I read with interest Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report on the review of the building regulations, in particular the references to them “not being fit for purpose” and “confusing rules and a lack of enforcement leaving them open to abuse.” This is equally true of the Construction Product Regulations (CPR) which form part of the overall picture.
Despite the publication of the Westminster response from the Minister of State for DCLG in September last year, rogue companies are continuing to commit the offence of placing non-compliant low sight line IGUs onto an unsuspecting market.
Demand is being driven by the specification - predominantly by headstrong planners and architects - of dangerously thin glazing bars or astragals that were designed only to take a single pane of 3mm glass, if you almost treble the weight placed on them by fitting 2 x 4mm units, the window will be structurally unsound and give way under minimal pressure. If someone stumbled against one of these windows a few storeys up, the consequences could be horrific. Windows with such a flimsy structure have all the inherent robustness of a saloon bar window in a western and are a burglar’s dream in terms of gaining entry to peoples’ homes. There is also the added issue of perimeter heat loss.
We are pleased to announce that after more than 3 years of discussion, Historic Environment Scotland have now incorporated into their guidance (January 2018) the following statement: “New glazing, in particular, Insulating Glass Units (IGUs), should be manufactured in accordance with the requirements of the Product Standard EN 1279-5, a requirement for legal compliance with the Construction Products Regulations (CPR).” This immediately addresses the issue of “confusing rules” mentioned above and should most definitely result in the cessation of architects and planners specifying illegal products and referring to outdated guidance as an excuse.
With regard to “a lack of enforcement” we are now in dialogue with the Chief Officer of Trading Standards Scotland, over the failure of officers at local councils to enforce the CPR. Her brief is to deal with scams across all industry and the passing off of low sightline units in our sector is a prime example. We have now begun reporting each individual company who is breaking the law by offering non compliant IGUs for sale and attempting to falsify test reports. This list of companies was obtained by googling “low sight line heritage units” so it’s easy to see who they are. Once these “criminals” have been dealt with, their proceeds should be siezed and used to have all these outlawed units removed from the consumers’ homes and public buildings that they have profiteered from and replaced with compliant products.
As the late great Sammy Davis Jr said, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."