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Last Call on Part L 2010

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on March 2, 2015 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)

This is a last reminder to Clients who appointed us ahead of the implementation of Part L 2013 that the deadline for commencement of works  is almost upon us.

There is just over 1 month remaining to meet the transitional provisions put in place under Part L for applications deposited prior to 6 April 2014 that requires work to commence on site before 6 April 2015.


In order to qualify as 'commencement of work' we will need to have undertaken an inspection of


  • excavation for strip or trench foundations or for pad footings
  • digging out and preparation of ground for raft foundations
  • vibrofloatation (stone columns) piling, boring for piles or pile driving
  • drainage work specific to the building(s) concerned


DCLG have stated that we cannot accept the following as the commencement of work

  • removal of vegetation, top soil or removal/treatment of contaminated soil
  • demolition of any previous buildings on the site
  • excavation of trial holes
  • dynamic compaction
  • general site servicing works (e.g. roadways).


If the application relates to multiple buildings it is only necessary to commence work on the first of the buildings within the application to take advantage of the transitional provisions, not each individual building.

If you are unable to commence works by this date then it will be necessary to revise the thermal design (SAP/SBEM) in order to comply with the higher 2013 standards.

New CDM rules for domestic clients from April

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on February 25, 2015 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

Regulation 7 application to domestic clients


Where the client is a domestic client the duties must be carried out by the contractor for a project where there is only one contractor; the principal contractor for a project where there is more than one contractor; or the principal designer where there is a written agreement that the principal designer will fulfil those duties. If a domestic client fails to make the appointments required by Regulation 5 the designer in control of the pre-construction phase of the project is the principal designer and the contractor in control of the construction phase of the project is the principal contractor.

Definition of a domestic client:

A domestic client is someone who has construction work done on their own home, or the home of a family member, which is not done in connection with a business. Local authorities, housing associations, charities, landlords and other businesses may own domestic properties, but they are not a domestic client for the purposes of CDM 2015. If the work is in connection with a business attached to domestic premises, such as a shop, the client is not a domestic client.

Duties of a domestic client:

A domestic client is not required to carry out the duties placed on commercial clients in Regulations 4 (client duties for managing projects), notification nor general duties. Where the project involves only one contractor, client duties must instead be carried out by the contractor. The contractor must then carry out client duties, as well as the duties they already have as contractor for the project. In practice, this should involve doing little more to manage the work to ensure health & safety. Where the project involves more than one contractor, client duties must instead be carried out by the principal contractor as well as the duties they already have as principal contractor. If the domestic client has not appointed a principal contractor then the duties of the client will be carried out by the contractor in control of the construction work.

In many situations, domestic clients wishing to extend, refurbish or demolish parts of their own property will, in the first instance, engage an architect or other designer to produce possible designs for them. It is also recognised that construction work does not always follow immediately after design work is completed. If they so wish, a domestic client has the flexibility of agreeing, in writing, with their designer that the designer coordinates and manages the project, rather than this role automatically passing to the principal contractor.

Where no such agreement is made, then the principal contractor will automatically take over the project management responsibilities.

Charlie Hebdo

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on January 7, 2015 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Easy target

Terrorists have found that security surrounding military and Government facilities’ has improved significantly since 9/11 and at the same time organizations such as Al-Qaida have become more splintered, with less training, funding and access to weapons and explosives. As a result they are turning their attention towards easier-to-hit targets such as we saw in France today with the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

In fact the 2008 attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai marked a turning point in extremist activity and a study by STRATFOR (the subscriber funded US Intelligence gathering body) concluded that the number of such attacks has more than doubled since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, when compared with the 8 year period before.


Obviously, it is important to ensure that the response is proportionate Particularly relevant to protective security are the specific requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to carry out adequate risk assessments and put suitable measures in place to manage the identified risks. Even where they are not of your making and are outside your direct control, you need to be alert to the need to conduct prompt and regular reviews of those assessments and measures in light of new threats and development.

It should also be remembered that terrorism can come in many forms, not just a physical attack on life and limb. Terrorism also includes threats or hoaxes designed to frighten and intimidate or attacks designed to cause disruption and economic damage. It can include interference with vital operational, information or communication system, which can have a major affect on the businesses ability to operate. Some attacks are easier to carry out if the terrorist is assisted by an ‘insider’ or by someone with specialist knowledge or access. 

What you can do 

The first step is to understand your premises, identifying the threats to it, and its vulnerability to those threats. Ideally you should review and test current safety arrangements, audit them and as a result improve planning and response. In particular you should ensure adequate training, information and equipment are provided to all staff, and especially to those involved directly on the safety and security side. 

In most cases simple good practice – coupled with vigilance and well exercised contingency arrangements – may be all that is needed. If, however, you assess that you are vulnerable to attack, you should apply appropriate protective security measures to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable.

Step One: Identify the threat - understanding the terrorist's intentions and capabilities - what they might do and how they might do it - is crucial to assessing threat. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the current state of alert - Visit or check media
  • Is there anything about the location of your premises, its customers, occupiers and staff, or your activities that would particularly attract a terrorist attack?
  • Is there an association with high profile individuals or organisations which might be terrorist targets?
  • Do you have procedures in place and available for deployment on occasions when VIPs attend your premises?
  • Could collateral damage occur from an attack on, or another incident to a high risk neighbour?
  • Is there any aspect of your business or activities that terrorists might wish to exploit to aid their work, e.g. plans, technical expertise or unauthorised access?

Step Two: Decide what you need to protect and identify the vulnerabilities:

Your priorities for protection should fall under the following categories:

  • People (staff, visitors, concessionaires, contractors)
  • Physical assets (buildings, contents, equipment, plans and sensitive materials)
  • Information (electronic and paper data)
  • Processes (supply chains, critical procedures)

Step Three: Identify measures to reduce risk 

An integrated approach to security is essential. This involves thinking about physical security, information security and personnel security. There is little point investing in costly security measures if they can be easily undermined by a disaffected member of staff or by a lax recruitment process. In the run up to a busy period it is easy to fall into the trap of being desperate for additional staff, and so be willing to circumvent normal background checks. 

Remember, terrorism is a crime and many of the security precautions typically used to deter criminals are also effective against terrorists. Before you invest in additional security measures, review what you already have in place. You may already have a good security regime on which you can build. You should have measures in place to limit access into service or back of house corridors and vehicle access control measures into goods and service yards.

Staff may be unaware of existing security measures, or may have developed habits to circumvent them, e.g. short cuts through fire exits. Simply reinstating good basic security practices and regularly reviewing them will bring benefits at negligible cost. If you need additional security measures, then make them cost-effective by careful planning wherever possible. Try to introduce new equipment or procedures in conjunction with planned building work and remember that significant changes may require statutory consents such as planning permission or building regulations consent.

Step Four: Review your security measures 

You should regularly review and exercise your plans to ensure that they remain accurate, workable and up-to-date. You should be aware of the need to modify them to take into account any changes (e.g. recent or planned building work, changes to personnel, information and communication systems and revised health and safety issues). Rehearsals and exercises should wherever possible, be conducted in conjunction with emergency services and local authorities. 

Make sure that your staff understand and accept the need for security measures and that security is seen as part of everyone's responsibility, not merely something for security experts or professionals. Make it easy for people to raise concerns or report unusual activity and ensure that you investigate such observations. 


The government have recently consulted on bringing Security under the Building Regulations and have created a draft Approved Document Q though this currently only extends to dwellings. I would like to see this extended under powers created by Andrew Stunnells' Secure and Sustainable Buildings Bill to encompass the relevant guidance for public buildings produced by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office alongside the Royal Institute of British Architects see

This Blog includes material from an article by Chris Phillips that first appeared in Big Hospitality News

HSE Policy on Timber Frame

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on December 22, 2014 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Following the recent prosecution of Architects who specified Timber Frame without adequate consideration of construction phase fire safety; the HSE has taken the unusual step of writing an open letter to the whole Construction Industry - reproduced below. If you are concerned how this may affect any projects you are currently working on please contact us via the Enquiry Page

Open letter to all parties involved in the design, specification, procurement and construction of timber frame structures

The purpose of this letter is to explain HSE’s expectations in relation to the management of fire risks prior to and during the construction of timber frame structures. The letter has been produced in cooperation with the Structural Timber Association (STA), which represents the industry’s manufacturers and suppliers. STA and HSE are working together to promote a better understanding of fire risk management throughout all parts of the supply chain, including those outside STA’s membership. The standards to be achieved are the same regardless of trade body membership or otherwise.

HSE’s approach to off site fire risks during the construction phase of timber frame structures

Fire precautions during the construction of timber frame structures fall within HSE’s remit. For any project, regardless of the construction method, duty holders have legal responsibilities to ensure the safety and health of workers and those who might be affected by their work activities, including those arising from fire risks. Serious incidents have arisen where fires involving timber frame structures under construction have affected neighbouring buildings. Consequently, HSE has worked with the STA to produce guidance on reducing the risk of harm to people in buildings adjacent to the construction site.


All those making design and procurement decisions that significantly affect fire risk should consider and reduce the risk and consequences of fire during the construction phase through DESIGN. Failure so to do may constitute a material breach1 for which HSE will apply its Fee for Intervention scheme those duty holders who have contributed to the breach.

Detailed Explanation

Regulation 11 of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM)requires risks to be considered and eliminated/reduced so far as is reasonably practicable through the design process. This duty is imposed on anyone who makes decisions affecting the design, including, for example, architects, structural engineers, clients, suppliers, principal and other contractors and even those involved in the planning approval process where they specify particular construction methods or products. This is explained in HSG 168 Fire in Construction

The primary legal responsibility for assessing off-site fire risk rests with those making design and procurement decisions before work starts on site. Designers and manufacturers of timber frame structures duties under CDM Regulation 11 cannot be passed on to the Principal Contractor. Risk should be designed out as far as is reasonably practicable and information about residual risk passed to the Principal Contractor. The Principal Contractor is obliged to consider and manage risks arising from the activities under their control at the site stage.

The STA’s publication ”Design guide to separating distances during construction has been produced with HSE’s input and provides guidance on assessing the off site fire risk from timber frame structures under construction. Although the title of the document “Design Guide to Separating Distances During Construction” might imply that the guidance is for use during construction, it is intended to be used at the design and procurement stages of a project.

HSE commends the STA for the substantial work carried out to produce this guidance, promote its use and make it freely available to all rather than being restricted to STA members. Although following the guidance is not compulsory, it does provide a practical means of complying with legal requirements. If an alternative approach to the guidance is used, a competent person with fire engineering qualifications and experience will need to determine the risks and to identify appropriate controls. The persons involved should justify their decsions and recommendations in terms of risk, rather than cost.

Evidence from recent HSE inspections indicates that the risk of harm to occupants of neighbouring buildings from fire during the construction phase is not always effectively managed through either of the options above, and that not all duty holders understand what is required of them.

For a proposed structure, the STA guidance enables minimum separation distances to be determined. Where space does not provide the separation distances required for a Category A structure, it provides guidance on selecting alternative timber frame structures to provide an adequate level of fire protection to neighbours during the construction phase. If a Category B or C structure or alternative fire engineered solution is needed, then it should be specified when the timber frame is being procured. Everyone in the supply chain has a responsibility to work towards this end. Anyone in the supply chain who makes a decision, which significantly affects fire safety during construction, should be prepared to justify that decision. If fire safety considerations are left to a late stage in the design development of the project, there is an increased potential that the solutions will be inconsistent in approach and less effective if there is a fire, and more time consuming and expensive to implement. Appropriate mitigation methods should always be developed before construction work starts on site.

In practical terms HSE expects:

  • An assessment of the particular site and its constraints when the method of construction is being considered.
  • For timber framed structures, assessment can be undertaken using STA’s ‘Design guide to separating distances during construction’.
  • The assessment should identify that where there is insufficient separation distance to allow a Category A structure, the appropriate level of Category B or C to match the site constraints (unless an alternative fire engineered solution is developed by a competent person) should be recommended.
  • The appropriate category frame should be specified to the manufacturers.
  • Timber frame manufacturers, including non-STA members have a significant role to play in ensuring appropriate specification and procurement of frames. Manufacturers should be advising their customers of the guidance and requirements. Use of the STA audit checklist may assist manufacturers in compiling records to demonstrate the steps they have taken to discharge their obligations under CDM Regulation 11 and record who has made specific decisions.
  • Any specific information and instructions that must be followed to guarantee the specified category or approved solution to be achieved on site must be passed to the Principal Contractor.
  • The Principal Contractor must adhere to the conditions required to achieve the specified category of structure.
  • The Principal Contractor must devise and apply appropriate fire precautions during the build, including control of hot works, provision of fire warning and extinguishing systems, provision of means of escape etc.

HSG 168 was published in October 2010 and version 1 of the STA’s (then UKTFA) guidance was published in Dec 2011. Sufficient time has elapsed that knowledge and application of the guidance should now be embedded. HSE inspectors expect duty holders to comply with CDM Regulation 11 using this guidance to assist. Where a duty holder chooses not to follow the STA guidance but to implement a fire-engineered solution, standards of the equivalence to the guidance should be adopted. Duty holders should expect that in the latter circumstances, if lower standards are adopted then HSE may consider there to have been a material breach of health and safety law attracting charges under our Fee for Intervention Scheme 


Simon Longbottom

Head of Construction Sector and Policy


2014 a year in review

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on December 22, 2014 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (0)

2014 has been quite a year for us highlights of which have included being interviewed by Angela Rippon on prime time BBC TV, making the Finals of the West London Business Awards in 2 categories and retaining our 2013 title as AI Fire Safety Consultant of the Year again in the 2014 Legal Awards.


We have welcomed 4 new staff to our team in 2014 - Martin Jackson, Alba Perez, Graeme West, and Stuart Skilton, whilst Ron Woodhall has retired.


2015 looks to be a equally busy year as works commence on projects deposited prior to April 2014 in order to preserve the 2010 Part L approvals. We will be writing to everyone affected by this in January so you can mobilise contractors as necessary.


We are closing at lunchtime on Christmas Eve, and returning on 5th January so on behalf of everyone here can I wish you a Very Merry Christmas and look forward to working with you again in the New Year.




Its all in the detail.

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on December 22, 2014 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)


2014 will be remembered as the year that the new Part L finally arrived. Although thanks to the transitional provisions the full effects won't be felt until next year.


For those who don't remember the Transitional Provisions meant that applications submitted before April 2014 continued to be designed under the old regulations, and therefore many architects and technicians may still be unfamiliar with designing to the new regs. All this will change in April 2015 as the exemption runs out unless the project has commenced on site - it may be worth reminding your clients of this!


The key change is that the new Part L regulations focus primarily on the energy efficiency values of building elements, and far less reliance can be placed on 'Eco-Bling'. The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) used to measure compliance with these regulations now includes a new set of targets called Target Fabric Energy Efficiency Rate (TFEE) alongside the metrics that you are already familiar with. As attention now turns to achieving this TFEE Target Fabric, heat loss through ‘thermal bridges’ will become more significant. Thermal bridges occur at junctions between elements and can be one of the most influential factors that affect a dwellings SAP under the new system.


Thermal performance of bridges are measured in terms of psi value i.e. linear thermal transmittance and will now need to be calculated using specialist thermal modelling software. If you are building in line with Accredited Construction Details (ACDs) you can expect your psi-Value to be around 0.08, whilst Enhanced Construction Details (ECD’s) are around 0.04 which means very little heat is lost through thermal bridges. Contrast that with a worst-case value of 0.15 which is applied if you are not adopting ACD/ECD’s and multiply it by all the individual thermal bridges of a building and you can see why it has such an effect. For even a basic house there are likely to be at least 10 different psi values affected and depending on design choices there could be as many as 30!


As a result of the changes some of the products you are used to specifying may no longer be economic to use, so the industry has been focusing on researching and developing new products. Keep an eye out for them in 2015.


100K fine for Block Management Company

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on June 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The managing agent of a block of flats in London has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay almost £13,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaches of fire safety law.

Douglas and Gordon Ltd pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Southwark crown court in June. The leasehold owner of the premises in Gloucester Terrace, Paddington, Atomlynn Ltd, was fined £33,000 after pleading guilty to one offence under the Order and ordered to pay costs of £6,440.

A fire risk assessment had been carried out but the managing agent and leaseholder had failed to act on its significant findings, said London Fire Brigade. These included the failure to make an emergency plan, ensuring that fire doors were self-closing and installing emergency lighting.

Assistant commissioner for fire safety regulation, Steve Turek, said: “London Fire Brigade will continue to take action against managing agents, lease owners or landlords who do not take their fire safety responsibilities seriously. Failure to comply with the law can, as this case has shown, result in a prosecution.”

In a statement issued following the sentence, Douglas and Gordon Ltd (D&G) said:

"D&G and its legal and technical advisors were surprised at the level of the fine as they believed the breaches represented a low level of risk, the avoidance of which is the central criteria for implementing fire precautions under the Order.

"The introduction of the Order has caused difficulties for landlords, managing agents, consultants and enforcing authorities alike when it comes to applying the legislation to blocks of flats like Gloucester Terrace.

Faults in Google's NEST come home to roost?

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on April 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Guest Blog

By Natasha Sabin


Is the Nest Protect fit for purpose?


A few months or so ago, the Nest Protect smoke and CO detector was hitting the headlines.

It was the shiny new smart detector that promised to make safety more convenient and less annoying. And it could be programmed via any internet connected device. The company that made them, Nest Labs, was Google’s latest acquisition that the conglomerate $3.2bn!

Could this be the start of the connected smart home we’ve all been dreaming of?

For example, rather than wailing at the slightest sign of burnt toast, the detector will give you an early warning. If the device does go off, you can silence it with a wave of your hand promised Google. Even better, the detector can communicate with Nest Labs’ thermostat. If too much CO is detected, your detector will be able to tell your thermostat to switch off the gas.

It sounds pretty snazzy. But are we sacrificing safety for convenience? Or does the convenience of the detectors make it easier for you to be safe? After all – it beats having a detector with a high pitched squeal that pushed you to the point of tearing it’s batteries out, thus rendering it useless.

Well first the product was hit by news of a study conducted by Consumer Reports found that the system was difficult to set up, which is a frustration when one of the detector’s boasts is that it makes life easier. Then it was discovered that the detectors are only strong at detecting a certain type of fire.  As the nest detector has a photoelectric sensor,  it’s great at detecting slow, smouldering fires. It’s not so great at picking up fast burning fires, which are best detected with an ionisation sensor, something the Nest Protect model is lacking.

And now there is worse news still as Google has admitted that the detector can be accidently turned off by one of its own key features. Nest Chief Tony Fadell was forced to admit in the London Evening Standard that the alarm can be deactivated by accident if people have waived there arms at it. Mr Faddell who previously helped Apple to develop the iPod said whilst unlikely "the fact that it can even potentially happen is extremely important to me and I want to address it immeadiately".

Sales of the product have now been halted and existing users are being advised to switch off the "gesture control" feature while it tries to fix the problem.

Natasha Sabin is a guest blogger from London City Fire Protection, specialist fire alarm installers in London. Visit their website ; to read more fire safety guides.

Green Deal - Do you need Building Regs

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on April 8, 2014 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has confirmed some additional measures that will be introduced into the Green Deal, and provided guidance to clarify where such measures are notifiable building work under the Building Regulations

The following table sets out the new measures which DECC have confirmed will be introduced within the domestic Green Deal later this year . It also confirms whether in the Department’s opinion they are notifiable building work under the Building Regulations; and whether there are competent person schemes for the measures. Where notifiable work was carried out by an installer not registered with a competent person scheme it would need to be notified to a building control body in advance in the normal way.

More information on the new measures is available at:

Construction Phase Fire Risk Assessments

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on March 4, 2014 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (0)

This is a reminder to consider fire at the early stages of a construction project. Sometimes site conditions will be so difficult that alternative designs/ construction methods and materials should be considered at the outset.


Construction site fires are relatively rare, but often devastating and potentially fatal, not just to those on site but to neighbours too. Preventing and limiting the effect of a construction site fire depends on good initial design and planning and managing the risk throughout the build.


Construction dutyholders are legally required under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and the Regulatory Reform Order /Fire Scotland Act 2005 to identify the risks of fire and manage the key issues of general site fire safety. The key issues of which are


1. Risk assessment


2. Means of escape


3. Means of giving warning


4. Means of fighting fire


Certain building types are more vulnerable to fire during the construction phase when the final building regulation requirements are not yet in place, for example high rise construction and timber frame construction. Refurbishment projects can also present a higher fire risk. HSE expects higher additional precautions to be taken on sites that present a higher risk of fire.


Where the lives of people in adjacent properties are at risk from a fire on a construction site, an off the site assessment of the spread of fire to neighbouring buildings should be considered. The Structural Timber Association (formerly the UK Timber Frame Association) has free downloads of design guides on separating distances if you are considering building in timber frame.


All dutyholders in the supply chain should be actively communicating risks and controls of fire during the construction phase. Avoiding process fire hazards involves storing combustible materials safely away from sources of ignition. Further guidance for clients, designers and those managing and carrying out construction work involving significant fire risks can be found at HSG 168 Fire Safety in Construction.


We have experience of writing contruction phase fire risk assements for large and small projects, new build and refurbishment for clients including Lovell, JLL, and James Taylor. We have sucessfully worked with clients in the past to remove HSE enforcement notices, and to satisfy landlords requirements, to discuss your sepcific requirements please use our enquiry form.