Hackitt Review does not rule out flammable cladding

The highly anticipated final report of the Hackitt Review, set up following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, has not ruled out the use of flammable cladding despite many calling for its ban.
In the foreword to the Final Report of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Dame Judith Hackitt said that one of the key issues underpinning the failure of the current system is indifference. She said: “The primary motivation is to do things as quickly and cheaply as possible rather than to deliver quality homes which are safe for people to live in.” And she said that some building firms use the ambiguity of Building Regulations to “game the system”.

Among the recommendations was to create a new regulator for the design, construction and maintenance of high-rise residential buildings which will “drive real culture change and the right behaviours”.

Despite the building firms, Grenfell survivors and institutes such as the Royal Institute of British Architects calling for a ban on flammable cladding in construction, the report has not ruled out the use of flammable cladding. She said: “This is most definitely not a question of the specification of cladding systems.

“Simply adding more prescription, of making amendments to the current system, such as restricting or prohibiting certain practices, will not address the root causes.”

Below are two responses to the final report from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the Construction Products Association (CPA).

Commenting on Dame Judith Hackitt’s Review into Building Regulations, published this morning, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Today’s report is the culmination of a long and thorough review into the weaknesses of the current approach to competency and compliance in the sector, weaknesses which can serve to undermine safety. It is a suitably serious response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Dame Judith has understandably focused the attention of the review on high-rise residential buildings, but we believe strongly that some of the recommendations must be taken as a blueprint for the wider industry. In particular, the industry as a whole needs to develop a comprehensive approach to competence. There is an opportunity here for the whole industry to step up and ensure we have adequate levels of competence across the sector. Without this, significant parts of our industry will continue to be plagued by incompetent and unprofessional outfits.”

Berry concluded: “Furthermore, a comprehensive competency framework should be underpinned by a licensing system for all builders and contractors operating in the construction industry. This is the only way we will ensure that a baseline for competence is both recognised and complied with. The FMB has already started a conversation about how we can put this into practice and is engaging with other industry bodies to this end. The FMB’s new Agenda, published last week, calls on the government to introduce a licensing scheme for builders. We already know that nearly 80% of construction SMEs are in favour of introducing a licencing scheme. Licensing would remove the scourge of rogue and incompetent builders from the industry and in turn provide a much higher level of consumer protection.”

Peter Caplehorn, CPA deputy chief executive and chair of the Review’s Regulations and Guidance Working Group, said: “The Independent Review led by Dame Judith Hackitt has outlined the clear responsibilities necessary to ensure a disaster like this can never happen again.

“This is an important chance for the entire construction industry to show we are ready for an overhaul of how high-rise, high-risk buildings are designed and built, and ultimately how we are held to account. Any reforms which can provide greater clarity on how buildings meet safety requirements and the technical attributes of the products that go into them, are much needed. Furthermore, the recommendations’ emphasis on creating a digital record of a construction project will go a long way to addressing the impact of product substitution and value engineering, quality of training and poor installations.

“The Construction Products Association fully supports the Review’s recommendations and looks forward to continuing our work with government, our members and the construction industry to roll out the implementation programme.”