BUILT ENVIRONMENT JOURNAL

LABC roadshow

The performance gap does not seem to have gone away, and developer,s designers and regulators must all play a part in closing it

Author: Anna Thompson

06 September 2019

Building control has always played a key role in keeping the industry up to speed with legislative and technical changes.

LABC is continuing to demonstrate its commitment to improving compliance and competency with its series of technical update roadshows for designers, architects, contractors, developers, and local authority building control surveyors. The LABC roadshow has visited dozens of venues across England and Wales, ensuring these updates have as wide a reach as possible.

Working with manufacturers, trade bodies, distributors and industry experts LABC delivers popular morning seminars, that are free of charge. There's no shortage of information, and this is served up in six bite-sized chunks between 8.30 and midday, with sessions on solutions to common issues, best practice, and defect avoidance.

The drainage and water management session from Polypipe Building Services addresses issues such as how landlords and building owners can replace stacks in high-rise residential buildings without moving occupiers out or compromising compartmentation and fire protection.

Acoustic failure is an all too common issue for housebuilders and contractors undertaking conversions, and LABC Acoustics therefore offers UKAS-accredited sound insulation testing as required by Approved Document E. It also provides design and consultancy, noise and vibration survey services, and assistance at planning permission stage. Its session focuses on practical advice for builders to avoid defects and non-compliance.

There are also regular presentations from Actis Insulation, addressing the performance gap using reflective products. The performance gap – the discrepancy between the designed and as-built energy performance of buildings – sadly does not appear to have gone away.

The Zero Carbon Hub's evidence review report of 2014 states that: 'There is now clear evidence of a gap between the designed and as-built energy performance of new homes'. The reasons have also been attested by the Hackitt review and Passivhaus Trust studies among others, so the Actis session concentrates on the role that developers, designers and regulators must all play in closing the gap.

Thermal performance in roof window installation and the provision of natural light in a thermally efficient way ties into this theme, and is the topic for a session by Keylite. Meanwhile, off-site innovations and the prevention of thermal bridging in lintels and masonry support is covered by Keystone, the chairman and founder of which Sean Coyle was a building control surveyor who spotted a gap in the market.

Abbey Pynford's substructure experts in turn present a session focusing on brownfield and second-use sites, and how it is possible to make more cost-effective and sustainable choices for ground floors and foundations. Guest sessions have included presentations on Legionella prevention and building owners' responsibilities from Swiftclean, and the firm has also presented to certain audiences on preventing the duct fires that are often caused by a lack of cleaning and maintenance.

Given the different legislative context, the recent event in Swansea also included an interesting session on the requirement for domestic sprinklers in all new dwellings in Wales, with practical guidance on the need for tanks and pumps where an adequate water supply cannot be guaranteed. This was presented by RSP Sprinklers Wales, an active member of the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, and was particularly well received by the Welsh delegates.

Other highlights included LABC Warranty's focus on preventing defects and claims, and on how to get things right first time, reducing costs, health issues, and of course the headlines that are troubling consumers, housebuilders, regulators and government today. LABC rounded off the morning of learning and networking with a topical update on regulations, standards, competency and compliance.

Anna Thompson FRICS is LABC head of business development anna.thompson@labc.co.uk

Related competencies include: Construction technology and environmental services

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