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Architects and housebuilders are under increased pressure to develop safer residential buildings. Here Steve Thompson, Managing Director of light steel specialists EOS Framing, makes a strong case for robust testing regimes.
Coming in the wake of the Hackitt review, and receiving Royal Assent in April 2022, the Building Safety Act covers a raft of changes for housebuilders and developers. These include a new system of accountability for safety in projects, a construction products regulator, and a refreshed regulatory framework. It is claimed to be the biggest change in building safety for over 40 years.
Effective Testing Regimes
In her report ‘Building a Safer Future’, Dame Judith Hackitt recommends: “More effective testing regimes with clearer labelling and product traceability, in order to drive continuous improvement, higher performance and encourage innovative product and system design under better quality control.”
Disparate supply chains result in components being offered by a multitude of manufacturers, it is therefore down to the specifier to assess if the chosen materials will meet with required performance and safety standards. A lack of test evidence and performance data can make this an onerous task. This uncertainty also extends to the costs involved, the speed of build and the quality of the final outcome.
From early design and engineering advice to simplifying specification and procurement, our products, processes and whole business philosophy show that as a manufacturer, we take our responsibilities extremely seriously. At the heart of this is rigorous testing and a systems approach to our light steel frame solutions. We are committed to technical competence and as part of Etex, we have some of the best fire experts in the UK on our team.
Annually we conduct over 500 tests in Europe alone. Etex Group have three Innovation and Technology Centres where we have our own fire, acoustic, mechanical, structural and thermal testing facilities, equipment and laboratories. We also fully support and endorse third party certification systems such as BBA, BRE Global, Certifire and EOS has also recently gained BOPAS Accreditation. We work closely with certification bodies to jointly develop and design technical solutions. Our full-scale testing regimes study the performance of products working together to see how they interact in ‘real’ circumstances, such as under fire conditions or when exposed to wind and rain.
Helping Housebuilders Comply and Compete
EOS has developed an award-winning range of unitised light steel frame systems. By working closely with developers, we are now able to provide real scalable light steel frame residential solutions – delivering precision-engineered homes that meet building safety regulations that can be produced at scale better than, faster than and more cost-efficiently than other market offerings.
The Building Safety Act makes ground-breaking reforms to give residents and homeowners more rights, powers, and protections – so homes across the country are safer. Many of the detailed provisions in the Act will be implemented over the next two years through a programme of secondary legislation.
Principal Designers and Contractors under the Act will be required to manage building safety risks, with clear lines of responsibility during the design, construction and completion of all buildings. The Building Safety Act will strengthen the construction products regulatory regime, with new requirements to make sure all construction products on the UK market are safe for their intended use, with a National Regulator for Construction Products to monitor and enforce this.
Construction is without doubt a complex business but as we evolve more advanced offsite technologies, we can help housebuilders reduce risk and operate within the strict criteria laid down by the Building Safety Act. Through the collaborative expertise of Etex brands EOS Framing, Siniat, Promat and FSi, our light steel frame systems approach is helping our construction clients comply and compete in challenging markets.
Certified Systems Approach
The EOS range of Pre-Assembled Frames (PAF), Thruwall® and Thrubuild® systems have been developed to eliminate uncertainty surrounding design and specification decisions. All components – light steel frame, external and internal boards, glass mineral wool insulation and fixings – have been rigorously tested together for acoustic, weathering, airtightness, and mechanical performance. Fire resistance periods of 60, 90 and 120 minutes are predictably achievable.
When PAF, Thrubuild® and Thruwall® systems are built with Etex Group components and materials, following a validation process — Etex award a 30-year warranty.
To discover more about the building safety benefits, go to the EOS information centre: www.eosframing.co.uk/information-centre/