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Old 15th June 2017, 07:04 AM   #241
Jack by the hedge
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
... I've been involved in the construction of an awful lot of large buildings since I began in the building industry in the early 70s. Nearly all of them, as a matter of fact.
On first reading I felt this was an audacious and extravagant claim. But I see what you mean now.
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:09 AM   #242
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I hesitated before deciding to make a contribution, as I am in agreement with the view that uninformed speculation is unhelpful.

However, having said that, what I am about to say is based on the view that the cladding assisted in the spread of the fire.

Let me explain. About 26 years ago I joined the fire section of BRE (Building Research Establishment) at that time part of the Civil Service. I retired from there 15 years later. At about the time I joined BRE were starting to look at designing a test procedure for fire spread on external cladding systems. I was involved in that test development work from the early stages through to the publication of a BRE test procedure (I was listed as co-author of the document). This was subsequently adopted as a British Standard test method, and I was involved in the drafting of that document.

When I hear about fires like this one, with apparently severe flame spread from the cladding, it makes me wonder if my time working on this was wasted.

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Old 15th June 2017, 07:11 AM   #243
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
"The Technical Standards".

When I started work in England, I designed all escape stairs in concrete. A colleague made light of this on the basis that, as the building would be evacuated within 3-5 minutes, there was no requirement for long term fire resistance.

I had to explain that they were incombustible to allow the Fire Brigade to safely re-enter and fight the fire.

Good thinking. Good for you.

Here, in many multi-floor, multiple occupancy structures, even stick-built (i.e. wood framed) ones, the architect/engineer teams will not infrequently specify full or partial PIP concrete walls for stairwells and elevator shafts.

It serves them a dual purpose. The one you mention, as well as providing a structural component for building shear resistance. (Probably why they frequently call them "shear walls".)

Two birds, one or more big slabs of concrete.

Stairwell/elevator shafts of any height over a couple of floors are almost always required to be 90 min. or 2 hour rated anyway, so a dual purpose application like that doesn't necessarily add that much to the building's overall cost.
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:17 AM   #244
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Originally Posted by Dave_46 View Post
I hesitated before deciding to make a contribution, as I am in agreement with the view that uninformed speculation is unhelpful.

However, having said that, what I am about to say is based on the view that the cladding assisted in the spread of the fire.

Let me explain. About 26 years ago I joined the fire section of BRE (Building Research Establishment) at that time part of the Civil Service. I retired from there 15 years later. At about the time I joined BRE were starting to look at designing a test procedure for fire spread on external cladding systems. I was involved in that test development work from the early stages through to the publication of a BRE test procedure (I was listed as co-author of the document). This was subsequently adopted as a British Standard test method, and I was involved in the drafting of that document.

When I hear about fires like this one, with apparently severe flame spread from the cladding, it makes me wonder if my time working on this was wasted.

Dave Smit
Dave

Apologies, I forgot about you as it's so long since we bumped into each other on the forum. Trust this finds you well.

Yes, BRE were damning about the older British Standard tests and performance of large assemblies in lieu of the smaller test samples. I followed it after the Scottish fire and again when i was working south of the Border.

I'd be surprised if it was just ignition and self-perpetuation of a class 0 surface, although that can clearly happen, and have questions about the detailed design and installation of the cladding.

I hope that it's someone like Arup's facade division that are parachuted in to analyse the problem, but let's see. I'm working with them on a small project at the moment but don't want to ask their views.
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:18 AM   #245
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Good thinking. Good for you.

Here, in many multi-floor, multiple occupancy structures, even stick-built (i.e. wood framed) ones, the architect/engineer teams will not infrequently specify full or partial PIP concrete walls for stairwells and elevator shafts.

It serves them a dual purpose. The one you mention, as well as providing a structural component for building shear resistance. (Probably why they frequently call them "shear walls".)

Two birds, one or more big slabs of concrete.

Stairwell/elevator shafts of any height over a couple of floors are almost always required to be 90 min. or 2 hour rated anyway, so a dual purpose application like that doesn't necessarily add that much to the building's overall cost.
Well bear in mind that the implications of 911 are that there is now greater redundancy against dispropportionate structural failure on larger structures. Dashed shear walls all over the place.
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:18 AM   #246
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
The Scottish technical standards assess number of escape routes based on:

1. Use category

2. Occupancy (based on standardised maximum rates)

3. Height of storey (or depth, in the case of basements)

In addition there are technical requirements on:

4. The divergence between escape routes in order for them to be considered as "seperate".

5. Travel distance to a place of safety (which may not be the same as the escape route)

6. Minimum width of exit routes and doorways

7. Aggregate total width of final exit doors.

8. Emeregency lighting pursuant to same.

That's all pretty standard. "High-rise" (in quotes to stress its use as a technical term) standards here in the U.S. can get pretty convoluted, and developer input tends to complicate things in ways not beneficial to the overall safety picture. But the basics are the same.

Quote:

My recollection is that the English approach is similar but less onerous.

To be honest, I jsut designed everything to the Scottish standards when I worked there on the basis I knew it surpassed the local requirement and was usually cost-neutral, give-or-take.

Would the single stair design of Grenfell Tower have passed muster in Scotland?
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:20 AM   #247
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Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
On first reading I felt this was an audacious and extravagant claim. But I see what you mean now.

Sorry. I supposed I could have phrased that more clearly.

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Old 15th June 2017, 07:21 AM   #248
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Would the single stair design of Grenfell Tower have passed muster in Scotland?
No. I can think of one building - listed, in Anniesland, part of Glasgow - with a single stair but it's independent in a self contained seperate block, linked by "bridges", hence not comparable. And I think there may be a second escape not visible externally (I've only seen it from the adjacent road junction/traffic lights).

My father designed a number of 20+ storey blocks in Glasgow in the early 70s. I'm pretty sure he said it was always at least two stair cases. The last got demolished last year so I can't easily check, although I might ask him at the weekend.
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:26 AM   #249
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
Well bear in mind that the implications of 911 are that there is now greater redundancy against dispropportionate structural failure on larger structures. Dashed shear walls all over the place.

Did I mention that I started in the building industry in the 70s?

I was routinely seeing that design approach long before 9/11. Probably before most of its perpetrators were out of grade school.

I have to admit that since more than of few of the early years were spent installing reinforcing steel, I probably may have been exposed to a less than representative sample.
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:26 AM   #250
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Drywall (AKA Sheetrock™) partitions are routinely designed to provide fire-rated dividers. One layer of 1'2" drywall on each side of a standard 3 1/2" stud wall is rated for 30 minutes of fire resistance. If it is 5/8" it is rated for 60 minutes. Longer ratings can be easily achieved by adding additional layers or using drywall systems already thickened for the purpose. Gypsum doesn't catch fire easily.

A more important element of fire-rating is that the partition go from floor to structure above and be sealed against smoke and fire penetration around the partition itself. Also often done with gypsum drywall mud.

Where the difference tends to arise is the location of the wall itself. Corridor walls and stairwell/elevator shafts are generally designed with a higher rating. Corridors usually at least 60 minutes, shafts 90 minutes to 2 hours is typical, at least here in the U.S. Easily achieved with additional layers of the same drywall.

Human behavior is a different issue. For example; doors on egress routes which have been blocked or locked from the inside have been the cause of an awful lot of needless deaths. It's hard to design around that.

But drywall isn't part of the problem.
Bugger, I'm back.

Granted, (re: p/board) so long as it remains intact. But retro-fitted service penetrations, for instance, can remove the fire-protection that plasterboard offers, rendering the wall all but non-existent for fire purposes. I have just heard Corbyn say that all tower blocks should be retro-fitted with a sprinkler system.........a typical little-bit-of-knowledge being potentially very dangerous. There is no way this could be done without penetrating fire-rated walls. Who is going to make sure that the workmanship around every single hole is sufficient to retain the fire rating of that wall?

A householder installing non-fire-rated downlighters in a fire-rated ceiling......the ceiling may as well not be there in fire terms. Or even replacing existing lights with new ones bought from B&Q: same problem. How about shoddy workmanship, too. Tackers installing plasterboard might omit the second layer as a way of increasing profit/ getting off the job quicker/ or just out of carelessness. Any visual inspection is still faced with just a plastered wall.

So granted, plasterboard itself isn't the problem. It's humans and plasterboard in combination which has always worried me.

Those who have followed my building work might recall that I use an inside out timber frame wall build up, and have done for 25 years: a blockwork inner skin, with an external timber frame carrying the roof loads. The primary driver of this was greatly enhanced levels of insulation, but a nice by-product is that there is no question of the fire safety of the wall.
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:36 AM   #251
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post

A householder installing non-fire-rated downlighters in a fire-rated ceiling......the ceiling may as well not be there in fire terms. Or even replacing existing lights with new ones bought from B&Q: same problem. How about shoddy workmanship, too. Tackers installing plasterboard might omit the second layer as a way of increasing profit/ getting off the job quicker/ or just out of carelessness. Any visual inspection is still faced with just a plastered wall.

So granted, plasterboard itself isn't the problem. It's humans and plasterboard in combination which has always worried me.
Here is a snap of the separating wall sample panel from our big 2015 project. Don't be fooled by the jumbo stud on the outer services leaf. Anyway, the point was that services wouldn't penetrate the fire separating central section. Note the sneaky way we've put ply in, just to make it even more difficult.

We did the ceilings the same basic way, but with Gyplfoor over the joists, as we had the same concerns about some clown putting in non-rated flush fitted downlighters at some stage. American clients, what can we say.....

Ignore the stone sample on top, we're using the thing as a shelf. Apologies for the orientation.
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File Type: jpg 20170615_152757.jpg (139.5 KB, 12 views)
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Old 15th June 2017, 07:45 AM   #252
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Yeah, a services zone solves the issue there, and I use them all the time myself. However, they ain't everywhere! But humans are, and they'll usually find a way to confound the best laid plans.......
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:00 AM   #253
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Intersting although that discussion is, of course, it takes us a littlw away from the matter we were discussing.

I assume the English system doesn't put building warrant/regulations approval online and that even if it did, the ones for the tower would hav ebeen pulled by now?
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:01 AM   #254
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
It is a general legal principle that laws cannot work retrospectively. The Building Regs are enacted through legislative instrument, ergo problem.

We are, however, in duty of care territory which is an altogether different kettle of fish.
Another serious question;
Here ( US-specifically FW/D) if you touch It, you have to bring it up to current code. For example, adding a circuit to the electrical box means that the box and wiring coming to and from that box must now meet current code. This sometimes means rewiring a lot of stuff. I know that applies single residence, but don't know about multi-residence buildings.
Is there anything similar over there?

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Old 15th June 2017, 08:05 AM   #255
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The actual wording in the Building (Scotland) Act is that warrant will be refused if either the work fails to comply with the technical standards or alternatively, where applicable, if the building fails to comply to a greater degree than it did prior to the works.

So, for example, a new extension or build must fully comply but if (say) you simply form a new window in a house they can't make you upgrade the rest of the premises to current standards.

I anticipate that the English position will be similar.

However the regulations are not the only applicable instrument. Fire safety can, in certain of the home nations, be legislated seperately and there may be an upgrade requirement. Licensing, for example for HMOs, comes in to play as well.

If something is clearly dangerous, or potentially dangerous, then duty of care legislation will apply.

And of course, as Mike will confirm, there are the joys of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations which extend safety liability to clients and consultancy teams.
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:16 AM   #256
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
So, for example, a new extension or build must fully comply but if (say) you simply form a new window in a house they can't make you upgrade the rest of the premises to current standards.

I anticipate that the English position will be similar.......
It is, with a huge filing cabinet full of caveats. Basically, I ring up Building Control every time, and ask them.

Quote:
And of course, as Mike will confirm, there are the joys of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations which extend safety liability to clients and consultancy teams.
Oh please, please. I've already got a headache!
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:21 AM   #257
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Bugger, I'm back.

Granted, (p/board) so long as it remains intact. But retro-fitted service penetrations, for instance, can remove the fire-protection that plasterboard offers, rendering the wall all but non-existent for fire purposes. I have just heard Corbyn say that all tower blocks should be retro-fitted with a sprinkler system.........a typical little-bit-of-knowledge being potentially very dangerous. There is no way this could be done without penetrating fire-rated walls. Who is going to make sure that the workmanship around every single hole is sufficient to retain the fire rating of that wall?

A householder installing non-fire-rated downlighters in a fire-rated ceiling......the ceiling may as well not be there in fire terms. Or even replacing existing lights with new ones bought from B&Q: same problem. How about shoddy workmanship, too. Tackers installing plasterboard might omit the second layer as a way of increasing profit/ getting off the job quicker/ or just out of carelessness. Any visual inspection is still faced with just a plastered wall.

So granted, plasterboard itself isn't the problem. It's humans and plasterboard in combination which has always worried me.

<snip>

I can understand that, but there is only so much that can be done to protect people from themselves.

Sometimes the only solutions are inevitably retro-active. After someone dies who didn't need to. Which is why I am sickened by the examples of people who do that and get off unscathed or with a slap on the wrist.

Building owners and maintenance staff that, knowingly or otherwise, allow structures to become out of compliance or put them that way are all to often let off the hook. Enforcement of strict punitive measures, especially against the senior management, seems to be the only tool which is effective in getting through to many of them.

I could go on for days talking about the many ingenious and unthinking ways that I have seen people screw up perfectly serviceable building and fire codes.

This is why I'm a big fan of regulation and inspection. Left to their own devices people will take any short-cut they can, either unwittingly or with perfect knowledge of their non-compliance.

Sometimes the surprise takes years to surface.

Literally.

I worked as a superintendent for a GC (That's "General Contractor" if the term is different in the U.K.) who had also been developer on an office park of built-to-suit buildings for IBM.

I was installing the foundations for the third of about six of them, four or five years after the project started. It was a bog-standard four story office building; structural steel, open floor, fit-up to suit the client, etc.

Most of the footings for the structural steel frame were relatively small, 1 ft. thick, 4 or 5 ft square spread footings, but two of them, one each near either end of the building, were large, 3 ft thick, 8 x 20 ft. pads which carried the frame's moment bracing.

When we had excavated to design sub-grade of one of those footings my backhoe operator said, "That feels kinda soft to me.", so I told him. "You know the drill. Keep going 'til we get to something solid enough for bearing, and we'll bring it back up to grade with stone.

Two days later the front-end loader was going nearly out of sight, and we had dug up about a quarter of the building footprint.

It turns out that when the original two buildings had been built the guy who was the superintendent of our site division (and not coincidentally the son-in-law of one of the owners) had run into more topsoil than he could use or stockpile, and rather than spend the money to have it hauled off site (which would have affected his bonus), he decided to bury it a few hundred yards from where those first two buildings were going up. taking the time to compact enough compactable fill dirt over top of it that (he hoped) no one would notice.

If it had been a foot or so deeper then we never would have noticed it, and neither would anyone else until that footing started to sink. Along with that part of the building frame.
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:25 AM   #258
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
You have inadvertently put your finger on why investigation is required.
Well, not so inadvertent. By pure coincidence we did the annual fire safety training at work yesterday, and of course were reminded of the advice that if you discover fire in a room, evacuating and closing the door is essential. Without it I still would have been horrified at the news that - apparently - the person whose flat the fire started in did not do so, because it's such a no-brainer.

Quote:
Now let's take the Beetham Tower in Manchester, of which I might know a little, by way of example. For those outwith the UK this comprises a gotel and low level and flatted dwellings at high level, separated by a "Sky Bar". It's 47 stories tall, which is high by UK standards, and located in the city centre adjacent to Deansgate (a main route).
I actually know it quite well - my much more successful brother has a couple of apartments knocked into one on the first or second residential floor (i.e. half-way up). I'm never keen on visiting, as it always feels like being smacked over the head with a huge wad of money (footballers and their WAGs in the lifts notwithstanding).

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Old 15th June 2017, 08:34 AM   #259
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
So, for example, a new extension or build must fully comply but if (say) you simply form a new window in a house they can't make you upgrade the rest of the premises to current standards.

I anticipate that the English position will be similar.
Yep.
Which is why our extension (well garage conversion plus a bit) built 3 years ago or so is a lot safer than the rest of the 80s bungalow. Escape routes all over the place (slight exaggeration)...windows you can actually get out of, unlike at least one of the bedrooms in the older part.
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:40 AM   #260
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
Now there's an interesting legal debate to be had there.

Because legislation cannot work retrospectively, and the extant buildings were consented under a statutory instrument, subsequent changes in the Regs cannot be applied saving for if there are major alterations (for example occupant capacity).
And this is why I made my initial comment of "ya'll need a building code with some teeth". We had this fight decades ago in the USA. Now, if a building owner chooses to modernize any part of their building, they also need to do a minimum level of modernization for safety (and also a few other things like accessibility). An owner that put cable TV ports in an existing building would have likely have to do fire safety upgrades. A new door or window, or changing the size of an existing one, might trigger an upgrade.

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As regards secondary means of escape, all I can say is that it is one of a number of areas where I consider the Scottish technical standards to be at a more appropriate level than our southern cousins.
Well that's terrifying.
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:43 AM   #261
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Originally Posted by Newtons Bit View Post
And this is why I made my initial comment of "ya'll need a building code with some teeth". We had this fight decades ago in the USA. Now, if a building owner chooses to modernize any part of their building, they also need to do a minimum level of modernization for safety (and also a few other things like accessibility). An owner that put cable TV ports in an existing building would have likely have to do fire safety upgrades. A new door or window, or changing the size of an existing one, might trigger an upgrade.
You misunderstand : it is a fundamental legal principle that laws cannot work retrospectively. Now in the case of HMOs and the like where a license is required, something can be done but not fornindividusl dwellings.
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:46 AM   #262
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Could any of the knowledge people comment on this:
https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/...205197.article

I have no idea of the credibility of the journal or ostensible experts.
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:48 AM   #263
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
You misunderstand : it is a fundamental legal principle that laws cannot work retrospectively. Now in the case of HMOs and the like where a license is required, something can be done but not fornindividusl dwellings.
Yea, our laws are based on your laws. I understand that. But you can attach all sorts of stipulations to upgrade existing systems any time a new permit is applied for. This building had the spaces on four floors reconfigured in the past year to create new homes along with all sorts of other upgrades. All kinds of permits were pulled for that (I looked, thanks to a link posted earlier).

Also, I'm specifically referring to commercial/government-owned buildings, not single-family residences. We have all sorts of exceptions for the latter.
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:49 AM   #264
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Originally Posted by Newtons Bit View Post
Well that's terrifying.
Why? The logic is that we might be discussing the best and the second best systems in the world, with only a marginal difference between the two. That isn't my claim, of course, but the current UK Regs are in my opinion pretty healthy*. Most of the non-domestic fire related stuff is simply British Standards encoded into the guidance, and those are worked out by Fire Officers, who actually get to oversee most or almost all commercial & multi-storey projects, and some of the more complex domestic ones.

* I have a big issue with the current inspection regime, but that's another story.
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Old 15th June 2017, 08:50 AM   #265
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With respect to my previous post, on the Radio4 programme The curious cases of Rutherford and Fry on Tuesday lunchtime Hannah Fry visited BRE and saw a Facades test for the programme. I assume it is available on the BBC website through Listen Again.

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Old 15th June 2017, 08:57 AM   #266
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
You misunderstand : it is a fundamental legal principle that laws cannot work retrospectively. Now in the case of HMOs and the like where a license is required, something can be done but not fornindividusl dwellings.

I'm not sure if you two are talking at cross purposes, or if there is a fundamental disagreement on policy.

Here, if someone wants to do an upgrade or repurposing of a structure beyond minor cosmetic alterations then it is not viewed as retroactive to have them bring the structure up to current code requirements. It is triggered by their desire to change the structure.

Sometimes, I admit, this is a tool which serves to enforce upgrades to modern standards which would otherwise never happen, but it is still the choice of the owner. He can leave things as they are if he wants.

My brother-in-law had started a business in a large, old residential house. The nature of the business did not violate any zoning or code requirements. At least not until he wanted to be able to use it as a walk-in location for prospective customers.

At that point, to be in compliance he would have had to make it handicap accessible. He couldn't build an ADA code compliant HC ramp to the front door. The front yard was too small to manage the 1/12 grade and ramp width requirements. The city told him that his only option was to install an elevator from the small gravel parking lot behind the house (one floor lower).

He ended up relocating.
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Old 15th June 2017, 09:17 AM   #267
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That does happen here. As I said, the trigger points are extremely complicated, and I don't even bother to try to remember them. I simply ring up a friendly Building Inspector, give him the proposal verbally, and ask if it would generate a requirement to bring some or all other elements in the building up to standard.

Again, for those following my build thread, there are some elements which would have had to be brought up to current standards because of the amount of structural work I am doing, but some others which wouldn't. For instance, the thermal performance of the complete building would have needed to be upgraded (I have exceeded the requirements by a factor of more than 3), but neither the location of light switches and sockets nor the provision of level access (wheelchair access) need be brought up to current requirements (albeit I have done both).

The situation, as I said, is always complicated. The danger of commenting on the internet is that people read it, assume that this is general advice which translates directly to their circumstances, and proceed to do something they shouldn't (or more likely, to omit doing something they should). My advice? Always seek advice from your local council. Always.
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Old 15th June 2017, 09:26 AM   #268
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Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
Could any of the knowledge people comment on this:
https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/...205197.article

I have no idea of the credibility of the journal or ostensible experts.
Well I've written pieces for it in the past. I'll let you draw your own conclusions from that!
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Old 15th June 2017, 09:45 AM   #269
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Why? The logic is that we might be discussing the best and the second best systems in the world, with only a marginal difference between the two. That isn't my claim, of course, but the current UK Regs are in my opinion pretty healthy*. Most of the non-domestic fire related stuff is simply British Standards encoded into the guidance, and those are worked out by Fire Officers, who actually get to oversee most or almost all commercial & multi-storey projects, and some of the more complex domestic ones.

* I have a big issue with the current inspection regime, but that's another story.
I think we've required at least two means of egress (including stairs) in high rises since like the 60's. New two-story buildings require at least two staircases That new construction still doesn't require multiple staircases in tall buildings is terrifying. What happens when the fire blocks the single staircase, or the staircase firewall is punctured by a minor explosion from a gas line and it turns into a smoke riser?
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Old 15th June 2017, 09:53 AM   #270
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Originally Posted by Newtons Bit View Post
......What happens when the fire blocks the single staircase, or the staircase firewall is punctured by a minor explosion from a gas line and it turns into a smoke riser?
Gas pipes aren't allowed within a protected escape route. Lifts don't count as a means of escape. Every tall building I have dealt with has had 2 protected staircases, and the thing is, the rules are so complicated that I can't even begin to comment on whether this is obligatory now in all circumstances.

Besides, I stopped being involved with commercial work some 8 or 9 years ago, which is why I said very early on that I defer to Architect here. His knowledge is current. Mine is frozen in time.
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Old 15th June 2017, 10:01 AM   #271
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Originally Posted by Newtons Bit View Post
.......New two-story buildings require at least two staircases......
Domestic houses need two staircases? Ours require a secondary means of escape, but 2 staircases here would be.....erm............silly. Don't forget that our houses are built very differently to yours. We don't do "stick construction" with a bit of cladding.
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Old 15th June 2017, 10:03 AM   #272
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Gas pipes aren't allowed within a protected escape route. Lifts don't count as a means of escape. Every tall building I have dealt with has had 2 protected staircases, and the thing is, the rules are so complicated that I can't even begin to comment on whether this is obligatory now in all circumstances.

Besides, I stopped being involved with commercial work some 8 or 9 years ago, which is why I said very early on that I defer to Architect here. His knowledge is current. Mine is frozen in time.
I just looked up the floor plans of the new Canaletto tower. It has a single staircase. Gas pipes aren't allowed inside the protected route, sure, but someone can have a kitchen right near the stairs.
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Old 15th June 2017, 10:08 AM   #273
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Domestic houses need two staircases? Ours require a secondary means of escape, but 2 staircases here would be.....erm............silly. Don't forget that our houses are built very differently to yours. We don't do "stick construction" with a bit of cladding.
There's exemptions for single and two-family residences, as I've mentioned up-thread. Pretty much everything else will require at least two means of egress both vertically and horizontally.
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Old 15th June 2017, 10:15 AM   #274
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Domestic houses need two staircases? Ours require a secondary means of escape, but 2 staircases here would be.....erm............silly. Don't forget that our houses are built very differently to yours. We don't do "stick construction" with a bit of cladding.
Not to digress too far, but what do you use to build ordinary houses in the UK? "Stick-built" is pretty much the standard method throughout the U.S. at all price levels, with varying designs and exterior finishes, although I understand concrete block is pretty common in south Florida. Poured concrete, solid brick etc. would be unusual, custom work in the U.S.
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Old 15th June 2017, 10:20 AM   #275
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Twin leaf cavity construction, 4" masonry outer leaf with either masonry inner / 4" insulated lining or 4" load bearing timber kit. Total thickness is typically 14-18". Single skin with rainscreen cladding would be exceptionally unusual in the UK and Ireland. In situ rc external walls are practically never used for domestic work.

Roofs are usually precast concrete tiles on timber trusses, with sarking board in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Concrete strip footing with suspended timber ground floors or ground bearing concrete slabs. Raft slabs uncommon but not unknown. Upper floor typically suspended timber.

They're lot more robust than either US or Australian dwellings, IMHO and experience.
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Old 15th June 2017, 11:40 AM   #276
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Originally Posted by Architect View Post
It is a general legal principle that laws cannot work retrospectively. The Building Regs are enacted through legislative instrument, ergo problem.

We are, however, in duty of care territory which is an altogether different kettle of fish.
That would be an issue about liability, so the original developers can't be prosecuted for a development that was built to the then current standard But in terms of changing the regulations they can be made so they apply to currently existing buildings so the owners would now have a liability where previously they had none.
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Old 15th June 2017, 12:01 PM   #277
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Not to digress too far, but what do you use to build ordinary houses in the UK? "Stick-built" is pretty much the standard method throughout the U.S. at all price levels, with varying designs and exterior finishes, although I understand concrete block is pretty common in south Florida. Poured concrete, solid brick etc. would be unusual, custom work in the U.S.
Round here it's all concrete blocks inner with local stone outer, or occasionally brick and rendering (forgive the terminology, I'm not a builder). Not much else is permitted.
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Old 15th June 2017, 12:16 PM   #278
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
Round here it's all concrete blocks inner with local stone outer, or occasionally brick and rendering (forgive the terminology, I'm not a builder). Not much else is permitted.
They're more likely to be aerated blocks, rather than concrete*. If they aren't, the next most likely is an aggregate block, of reduced thermal efficiency, containing all sort of recycled stuff inc crushed glass. Concrete blocks are actually something of a rarity.

*There is some cement in an aerated block, but they aren't made with aggregate/ ballast.
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Old 15th June 2017, 12:19 PM   #279
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
They're more likely to be aerated blocks, rather than concrete*. If they aren't, the next most likely is an aggregate block, of reduced thermal efficiency, containing all sort of recycled stuff inc crushed glass. Concrete blocks are actually something of a rarity.

*There is some cement in an aerated block, but they aren't made with aggregate/ ballast.
That sounds like the word, yes.
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Old 15th June 2017, 12:47 PM   #280
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
That would be an issue about liability, so the original developers can't be prosecuted for a development that was built to the then current standard But in terms of changing the regulations they can be made so they apply to currently existing buildings so the owners would now have a liability where previously they had none.
No, I'm afraid that's incorrect.

The Building Regulations or, depending upon where you are in the UK, the Technical Standards are effected through legislation and consequent statutory instruments - for example the Building (Scotland) Act 2005 et seq.

Building Regulations Approval or, as the case may be, Building Warrant are statutory consents granted under that legilsative framework and include a Certificate of Completion or Habitation, granted by the local authority, confirming that the terms of the consent have been met.

Now, the first problem is the general legal principle in both of the main UK legal systems that the law cannot - for very good reason - be made to apply retrospectively. Moreover in order to do so in the case of the Building Regulations, the hitherto granted consents would have to effectively be revoked. That in turn would entitle, arguably, applicants and their successors to reasonably seek compensation.

Let's look at a simple example of this. Prior to circa 1992, the thermal efficiency standard for new private dwellings in Scotland was unambitious - a U value of 0.6, to be precise. The current standard is considerably improved at 0.2, which effectively requires an extra 100mm of high performance insulation to walls and about 200mm extra to your roofspace. More recent changes have made provision for mixrorenewables.

Now if we accept your scenario, then any time the regulations are improved then many, many millions of householders would face an unacceptable financial burden.

The current principle is therefore that the original building should be no worse that prior to the work. So, for example, modern glazing need merely have a higher thermal performance than the original single glazing it might have replaced rather than hit the target.

On the other hand, if one takes a property and either intensifies the use or effects a substantive change of use (i.e. outside of what used to be called an individual use class) then that allows Building Control to apply the Regulations/Standards in all their glory.

This system is cumbersome but unless you either want to effectively put a massive improvement burden on existing owners (bearing in mind that alterations are standard rated for VAT, whilst new build is zero rated, thereby encouraging the bulldozers) then it is the only sensible way forward.
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