Cladding on the side of a multi-storey building

Cladding – The Only Way Is Down

The outstanding question “is your cladding fire rating acceptable” is one pressing on the minds of all those living in any building with a cladding or even rendered fascia to the property.

The continued uncertainty is creating an ever-growing number of residences across the UK to find themselves stuck in a seemingly hopeless mortgage trap and their properties reduced to having zero value and so completely unsaleable in the current market.

Having scratched the surface following those tragic events at Grenfell Tower, it seems there is currently no end in site in seeking to understand who is affected by this growing crisis.

The blatant shortcomings of the ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) cladding have potentially opened a can of worms, with issues arising across a wide range of materials and system types on tens of thousands of existing buildings that are 18 metres and over. Discussion into the true validity of the 18 metre rule is also underway, opening the spectre of many more properties falling into the same trap.

In such a crisis, expediency would appear to be the appropriate course of action and so alleviate the fear for some residences of sleeping in inadequately protected buildings, and the financial trauma of others seeking to be free of the trap they now find themselves in.

However, the a significant number of the building owners are taking their time, and in some cases even refusing to make a commitment to first undertake inspections or supply the required data, let alone consider the prospect of even part financing any reparations should the need arise.

While the UK government helped to create this situation, and is therefore understandably at the root of why building owners are feeling so aggrieved at the demands being placed on them currently, it is the innocent residents that are currently carrying the cost of ‘waking watches’ (where people look out for signs of fire at all times and help evacuate in the other in the event of a fire), insurances hikes and not being able to free themselves of the mortgage traps they are now in, and may well be in for some time yet.

Recently, the decision to name and shame building owners that have the recognised unsafe cladding on their buildings has seen five named publicly for the first time, with others likely to follow: ACM cladding. Adriatic Land 3 Limited, Chaplair Limited, Grangewalk Developments Limited, RMB 102 Limited and STG Management London Limited are the first companies to be publicly criticised. It remains to be seen if all this is just the tip of the iceber,g as further materials and cladding or render systems fall under scrutiny regarding their potential for disaster.

This has all the makings of a very long haul and continued distress for those in the middle of it.