Ignoring the rules could prove VERY expensive

Techtalk | Straff Cooke, Technical Director, Mila

In my last column in October, I talked about a friend of mine who had just moved into a new house only to discover that it had been fitted with windows and doors which were not ADQ compliant. Needless to say, he is now pursuing the matter with the house builders direct to try to get them replaced with products which do comply.

As a result, the installer in this case, and very likely the fabricator as well, is facing the huge, and very expensive, task of replacing windows and doors on this whole new development.

It is true that my friend is involved in the window industry so is pretty well informed about the regulations, but the fact is that any installer who is still flouting the rules – even if it is simply by mistake – is running a very significant risk.

Having chatted to a few people in the industry about this since, it seems that some housebuilders are trying to exploit a loophole in the rules by claiming that their developments don’t need to comply with ADQ because work began on site before the cut off date of 1st October 2016 – even when that actually refers to a much earlier phase of the development.

I’m pleased that recent guidance from the GGF is seeking to put an end to that by indicating clearly that the date of commencement should refer specifically to each new phase and not to the original start date, simply because some of the large housebuilders’ developments can go on for 10 or even 20 years and they could easily try to claim exemption for decades.

In England, ADQ references PAS24: 2012 but, as of 1st November 2018, it has been adopted into the Building Regs in Wales as well and here it references the more recent and arguably more demanding PAS24: 2016 security test. This is the same version now required for Secured by Design accreditation as well.

Probably the most significant differences between the two for an installation company is the requirement for all doors being fitted into new build or change of use properties in Wales to comply with the more stringent cutting test and also to have a TS008 compliant letter plate.

What this means is that the letter plate must be able to achieve a security Grade 2 in the DHF TS008 specification and withstand specific attack methods including: fishing, manipulation of the unlocking point, forced removal of the letterplate and removal of posted items.

Secondary security devices such as letterbox cowls are often used to prevent fishing and manipulation of the unlocking point, but there are now a wide range of TS008 compliant letter plates available which incorporate cowls within them.

In Wales, ADQ now applies to every new build project, except those where permission for that phase of a development was given before 1st November 2018 and where work starts on site before 1st November 2019. It will be interesting to see whether house builders in Wales seek to exploit the same loophole as they have been doing in England, because I think that buyers of new homes who think they are buying something which is safe and secure just deserve better.

Understandably, the main focus of the legislators in our industry at the moment is on fire safety and work on a new version of Approved Document B in the Building Regs which refers to fire safety still start early in 2019 with the expected publication date to be in a couple of years.

It seems likely that this will lead to an overhaul of all the Building Regs over time and window and door safety and security will no doubt come into that. For now though, PAS24 and ADQ is the best that we have in terms of giving customers’ reassurance about the performance of the products they are buying. If you are in any doubt about what PAS24:2012 or 2016 requires or where and when ADQ is necessary, Mila can give you all the help and advice you need and of course supply you with a full range of fully compliant hardware.

As always, you can contact me for more information via: scooke@mila.co.uk or via Twitter: @StraffordCooke