Grenfell Tower Cladding – One Year On.

Grenfell Tower CladdingWe’re a little over a year away from the awful fire of Grenfell Tower. it is suspected that an appliance fire spread faster than normal (due to unsafe materials) through a building costing over 80 lives.

Without a doubt this tragedy should never have happened and it is thought that if better oversight had stopped the Grenfell Tower Cladding being used then this maybe could have been avoided. Many in the construction industry had the realization that it would take a cataclysmic failure (though we hoped it wouldn’t cost lives) to stop the constant cost cutting within the cladding and construction industry.

 

You might ask yourself, Why is cladding so popular? The truth is, that for the most part, it is because it’s quick and easy to install and it can be so aesthetically pleasing, especially if done right.

However, if we are to carry on with the cladding being the popular choice of architects and designers, we need to instill confidence into the end user that they will be safe inside every cladded building. So why stop at the cladding and insulation?

The industry has to be better, from top to bottom moving forward, I would suggest proper training, as in apprenticeships, abolishing NVQ’s entirely (on the job assessments are hardly training at all), on the back of that, the return of QUALITY products – The word “Quality” must return to the construction industry as soon as possible.

In the last three decades we have seen aluminium cladding like the Grenfell Tower Cladding gradually reduce in thickness until its paper thin. We have no doubt that cost cutting has had a detrimental effect on most materials within the construction industry. This race to the bottom (pricing wise) has got to stop.

It has been suggested that “In-tumescent” strips within the cladding may have helped in the Grenfell Tower Cladding in preventing the spread of fire, but if the insulation is combustible, the in-tumescent strips would have been surpassed by flames before it could have taken effect. It seems pretty shocking that the actual insulation had not been fire tested. Especially as when you think of the “chimney” effect that cladding, by its very design creates.

 

We at Gapple are proud to be a member of the IRF (In-Situ Repair Federation).

Insitu Repair Federation

The IRF represent the interests of an ever growing number of “repair” specialists within the construction industry. After all, if we are going to repair and respray cladding panels, we expect to be safe in the knowledge that our repair systems and techniques would not contribute to such a disaster as Grenfell.

The IRF are advocating for all Repair Systems to be tested prior to any materials being used on site as well as pushing to get all Repair Technicians approved to apply such repair systems, so that the architect/owner/main contractor are safe in the knowledge that all repairs will be done professionally and will not create a major issue or liability.

With all of the pointless legislation and qualifications we currently have to face out there, which, although we comply with, we find the logic hard to agree with at times. We are pleased to at last we have a body that is forward thinking and are totally on the ball when it comes to the repair industry. This means that ALL of our clients can be safe in the knowledge that our repair systems have been approved as fit for purpose and safe.

 

In conclusion I hope the horror of the Grenfell Tower disaster can affect real change through how the industry as a whole operates and be a forging moment in ensuring this cant happen again.

I for one want to “Bring the quality back”.