Despite all the money spent on plans, weather tightness tribunals, payouts and research there are still some fundamental problems.
I suspect if you asked any member of the public how long they thought a roof or external wall should last, their answer would be far in excess of the stipulated 15 years. It’s true that with regular maintenance these should last a lot longer, but the reality is some of the systems we use have very specific maintenance criteria; these are unfortunately far too easy to compromise by using the wrong silicon filler!
Building techniques and craftsmanship are still lacking, and the speed of construction does nothing to help.
I am still surprised that some products are not banned. Ironically we can still build with some materials that were used in the 1990s that contributed to the problems in the first place.
So have we got better at using and applying cladding products?
The answer is likely no, as we are now seeing some second-generation failures.
The Code’s objectives have always been the same:
E2.1 The objective of this provision is to safeguard people from illness or injury that could result from external moisture entering the building.
(ref: extract from E2 External Moisture)
The scope of the acceptable solution has its limits too. If a building is more than three storeys high, then a specifically designed solution is required. In such cases the cladding is heavily reliant on the skills of the designer to prove compliance within the Code.
The solution also generically describes claddings, but any cladding relies heavily on the manufacturer’s installation instructions and verification of the product through testing and/or appraisals. For example: Wall claddings are described as
- Masonry veneer
- And so on
There is always a risk in using products that are not fit for purpose; or mixing and matching products that might go with a specific system.
You may find this article from our blog archive useful on products.
If your customer wants something funky and different on the outside of their building please beware… This creates challenges both for designers, installers and inspectors, so don’t expect to be given an easy run through the consent process.
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