Hugh Harkin of Kytun Dry Roofing Products discusses the new British Standard for roofing and why these regulations matter
Dry fix systems have sparked plenty of debate since the 1980s when they were first introduced onto the market. Driven by the perceived benefits brought about by dry fix systems, their use has significantly increased over the past few years. Their popularity has led to an influx in equivalent products entering the market typically offered at lower price points. Market research has revealed difficulties among specifiers in distinguishing the difference between these fittings and systems. Construction experts highlight that although these products may look similar in design, their quality can vary significantly, making it incredibly difficult for contractors to choose suitable dry fix systems.
As a result of the significant increases in warranty claims in the construction sector and growing concerns surrounding severe weather, investigations were triggered to identify the cause. The findings revealed the attributable causes were product failures and inconsistencies in the component quality. Furthermore, it highlighted the lack of awareness about the quality and performance differences between products.
This concern was recognised by the BSI roofing committee, which includes representatives from the NHBC. To address concerns they have developed a new British Standard specifically for dry fix ridge and hip systems which are connected to timber ridge, hip battens, ridge boards or hip rafters and installed with slating and tiling. This is a significant step for the construction industry, introducing a statutory instrument beyond BS 5534 to govern these products. The introduction of the new standard BS 8612 which comes into immediate effect, will ensure consistency of quality across products. Although it is not law, it will help to ensure an improvement in the standard of products used in roof specifications. It will define the standards that are expected from these materials, such as performance, durability, mechanical fixing and weathertightness to name but a few. It is proposed that these standards will apply to products including verges, ridges and hips, but will exclude valleys and eaves. It will therefore be essential that specifiers state their compliance to the British Standard, or this may present a risk to contractors utilising a sub-standard product.
To achieve and ensure compliance with the new standard, manufacturers need to take necessary steps to protect their quality standards and reputation. This will require products to be rigorously tested to exacting standards with confidence that the products are durable, even during rare and extreme weather events. This requires manufacturers, and those within the supply chain, to work together to achieve an engineering system which is compliant with the new standard.
Although the installation process is outside of the remit of BS 8612, it is vital that contractors source dry fix systems from reputable and established roofing manufacturers and that they adhere to the guidance specific to each system they are installing. This can also help contractors to achieve maximum customer satisfaction, reduce call backs, retain their reputation and protect their liabilities for a project in the event of any future claims. BS 8612 also introduces new guidance on dry verge fixing. In particular, dry verge products can no longer be installed using a single nail fixing into the end grain of a batten. Instead, a mechanical engagement must be made to the faces of the batten. Manufacturers can further foster relationships with contractors, while also helping to support the installation process, through the provision of technical support and product-specific training. Taking these steps can help close skills gaps within the construction industry, reduce inaccurate product installations and increase product knowledge and awareness.
At Kytun, we welcome the introduction of BS 8612, as like BS 5534, it will help further to make pitched roofing in the UK and Ireland more secure. We believe that it should improve consistency and quality of products, while helping to reduce the wide range of inferior systems on the market. We appreciate that BS 8612 is not a legal requirement, but we would openly encourage all specifiers to ensure their supply chain is using complaint products within their projects. A more collaborative approach to addressing quality concerns can seek to reduce the increased scrutiny that the pitched roofing industry currently faces.
Hugh Harkin is the technical & innovation manager at Kytun Dry Roofing Products