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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2020
     
    I agree, but they also add to the confusion by talking about "cladding" systems when they are actually talking about EWI, which I think we'd tend to say would be subject to different kinds of risks and behaviours in a fire situation.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeAug 31st 2020
     
    Very true, but the jist of the story / situation is that insurers are judging just about any facade on the relative combustibilty of any/all of its component parts irrespective of the construction. As such its going to be nigh on impossible to prove to an insurers satisfaction that any cladding/ewi system containing a combustible component is “safe”. Even where a system could be demonstrated via tests as having good design and performance, given the abysmal standard of workmanship at grenfell , how would you demonstrate that an existing installation is fit for purpose.
    A structural engineer i use says that getting insurance to do work on high rise blocks is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive , many companies are deciding to avoid such work , leaving the few that do being both increasingly expensive and cautious in the work they do.
    Freeholders will be well aware that just about every building is going to have question marks over it if inspected, values will be much reduced and huge bills on the horizon. Left unchecked where does it all stop, the current focus is on residential property , will it spread to commercial and state owned buildings?

    All for the desire to blame the Grenfell tragedy on a single failing and avoid exposing the full failings at grenfell ( many of which should have been learnt after Lakanal)

    The knock on effects to other housing stock covered by fire safety legislation is going to be collossal catching up with whats not been done for years.

    https://shepwayvox.org/2020/08/31/part-3-leaked-spreadsheet-shows-many-outstanding-fire-works-cannot-have-been-completed-in-two-months/

    I can take you to a low rise block where 1950’s flat entrance doors consisting of 2 layers of hardboard a bit of wavy paper and minimal timber have been passed of as 30 minute fire doors , conveniently ignoring that there are no closers or smoke seals either.

    Council says that under the 2005 fire safety order act , they don’t need to do the work until “major works “ on the block are undertaken, that works are prioritised across the estate on risk weighted basis. They als accept that such a situation would be unacceptable in the private sector but that the council can’t prosecute itself.

    The only thing that’ll sort the sector as awhole out is massive grants from central government, which will just expose the social sector for the expensive basket case it is.
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2020
     
    Yup, there's definitely a lot changing and it'll inevitably make stuff, especially high rise, more expensive to build.

    I'm currently involved in a project where the building is only just over 18m high but the fire engineers are taking a super-cautious approach which means that even in conventional masonry cavity walls at low level, the originally specified celotex insulation is being swapped out for rockwool.

    Not quite sure what you mean about the social sector being an "expensive basket case" - for sure, if a different attitude to the way things should be dealt with in existing buildings develops, this is going to create a lot of expense. But that applies to any building with communal areas and multiple flats, doesn't it? Regardless of ownership.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2020 edited
     
    My opinion is that the social sector has been given an easy ride in terms of fire safety and enforcement, would any other building of grenfells design have been allowed to omit a wet riser for its entire history. That in most cases enforcement of building regs is done by local authorities and that they can’t prosecute themselves means that the sector is well able to cut corners.
    My local authority has still not met the requirements of the 2005 act in respect of fire safety and openly states that it will deal with buildings in order of fire risk. Surely it was never expected that it would take over 15 years to meet legislation.
    They have low rise properties where the fromt doors to flats are the original 1950’s doors that consist of hardboard cardboard “eggboard” and skinny softwood edgings, but these are passed off as 30 minute fire doors needing upgrading with closers and intumescent /smoke seals. This was achieved using an assumed build date of the 1970’s by the surveyor.
    Dr. Lane’s report has endless examples of poor workmanship / materials and compliance. It’ll be rife across the social sector, the cladding scandal and endless examples,of private sector blocks having issues is purely to distract attention from the real problem
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2020
     
    Artiglio,

    building regs are not enforced through court action but by not giving a certificate until they are met. I would be amazed if local authorities gave themselves fraudulent building warrant certificates because they couldn't take court action against themselves.

    Also, the quality of build in a lot of cases social or private is very poor.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2020
     
    Apologies i’ve obviously got building regs mixed up with fire regs. In which case Grenfell should never have had occupancy or completion certs issued, yet the building has been occupied for decades, the fire service will have been well aware that the wet riser was not installed and you would have hoped this was flagged up at every inspection over the decades.

    The social sector gets a free pass in many areas, again my local council is quick to condemn private landlords that don’t comply with regulation and prosecute when they can. Yet earlier this year they had considerable numbers of gas certs that were out of date, queries over electrical installations and many cases where legionella risk assessments had not been actioned, in my block issues identified have not been sorted in over 4 years. Yet none of these will be prosecuted, instead the council make statements along the lines of “we’re very sorry and lessons have been learnt”.
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: ArtiglioThat in most cases enforcement of building regs is done by local authorities and that they can’t prosecute themselves means that the sector is well able to cut corners.


    Sorry if your opening comment was not meant sarcastically but it is hard to tell with written text. My previous response was due to your comment which I quoted above. The problem with the lack of enforcement is across all sectors. I fear the lessons learned from this will however be more legislation that won't be enforced rather than learning the enforcement of current legislation would have made a massive difference.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2020
     
    Again apologies, rereading my posts certainly shows i was not particularly clear, sarcasm wasn’t my intention. I’ve no doubt that there are issues within many parts of the construction industry regarding quality and adherence to regs.
    But in the case of Grenfell this emdless preoccupation with components of the cladding system being flammable is (to my mind) being used to obscure the buildings and its managements greater failings and that it was these rather than the cladding that resulted in the death toll. Hopefully there will be as much effort at the enquiry to explore these other failings in as much detail as the cladding, ( i have my doubts).

    I do feel that the social sector has sailed closer to the wind than the private sector. The governments response in terms of its guidance notes is going to cause untold misery to those that own flats in high rise blocks and by the time the insurance industry has interpreted the guidance as conservatively as possible the knock on effects will cause ever more issues. (As i’ve mentioned before my local council is loking to remove an xps and render system from its 6 high rise blocks and “reprovide insulation” seemingly on the grounds that the xps represents a fire risk.
    The figure estimated is 12 million, which would provide many new homes if the existing system was demonstated as not being a risk to safe evacuation in the event of a fire)

    But as the response in so many areas to the risk of covid has shown , there seems to be an expectation of zero risk in life , especially by those who don’t have to achieve and cover the costs of doing so.

    As you say, an outcome where it was decided that enforcement of current legislation would be far more beneficial than ever more rules would most likely be the best outcome for the short to medium term. Allowing for a more considered approach to change in the future.

    Be interesting to see how things progress.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2020
     
    Jonti stated: "building regs are not enforced through court action but by not giving a certificate until they are met."

    But that isn't actually the case, according to https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200128/building_control/38/building_regulations/3

    There are three possible courses of action:
    (1) prosecute the builder and fine them for the contravention;
    (2) serve a notice on the owner requiring them to alter or remove the work, and afterwards do the work itself if the owner does not; or
    (3) do not issue a notice of completion

    The first two options may result in court action.
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2020
     
    djh,

    in the case of Grenfell though it is the case and that was my point. The reason for options 1 & 2 are for cases where the work has been carried out without the knowledge of the authorities.

    Court action is needed if the the owner refuses to apply for a building warrant in order to force the owner to either reverse the work done or to apply for a warrant. You cannot enforce a warrant if it has not been applied for as there is no warrant to enforce.

    If the warrant has been applied for but the work has not met it then the completion certificate is withheld and the only reason to take that to court is if the owner believes they have met the requirements and take it before the court to get a ruling.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: Jontibuilding warrant

    That's a Scottish concept not relevant for Grenfell.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2020
     
    Posted By: JontiThe reason for options 1 & 2 are for cases where the work has been carried out without the knowledge of the authorities.

    No. If you read the link I provided, you will see that those are the options available if the work was under the supervision of the LABC, and were not done to its satisfaction.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2020 edited
     
    Whichever way you look at it the whole thing is a mess, in the private sector since the early 2000’s a building guarantee has been required for new builds by mortgage companies and so a completion cert of one sort or another is required. Many local authorities decided not to offer insurance backed building guarantees and so lost all their new build work to private contractors.
    The social / council providers have their funding in place well in advance and much of it is in form of grants , they build for themselves (and have no real intention of selling (right to buy being forced on them)) and so cannot self insure so again there is no need to push for a completion cert. The sector has been especially lax , compounded by the fact that social housing rents are too low to maintain and upgrade properties without taxpayer bailouts ( decent homes standard cost around 40 billion)
    The private sector has it would appear maybe not been as stringent as insurers/mortgage would now like ( but this is currently based on their interpretation of post grenfell “advice”) which is flagging up issues in the private sector. But is a bit of wood cladding on a balcony really such a risk if the rest of the building is built to stop fire getting inside, compartmentation inside is correct, and the rest of the fire safety standards are applied correctly?
    Insurers seems to be wanting to ensure there is nigh on zero chance of a fire ocuring where as fire regs are more concerned with preventing fatalities and injury. The regs were never designed to satisfy that desire.
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2020
     
    Posted By: djh
    Posted By: Jontibuilding warrant

    That's a Scottish concept not relevant for Grenfell.


    My mistake. I hadn't realised that England had no equivalent to the Scottish building warrant nor that if the work managed to go unnoticed/challenged for two years then it was not possible to force the owner to correct the work regardless of how safe or not it was. Very frightening.
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