As we enter the new year, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you sincerely, for the support you and your colleagues have shown to the LRWA. We endeavour to provide your team with the kind of expertise and added value that helps your business grow and manage risks.

As we enter another year uncertain about the political landscape waiting for us, it is clear that there are a number of significant challenges ahead. Aside from Brexit, there are the issues raised by the government’s ban on the use of combustible materials in High Rise Residential Buildings. LRWA, SPRA and NFRC are trying to get clarification from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government on how the guidance is being interpreted, therefore it is critical that you keep up to date with technical meetings to get the latest advice.

Additionally, in 2020 the construction industry will have to get ready for change that is soon to come. Following the Grenfell tragedy in June 2017, the entire construction sector is being scrutinised, resulting in plans for change which the industry is not yet prepared for.

Phase 1 of the Grenfell Public Inquiry has recently been published, but next year, Phase 2 will look into testing and certification of combustible materials. As part of this, anyone who is responsible for making any decisions regarding products need to be able to prove their competence. This can be anyone in the construction chain – a person writing marketing literature for a manufacturer, a technical sales representative who compiles specifications, a distributor who may offer product selection advice, a contractor who may offer a different way to waterproof detailing on a roof, as well as building owners. Everyone needs to make sure they are making informed product choices.

LRWA in partnership with SPRA are sat on Working Group 12 for Products which is chaired by Construction Products Association, and we have been working hard to develop a framework to ensure that the people who are making decisions related to products are competent to make those decisions. This work will continue in 2020.

Moving forward, the industry will be cracking down on unsubstantiated marketing claims about products, and performance claims will need to be verified by third party certification. We have all seen the products advertised that literally sound like Utopia in a tin – unreinforced systems with 30-year guarantees but have BBA certification for example. It is not enough that people look for a product that has been certified; they need to understand the information contained within it – but the industry doesn’t make it easy for them. The devil is in the detail, what substrates has it been tested on, what was the build-up that passed the fire test, is it on a combustible substrate?

In 2020, we will be launching the LRWA Product Register which was developed to help customer groups make informed product selections based on verified, easily explained product information. Other tools that we will be introducing are two Design Guides for Specifiers, one for Liquid Applied Waterproofing Systems for roofs and balconies plus another for Car Parks. These documents will help guide specifiers through the changing regulations and advice in relation to liquids when used in those applications. We will be doing a full launch for both the Product Register and Design Guides with targeted customer groups at various events throughout the year.

But it’s not all down to product performance alone. Following the publication of the Dame Judith Hackitt report, Working Group 2 will be looking at installers, and has recommend a set framework to follow in an effort to improve installation competency. For example, making sure contractors have a nationally-recognised NVQ 2 or 3 qualification, gaining a CSCS card, and undertaking CPD and fire safety training. Contractors need to act now to ensure that they have a qualified workforce for the job, or they run the risk of being taken off site as clients become more stringent on asking to see proof of qualification. LRWA will be running several more intakes of the Specialist Applied-skills Programme (SAP) in 2020 to provide a route to NVQ 2 qualification for the liquid applicator.

In these challenging times it is even more important that not just roofing, but the entire construction sector works together in unity, and looks positively towards the future. There’s a lot of uncertainty ahead, but there are things that we do know, and we can start making changes now.

On behalf of the entire team at the Association, thank you very much, we look forward to working closely with you again in 2020.

Sarah Spink
CEO – Liquid Roofing & Waterproofing Association