The Covid-19 crisis may have put normal life on hold over the last few months, but it hasn’t stopped key developments across the roofing sector.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety is driving change that is affecting all those in the construction supply chain. And it is only a matter of months before the UK’s transition period after Brexit comes to an end and we discover whether a trade deal will be in place or not.

During the lockdown, we have been busy continuing working through some industry projects and representing our members at higher level committees – making sure you have a collective voice to help deliver positive change and best practice. This is why being part of our association that has access to such information is so important.

Here are some of the key projects we’ve been working on…

High Level Input
From a liquid roofing perspective, the LRWA is now represented at all the key committees relevant to roofing, including B/546 (flexible sheets for waterproofing and water vapour control), and FSH/022/0-/08 (fire resistance tests for external fire exposure for roofs) – ensuring the latest updates are filtered through to our members at our technical meetings.

We are also members of the Construction Products Association (CPA) which enables us to attend regular meetings and represent our members’ interest within both its technical and sustainability committees as well as the CPA Trade Association Council.

One area of work that has remained particularly active during lockdown is the post-Grenfell overhaul of products. Alongside the Single Ply Roofing Association (SPRA), the LRWA sits on Grenfell Working Group 12 to represent product manufacturers in flat roofing, which is chaired by the CPA. The focus of this group continues to be on developing a competency framework for product testing, design, procurement, installation and maintenance of roofing systems.

We are also part of the CPA Marketing Integrity Group (MIG) to address how we can improve the information manufacturers provide about products and systems in terms of accuracy, consistency, simplicity and clarity. Ultimately, the aim is to regulate claims made about products in marketing literature.

This work includes the development of a marketing code. We are currently reviewing a clause relating to guarantees to help establish a clearer definition and improve transparency for specifiers and the whole construction sector.

Shaping Best Practice
Another important role of a trade association is to work with members to help develop best practice and influence new legislation that affects our industry.

One example is the Government’s ban on combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings, including specified attachments. The LRWA, in collaboration with SPRA, has recently responded to the consultation on behalf of the flat roofing industry to help address issues raised, including confusion relating to what is deemed as an attachment.

In addition to this work, representatives from both associations have both been involved in a number of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) roundtable meetings to discuss clarification needed on the ban.  LRWA/SPRA/NFRC are developing a guidance document that will be released shortly for the entire flat roofing industry and building inspectors to refer to.

The LRWA has also launched two new subcommittees to help shape best practice and address the specific needs of our members.

One of which is an insulation subcommittee called the Specialist Technical Group (STG) consisting of experts from across the waterproofing, insulation and blue roofing industries as well as contractors. This is the first time the inverted roof industry has come together to work collaboratively for the good of the sector.

The LRWA STG has developed and published new industry guidance such as ‘Guidance Note 14: Best Practice for the Installation of Water Flow Reducing Layers’ and ‘Guidance Note 15: Clarification of BS 6229:2018’ regarding the thermal performance of inverted roofs and blue roofs.

In addition, ‘Guidance Note 7: Specifier Guidance for Flat Roof Falls’, has been updated to include advice on designing falls in line with BS 6229:2018 – the British Standard code of practice for flat roofs with continuously supported flexible waterproof coverings.

The LRWA’s new guidance notes can be downloaded free of charge from the website, and we would advise both specifiers and contractors to make use of these invaluable documents.

The other subcommittee is for hot melt which is currently responsible for reviewing and updating the Hot Melt Code of Practice that was first published in 2014. This will include extra guidance on areas such as structural components built onto hot melt waterproofing.

Driving Growth

In addition to its technical responsibilities and representing members’ interests, trade associations also help to raise the profile of their sectors. In challenging times, boosting awareness continues to be a key aim to help drive growth.

One of the best ways to achieve this is through industry events. Although the pandemic is preventing such events this year, we hope to see many of these reinstated next year. In the meantime, the LRWA is seeking to take advantage of digital methods to continue to help bring the sector together, which led to the virtual dragon team challenge at the end of August 2020.
Being a member of a trade association has many benefits, but in today’s challenging and uncertain environment, it is more important than ever for manufacturers and contractors to be part of a community that has access to high level information.

As the industry continues to evolve, bringing more change down the line, trade associations have a vital role to play in ensuring businesses are prepared and that members have a collective voice to help deliver positive change and best practice.