Builders, Completion Certificate & Fire Compartmentation in your New Build

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UntitledSo here is the situation. You have a completion certificate from Building Control, so your building is built correctly according to building standards, right? Sorry my friend, you’re wrong. Consider this: You’re building a new block of flats, and you decide, “I know how to save money, I’ll go out to tender!” So last year it cost £1m to build your unit, so this year you tell potential contractors to save you some money; you want it built for 10% less. Now you have a plan, new block of flats with £100k saved.

Your builder wins the contract and wonders where he is going to make £100k savings; and guess what he thinks? “I can make short cuts on the bits the customer can’t see”. Guess where these savings may be, yip, we’re making progress here; the Fire Separation. Now Mr. Builder I am not saying you all do this, but we have seen enough to know that the building will look pretty, it will look finished, but look under the surface and we find pink PU foam everywhere, your builder might even tell say it’s fire foam, it may be, but only under the most stringent parameters. You’ll find walls with pipes through them and the holes not filled in (or filled with pink PU foam), vertical cupboards with no fire separation between floors, Fire Doors with gaps that exceed tolerable limits: do you know about the size of permitted gaps on fire doors?

So you are getting the picture here, if we ask a man to save money he will, why are you surprised that below the surface it’s not quite right?

Now back to the completion certificate. Does the building inspector enter every crevice, nook and cranny of your new build? Of course they don’t! Are they fire safety specialists? Of course they’re not! Do you know how many component parts of the building they are looking at? Drainage, guttering, electrical, gas, access, lighting, fire safety: you get the picture. So let’s give them a break, it looks okay with a few hours on site; so there you go, a completion certificate.
But, who does the responsibility lay with to make sure the fire separation is adequate? The builder? Not really. You? Perhaps, and it is your building, you paid for it, you’re going to make money from it by putting residents in the building. So yes, we have a decision, it’s your responsibility to make sure the fire compartmentation is adequate as the building owner, no one else, just you.

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