Effective solutions for a changing refurb retrofit and new builds landscape

Marley solar panels on a domestic block of flats
Director Roof Systems
Stuart has been working in the construction industry for over 30 years and has spent the last 14 years at Marley.
Stuart Nicholson, Roof Systems Director from Marley, says local authorities need to be aware of a changing landscape when it comes to refurbishing, retrofitting, or building new homes for tenants. Revisions to existing standards and the introduction of a new Government bill to better protect people living in social housing is putting a fresh onus on correct product and system specification, including roofs.

As a result, opting to work with a single source supplier that understands the implications of the changes and can collaborate to always ensure regulatory compliance, should be a strategic imperative for local authorities going forward.

Part L of the Building Regulations is now a reality for those charged with designing and constructing new housing stock. Changes have been made to ensure any new homes will produce 31% lower carbon emissions, as part of the nation’s collective effort to achieve net zero by 2050. It is the precursor to the Future Homes Standard which is set to be introduced by the middle of this decade demanding that all new homes are specified and constructed to be highly energy efficient, use low carbon heating solutions, and be zero carbon ready.

Whilst the sustainability merits behind the Part L amendments are clear, it is just one of several altered measures and policy interventions being implemented to underpin efforts to future proof and improve the UK’s housing stock.

They include recent revisions to important standards such as BS 5250 regarding the management of moisture in buildings, and the recent introduction of the government’s Social Housing Regulation Bill. The Bill means that the Regulator of Social Housing will now have stronger powers to issue unlimited fines to social housing landlords, enter properties with only 48 hours’ notice and make emergency repairs if required. It is designed to give more leverage to housing tenants so they have access to a level playing field, can demand improvements to existing cold, damp or unsafe dwellings, and hold landlords accountable if they fail to uphold acceptable standards of fabric maintenance and repairs.

Against this changing landscape, local authorities who are looking to deliver a proactive strategy of housing refurbishment, retrofitting or capital investment in building new social housing properties, need to be mindful of their new responsibilities. As such, it is important the supply chain they use for product and system answers provides reassurance and easy access to the range of solutions needed to meet energy efficiency, safety, and long-term performance targets.

How solar can help meet Part L changes

High performing, cost effective and sustainable roofing solutions can help make a real contribution when it comes to creating sustainable homes and ensure quick compliance with the obligations under the new Part L regulations.

This is because improvement in energy efficiency (and lower carbon emissions) cannot simply be delivered by enhancing the building fabric solely. In the short term, solar PV on the roofscape, combined with an efficient gas boiler, appears to be one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways for local authority specifiers to meet the new Part L carbon reduction targets.

PV technology is tried and tested, readily available and has become much more affordable in recent times. Indeed, such is the momentum behind this powerful combination, Solar Energy UK predicts changes to Part L could lead to a five-fold increase in the number of new homes specified with solar technology.

The latest integrated PV roof systems offer a more visually appealing, cost effective, and easier to install option. Replacing a section of roof tiles, integrated solutions provide a sleek aesthetic and function as a seamless part of the overall roof aesthetic. This type of solar panel can also be installed at the same time as the rest of the roof tiles, without a specialist contractor.

Roof fire protection assurance

With concerns expressed in the Social Housing Regulation Bill about safety standards in some homes, the ability to offer reassurance about protection from roof fires should be a key factor in local authority specification choices.
According to the government, fire services attended over 40,000 fire-related incidents in homes or primary dwellings over the last 12 months, highlighting the ongoing and obvious danger fires in home spaces - including the roof - present to lives and property.
Current building regulations stipulate that any newly constructed home needs to be specified with fire protection measures in place to delay the spread of fire and allow crucial time to escape. A critical part of the fire protection when a roof is compartmentalised between adjoining homes is the role of the fire barrier. This is viewed by experts as an integral safety feature that can prevent the spread of flames and smoke between properties during a potentially dangerous fire incident.
To give specifiers the fire protection solution they need, Marley Roof Defence fire barrier system is a simple to install and fully fire protective solution that achieves up to a 60-minute fire rating. The Roof Defence fire barrier features two strips of intumescent material bonded at 90 degrees, with an inverted T design, which can simply be installed under tiles and between roof battens to close all gaps in the event of fire.

Getting roofing ventilation right

Important revisions to BS 5250: 2021 Management of Moisture in Buildings can be applied to a central aspect of any roofing solution – the underlay.
Marley’s experience is that the term ‘breathable’ underlay is often misunderstood because it suggests ventilation is not required. However, this is not the case as BS 5250, does not consider the situation where it is proposed to provide no ventilation to the roof void. As such, whatever type of underlay is being used, local authority specifiers should ensure they include some form of supplementary low- and high-level ventilation in accordance with BS 5250 to prevent the risk of condensation build up. They should also make sure there are no gaps in insulation, which can increase the risk by creating cold spots, but make sure it does not block air flow from the eaves.
As well the steps taken to educate tenants about reducing moisture build up, local authorities should also check pitched roofing specifications for all new and refurbishment building work to ensure there is adequate ventilation in line with BS 5250.

Single source strategy for a changing landscape

For ultimate peace of mind as the specification and construction landscape alters to deliver safety, accountability and energy efficiency benefits, local authorities should look to specify a fully tested complete roof system. Marley’s full roof system includes JB Red battens, underlay, tiles or slates, fixings, accessories, Roof Defence fire barrier, and optional sustainable energy generation via integrated solar PV – and the entire roofing solution is backed by a 15-year warranty of superior performance from a responsible manufacturer.

This full system approach ensures every roof on every property is fully compatible with all current regulations, including fire safety, and reduces the risk of inferior product substitution that can compromise roof performance over the long-term.

By taking a considered technical view about full and integrated roofing solutions, local authorities can underpin their ongoing tenant duty of care and access several benefits with the knowledge the complete roofing system they have specified will stand the test of time and deliver long-term lifecycle cost efficiencies.