Report on East Devon Agents' Forum

Report on East Devon Agents' Forum Image

The South West Region would like to thank East Devon District Council for opening its doors to Architects, Building Control Surveyors, Surveyors, Project Managers and Building Agents as hosts to this event.

The morning session was held in collaboration with CABE, LABC and East Devon’s Building Control department and provided four hours’ CPD free to attendees. The subject area covered closing the insulation performance gap, below ground and structural waterproofing and the framework of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

This event gave the delegates the opportunity to gain a number of learning outcomes from each presentation as well as valuable opportunities to network with each other and the speakers. I am pleased to say that attendees travelled from as far as 30 miles away to attend the event. It also gave an opportunity for me to highlight the benefits of CABE to a number of delegates who are not members. Furthermore, it was good to chat with some delegates who are at the start of their career and let them know that they are able to tap into the experience of the South West members when undertaking their journey to full membership.

SW Agents ForumA special thank you goes out to John Buckley, the Area Sales Manager for the South West of England for Actis Insulation. I was glad that he was able to step in at very short notice to fill the slot left by Andy Longman of Proctor Group who had to cancel after breaking his wrist in the snow. We will, of course, look to host Andy Longman at a South West venue just as soon as he is on the mend. We are looking forward to our presentation on minimising condensation in roof spaces and an introduction to aerogel insulation.

John Buckley presented on ‘closing the performance gap using reflective insulation’. The learning outcomes delivered made it clear as to what the performance gap means in terms of the delivery of physical buildings on site as opposed to meeting the aspirations provided on the building plans and set out carbon emission calculations or U-value calculations where product ratings are based on laboratory results. He reported that when post occupancy testing took place there was a discrepancy in 50% of the U-values calculated.

He further discussed the importance of SI values and the differential figures given when default, accredited or enhanced details were being used. It was the first time I had heard the term ‘wind washing’ in a presentation; this is the effectiveness of an insulation subject to air flow from cross flow ventilation. This can be particularly prevalent with mineral wool insulations.

John went on to talk about the ACTIS Hybris, Hcontrol and Boost ‘R’ Hybrid insulations and explained the testing regime for these products. He explained the benefits created by ease of fitting which can result in better fitting insulation and a speedier insulation process. He explained that multi foil insulation tends to sit between PIR insulation and wools in terms of lambda values with a general rule of thumb being PIR’s 0.22, Multi foils 0.33 and mineral wools achieving 0.44.

Our next speaker was Tom Dear from Timberwise. He gave a presentation on the considerations that are required to minimise the risk of water ingress in below ground structures. He discussed guidance and standards set out in BS 8102 2009 – The Code of Practice for protection of below ground structures against water from the ground and additional requirements that may be applied by the CML accredited Warranty providers. Both standards are above the minimum requirements of the Building Regulations which cite the 1990 version of BS 8102, albeit that the tanking solutions are the same in principle. Tom gave the message that a tanking designer should ‘prepare to fail’, in that a system should be designed to be accessible and maintainable or that a combination of types of tanking should be applied to allow for failure of a primary system.

Tom explained the three types of tanking system: A, Internal or external tanking, B, Structurally integral protection and C, Internal drained cavity protection with either a gravity-fed or pumped drainage system. Tom explained the importance of ground water drainage and water depressurisation. He explained the effect that a moderate amount of ground water can have on a plain concrete slab that does not possess any reinforcement and how the slab can fail through shear. Tom finished by running through some case studies of remedial works and how good planning could have avoided defects in the first instance.

Our final speaker, after a planned networking break, was Dennis Venn MRICS MCIArb Party Wall Surveyor at Vickery Holman, speaking on behalf of the Pyramus & Thisbe Club. He explained that the group’s name comes from the characters of Pyramus and Thisbe from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream where the two lovers are separated and communicate through a crack in the wall. The group played a pivotal role in the framing of the present Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and he also explained that the first Party Wall legislation came as result of the Great Fire of London in 1666.

SW Agents Forum 2He explained that the Act is an enabling Act and is in existence to aid building whilst protecting the rights of all parties involved. He explained that a party wall surveyor acts on behalf of the party wall or structure only and not on behalf of either party. Dennis further discussed that his involvement as a Party Wall Surveyor was not to mediate over boundary disputes or where structures can be built. He did explain that any part of a building over a boundary line is trespass. He explained the time frames of notices and awards, and iterated that if work is carried out outside the time frame of the Act that the Party Wall etc. Act cannot be used retrospectively, or where an award has been given and work has not commenced within the specified time frames the notices and award must be recommenced.

Dennis gave a number of well referenced examples designed to get the audience thinking about projects they had been involved in. He explained the distances and positioning of foundations in terms of award, distances from boundaries and building and gave the example of piled foundation design and how party wall agreements may have to be sought with neighbours and adjacent properties to neighbours and even properties across a street to potential works.

He explained the framework where agreement cannot be made and explained the third surveyor principle. He gave examples of where the Act has assisted all parties in projects, such as being able to improve a party wall and being able to develop further accommodation by accepting that removing a resident, compensating them and replacing can create a positive scenario for all parties.

I would like to thank all the speakers for their excellent presentations and I am sure that the whole audience learned something or can now apply something to their projects from subject areas covered.

A further CPD event will be held at this venue in September and further CPD events in the South West are being published. It is always nice to see CABE members at the events we put on. I urge anyone who interested to come along. If you would like events put on in your local area please feel free to contact me and our regional team can assist you.

Robert Gary, South West Regional Chairman

03 April 2018

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