Getting a Members’ Perspective

INCA members perspective on EWI

Mitch Gee, Executive Chairman

Since taking up my position as Executive Chairman and Anna joining as INCA Manager, we have been canvassing our members. We wanted to hear your views of the industry, and the expectations you have from the association.

The conversation has tended to centre on a number of key issues:

The decline in the ECO market and the impact this is having on members’ business

We are dealing with legacy issues due to the way that CESP and the early part of ECO were delivered, much of it by contractors with no history in the industry, and some of it on properties that were inadequately prepared for external wall insulation. There has been much reminiscing of the ‘good old days’ of external wall insulation, where a more holistic, envelope approach to housing refurbishment was taken. At this time, whole estates were completely regenerated rather than trying to insulate external walls at the lowest cost possible. Like in most things in life, you get what you pay for.

INCA promotes a holistic approach to external wall insulation. ECO funding needs to be combined with other sources of funding, creative forms of finance such as green finance but also capital investment. This will breathe new life into ageing housing estates, adding a further 60 years of life expectancy to houses built in the 30’s and 40’s. The good news is that the government is starting to think this way, with the Chancellor announcing £400 million for regeneration of housing estates. It is INCA’s intention to promote some of these heritage projects that were installed over 20 years ago, which are still performing well and looking good. If you are aware of any projects that you were involved in over a decade ago, please let us know and we will work with you to produce a case study.

The introduction of large scale funding into our industry with CESP and ECO created an unnatural surge. Many companies came up on the wave, but unfortunately we are now suffering as it recedes. We do not wish to become dependent on grants. Our products and services have merit in their own right, they do not need to be given away free of charge. That is not to say there is not a place for funding, but it needs to be used in combination with other ‘sticks and carrots’ that government can provide. We want to create sustainable growth within our industry and start to make a meaningful dent in the 6 million solid wall homes that need insulating.

Quality

We are all keen to continually promote quality, the question is how this can be done? INCA will be looking at membership criteria and what can be done in this area to drive up quality. We will also consider working more closely with the guarantee agencies who are well placed to enforce quality.

Grenfell Tower Tragedy

The tragic Grenfell disaster, and its impact on our industry cannot be ignored. Social housing landlords are faced with huge costs to ensure their high-rise building are fire safe. This uncertainty has resulted in delays and shelving of projects in the short term. In the medium term it could result in more work for the industry as inadequate external wall and cladding systems are replaced. As members of Build UK, INCA are at the forefront of the construction Industry Response Group that has been set up by government to help ensure the sector meets the challenges following the Grenfell tower fire. Build UK are one of only 3 industry bodies that form this group. We will share with members the discussions and outcome of these meetings.

Retentions

Build UK are also at the forefront of the Government Consultation on the Practice of ‘Cash Retention under Construction,’ which impacts the whole industry, particularly specialist sub-contractors. INCA’s association with Build UK helps to amplify our voice.

BBA and Wind Load Guidance

We have been working with the BBA to improve quality in the industry and mitigate the risks of failure from wind suction. Though the BBA have the best intentions for our industry, their approach to this is issue has been problematic in terms of public relations. They are keen to make amends and want a strong vibrant quality led industry just as much as us. We have made it clear to achieve this they must work with us not against us.

I am confident that INCA is beginning to get its voice back and hope I can rely on your support as we move forward. Please respond to any of the issues raised. It is difficult to be focused and accommodate everyone’s opinion but it is important that all opinions are heard so please get in touch.


Being a Member of Build UK

Anna Wesson, INCA Manager

As you may know, INCA is a member of Build UK. This is the Trade Association that represents over 40% of the construction industry in the UK.

There are lots of benefits to being a member of Build UK. It is an association with a lot of influence, working on some really important projects that affect the whole of the sector. External Wall Insulation (EWI) is no exception – Build UK projects do, and will affect your work.

In order to give a flavour of some of the work that Build UK does, here is a summary of two of the major projects:

Pre-qualification

It is widely recognised that currently the pre-qualification system is a bureaucratic and repetitive process. The construction industry need a method of pre-qualification that meets the needs of clients and other stakeholders and is beneficial to the construction supply chain. Build UK aims to deliver this. This ambitious project is due to deliver in summer 2018.

Retentions

It isn’t news that fair and transparent payment practices are essential for a successful construction industry. Getting it right means having a strong and sustainable supply chain capable of meeting clients’ needs.

Build UK is bringing together the contracting supply chain to consider what best payment practice in construction looks like. Clearly that means looking into alternatives to the current retentions practice, and getting all parts of construction involved in coming up with and taking on alternative practices. The potential when this lands is huge, and will impact the EWI industry. Being a Build UK member gives INCA members the opportunity to shape policy and be at the forefront of implementing it.

Get Involved

Build UK needs your help as Trade Association members for these projects to meet your needs. There is huge opportunity to get involved on committees, through conversations with the team, or through feeding back through INCA. As INCA Manager, I will keep you updated over the coming months with how the projects progress.

Let me know what you think: where should INCA be using its influence? What do you care about most?


Wind Load Guidance

BBA Logo

Mitch Gee, Executive Chairman

It is of no surprise that wind load is high on the agenda of INCA. The issue has come up time and again, and is something that we, as the Trade Association representing the EWI Industry, are fully engaged with.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, made the following statement when updating the House of Commons about Grenfell:

‘’Separately, the British Board of Agrément has told us that, based on its investigations following incidents in Glasgow, some cladding systems may have been designed and installed in such a way that they could fail in strong winds. We are not aware of any injuries caused by this kind of failure. However, we are taking advice from the independent expert panel and we have written to building control bodies to draw their attention to the issues that have been raised. The wider issues of competence and certification will also feed into Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building safety, the terms of reference of which were announced last week. Finally, I have established an Industry Response Group, which will help the sectors required to improve building safety and to co-ordinate their efforts.’’

INCA is in discussions with the BBA over how best the industry can manage this situation. Wind Load Guidance also came up when we met with BEIS in October. We explained that external wall insulation has been used on high rise blocks for over 25 years, with very few known failures, and no evidence that EWI has suffered any greater degree of failure than any other cladding system. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the calculation of wind loads has contributed to any of these failures. Notwithstanding this, the BBA have identified an area of system design that can be improved, and post Grenfell it is important that responsibility for design is clearly established. INCA is working on a response to ensure where it is warranted by risk, an appropriate system is in placed among INCA member system holders to provide the necessary calculations.

In relation to legacy work, INCA believes there is a responsibility for owners of high rise buildings to have a responsibility to undertake regular maintenance checks on any cladding on high rise building. No cladding system has an indefinite life and such maintenance is essential to prevent the risk of catastrophic failure, irrespective of the type of cladding used. INCA’s technical committee will be considering what advice can be given to owners of high rise buildings that are clad with external wall insulation. The results of these considerations will be forwarded to all members.

If you have any comments, please do not hesitate to get in touch.