11 April 2018 | Marino Donati
The government has launched a consultation on proposals to limit or ban the use of 'desktop studies' to assess the fire resistance of cladding on residential buildings.
The consultation, launched by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and housing secretary Sajid Javid, follows recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt's interim report on a review of building regulations and fire, after the Grenfell Tower fire last year.
The consultation asks whether 'desktop studies' - assessments in lieu of tests - are appropriate for all construction products, wall systems (cladding) or for any other purpose. The proposals include improving transparency of assessments, enabling proper scrutiny of results and ensuring that the studies can only be carried out by properly accredited bodies that have the relevant expertise.
The consultation is also seeking views on whether desktop assessments should be prohibited for all fire test classifications or for fire test classifications relating to the BS 8414 full-scale cladding test.
Javid said: "We have listened carefully to Dame Judith Hackitt and we are taking action to strengthen building regulations guidance, which could mean that the use of 'desktop studies' are either significantly restricted or banned altogether.
"This demonstrates the tough measures we are prepared to take to make sure that cladding tests are as robust as possible and people are safe in their homes."
The department said that desktop studies were an established part of the system for classifying the fire performance of construction products and systems set out in paragraph 1b of Annex A of Approved Document B.
Their use is being considered as part of Hackitt's review following the Grenfell Tower fire, and her final report will be published in the spring.
The consultation on the proposals will run until May 25.