Thursday, 21 February 2019

Taking A Stand For Common Sense

Throughout our many years of building standards work, Smith & Garratt has never had to dig in heels over a decision by a local authority building control department.  This changed when we proposed a ‘cold’ flat roof to close over a valley between panels of traditional Scotch slate at a listed former manse.  Our scheme removes a vulnerable water trap and provides an attic bathroom.  The existing roofs have an air gap below the sarking, which we propose to continue beneath our flat roof (which slopes at around 4°).  Our interstitial condensation risk-assessment shows that our make-up is safe from condensation … even if used 62.5° North at Timra in Sweden!  The local authority declined to make an exception to the general preference for ‘warm’ flat roofs and advised referring the case for Technical Interpretation.  By this means the case is examined by a panel of building standards officers from neighbouring authorities and, where they arrive at a unanimous view, it is to be adopted.  Where Local Consortium view is split, as in this case, the matter is referred to the National Consortium for LABSS Dispute Resolution.  The National Consortium decided, by a majority vote, to support our ‘cold’ flat roof; the dissenting minority requested clarification of detail; and so, having clarified the detail, we are able to deliver the right solution for a safe and sustainable improvement to this special building.  We could find no statistics concerning the use of the dispute resolution process, but it is rare ... so rare, in fact, that most people believe they must do as building inspectors demand.  We find they are usually knowledgeable, helpful and correctly interpret the guidance … but for those circumstances where they do not, be assured that help is at hand.