Bureau Veritas is urging the construction industry to ensure that the practical ramifications of the latest government guidance on the amended Approved Document B are understood and implemented, in order to avoid costly delays or breach of building regulations.
The technical changes regarding fire safety aspects now curtails the use of desktop studies and reinforces the need to ensure appropriate tests are carried out on products by independent, fully accredited bodies. It relates to building regulation applications lodged after 21st January 2019, with a requirement that applications made before that date have made a ‘meaningful’ start on site within two months – by 20th March 2019 – for the previous provisions to be valid. The guidance is aimed at all product testing but is a result of the government’s findings last year on cladding testing and fire door testing specifically.
Andy Lowe, technical director of building control at Bureau Veritas, comments: “The government has demonstrated that they are determined to move quickly to enforce building regulation changes, with this latest update coming only a month after the 21st December implementation of the combustible materials ban in external walls in new buildings. That in itself surprised many in the industry, as it extended 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 latest guidance will have significant ramifications, as due to the nature of testing it is a more in-depth and costly process, notwithstanding the fact that current testing facilities are limited and often result in significant delays, without this extra requirement consideration. So this will have to be factored in to the construction programming process and assessments should not be regarded as a way to avoid a test where one is necessary, as this will be a serious breach of legislation.”
The government has also reiterated its firm endorsement of the Hackitt report on the process of fire safety and building regulations and has committed to bring forward a series of consultations on the process of regulation in the spring. Calls for further evidence have already been instigated on technical aspects of building regulations, which will include additional enhancements on fire safety, considerations around thermal performance (Part L) and ventilation strategy (Part F), along with the need to update accessibility standards under Approved Document M to reflect the new BS8300 recently updated in January 2018.
Andy adds: “Whilst this government action and tighter regulation control is certainly welcome, as change is certainly needed in order to adopt a best practice approach to fire safety, the degree and speed of change could prove a challenge. The coming months are going to be extremely busy and time critical and as such there is work to be done to understand how things will play out on a practical level, with tailored support available to those who need it in order to manage the changes and challenges ahead.”
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 and technical briefing notes. For further information, call 0345 600 1828 or visit www.bureauveritas.co.uk.