Stephen Makin of Mayan Roofing Systems discusses the changes at the forefront of roofing development which are helping specifiers drive building performance
Despite advancements in technology and construction materials, the methods and practices of pitched roofing have remained relatively unchanged over the years, as traditional techniques and materials have proven to be effective and reliable.
Over the years many changes have involved the imposition of regulations to set quality standards, such as wind uplift for membranes, the quality of roofing battens and the introduction of BS 8612 that regulates dry fix verge and ridge systems.
However, considerable recent changes to regulations will dramatically change the face of pitched roofing moving forward. The significant increase in the conservation of fuel and power regulations (Part L) as well as the new Building Safety Act 2022 (in light of Grenfell) are set to bring about the most dramatic changes to the way roofs are installed in the future.
Since June 2022 all new homes now must reduce CO2 emissions by 31%. This dramatic increase in efficiency can only be met through substantial design changes such as passive style details and the use of built-up structures (to eliminate thermal bridges) or by using products such as SIPs or ICF.
Alternatively, inefficiencies can be offset by using products with a lower carbon footprint or by installing solar energy systems. These changes, alongside the energy crisis, have re-ignited the solar PV market. Without consideration to future changes, few doubt that solar PV is set to be an integral part of the roofing industry.
The further increases in the requirement for insulation will provide an even greater need to properly ventilate the home, and in particular the roof space. Breather membranes have a limited capability to ventilate; established and shown in their Moisture Vapour Transfer Rate (MVTR) on their Declaration of Performance (DoP). ‘Free air ventilation’ provides the best method of releasing moist air that is trapped in the roof space. High level, ‘free air’ ridge systems have been shown to perform dramatically better than low cost woven polyester systems to provide sufficient ventilation for modern homes.
TESTING HIGH LEVEL VENTILATION CAPACITY OF DRY RIDGE SYSTEMS
Introduced in July 2021, the Building Safety Act 2022 became law in April 2023 in conjunction with The Fire Safety Regulations 2022 that became law in January 2023. This legislation will introduce duties and responsibilities that a ‘Responsible Person’ (landlord, manager, specifier, designer etc) must ensure that a building is constructed using the appropriate materials and properly assessed for fire safety. This responsible person must establish a ‘Golden Thread’ of data and information about the building that will be permanently stored electronically for the life of the building.
The consequences of failure to comply with these changes are severe, with unlimited fines and custodial sentences.
The requirement to ensure fire safety will place a much greater emphasis on the types of materials used in roofing as well as installation methods and the correct installation of any additional systems such as party walls and fire prevention systems. All products that are used should be compliant and be able to provide the appropriate documentation (DoP) or testing certificates that will be used to form the Golden Thread. With an emphasis being placed upon the very important requirement of establishing the document trail, it will be considerably harder for contractors to change a design specification without first complying, and then altering the paper trail that is now legally required.
Stephen Makin is technical consultant at Mayan Roofing Systems