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Building Products January 2018

How bad is it? Bringing things more up-to-date, the NHBC’s annual report for 2015/ 2016 shows that claims incurred fell 8%, reflecting a decrease in both net claims paid and the change in provision for claims. Net claims paid fell by 7% to £90 million (2014/15: £96.5 million) primarily due to lower settlement of storm-related claims, while the lower change in the provision for claims reflects the smaller impact of claims from the lower registration years of 2008-10. Turning to the overall cost of claims, superstructure repairs remained the most common cause of claims in the year, accounting for 38% of claims reported, and the category of highest cost at £26.5 million (2014/15: £32.4 million). In its last ‘annual’ claims review in 2014, claims made in years three to 10 of NHBC warranty cover were dominated by two elements: roofing and superstructure. The most common cause of superstructure claims – over 50% – in the first two years is problems with doors and windows, followed by DPCs and cavity trays/closers, brick and blockwork, render and chipboard flooring. Doors and windows suffer from poor installation generally, problems with seals and ironmongery which is damaged, missing or inadequately fixed. Often the cavity tray and DPC issues relate to doors and windows too, with poor detailing around the openings. There is some good news on the windows front however. NHBC recognised that the production of PVC-U windows has improved to such an extent that it no longer requires an additional quality mark for product that meet BS 7412: 2007 specification for windows and doorsets made from unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVC-U) extruded hollow profiles. Although not a warranty triggering issue – it’s not just about inspection and workmanship – there is much evidence of there being a significant gap between design and specification; and ‘as built’ performance. One major housebuilder relates that in a survey of its own sites all the ‘U’ and ‘G’ values were not performing to design criteria. More broadly, there were also issues with compliance to standard specification and descriptions in approved SAP calculations. The way ahead? One of the messages to emerge from the various guidance notes issued by NHBC is that sometimes there can be conflicts between different sources of regulation: British Standards, Building Regulations and the NHBC’s own standards. For the inexperienced site manager, the picture can be confusing. What this tells us is that there is no substitute for experience and competency: in those running sites, in the specialist contractors installing the various elements and in the suppliers who, if reputable, will have technical experts who are familiar with the plethora of regulations. In respect of performance derogations ‘as built’, developers should consider issuing tighter NEW BUILD specification details to manufacturers and then establish mutually acceptable QA processes are in place to ensure fabrication is taking place to housebuilder specifications. A good manufacturing partner should welcome the opportunity to have input to improving standards. Finally, the More Homes, Fewer Complaints report made two recommendations around issues of quality and workmanship: that housebuilders should adopt a new quality culture and that the industry should significantly increase skills training programmes. These are both areas in which suppliers can offer expertise, advice and training. More communication and information flow up and down the supply chain is the only way to banish problems with defects forever. www.eurocell.co.uk JANUARY 2018 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 19


Building Products January 2018
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