New regulations governing the fire safety of multi-storey and multi-occupied residential buildings have been welcomed by a leading property professional.
Alan Draper, managing director of Common Ground Estate and Property Management, says the PAS 9980:2022 code of practice provides a far more practical approach towards building construction in the light of the Grenfell disaster.
Developed by a field of industry experts, the new code of practice offers a standard methodology to assess the fire risk of external wall construction and cladding.
It introduces a fire risk appraisal and assessment of external walls which will feed into a fire risk assessment required by the Fire Safety Order.
The new standard replaces the Consolidated Advice Note (CAN) which had caused a disproportionate reaction to the level of risk in medium and lower-rise buildings. It drove an overly cautious approach to building safety in buildings that are safe, which went beyond what the Government considered necessary.
Alan said: “I’ve long thought that the fire safety industry’s reaction to Grenfell was over the top and this proves my point.
“The industry needed to take a more considered approach as leaseholders were being forced to suffer a great deal pain and expense because of it.
“The fire safety reports we receive post-Grenfell would likely double service charges in many cases if we carried out all the recommendations. We need to pursue a common sense philosophy.”
The new code is designed for use by fire engineers and other building professionals such as architects, insurers and project managers when undertaking a fire risk appraisal of external walls.
It gives recommendations and guidance on undertaking a fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of an existing multistorey, multi-occupied residential building.
It assesses the risk to occupants from a fire spreading over or within the external walls of the building and will influence whether action needs to be taken, for example with the presence of combustible materials.
Under the CAN, now withdrawn by the Government, it was found some surveyors have been asking for excessive amount of additional information on risks and safety to offer mortgage valuations while insurers have been raising premiums.
Fire risk assessors were also found to have been recommending remedial works which may not have been necessary, imposing further unnecessary costs for leaseholders.