LOW IMPACT, LOW RISK
Louie Farrington, southern regional manager at Sika Liquid Plastics, discusses the specification
considerations for social housing roof and walkway refurbishments.
A commission organised by housing
charity, Shelter, has identified a need
for rapid and significant development
in the social housing sector.
Comprising 16 high-profile members, including
former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and TV
architect, George Clark, it has recently called for
more than three million social housing properties
to be built in England over the next 20 years.
It’s a target that would involve the construction
of 200,000 new homes for social rent every year
until 2034 and one that reflects a lack of available
properties in the social housing sector, where rents
are typically 50% of the average private sector
market rate. Against this backdrop of a shortage in
supply of homes for social rent, local authorities
and housing associations have never been under
such mission-critical pressure to maintain the
homes in their portfolio and prolong the service
life of these assets.
Carrying out refurbishment and repair of roofs
or the shared access areas of multi-occupancy
buildings – such as walkways, staircases and
balconies – is a critical factor in protecting and
BUILDING PRODUCTS | FEBRUARY
preserving the building fabric so that properties
remain habitable for longer and offer a safe and
comfortable home for tenants, in line with Decent
Homes requirements. For specifiers, this means
considering a wide number of factors in relation
to the building products used for such projects
to ensure extended service life and product
performance is combined with buildability, health
and safety and Best Value principles.
Health, safety and tenant welfare
One of the biggest challenges for social housing
providers when properties are in need of
refurbishment or repair is managing the needs
of tenants while the works are carried out. With
homes in such short supply, waiting for properties
to be voided is rarely an option and moving
tenants to temporary accommodation is equally
onerous: not only does this involve significant
inconvenience for the tenant but it also comes at a
significant cost to the housing provider.
Consequently, if possible, specifiers need to
find refurbishment products that will enable
work including roofing, walkway refurbishment,
concrete repair and structural strengthening to be
carried out while homes remain occupied, which
means considering the impact of the materials on
tenant comfort and daily routines.
In an occupied residential building, a coldapplied
liquid system provides an ideal alternative
to torched systems and requires no manual
fixings, keeping the noise associated with the
works to a minimum.
Indeed, projects carried out using cold-applied
liquid systems can often be completed with a
minimal site team, helping to reduce disruption
for tenants. Where hot works are chosen, it is vital
that best practice guidelines are followed by the
contractor, and the Safe2Torch campaign from
the National Federation of Roofing Contractors
(NFRC) is helpful in this regard.
Where the project involves a roof
refurbishment, nuisance odours can be a potential
source of disruption. Where avoiding odours is a
priority, specifiers should look for a suitable lowodour,
When it comes to the refurbishment of
trafficked areas such as walkways, staircases and