations and overseeing remedial works.
TFT is running another CPD event in London on 6th December, focusing on building viability. Topics covered will include Rights of Light, Sustainability, Dilapidations and Fire Safety. Some of the issues being addressed will be:
The factors to consider for maintaining the long-term potential of the building
Why fixtures and chattels can cost or save you money when negotiating dilapidations
Why calculating operational energy demands at the design stage is key to identifying opportunities for minimising energy consumption and costs
What might the Government ban on combustible cladding materials mean for existing stock?
To book your place, click here. Please note that this is a strictly RSVP event and space is limited. Attendance will be confirmed following registration. There will be two sessions to choose from, morning and afternoon, to suit diaries. One starts at 8am and the other at 4pm. Please state which session you would prefer.