Building regulations upgraded to tackle cladding risk


Since the tragedy at Grenfell, public consciousness has been focussed on the need to ensure that external building cladding is fire resistant and safe.  Following a public consultation, the Department of Finance has now released its approach to implementing proposed amendments to building regulations and technical booklets.

The proposed amendments effectively introduce a ban on combustible materials for use on external walls and specified attachments of ‘relevant buildings’, as well as introducing guidance in relation to ‘assessments in lieu of tests’.

A new regulation in Part B will be introduced to require materials on external walls of ‘relevant buildings’, to achieve a ‘reaction to fire’ performance classification that effectively bans the use of combustible materials on the external walls of these buildings.

The ban will be focused on buildings where the risks are greatest. It will apply to high rise residential buildings with a storey over 18m in height. It will also apply to hospitals, residential schools, care homes, nursing homes and student accommodation, all with a storey over 18m in height.

Certain attachments to the external walls of these buildings such as balconies, will also be subject to the new requirement.

As a consequence of the Part B amendment, there will also be an amendment to Part A (Interpretation and general) of the Building Regulations to apply the new regulation to relevant buildings created as a result of a material change of use.

The amendments proposed also make reference to more accurate radon measurement maps for dwellings in Northern Ireland in order to help mitigate the risks of this naturally occurring gas.

RSUA will be publishing an in-depth look at what these changes mean in the next fortnight and in the meantime, you can read the document from the Department here.