Gavin White, product manager from Marley Eternit, discusses the benefits of installing roofs to BS 5534 and what can happen if you don’t.
BS 5534 is the Code of Practice for Slating and Tiling in the UK. It was revised last year to include more stringent fixing requirements, designed to make pitched roofs more secure in the face of increasingly extreme weather events.
Now, because it is a British Standard, and the new version is not included in the Building Regulations, you aren’t legally obliged at the moment to fix roofs in accordance with BS 5534 – but it is considered best practice to follow the guidelines.
Indeed, the majority of third party warranty providers, like the NHBC and Zurich, will only cover a building installed to the relevant British Standards and work carried out for local authorities should also meet these requirements.
Like all reputable roofing manufacturers, our technical guidance, which includes NBS and fixing specifications, always follows the British Standard and this can be upheld in a court if necessary.
If a roofer hasn’t fixed to BS 5534, and for any reason their workmanship was called into question and there was a legal dispute, they would have to justify in court why they haven’t installed to the British Standard.
Any deviation from a specification would require evidence from the manufacturer to justify that the alternative method was suitable.
So, although BS 5534 outlines best practice on the installation of a slate or tiled roof rather than it being an actual law, there could still be legal implications by not following it.
Any roofer not following the Standard is certainly taking a risk and not covering their own liability, particularly given the increasing instances of extreme weather in the UK.
It isn’t all about risk though; there are actually significant advantages and opportunities for your business by following the British Standard:
Reputation – Keeping up with industry standards is essential in demonstrating your roofing credentials and boosting your reputation as an experienced, trustworthy tradesman.
Fitting in accordance with BS 5534 is also one way of putting your business ahead of any competitors that don’t and ensures you can compete on a level playing field with those that do.
Quality workmanship and less recall work – The new version of the Standard introduces important changes to traditional roofing practices, such as the use of mortar which must now be accompanied by mechanical fixings to ensure resistance against problems associated with mortar failure.
This naturally encourages the use of dry fix systems, which means your roofs will be more secure and removes the risk of recall work or claims due to mortar failure.
Making sure that everyone in your business fits to the more stringent fixing requirements also ensures a high and consistent standard of workmanship.
Health and safety – Under BS 5534 all roofing battens must be factory graded, which protects the safety of you and your employees if they are using them as a foothold.
Using ungraded battens as a foothold is very dangerous because they can be weak and vulnerable to breakage. Only pre or factory graded timber battens are suitable to be used on a roof.
Fitting to the British Standard isn’t actually as time-consuming as it seems. Initially many roofers were concerned by the extra amount of fixings and the additional amount of clipping that was required.
However, thanks to the introduction of innovations such as our SoloFix clip, and our mortar bedded security packs, we’re helping to mitigate some of the additional time and labour consequences.
To prove how easy the SoloFix one piece clip and nail is to use, Marley Eternit is giving away free sample packs to Professional Builder readers. Simply email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header ‘Free SoloFix sample’.
Although it is not yet a legal requirement, the majority roofing work should be carried out to BS 5534, including extensions and refurbishment work, in order to ensure a secure roof that can withstand the increasingly volatile weather in the UK.
However, there are some exceptions for special details on roofs (such as curved and swept work) or certain aspects of heritage and conservation work (such as regional slating methods or use of split battens).
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