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16 January 2019
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Chris Hall

05 February 2018 Chris Hall

Chris Hall, commercial development officer at Siderise, discusses the failures of building regulations.

Recent events have brought into sharp focus the issue of building regulations, which some say are falling behind the scale and scope of goings-on in the built environment.  

The regulatory system can be a source of confusion. Many in the industry lack understanding of what materials should go where and how they should be tested. What does this mean for product manufacturers in terms of credibility? And how can specifiers compare one tested and approved product with another?

The failure to adopt EN standards and adherence to old BS standards has created two systems: one follows the latest thinking; the other harks back to rules of the 1960s. 

The building materials we use have also changed drastically in the past decades. Glass and aluminium are prevalent, presenting acoustics and fire challenges.

When it comes to competitive credibility, a company with cutting-edge test data might be up against another with a test certificate in line with outdated building regulations. The customer will think they are equally compliant because the regulations allow this. The company without the latest test data has the same access to the market, but without the incumbent costs.

Regulations need to be more descriptive and prescriptive. There is a lack of training and education in fire risks. There will be an architect, fire engineer and possibly façade engineer with grey areas of who will sign off what. 

Firms can create products and, because of poorly understood regulations or clever marketing, they can be completely acceptable and legal, but unfit for purpose.  

Specifiers need an explanation of data so that they come to the right conclusions. Do they want it for the sake of compliance, only to file away, or to learning something about what they are using? Only when specifiers look beyond a simple checklist will they be able to specify products that are fit for purpose.

Chris Hall is commercial development officer at Siderise