Fire tests, phoenix companies, offsite: Readers’ comments

26 September 2018

Fire tests: challenging a burnt-out system

CM 5 September 

There seems to be no guidance at all in the UK on curtain walling. That a fire will melt through aluminium very fast, and a paltry BS 476 firestop between the floor and a curtain wall will then be ineffective, seems obvious. But having repeatedly had a contractor argue the point, I have to wonder why this design guidance is so lacking.


I have carried out a number of 8414 tests on systems using vented fire breaks that are currently being approved by building control on high-rise buildings. These types of intumescent fire breaks fail to last seven minutes and even the suppliers confirm they are combustible and have only been tested between two masonry walls.


The Australian AS5113 assessment is more stringent than BR135 and one the UK should consider. We all need to note that if 100% polyethelene ACM was put to this test when ACM was in its infancy, we would not have lost so many souls. “Bench testing” allowed 100% PE onto the market.

Daron Hodder

Government crackdown on phoenix companies

CM, 28 August

If their credit record were publicly “marked” then the threat of negligence proceedings would discourage banks and equity financiers from backing them further.

The shysters avoid taking risk with their own money, so to dump their cost onto their backers would be interesting. Note that they do seem to have little difficulty finding backers.

Ed Martin

It happens at small-scale too. I got freelance work with a QS firm and was owed thousands but the firm didn’t pay a bean, on account that they were going through liquidation at the same time without telling me. All the permanent staff were informed without any notice and had to claim from the government. The sole director was MRICS, so I complained to them. Did they give a monkey’s?

Jonathan Hill

Offsite: Does it deliver on its quality promises?

CM, 31 August

As a retired professional, with over 50 years in the building industry – a former carpenter and joiner, with a five-year apprenticeship, and 30 years of supervising building projects – I have been interested in the discussions regarding the poor standards of completed buildings, especially housing.

Although the argument of completing components in factory conditions sounds to some people the answer, the problem often lies in getting the fundamentals right from foundations and setting out correctly, equal measurements, buildings plumb and level.

Whatever happened to storey rods, levels at foundations and damp-proof course levels? If you do not start right, what chance have you of a satisfactory finish?

Letter from an 88-year-old reader Norman Pert FICWCI, ACIOB

ISG launches new construction qualification

CM, 11 September

The resources that ISG have put behind this qualification are huge. All of the ISG employees engaged in this game-changing effort should be highly commended.

This company clearly takes its responsibility to the industry and the future of education seriously by “aiming high” and applying crystal clear logic is a selfless and genuine act.

The WJEC should also be applauded for having the foresight to develop a contemporary qualification that can be delivered in the classroom. First class!

Howard Davies

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