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Building Products July 2017

ROOFING, CLADDING AND ACCESSORIES are fewer competent site managers, and the challenge of the skills shortage faced by all within the sector becomes an issue. NHBC ‘s latest statistics about claims made by new home owners related to 2014, when there were 7,100 valid claims made equating to around six claims per 1000 homes. This was lower in both total number and frequency than for 2013. However, the NHBC’s annual accounts show that its bill for claims paid out rose in 2014/15 to £87m, up from £79m in 2013/14. There is a caveat here, however, in that storm damage was a big contributor in 2014/15. Though the total number of claims was down, the number of valid claims made in the first two years rose in 2015. The biggest problem area was services, fixtures and fittings, accounting for 37% of claims, followed by superstructure 35%, roofs 12% and ancillary buildings and external works 11%. The most common cause of superstructure claims in the first two years is problems with doors and windows, followed by DPCs and cavity trays, brick and blockwork, render and chipboard flooring. Claims made in years three to 10 of NHBC warranty cover are dominated by two elements: roofing and superstructure. In 2014, these accounted for 55% and 37% of all claims by number respectively. Regionally however, the picture varies somewhat with roofs accounting for 58% of claims in England and Wales, 39% in Scotland and 28% in Northern Ireland. Over 50% of roofing claims related to problems 32 BUILDING PRODUCTS | JULY 2017 with mortar. This is an issue which NHBC has been tackling since 2011 when it reported that 60% of all its claims in 2010 had related to pitched roofs and over half of those were due to mortar. And this, of course, culminated in the most recent revisions of CP 142, now enshrined in BS 5534: 2014, the Code of Practice for Slating and Tiling in the UK. In 2010, the NHBC had spent £11m on roofing claims and estimated that the total cost could be at least £30m when adding in repairs undertaken directly by builders. NHBC will not reveal the current cost of pitched roof claims, although it has said that the awareness and information campaign it has been conducting has not yet led to a reduction in claims, so we may assume they are still at a similar level to 2010. Although not legally mandatory, compliance with BS 5534: 2014 is considered not only best practice, but also provides the best defence in the event of failures or disputes. The NHBC is especially vigilant in respect of the standard and, since July 2015, all new housing projects, regardless of size or phase; must comply with BS 5534: 2014 to qualify for its 10 year Buildmark Warranty In 2015, statistics on claims revealed some areas of growing concern around workmanship and pitched roofs: 14% of claims related to flashings and upstands at abutments and 9% were connected to projections through roofs such as roof lights or dormer windows. When it comes to the superstructure of the <<< Continued from page 31 house, the primary trigger for external wall claims in the longer term was damp penetration which had been caused by badly fitted cavity trays and render failure. In fact, half of all claims were due to problems with cavity trays or DPCs. Chimneys and flues were also a common source of claim. 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 au fait with the plethora of regulations. 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. David Patrick is Head of Marketing at Redland


Building Products July 2017
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