Fire safety remediation at a residential apartment block
The large-scale programme launched by the Government to identify and prioritise the removal or remediation of cladding similar to that found on Grenfell has made good progress, assisted by the support of the Government’s £1bn Building Safety Fund.
With the project to remediate or remove unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding from high-rise buildings well underway, housing associations and building owners are taking action to review fire risk across all buildings, to keep them and those within them, safe.
We were recently chosen to be involved in a cladding removal and refix project, through main contractor RG Carter Southern Ltd. Based in East Anglia, RG Cater are a well-established contractor providing award-winning design and project management services for private and public sector clients.
Commenting on why we were chosen as the cladding sub-contractor for this project, Gavin Leeks, Building Solutions Manager at RG Carter explains, “When it came to the detail of the proposal, Eden Facades were efficient and professional. They provided us with detail for all the questions the Quantity Surveyor and I had, and gave us the confidence that they would do a good job”.
Having worked with another branch of RG Carter previously, we knew we had a shared level of quality standards and a commitment to detail, and we were pleased to be brought on board for this residential project in Colchester.
Remove and refit
RG Carter’s client was a local housing association, who needed to carry out works recommended by an independent cladding consultant on two residential blocks.
Our scope was to remove the existing cladding and insulation from the stair core and lift shaft of three storeys of flats – the ground, first and second floors – in addition to the top floor residential walls, refitting new A1 non-combustible insulation, fire barriers and A2 fire-rated cladding.
Rockwool Duo Slab was specified for the insulation, a dual density stone wool insulation specifically designed for use with ventilated cladding systems. In addition to being A1 non-combustible, the Duo Slab provides additional thermal protection, making it a popular choice for residential and office blocks by reducing heating and cooling costs and improving a building’s carbon footprint.
The best way to ensure fire safety is to use only non-combustible building materials, and here Rockpanel’s EN13501-1 A2 rated board was specified for use alongside the Rockwool Duo Slab. Using the two products in combination fulfils fire safety requirements for the building and ensures the protection of the building’s users.
Rockpanel boards also have the benefit of being extremely durable; being weather, temperature and UV resistant, they need little maintenance, and the range of colours and finishes adds to the building’s overall aesthetic.
Restricted access and resolving the unexpected
Access to the top floor of the apartment block posed a problem as there was full scaffold up, but as Paul Michaelson, Construction Director at Eden Facades explains, “There was limited access due to the scaffold surrounding the building, but the team were able to work around it to get the job done.
“Another challenge was that after we started work, and removed the existing cladding panels, we found that some of the substrate wasn’t what we had been expecting. Instead of blockwork, we found cladding panels on metal studwork,” Paul comments.
The team at RG Carter asked the cladding consultant to inspect it, then, says Gavin, “Following discussion with our client and Eden, it was decided that further works were needed to put fire breaks in. It was a very collaborative approach to resolving the problem”.
Safety on site
Ensuring we are able to provide a safe and long-lasting outcome for our client, in addition to health and safety on site, is always our highest priority.
Due to the sensitivity and the nature of the cladding work being carried out at De Grey Rd, the Health and Safety Executive visited the site with a specialised task force to assess the works were being carried out to their satisfaction and in line with their guidance.
Gavin explains, “HSE came to the site, looked at what we were doing, what Eden were doing, and went away happy that everything was being done correctly. It’s a good endorsement and we wouldn’t hesitate to work with Eden Facades again on future projects”.