In the recent Grenfell Tower disaster in London, more than 80 public housing residents tragically lost their lives in a horrific fire that broke out in the block of flats. The incident is a poignant reminder of the harrowing impact poor quality building materials can have. The flammable aluminium composite panels (ACP) used in the building's construction were considered responsible for the spread of the blaze that claimed so many innocent lives.
Knowing how to communicate the importance of high quality building materials is a vital skill.
Incidents such as these highlight the importance of using high quality materials in any construction project. What can builders learn from the Grenfell disaster about how to ensure the safety of a build?
1. Discuss the benefits of high quality products with your clients
Expenses are always a consideration for clients and often they'll want to opt for the most cost-effective option. Knowing how to communicate the importance of high quality building materials is a vital skill.
Some tips to convince clients to use high quality building materials are:
- Emphasise that better quality materials will last longer and require less ongoing maintenance. This will save them money in the long run.
- Explain the difference between cheap materials and medium- to higher-priced materials in terms of safety. The better the quality of the materials, the better they will protect the people inside.
- Get the architect, engineer and other members of your team on board. With all stakeholders on board, it will reinforce the importance of using safe materials.
2. Ensure your products meet stringent safety criteria
You can make sure your build will comply with current safety regulations by:
- Consistently checking changes to the NZBC, and only using products that meet NZBC standards (flammable cladding materials, for example, were restricted in January 2017 in response to fires in Melbourne and Dubai);
- Checking your products have been tested rigorously by BRANZ and CodeMark;
- Looking for warranties and care and maintenance guides for products; and
- Ensuring the products have been specified and approved by council.
We recommend working with the mindset of "above standard methodology." The NZBC outlines the minimum standards, but you can always look for ways to go above and beyond these.
For example, if the architect has specified a product you've experienced to be inferior in the past, or think there's another product that would work better long-term, speak up and offer an alternative. It's important that all stakeholders work together to ensure the highest safety standards.
Work with trusted companies who only use the safest and highest quality products.
3. Work only with trusted suppliers
Another way to make sure the building materials you're using are safe is by choosing your suppliers carefully. Here are some tips:
- Work with trusted companies who only test use the safest and highest quality products, and have open conversations with them about whether their products will be fit-for-purpose;
- Use suppliers have many years of experience; and
- Check your suppliers are members of relevant industry associations such as WANZ.
The Grenfell disaster highlighted the dangers of cheap, poor quality cladding. However, the need for superior materials applies to every part of a build, including windows and doors. Fletcher Windows and Doors Systems is a leading supplier of aluminium doors and windows in New Zealand. Our trusted franchisees offer only the best quality and safest products and suites that make us a reliable choice.