Inside the home – News – Three quarters of cladding systems in new mid-rise buildings use combustible materials, data shows


Of 66 residential projects that used rainscreen cladding systems in blocks between 11m and 18m in height in 2019 and 2020, 51 would have used combustible insulation.

This comes despite a government proposal to ban the use of these materials in these buildings. A consultation on this subject closed in May last year, no official response yet published.

The government recently announced that tenants in buildings of this high range would be forced to repay long term loans to cover the removal of combustible coating from their walls, rather than receiving direct government funding.

Many are currently unable to obtain mortgages because banks will not lend until buildings are remediated.

An End Our Cladding Scandal campaign spokesperson for affected tenants said they were “stunned” that these materials were still being used in new construction.

The data – from an analysis by non-combustible insulation maker Rockwool of figures from the Glenigan construction database – also showed that 112 other potentially high-risk buildings had been constructed with combustible rainscreen systems over the course of the year. of this period.

The data was analyzed on the basis of industry market share ratings.

These included 76 schools, 25 hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and homes for the aged, and 11 university buildings.

Frances Maria Peacock, Certified Architectural Technologist and Fire Engineer, said Inside the accommodation she was “concerned” about the data but not surprised.

“These combustible products tend to be cheaper and it has become a common thing to use them in industry,” she said. “A lot of people think if it doesn’t fall directly under the ban, why shouldn’t they use it.

“But that worries me. If you have a low rise building it is more likely that people will walk out of it, but the risk is still there, especially for people with disabilities, the elderly or young children who cannot evacuate as quickly and easily as others. “

The government banned the use of combustible materials in buildings over 18m in 2018. A senior official later told a conference that the height threshold was chosen because “we don’t have time to come up with a better number”.

In January 2020, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced plans to reduce it to 11 million – following a series of fires in blocks of less than 18m, including Bolt and Barking, East London.

But the consultation on this ended in May 2020 and the government has yet to release a response.

As it stands, current building guidelines indicate that there are “no provisions” limiting the use of combustible materials in buildings shorter than 18m, provided they are more than 18m. 1 m from the line of another property.

Julie Fraser, spokesperson for the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign, said: “We are stunned that hundreds of ‘mid-rise’ buildings are still being constructed using combustible insulation.

“One of the obvious problems that has been uncovered by the building safety crisis is that buildings under 18m have been constructed with even less respect for important safety measures, due to weak regulations. in place that saved promoters a few pounds.

“As it stands now, this two tier system is likely to continue and will mean new owners will potentially be trapped as well.”

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