Fabricators have been more than a bit pre-occupied over recent months just getting through the pandemic. They’ve very quickly had to become experts in furlough, health and safety, demand forecasting and supply chain management, not to mention Teams and Zoom. With demand at record levels as well, that’s obviously adding yet another layer of pressure.
Understandably then, I suspect that many won’t have had the chance to check on the changes to legislation and Building Regs which are coming down the line and which will undoubtedly have an impact on our market – Coronavirus or no Coronavirus. Rest assured though, I’ve been keeping track of everything that’s happening and Mila is already making plans to make sure we are ready, if and when the changes do come, so that our customers aren’t caught out.
I mentioned in my last TechTalk the need to switch from CE marking to the new UKCA safety marking as a result of Brexit – by 1 January 2022. We have also now had notification of the upcoming changes happening to several of the Approved Documents within the Building Regs, ahead of the implementation of the far-reaching Future Homes Standard. There are consultations currently taking place on Approved Document L and Approved Document F, both of which will, to some degree, impact on the fenestration market and in turn on the hardware sector.
At the moment, the proposals for Approved Document L will see maximum U-Values set at 1.4, but there are indications within the Future Homes legislation that the eventual target is to get down to 0.8. That would challenge the entire market of course and, whatever material you’re fabricating in, would almost inevitably mean less visible frame and more glass. In hardware terms, more glass means more weight and extra demands on hinges, so you can be sure that Mila is already planning for solutions which would be able to cope.
For Approved Document F, the proposals will require standardisation on larger trickle vents – ironically, potentially offsetting the impact of the lower U-Values. Significantly, these requirements will apply to replacement as well as new build projects and will mean the inclusion of vents even in windows where there wasn’t one there previously.
Changes have already been made to Approved Document B of course in the wake of Grenfell. While much of the focus has been on fire doors and an overhaul of the testing and accreditation process, some may have missed the fact that laminated glass is still listed as a combustible material in Doc B and is no longer permitted for balconies or balustrades in buildings over 18m in England and Wales and 11m in Scotland.
There are also potential changes coming to Approved Document Q which fabricators might not yet be aware of. The most likely is a requirement for more demanding PAS24: 2016 testing rather than PAS24: 2012 as it is now, but there is also talk of a tightening of the rules on how fabricators and installers can demonstrate compliance. Currently, supplier testing is enough, but that could be increased to require UKAS accredited testing, potentially with 3rd party certification.
There is a sense that the lawmakers are unhappy about the true level of compliance with Approved Document Q and want to impose stricter rules. From Mila’s point of view, it’s disappointing that the industry has, in some circumstances, looked at ways of avoiding the need to comply, instead of embracing the requirement and supplying better products into the market. The hardware sector has worked hard to develop products, such as Mila’s brand-new TS008 compliant letterplate, which take away the barriers to compliance which fabricators had reported previously.
Our new letterplate projects internally by just 45mm with no ugly cowls, can be fitted straight from the box in less than two minutes, and uses standard preps, so it is effectively interchangeable with a non-TS008 compliant version and can easily be swapped into an ADQ compliant doorset without the requirement for a re-test.
It’s worth pointing out that PAS24, BS6375 Parts 1, 2 and 3 and BS7412 are all being reviewed over the coming months, so it is very likely that we will see further changes to those as well. Of course, I’ll be keeping Mila customers and readers of TechTalk informed and up to date.