Barratt, the housing developers, took a £56million hit on its profits to fix fire safety and structural problems in “legacy properties”, the bulk of which was spent in removing flammable cladding from their Citiscape block in Croydon.
The 95 flats in Citiscape, on Drummond Road and Frith Road in Old Town, were built by Barratt in 2002 and had the same aluminium composite material cladding as was used on Grenfell Tower.
The 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people, exposed deficiencies in the building safety regime and the potential abuse of safety tests by companies supplying the cladding and insulation to those homes.
Earlier this week there was a debate in Parliament, in which Labour called for urgent protection for leaseholders from the costs of repairing potentially unsafe buildings, amid concerns that millions of people face expensive post-Grenfell improvements.
Labour want an independent task force on cladding to be established, with the power to take action against building owners who refused to carry out remedial work.
Mortgage lenders have refused to lend to buyers unless they can prove the property they want to buy is safe.
Barratt’s actions in Croydon, therefore, may also be used as a precedent for other developers to make safe buildings that have been constructed with deadly flammable materials.
Property expert Peter Bills, a former columnist for the Evening Standard and editor of Estates Gazette, tweeted this morning, “The block has been reclad and the concrete frame strengthened. Barratt pledged no costs will fall on leaseholders. Be good to see others doing the right thing.”
In the Barratt company report, they say of the £56.3million spend on “legacy properties”, “The largest component of charges in the period related to Citiscape and the associated review, announced in July 2020… Detailed reviews are ongoing and, in line with our commitment to put our customers first we will ensure that the costs associated with any remedial works from these reviews are not borne by leaseholders.”
It has been an extremely stressful period for the homeowners and families living in Citiscape. In September 2019, residents were evacuated from the building after “unrelated structural issues” were discovered while work to replace the cladding was underway.
Barratt took the decision to pay for remedial work on the reinforced concrete frame at Citiscape in July last year.
It also undertook a review of 26 other similar developments. In its half-year results, published today, Barratt say the review is “substantially complete” and that it has not identified any other buildings with issues as severe as those at Citiscape.
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Well done Barratts.
Let’s hope that other construction firms– not just the builders but also the cladding manufacturers–and Government– will all step up and follow Barratt’s example.
It is very good of Barratts, but there are the questions around the defects also, which again Barratts are fixing.
But the question is how did this pass the Planning and Building Control measures in place?
Are the measures fit for purpose?
I think you will find the system allows a lot of self-reporting and out-sourcing of inspections.
I was charged c£750 for building regulation requirements for a single story extension and only had two visits.
Inspections really should be done by properly qualified people independent of the builder and property owner.
Well done to barratt homes proper builders let’s hope the rest follow suite
There are a lot of buildings with dodgy cladding. I can’t understand how permission was given to build with these materials. Shocking. The cost to replace should not be borne by residents.
I have tried to look for websites that explain just what these aluminium composite panels are.
One I found mentions that panesl are either 4.5mm thick or mm thick, with a plastic core plus a 0.4mm thick (yes, 0.4mm not 4mm) skin of aluminium on both sides. The plastic core contains chemcal fire retardents, but these are expensive, so (for cost-conscious manufactrers) the content needs to be carefully controlled..
The website mentioned that these panels are not easy to set alight, but–once alight– fire can spreads downwards as fast as it spreads upwards.
On the basis of “a liittle knowledge is (or can be) a dangerous thing, I will stop there.
It would, however seem that to me that Architects and Engineers choosing suitable cladding materials would ony select “approved products”. One hopes, in their designs, that they would also follow all safety regs and guideline regarding te mode of fixing.
The problems arise regarding whether builders build everything exactly in accordance with regulations, whether the regulations are flawed, and how far fire tests can replicate real life situations, where buildings are built in the open air, in all weathers.
Therein lies the rub. There is a recipe of factors, any one of which, alone or in combination, will affect the result if a building become son fitre.
I hope that Governmet makes a clear decision soon, as to who will pay for the remedial works, which apparently involve total removal and replacememt with another cladding sytem.