Adrian Forbes, Sales Director of Keystone Group, discusses the importance of testing and accreditation in the construction industry, following Grenfell.
“It is time for this industry sector to step up to its responsibilities. I call on industry leaders to start working with government and start delivering these reforms now.” The words of Dame Judith Hackitt at the launch of her review into building regulations and fire safety.
The tragedy of Grenfell Tower was a “wake-up call” to the industry, and has made the assurance of quality more important than ever before. The findings of the Hackitt report stated just that; “Manufacturers of construction products used in buildings where performance standards apply should ensure that testing is verified by an independent third party certification body”. At Keystone Group, we take this responsibility very seriously.
As a responsible supplier with a focus on excellence in quality, Keystone Group values third party endorsements for all products to offer extra reassurance that they have been rigorously tested to industry standards. Manufacturers who supply critical structural components should have testing and quality at the top of their agenda. It is paramount to housebuilders that they can trust in a brand’s technical expertise, and so all of Keystone’s Lintel products are third party accredited by the British Board of Agrement (BBA). Transparency is key, and as expert engineers, the company is happy to have its products tested.
In 2013, Keystone set new standards for thermal efficiency in steel lintels. Its award winning Hi-therm Lintel has had a significant impact on the thermal efficiency of homes and remained the only BBA approved, one piece, thermally efficient lintel in the market. Hi-therm offers a cost efficient solution for lowering carbon emissions within SAP. 2018 saw the launch of the new redesigned Hi-therm+ Lintel. While Hi-therm+ is designed to minimise thermal bridging, as a thermally efficient lintel it is also essential that it carries out its primary function, to offer support.
When we designed our re-engineered Hi-therm+ lintel with our industry leading top hat design, we recognised the importance of third party testing and certification for this new product. Keystone’s Hi-therm+ lintel, is still the only thermally efficient lintel on the market that has trusted third party certification from the BBA, which has tested the design, strength, performance, durability and fire resistance to ensure the product is fit for purpose. Encouraging the safe development and adoption of innovative solutions in construction manufacturing is crucial.
We work closely with the BBA and invest in rigorous testing so we can offer these assurances. Claire Curtis-Thomas, CEO of the BBA, explains how she is passionate about this cause: “Third party certification is absolutely vital because if it wasn’t there then people would be left to effectively declare their own performances”.
In October, the BBA, in conjunction with Local Authority Building Control, launched 100% Hackitt, a joint venture to press the Government to introduce all 53 of Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations.
Claire described the 100% Hackitt initiative as ‘the best thing for the British construction industry in a generation’, adds: “The BBA is backing this initiative as strongly as we possibly can because we want to see bad practices in the industry eliminated and protection for the public and companies that are fully committed to high standards of delivery.”
Paul Everall, LABC Chief Executive, comments: “The LABC and the BBA share the same outlook and are determined to make a difference in our industry. “But we’re not waiting, we’re getting on with building a safer future together – right now. The 100% Hackitt initiative is a space for everyone who wants to see systemic change in the construction industry and I hope the whole industry gets behind it.”
Unfortunately we still today face manufacturers who may offer a cheaper product that doesn’t have third-party accreditation. Thankfully we are seeing progress and this is likely to change. Barratt Homes and Kier, the country’s biggest housebuilder and second-biggest contractor are among those firms that have signed up to the government’s ‘early adopters’ programme to trial new systems ahead of changes to the building regulations following this year’s Hackitt review.
Just when the Building Regulations will change is unclear. In the interim period responsible housebuilders will insist on products that have been tested and verified by a third party. At Keystone, this move towards transparency and third party testing is very much welcomed.
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