Clearview National March 2016 - Issue 172 - Page 90

CONSERVATORIES Solid Advice for Solid Roofs »»THERE IS NO DENYING THAT THE solid roof market is gaining momentum, but is the growth as exponential as we would have expected, or is something holding it back? Mark Schlotel, Head of Marketing at Synseal looks at the issue of submitting a Building Regulation application and how suppliers can help to facilitate this mandatory process. The demand for solid roofs is increasing. The product offers installers another way to upsell and add value to their offering, but also a reason to revisit customers of previously completed projects. With more competition now on the market, the cost to add solid roofs to your portfolio is not prohibitive and the installers we speak to are amazed at how quick and easy our own version is to install. So with all of these benefits at our fingertips, why is there still a level of uncertainty about this potentially lucrative market? ‘amazed at how quick and easy our own version is to installer’ Some feedback we have gathered via our solid roof customer training workshops is that installers are understandably wary with regards to Building Regulations compliance, so many would rather steer clear than get it wrong. Admittedly this may seem a rather grey area due to some conflicting information published in recent times and may explain why of the 5,200+ companies in the UK actively marketing conservatory roofs, only around 830 of them had purchased a solid roof according to April 2015 research statistics (source: Insight Data). 90 » M AR 2016 » CL EARVI E W- UK . C O M THE FACTS Back in May 2011 , the LABC published a Best Practice note on application of Part L to Conservatories attached to existing dwellings. This offered some useful guidance: “There is no indication as to the amount of glazing that should exist for the structure to be considered as a conservatory. In the interest of national consistency of interpretation, the guidance on levels of glazing contained in the superseded Approved Document L1B 2006 still gives a valid basis for a decision. In other words an “exempt conservatory” should… • Have at least 50% of external wall area formed from translucent materials (not including walls within 1 metre of boundary) • Have at least 75% of roof area formed from translucent materials • Be at ground level • Be effectively thermally separated from the main part of the dwelling.” At Synseal, we applauded the LABC’s definition that 75% of the conservatory roof must be glazed with translucent materials for it to be considered exempt, because this gave a clear and unambiguous reference point for all to follow. However, on the 29th July 2013, the DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government) released a circular letter, stating that: “To benefit from exemption, a conservatory or porch… must have a significant proportion of the roof and walls glazed…” This definition was frustratingly vague and has arguably caused some confusion. In direct response, the LABC swiftly issued a further statement on 1st August 2013 concluding: “The recent DCLG letter indicated a conservatory must have a significant proportion of the roof and walls glazed to be considered exempt. This further validates the definition of a conservatory as set out by us in our Best Practice Guidance Note MG0010411… When work is carried out that significantly reduces the proportion of glazing, or level of translucence to the roof, the conservatory or porch can no longer be considered exempt.” When assessing a Building Regulations application for a solid roof retro-fit project, the LABC will certainly take key technical parameters into account to ascertain whether the foundations and PVCu frames on site are man enough for the task of supporting a new solid roof. Existing foundations will require trial holes to be excavated to ensure they are adequate to support the new loadings. HELP IS AT HAND WITH TWO EASY WAYS TO COMPLY In short, solid roof installations are not exempt and will always involve a statutory obligation to submit a Building Regulations application. While we think it’s important to be open about this and want to raise awareness that this is the case, we don’t want fitters to be daunted by the prospect because help is at hand. ‘we believe in the valueadding opportunities that exist for this market’ Our Celsius Solid Roof has full LABC and LABSS approval with registration under certificate EWS550 to ease the Building Regulations application process via the established public sector route. We have also sourced a specialist professional partner operating in the private sector, ASW (Consultants) Ltd, who have access to surveyors nationwide and can undertake the Building Regulations application process on behalf of our installer customers from commencement to completion, to ensure that all functional requirements are met. We offer this additional support because we believe in the value-adding opportunities that exist for this market. But rather than mislead our installer customers by telling them what they want to hear, we are keen to explain the hard facts and then help them to meet all necessary legal compliance requirements with ease. Call today on 01623 444 390 for more information or visit