When it comes to creating compliant buildings, specifiers working in the social housing sector face various and numerous challenges but working with a specialist supplier like Soundcraft can bring numerous benefits.
In our latest blog, our commercial manager Michael Bishop explains how Soundcraft’s extensive experience has enabled us to develop a range of fire doors, screens and security doorsets to help clients create housing schemes that are both safe and secure.
Soundcraft was established back in 1962, at a time when the country was facing a nationwide housing shortage. In the years that followed, local authorities across the UK sought to rectify the problem by creating new large scale housing developments. Quantity was no longer the issue, with more homes being built in the 1960s and 70s than at any other time, but quality was and the standards of the high-rise residential towers blocks created during this time were inconsistent at best.
Growing concerns prompted a major re-think about the way new homes were designed and constructed and in response, the first set of Building Regulations was introduced in 1965. Replacing the old Bye Laws for construction in the UK, the Building Regulations aimed to create a minimum benchmark of quality and performance that all new structures would be required to meet. These regulations have been subject to much debate and change throughout the subsequent decades and even now, are not absolute. Sadly, recent tragedies such as the Grenfell disaster have highlighted the need for regular and comprehensive reviews and have emphasised the importance of ensuring that all housing stock, both old and new, provide a safe, secure and comfortable environment for residents.
As we once again face the problem of a housing shortage, we recognise that navigating these complex and changeable regulations is a major challenge, particularly in a sector where budget and time constraints are notoriously restrictive. That’s why over the last 56 years, we have worked hard to develop an extensive range of high performance doors and a dependable support package of third party certification, quality manufacture and skilled installation, which is ideally suited to meeting the demands of today’s social housing market.
Improving fire safety
A core part of Soundcraft’s expertise is in the design, manufacture and installation of fire doors and screens. This has led to us working in partnership with a number of housing associations and local authorities to meet the requirements of Part B of the Building Regulations and improve the fire safety standards of existing housing stock, with our latest contract at the Thamesmead Estate in London just one recent example.
However, providing high quality product solutions is only one part of our offering. As well as offering guidance to the most suitable products to use and advising on key issues such as the need for adequate compartmentalisation in communal areas, much of the value that we are able to bring to specifiers working in this sector is through the robust testing of all our fire doors. This provides valuable primary test evidence of how well all the components fitted within the doorset will perform and the level of fire resistance that can be achieved. The testing of our products, and their subsequent manufacture and installation, is carried out in accordance with the standards set by the Exova BM Trada 3rd Party Certification Scheme and as such, we are able to provide our clients with detailed information for their records.
Modern homes must be both safe and secure, and helping housing providers achieve this has enabled us to refine both our product offering and expertise.
Part Q of the Building Regulations is designed to ensure the prevention of unauthorised access into a dwelling and as such, the role of doors and windows is critical to achieving this. Although only introduced in 2015, our experience of delivering security solutions predates this and from as early as the mid-1990s, Soundcraft was manufacturing and installing steel communal security doors (CSDs) to meet the rising demand from the social housing sector. Our fully compliant range of CSDs has since been expanded to include both steel and timber portcullis security doors.
Compliance with Part Q is also now a prerequisite of Secured By Design (SBD), the official police security initiative that was first established in 1989 and which offers a far more encompassing design code. For example, Secured By Design requires that all doors and windows are not only tested by the product manufacturer, but also achieve third-party accreditation. Although SBD isn’t a standard but a membership and licensing scheme, it provides an important benchmark for the security performance of doors, windows and curtain walling. By manufacturing and installing an extensive range of doors that meet the requirements of Part Q and hold the accreditation of the SBD scheme, we have been selected to deliver numerous contracts in the housing sector for local authorities across the UK including Wandsworth Borough Council and Gravesham Borough Council.
Soundcraft has a range of resources available to assist specifiers working in the housing sector, including our downloadable guides to fire door performance and Secured by Design (SBD) doorsets and windows.