Ban on Combustible Balcony Materials

Did you know that the government recently announced it is banning combustible materials on new high-rise homes? This means that cladding and balconies on buildings over 18m high will have to be fire resistant, achieving class than A2-s1, d0 or Class A1 (under the European classification system set out in the standard BS EN 13501-1) subject to exemptions.

Up until now regulations have allowed cladding to Class B and balconies were not regulated unless they formed part of an escape route. However, the regulations have been laid in parliament on 29 November 2018 which will give legal effect to the ban that was initially announced this summer. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) said in The House of Commons on Thursday November 29 2018:

“We recognised the strength of feeling on combustible cladding and having consulted, announced a clear ban on the use of combustible materials on the external walls of new buildings over 18 metres containing flats, as well as new hospitals, residential care premises, dormitories in boarding schools and student accommodation over 18 metres. Today regulations have been laid to give legal effect to the ban.”

The ban became effective from 21st December 2018, however it does not apply to buildings retrospectively and also does not apply to buildings where full plans are in AND work started by 21st February 2019.

To help our clients and partners understand the effects of this ban we have recently published a Summary Document ‘Combustible cladding ban: The answers you need to; when, what, why and how it effects balcony design?’

Read Sapphire’s Complete Summary Document

Frequently asked questions (cladding ban FAQ’s)

1. Does this regulation apply to the interlayer in laminated glass
a. Balustrades are not specifically mentioned. However our understanding is that the glass and interlayers of glass balustrades is exempt. Sapphire are writing to the government requesting written clarification of this point.
b. Exclusions include ‘window frames and GLASS’ and 12.14d confirms this includes laminated glass.

2. Does this apply to decking on a terrace on buildings over 18m
a. The primary legislation states ‘the roof of the building shall…resist the spread of fire…’
b. The new regulations relate specifically to walls and attachments thereto.
c. It would be prudent to consider the advantages of class A2 decking in these situations.

3. Can I still have lights in the decking or soffit, or attach products like PV panels to the balcony?
a. There is a specific exemption for electrical equipment, so this would allow for lights in soffit or decking.

4. Does the Sapphire thermal break comply with the new regulations
a. Yes they do. The requirements of maintaining a fire barrier at this junction is important.

5. Will this apply to my current projects;
a. Whilst the ban starts on 21/12/2018, it does not apply retrospectively and not if full plans are in AND work is started by 21/02/2019. We would recommend being an early adopter anyway.

6. How does the 18m Rule apply?
a. If the building is over 18m the whole façade and balconies need to be of a minimum of Class A2-s1,d0 (not just the parts of the building which are over 18m)
b. Buildings under 18m in height are able to use materials which aren’t class A. That said, we would recommend that it is prudent to consider class A anyway and we would strongly advise a minimum of a class B decking with a Class A soffit.