December 6, 2021

Roof tile manufacturer raises concern over legislation changes

Pitched roof-tile manufacturer, Russell Roof Tiles, has warned that there may be more disruption on the horizon for the building and construction sector if the UK adopts proposed changes outlined in forthcoming European legislation.

Set for introduction in 2024, this will impact on the fixing requirements of UK manufactured roof tiles and slates and means costs will go through the roof.

This comes off the back of current challenges already facing the industry due to the fall-out from Brexit and Covid-19 – including driver shortages, the fuel crisis, and global demand – having now exacerbated the price of raw materials. Although the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is predicting the UK economy will reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021, other experts are less optimistic, warning of a ‘perfect storm in construction’ that may hinder Britain’s recovery.

Mark Parsons, Technical Director at Russell Roof Tiles, believes this ‘perfect storm’ will be further compounded if the UK Government does not appropriately consider the implications of BS EN 1991-1-4: 2005 + A1: 2021. This forms part of the Eurocode series and the European standard for wind actions on structures which is currently undergoing its five-year review. He explains: “Although Britain has now left the European Union (EU), there are still best practice standards we must adhere to wherever possible. Not only do they provide a common language for owners, operators, users, designers, contractors, and manufacturers, but they also build up trust across supply chains and remove technical impediments to ensure greater product interoperability.

“In the case of BS EN 1991-1-4: 2005 + A1: 2021, which relates to all aspects of the structural design and development of buildings, there are major implications for the calculated design wind loads acting on roof tiles, slates and their accessories. Under the proposals, the current definition for wind velocity calculations and the pressure it exerts on a structure would no longer be applicable in the UK and Ireland.

“Using the suggested alternative definition means there would be a significant increase in the number of fixings required for both roof tiles and accessories. In the worst-case scenario, some fixings may be deemed inadequate, causing specific tiles or product ranges to become obsolete.

The net effect of the proposed changes associated with the cost of additional fixings, increased labour and subsequent additional build time will make UK roofs far more costly to construct.”  

The Roof Tile Association (RTA) – the UK’s trade body which represents leading roof tile manufacturers of pitched roof solutions – is currently undertaking an analysis on the extent of the problem. As well as looking at how many more fixings might be required under the new definition, or whether the current fixings would be suitable, the team of technical experts are also evaluating the impact on dry ridge / hip and verge systems.

Russell Roof Tiles’ own early assessments indicate load increases could vary from 30 per cent to 160 per cent across the different styles of mono pitch roofs, and most of its product ranges would be impacted in some way. The firm believes UK should resist adopting the BS EN 1991-1-4: 2005 + A1: 2021 changes because it will have a detrimental impact on roofing contractors across the country as well as on British roof-tile manufacturers.

Mark Parsons from Russell Roof (Shawn Ryan 2015©)

Mr Parsons says: “Ever since Government announced the ‘build back better’ strategy following lockdown, there has been an incredible boom within the construction sector, with output rising significantly across all areas. The last thing it should therefore be doing is putting a spanner in the works elsewhere. 

“This is about taking a pragmatic approach and understanding that if something is not broken, there is simply no need to try and fix it. UK roof tiles and fixings have performed safely and effectively since they were last assessed under BS.5534 seven years ago.

“If Brexit is about revitalising British manufacturing, then we need to be allowed to focus on responding to market needs and ensuring our future sustainability; not factoring into already heavy workloads a brand-new product development programme driven entirely by the over-zealous application of bureaucratic EU requirements.”