Cladding concerns in the private sector

Hundreds of hotels, student halls of residence and private sector blocks may need to have their cladding replaced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, according to an article in this week’s Estates Gazette.
As the repercussions from the fire continue to be felt nationwide, the private sector and trade bodies such as the British Property Federation (BPF), the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) and Home Builders Federation are considering the implications of the blaze.
EG reports that some members of the BPF and ARMA are already sending samples of cladding to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for testing.
It also says that many private sector operators and are being proactive in checking materials, seeking assurances from suppliers, carrying out audits and liaising with managing agents.
Meanwhile the National Housing Federation has urged the Government to halt cladding tests and focus on ensuring all towers in the public and private sectors are safe.
And the Housing & Finance Institute wants construction of tower blocks frozen until safety can be guaranteed.
According to EG, one estimate of the cost of replacing the cladding just on social housing buildings alone tops more than £12bn – with private sector blocks set to considerably increase that figure.
At a national level, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – of which many of our expert professionals are Members or Fellows – is advising the Housing Minister and government departments as well as local authorities and devolved mayors. It has also convened a working group to provide expert advice, counsel and assistance.
With enquiries continuing, it would be inappropriate to speculate on the cause of the fire but undoubtedly the repercussions from the Grenfell tragedy will continue to be felt for a long time and our thoughts are with all of those who have been affected.
As a well-established business with an excellent reputation and national reach in property and construction in the public and private sectors, we have been watching developments closely.
For the re-assurance of our clients, fire safety has long been a major component of much our practice, including elements of the work carried out by our six core divisions: Architecture, Building Surveying, General Practice, Project Management and Contract Administration, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and Structural Engineering.
Professionals in our Building Surveying division – led by Director Bruce Scott – have wide expertise built over many years, including fire safety.
As a firm we have British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE) accreditation and we are a member of the Fire Industry Association (FIA) able to carry out risk assessments and arrange installation of fire safety measures.
Our experienced employees include former fire officer Brian Edney, who is a Member of the Institute of Fire Prevention Officers and Institute of Fire Safety Managers, and Qualified Electrical Design Engineer Horace McAndrew.
Visit the RICS website at www.rics.org/uk/news/news-insight/news/grenfell-tower-action-and-advice/ and EG for more at www.estatesgazette.com/.
Email Bruce at [email protected] and call him on 02392 697193 for more information about our surveys.

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