In recent years we have seen an increasing number of non-traditional residential buildings built, ranging from factory-built modular systems through to innovative site-built constructions. The change has for the most part been brought about by an increasing need to achieve both construction efficiency and better energy performance from the finished home.
The increasing use of thermal insulating products, some of which are combustible, could result in such constructions being more susceptible to disproportionate damage in the event of fire. To present a balanced view of the risks involved, NHBC Foundation has recently published the report Fire performance of new residential buildings, providing relevant information that could benefit a number of key stakeholders in the construction industry.
Produced following a review of real fires data, case studies, the regulatory framework and input from a 14-strong stakeholder steering group, the report presents the results of the study, identifying issues to be considered and addressed with regard to fire safety of modern residential buildings.
The NHBC Foundation report looks at a number of non-traditional construction methods and reviews their likely fire performance. Methods featured include insulated concrete formwork, light timber frame, structural insulated panels, engineered floor joists, and light steel framing.
The report also explores the possibility of reducing construction site fires through more rigorous site management, enhanced security measures, increased use of closed panel construction where the linings are installed off site, the use of fire retardant treatment processes and the use of non-combustible board forming the sheathing layer.
Graham Perrior, Acting Group Head of Standards and Technical at NHBC, commented: “While fire safety on construction sites is a matter for the Health and Safety Executive and, for completed homes, statutory regulations; NHBC Foundation has produced this new guide to provide useful information on the risks and best practice guidance for designers, builders and those involved in the fire safety aspect of new homes.
“NHBC Foundation has also recently entered the early planning stages of a follow-up publication Fires in cavities of residential buildings, providing further research and information on this topical issue.”