Slide on glass panel cantilever balconies installed on building facade

Industry balcony news round up of 2019

2019 has seen many developments and changes throughout the UK construction industry. Below, the team at Brooksby look at some of the biggest changes and the impacts they have had or will have going forward.


New safety regulator

The government launched a new national regulator for building safety in the aftermath of the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017.

In the safety plan, it will become law that failing to follow protocol for strict safety measures when designing and building high-rise residential development will be a criminal offence. Furthermore, the regulator body will have the ability to enforce hefty fines to designers and building contractors who fail to adhere to the new compliance rules.

It is hoped the new regulatory body will help to drive forward the standards of safety not only for the buildings but also for the workers on working within a construction site. At the same time, the improvements in standards are looking to readdress and restore consumer confidence in living in high-rise buildings.


MMC Implications

Modern Methods of Construction have been on the development path for many years and 2019 saw a big impetus for more use of modern methods on construction sites.

One of the major driving factors behind this is the shortage of skilled labourers in the industry, with around 40% of the key trades showing a skills shortage. There are many reasons for this however the aging construction workforce and less young people entering the skilled professions.

Offsite balcony manufacture, which Brooksby has embraced and had success with, is one of the ways in which MMC is starting to change the industry. By our team manufacturing the whole balcony offsite in controlled environments, the balconies are then delivered already assembled which speeds up their installation on the project, as well as minimising any imperfections in the balcony.

Modern construction methods (MMC) are methods that are developed in the construction industry with proper planning and design so that each project has reduced construction time, cost and sustainability.

There has been more impetus placed on these methods as construction companies scrutinise the time on site, the profitability of projects and the speed with which they can be delivered and we believe this will

 

Removal of combustible materials

Earlier this year the government announced that high-rise property owners should remove combustible materials from all balconies “as soon as is practical”.

In a statement they said: “The removal and replacement of any combustible material used in balcony construction is the clearest way to prevent external fire spread from balconies and therefore to meet the intention of building regulation requirements and this should occur as soon as practical.”

This will affect many high-rise buildings and tower blocks in 2020 and beyond. This is because specific changes to balcony manufacture was the move to A1/A2 fire-rated aluminium decking, and the move away from laminated glass balustrades.

 

Ban on open fires on balconies

Some countries have announced that open fires are to be been banned on balconies. This includes the use of barbecues and smoking on the balconies of apartment blocks. The new rules would also see lighting matches and smoking on balconies banned.

The new rules applying to open fires and applies to apartment balconies, as well as in the living areas of dormitories and hotels.

The announcement has been met with opposition with many claiming that the purpose of a balcony is for many of those things and now they seem ‘useless’. Although this is not applicable to the UK with the recent regulations surrounding fires in high rise buildings, we wonder if a similar move will in future be adopted.