A ban on the use of combustible materials
Following the Grenfell fire and the review of building and fire safety regulations, the regulations were amended. In December of 2018, the Ministry of Housing introduced new guidance. And in April 2019, following further amendments, an updated Document B came into force. The amended regulations now ban the use of combustible materials in the external walls and specified attachments (such as balconies) of new buildings of 18m or more in height — or where work is carried out on existing buildings of 18m or higher. These restrictions apply to residential blocks of flats, care homes, sheltered housing, student accommodation, hospitals and boarding school dormitories.
Implications for existing buildings of all heights
In July, the government further clarified its position by advising building control officers to also check the cladding on buildings under 18m. And, where existing buildings of any height have balconies, it is incumbent on the building owner to understand what materials have been used and to assess and manage the associated risk of external fire spread. They urge building owners to remove combustible materials from balconies if they are found, in order to comply with Requirement B4 of the Building Regulations. If building owners are in doubt they are asked to seek professional advice from an appropriately qualified professional.
(Image by Guido van Nispen)