Yellow abstract of floor level.

Ban of combustible materials in cladding

21 December 2018. Published by Christina Cheriyan, Associate

One and a half years after Grenfell, the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 come into force and restrict the use of combustible materials in buildings.

This legislation comes into force today and amends the Building Regulations 2010 by introducing:

 

  1. new requirements in respect of external walls and specified attachments;

  2. a new category of material change of use and requirements in respect of any such change; and

  3. amendments to Approved Document B, Volume 2 and Approved Document

 

External walls and specified attachments

 

All materials which become part of an external wall or a specified attachment (balconies, solar panels and sunshading) must achieve European Class A2-s1, d0 (limited combustibility) or Class A1 (non-combustibible).

 

This requirement applies to any building with a storey at least 18m above ground level and which contains:

  • one or more dwellings;

  • an institution; or

  • a room for residential purposes,

Including student accommodation, care homes, sheltered housing, hospitals and boarding school dormitories. It does not apply to any room in a hostel, hotel or boarding house or any commercial buildings.

 

The amended regulations will apply to the construction of all such buildings going forward except where:

  1. a building notice or an initial notice has been given to, or full plans deposited with, a local authority before 21 December 2018; and

  2. the related building work has started before 21 December 2018 or is started before 21 February 2019.

 

Material change of use

 

Where the use of a building is changed so that the building becomes a building described in regulation 7(4) (a building with a storey at least 18m above ground level containing one or more dwellings, an institution or a room for residential purposes):

  1. the construction of the external wall and specified attachments must be investigated; and

  2. where necessary, work must be carried out to ensure they only contain limited combustible or non-combustible materials.

 

In short, for any such change of use any combustible materials in the external walls or specified attachments will need to be removed and/or replaced.

 

Amendments to Approved Documents

 

Approved Document B (Fire safety) volume 2: Buildings other than dwellinghouses (2006 edition incorporating 2010 and 2013 amendments) and Approved Document 7 (relating to materials and workmanship) have been amended to give guidance on the restriction on the use of combustible materials in external walls.

 

The full text of the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 can be found here. Developers and contractors should take action to ensure that their schemes are compliant.

 

Further Amendments?

 

 

The Government's Housing Minister, James Brokenshire, has also confirmed the government will “take forward all of the recommendations” from Dame Hackitt’s review into Building Regulations and fire safety post-Grenfell, which include:

 

  • a new regulatory framework for all high-rise buildings over 10 storeys;

  • establishing a Joint Competent Authority (JCA) to oversee the management of safety risks throughout a building’s lifecycle (comprising LA building standards, fire and rescue and HSE):

  • a mandatory incident reporting system for duty-holders including contractors with concerns about safety;

  • rigorous set of roles and responsibilities for duty-holders (which should broadly align with those set out in Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015);

  • a series of robust gateway points for every high-rise project to pass through to ensure they meet building and fire safety regulations;

  • any changes on a building will need to be signed off by the JCA;

  • a wider range of powers given to authorities, with more serious penalties against firms for those that do not comply;

  • a new overarching body to provide oversight of competence requirements and training for those carrying out construction work;

  • a new, more effective, testing regime for construction products including clearer product labelling and product traceability;

  • a new digital record for all new high-rise buildings that will chart work and changes from design right through construction up to occupation; and

  • poor procurement tackled so that high-safety and low-risk options are prioritised above cost when a building is procured.