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Newsletter No 48 - October 2017

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Report Overview

It was announced by the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on 5 September that SCOSS have been asked for advice on matters relating to the safety of tall residential buildings. To help with this work additional reports are wanted on: • Fire safety events or concerns • Cladding failures (any type) and concerns • Any tall building safety events or concerns They should be sent to the report page on the web site, can relate from any time from 1968 to the present, and will be treated in confidence. In its first review in 1977, SCOSS predicted, prophetically, that 'claddings form an area of structures which is likely to give trouble for several years to come'. It identified several problems, centring on awareness of building owners of the need for regular inspections, for guidance on methods and objectives for carrying out inspections, to take account of existing information on the design and erection of claddings, and the need to make provision for easy inspection and repair of fixings and other important features. In its 2000 review SCOSS added; ‘These problems remain serious 23 years and many building failures later, despite reminders from SCOSS, and the publication of guidance from, amongst others, the IStructE.’. Now, seventeen years on, and forty years since the first warnings, claddings are in the headlines for the worst of reasons. Fire resilience is the main concern but there have been worrying reports of instances of fixing failures in external insulation panels that have emerged recently. In this Newsletter there is a report on thin stone claddings and inadequate fixings. More attention must be paid to claddings of all types and their fixings and it is clearly insufficient simply for CROSS and SCOSS to issue warnings. There needs to a regime with a tougher and more rigorous approach to the recognition of risk amongst all parties involved in the design and installation of large, heavy, and possibly inflammable, panels on the outsides of buildings. It may be that regulations need to be introduced to force those parts of the industry who are not complying to do so. Other matters reported in this issue include fire safety risks and the dilemma of how to deal with these if a client refuses to act, inadequate design and construction issues, and the question is posed as to whether some current buildings have structures which are inherently vulnerable to future modifications.

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

689 Fire safety risks during technical due diligence survey

A reporter observed serious fire safety risks while carrying out a technical due diligence survey as part of a building acquisition.

632 Risky new buildings?

A reporter is becoming increasingly concerned about some of the 'exciting' structures and buildings that are being produced, with particular concern about the use of cantilevers in buildings!

644 Inadequate end bearings for transfer beams

Whilst advising a steel fabricator on tendering for a transfer structure steel frame, a reporter's firm noticed a serious design error.

646 Unconnected connection

A reporter came across a completely inadequate steel connection. While the endplate had been welded to the supported beam, and the flange plate has been welded to the endplate, the flange plate has only been tacked to the supporting beam.

627 Cantilever signal base failure - holding down bolts in bending

A railway asset owner noticed that a 9m cantilever signal structure was sagging alarmingly and stopped trains on the line.

648 Thin stone cladding problems

A reporter was involved with two investigations which uncovered problems with thin stone cladding.

630 Multi-storey car park foundations

There are concerns about the integrity of a completed car park structure according to a reporter.

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