Cladding. A Fire Engineer’s Approach.

Developing a process to assess cladding and provide clarity to those who most need it.


Cladding Fire Safety

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As a building owner, when you are faced with the news you have combustible cladding that needs rectifying, it can be hard to know how to respond amongst it can be hard to know how to respond amongst all the information and requirements and hard to know whether there will be escalated costs, building disruption or potential impact on your property’s value. Is removing the cladding the best way forward? How much cladding could we retain if we wanted to?

A good fire engineer will be an invaluable resource at this point – to guide you through the various options for you and your building. There are always options and it is important to approach such scenarios knowing this. Given the costs of cladding removal can be so high, it is worth investing a small amount of time and money to assure you have been made aware of the possible alternatives.

Different options will of course have their pro’s and con’s, but on the surface, it is hard to determine which is better – spending more doesn’t always deliver commensurate levels of safety for your building. Holmes can assist you with the interplay between cost and life safety risk, helping to find a solution that optimises the balance of these, as well as taking into consideration additional factors such as the potential for disruption during remediation works.

Tough decisions are tough by their nature, but they are easier to make when you understand them and the ultimate implication each option has.

The Holmes process has been specifically crafted to guide you through your cladding issues and provide a greater understanding for what options are available. Generating a feasibility report is the first step. This will deliver various scenarios on how to manage your cladding situation including full removal and partial retention. The partial retention fire safety strategy will be developed based on the conservative assumption that the cladding is 100% combustible. This avoids the costs, time delays and uncertainty associated with cladding sample testing (also known as ‘core hole testing’), whilst also yielding a first pass fire safety strategy, noting if the design works with a consideration for the cladding being 100% combustible, it will work even better if the cladding proves to be 35% less combustible.

Example of feasibility strategy for high rise development
Example of feasibility strategy for low rise development

Our feasibility report is delivered to you on an hourly rate basis so that we can go into as much detail, or as little detail, as you like and develop as many alternatives as you want. Its your project and you are in control. We want to present information to a level of detail for you to make your decision. We also understand consultant costs need to be controlled – so at the outset of your project we will set an agreed cap for a number of hours to generate a feasibility report.

Throughout our process, Holmes seeks to understand what the ‘best for project’ solution is, including the immediate needs and the various implications over the life span of your building. We will tease out the relevant considerations that should be made regarding long term insurance costs. Should insurance cost be the deciding factor, Holmes can make representations to your insurer on your behalf to explore alternative scenarios.

Moving forward on the process, Holmes can then develop advice on suitable cladding replacement systems or further develop the feasibility strategy and prepare a detailed risk assessment report for submission to regulatory authorities.

Our approach is simple – Provide trusted, educated and specialist advice to give the power of decision back to those who should be making it.

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