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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 27th 2017
     
    The 6th combination (Rock wool and ACM with a limited combustibility filler) passed..

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-for-building-owners-large-scale-wall-system-test-6

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-test-report-dclg-bs-8414-test-no6

    So overall its looking as expected. Rockwool is safer than PIR but some combinations of PIR and cladding are ok.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 27th 2017 edited
     
    Updated table
      CladdingF.jpg
    • CommentAuthorTimSmall
    • CommentTimeSep 1st 2017 edited
     
    This has made me think about the 2nd/3rd floor junction on my house (30s semi, retrofitted).

    Loft conversion (second floor) dormer is (in-to-out):

    Firecheck board
    100mm PIR between studs
    18mm OSB3
    100mm PIR
    Breather membrane (PE based?)
    44x44 batten (bolted through to OSB with 6mm stainless stud and 40mm washers at either end)
    Limited combustibility render carrier board ("Reaction to fire: Class '0'") - Euroform Rendaboard.
    Weber render

    Below the dormer is a little 200mm stub of pitched roof (effectively the build-up above is continued, but on the pitch instead, with fibre-cement slates instead of the render), like this:

    http://www.hollandgreen.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/House-Model-Loft-1.jpg

    The windows (uPVC) of the floor below are tight up against the roof.

    So this is a bit like the 14th of Aug "passed" test except with:

    breather membrane, timber battens, no intumescent fire stop. BCO seemed OK with it at the time, but it was not on the original plans.

    Mains interlinked smoke alarms in all rooms (in excess of the minimum requirement of just hallways).

    This isn't a high rise, but it is second floor. I'd imagine there are lots of similar dormers (but perhaps the external PIR is a bit unusual, but would OSB inside the ventilated cavity fare any better in a fire?).

    What can I change (without re rendering the dormer)? Nothing much. I suppose I can try and take out and refit the first floor windows, and replace the 20cm of PIR on the pitch with rockwool (but the slates tuck under the rendaboard, so that's going to be tricky)? Perhaps add intumescent ventilated cavity closers here too?

    I could Improve fire lining around the PVC windows too at the same time, but only really useful if I also get rid of the ventilated cavity intakes at the top of the window too on the PVC soffit board, and make that solid and fire resisting too?

    Thoughts? The whole protected exit way seems like a charade to me, since there's no requirement for door closers etc. The 1st floor ceiling (timber joists) is designed for 30 minutes fire protection. How would that compare with time for the fire to spread externally, and break into the dormer, probably not a lot of difference?


    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-test-report-dclg-bs-8414-test-no5
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeSep 1st 2017
     
    Make sure the smoke detectors are tested regularly (bimonthly) and you will be ok
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeSep 18th 2017
     
    I don't think it's a comparable situation with a Grenfell scenario unless external fire spread would rapidly fill your escape route (rather than the room) with smoke.

    Also if it's rendered outer layer it's more a cavity situation than rainscreen gap.
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2018
     
    Grenfell fire doors. Can't say I am surprised. My experience of my build has led me to the conclusion that the building trades in this country is in a real mess with poor quality materials and a distinct lack of attention to detail whilst everyone tries to get that extra profit margin by whittling away at the specification and doing less than what they promised to do. My 3 mantras for anyone is.

    Right first time.
    Do what you agreed to do.
    Don't let your customer do the quality control for you.

    If only

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43413989
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2018
     
    On the fire door issue, a social housing provider in my area has had its improvement process stalled. local building control will not sign off newly installed firedoors unless there is an audit trail showing that the installers are accredited.
    The contractor did not tender on that basis and has reservations on sending their staff for training,

    1) there is no agreement by housing provider to cover costs
    2) it is each individual installer that is accredited and contractor is concerned the newly trained staff will be poached by other companies.

    Each doorset is already costing in excess of £1000 and a question mark now hangs on those already installed under the contract and doors fitted before that.

    The fear of being held responsible in event of future injury/loss of life, has meant that any recomendation is accepted without question so long as it comes from an “expert”

    So functioning latches on doors are down for replacement because on inspection the assessor did not have a key, this has been costed and put out to tender , in the same scope of works the same door is to be replaced. Turns out no one from the housing provider had visited the block to cross check recomendations with reality.

    Going to be colossal waste and padding of tenders throughout the social housing sector.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2018
     
    Posted By: ArtiglioOn the fire door issue, a social housing provider in my area has had its improvement process stalled. local building control will not sign off newly installed firedoors unless there is an audit trail showing that the installers are accredited.
    The contractor did not tender on that basis and has reservations on sending their staff for training,

    Ouch. I'm not familiar with the regs. What do they say about installer accreditation (and who by?)?

    As I understand it, though, the issue at Grenfell is the doors themselves rather than their installation. Supposedly certified doors that have failed a third-party test. That will lead to all kinds of concerns from tenants and owners elsewhere until the full details are published. And that won't be until charges are brought, I suppose, so lots of grief for lots of people while boxes are ticked.

    As you say:
    Going to be colossal waste and padding of tenders throughout the social housing sector.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2018
     
    I’m not directly involved , information from a reliable man on the front line, from what i understand.

    Where as in the past building control would have looked for the certification sticker on the door, checked the hinges,intumescent/smoke seals, that closer functions as it should , etc etc. Then pass the door off or not. In the case of the housing provider, they have specified a factory built doorset. This has a set of installation instructions, building control at this council have decided that they want reassurance that these instructions have been adhered to to ensure that the door performs as it should , plus it covers their arses in the event of a failure. The only way that such reassurance can be given is if the installers attend a training course run by the manufacturer and are certified as installers.
    This was well before the news of the grenfell door testing, so maybe they have a fully functioning crystal ball.

    Going the way of electrics, gas, windows etc, building control basing their decisions on documentation provided.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2018
     
    Anybody know any more about the certification of installers? There seems to be an industry initiative to create a register of installers, but I don't see any suggestions anywhere that there is a requirement to use a trained or certificated installer. So if I was the housing provider or the doorset provider I would be asking building control what legislation gives them the power to ask for that. It sounds like bullying to me.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2018
     
    Djh, that is the stance that the housing provider and contractor are taking, they argue that they have specified a tested and certified product that has instructions that are written to be followed by competent tradesmen.

    IF , failure of the grenfell door comes down to installation failures then their stance may have some weight.

    View of the chap I spoke with is that building control will do anything to remove themselves from any later liability.

    Which is ironic as a building I have some dealings with, social housing built in 50’s, has many original doors which consist of 2 sheets of hardboard , corrugated card filler and minmal timber edging. But these have been “assumed” ( this assumption based on his report being based on a 1970’s construction date, no one in housing association picked it up or if they did ignored it) by the externally contracted fire risk assessor as being half hour resistant. Because its on someone elses report accepted without question by housing association.
    Definetly not as I changed one that had been damaged by a tenant locking themselves out. Housing associations verbal response is that only way they could be sure is to have one removed and tested. I sent them a copy of the spec for a 1951 fire door and asked them to compare. They’re not interested.

    Easy to see how things go wrong.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2018
     
    Posted By: ArtiglioWhich is ironic as a building I have some dealings with, social housing built in 50’s, has many original doors which consist of 2 sheets of hardboard , corrugated card filler and minmal timber edging. But these have been “assumed” ( this assumption based on his report being based on a 1970’s construction date, no one in housing association picked it up or if they did ignored it) by the externally contracted fire risk assessor as being half hour resistant. Because its on someone elses report accepted without question by housing association.
    Definetly not as I changed one that had been damaged by a tenant locking themselves out. Housing associations verbal response is that only way they could be sure is to have one removed and tested. I sent them a copy of the spec for a 1951 fire door and asked them to compare. They’re not interested.

    Hopefully the tests on the Grenfell doors will lead to some chain of responsibility being established and one or more prosecutions. That in turn may put the fear of god into organizations like the housing association you mention.

    Easy to see how things go wrong.

    Yes :cry: I've seen hardboard doors like that as internal doors - indeed our old house had them - but I'm surprised they're still in use as fire doors. Let's hope the current investigations do result in some changes for the better.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2018
     
    That’s the thing, they have been assumed to be fire doors solely on what regs were in 70’s, any cursory examination will show they are not. But there will be an audit trail that can be used to justify the assumption.

    But no one wants to take responsibility for correcting the error mainly because it is a convenient assumption and blame can be directed out of the organisation.

    In addition there is protection within the regs regarding purpose built blocks of flats that allows lower risk buildings to be dealt with during “ major refurbishment” as such this particular block has had nothing other than a no smoking sign to bring it up to date since regs changed in 2005 ( i think thats when it came in).

    Amazingly letters advising intention to do works were issued 2 weeks after grenfell, so no doubt a few nervous people out there.
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2018
     
    When one talks of building control one needs to be specific who is doing the building control. A few days ago I had a conversation with my LA BCO who had been asked by a contractor to quote for doing the BC on a £5M extension to a public building. He quoted £5k.A competitor an independent company offering BC services quoted jut under £1K, What quality of work is one going to get for that. My LA BCO stated they struggle to get the work because they quote to do a proper job don't get it the result being they can't bring in enough fees to cover their existence and end up with reduced staffing levels as numbers at cut to balance the books. I think that opening up BC to competition was a bad move maybe that is why build quality is a mess in this country.
    • CommentAuthorFred56
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2018
     
    Approved inspectors will go the way if all things private like the 'landlord friendly' asbestos R&D surveys I see. Survey Lite is how one of the charlatans described his. Also the landlord friendly interpretation of building regs I see from surveyors employed by landlords. Even after Grenfell I have had an extended argument over fire compartmentation between demises in a building. The crap these guys come out to suck up the their clients really bugs me. These are RICS surveyors and you should be able to rely on them to have some integrity.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2018
     
    If local authority BCOs had a better reputation for efficiency, and didn't gold plate things like asking for certification of processes where it isn't a requirement etc etc, and applied the same rules in the same way everywhere then I guess everybody wouldn't have liked the idea of opening it up to competition.

    I'm not defending the idea of building inspectors in builders pockets, but there certainly was a need for a change.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeMar 18th 2018
     
    Fred56, about sums it up, though to make it worse within the overall rented sector at least council housing departments are in position to police the private rented sector as a second layer of protection, but in the social rented sector the link between councils arms length management organisations and social providers is very cosy. As an officer in my local council said “ we are partners within the housing association so even if we wanted to take action we could’nt”, and all this from councils that play a similar game in dreaming up new rules and regulations for the private sector but don’t apply them to their own stock.

    What finally comes out of the Grenfell inquiry may change things though I rather expect that the main conclusion will effectively be that things have become so convoluted that pinning ultimate responsibility will be difficult. So should lead to a new regimen eventually.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeMar 19th 2018 edited
     
    As I understand it, though, the issue at Grenfell is the doors themselves rather than their installation.


    A neighbour who works for a large civil engineering firm involved with inspecting other blocks reports finding flats that have nice fire doors with ordinary glass in the windows above them.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeMar 19th 2018
     
    http://www.lbc.co.uk/news/london/west/kensington-chelsea/grenfell-tower-fire/fire-doors-in-block-next-to-grenfell-are-flammable/

    "An LBC investigation has found the fire doors in the tower block next to Grenfell are flammable."

    "Arnold said the door, which has been there for three years or more, was made of "PVC Architrave, which burns incredibly well, followed by expanding foam, which doesn't work and is not even fire rated.

    "It's sickens me, because the doors should be installed by people who know what they are doing. It should be properly finished off with a mastic which expands in a fire, and doesn't burn. It shouldn't be finished off with a flammable plastic and a foam that doesn't work. It's completely wrong."
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2018 edited
     
    This should add fresh fuel to the fizzling fire
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/16/botched-refurbishment-fuelled-grenfell-tower-fire-says-leaked-report

    "The Grenfell Tower fire was fuelled by botched refurbishment decisions that went well beyond the use of flammable cladding panels and insulation, a report for the Metropolitan police has reportedly revealed."

    "Cavity barriers that ... were designed to close a 25mm gap but were installed with a 50mm gap. Some were installed upside down or back to front ... There were gaps of 15cm between the window frames and concrete columns ... and this allowed “a direct route for fire spread around the window frame into the cavity of the facade … and from the facade back into flats”.

    It meant the first obstacle the fire encountered as it escaped from flat 16 was the window frame, which provided “fuel” instead of a barrier."

    "almost half (45%) of the door closers on the 120 flats between the fourth and 24th storeys of the tower were missing or not working, which meant doors were left open when residents fled"
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2018
     
    Chap that i’ve dealt with in respect of fire safety in a council block is busy putting together an inspection regime in blocks under his charge, this will now go beyond just inspection of common areas and assumption that fire doors to individual flats etc are still intact , to include gaining access to each flat to check fire doors and closers, he’s quietly pulling his hair out as over a third of the closers have been removed by tenants and as they’re put right there’s a steady increase of doors then needing repairing as tenants kick them in having been locked out when doors close behind them.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2018
     
    Posted By: Artigliohe’s quietly pulling his hair out as over a third of the closers have been removed by tenants and as they’re put right there’s a steady increase of doors then needing repairing as tenants kick them in having been locked out when doors close behind them.

    Is there a requirement that such a fire door automatically lock when it automatically closes? It seems to me that changing the locking mechanism would easily solve that problem, albeit once again the landlord would actually have to spend some money.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2018
     
    Posted By: fostertomThe Grenfell Tower fire was fuelled by botched refurbishment decisions that went well beyond the use of flammable cladding panels and insulation

    Sounds like the council still smugly feel that their arms-length management company means they are whiter than white.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2018
     
    DJH

    Good point, i’m not sure in respect of entry doors. About 10 years back I did have issues with a building control officer that wanted internal doors to latch from a the door half open, they all failed. He came back on the retest they all passed, only difference was windows were now secured on the night latch, the extra air allowed into room made the difference. Apparently it was that officers quirk.
    Not an issue these days as closers no longer required on internal doors and can be removed from new builds and conversions meeting 1991 regs or later. Apparently the nuisance noise generated by doors slamming from perko closers, doors being permanently wedged , closers removed is now seen to outwigh the benefit of said closers.

    All my flats have standard nightlatches, being locked out is more down to tenant behaviour than closers.
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2018
     
    Pages of the (draft, leaked) BRE report are published here:

    https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/shock-grenfell-dossier-reveals-disastrous-refurbishment-turned-tower-into-a-tinderbox-a3814866.html

    Doesn't make happy reading.
  1.  
    Posted By: lineweightDoesn't make happy reading.

    +1
    IMO it also point to a lack of understanding/training and skill of those doing the referb work. (along with inadequate quality control).

    Quote from the report
    Some cavity barriers were installed “upside down” or “back to front”, further retarding their effectiveness.

    They were “designed to close a gap of 25mm”, but the actual gap “measured up to 50mm”.

    The result was to create a catastrophic chimney-like effect in the gap between the cladding and the concrete surface that “provided a route for fire spread”.
    End quote

    Surely a tragic result of the building industrys lack of quality work, lack of proper control and the drive to get it done quickly to reduce costs.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2018 edited
     
    So, what's to be done about that (last para)? It's not a lightweight problem, to be slightly indignant about - it's deeply built in to the ethos of our cost-cutting competitive privatised economy.

    At every level of industry, incl the enforcement industry, anyone who doesn't play that game is soon out of business.

    We elect governments that drive for cost-cutting - the potential of Grenfell is that it dramatically illustrates the consequences of our political choices.
  2.  
    Posted By: fostertomWe elect governments that drive for cost-cutting - the potential of Grenfell is that it dramatically illustrates the consequences of our political choices.

    I'm not so sure that it is a consequences of our political choices because across the board we demand value for money aka cheap which is why so much is outsourced either to China or to other low(er) cost places.

    The adage 'cheap, good and quick choose any two of the three' comes to mind.

    or

    with any project the budget is important and the deadline is important - but never in the same sentence !
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2018
     
    Posted By: fostertomWe elect governments that drive for cost-cutting -




    Er, I don't think that governments actually *do* drive for cost-cutting: one just has to look at the incompetence of MoD procurement; the sole drive of government is to protect the power, influence and finances of those in it, and to help their friends in business and banking, at the cost of the ordinary bloke in the street.

    Government is actually a club - a conspiracy *against* cost-cutting (witness smart meters...).

    gg
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2018
     
    I wonder if it's worth looking at other industries/realms where compromises on safety aren't generally accepted, and trying to work out what's different and why.

    For example, aviation. Is it because failures tend to be dramatic, and very visible?

    Grenfell has been both of those things.
   
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