After the appalling events at Grenfell Tower, landlords and investors are looking closely at fire safety. The best advice for anyone worried about their developments is don’t be cheap, do it properly and consult with building regs. If you want to be a professional then do your work in a professional way.
Property Expert Series: Grant Erskine From Grant Erskine Architects
- Introducing Grant Erskine from Grant Erskine Architects
- What Are Grant Erskine Architects Currently Working On?
- Grant Erskine’s Biggest Property Development Success
- Tips For Property Developers
- What Has Been Your Biggest Mistake In The Property Business?
- How Will The Construction Sector Change Over The Next 5 Years?
- What Could Councils Be Doing To Address The Housing Crisis In 2018?
- What Are Modular Buildings and What Do They Mean for Investors?
- If You Had to Choose One Investment Strategy Which Would You Choose?
- How is Co-Living Disrupting the UK Property Market?
- How Big Does a New-Build Apartment Need To Be?
- How Big Does a New-Build House Need To Be?
- What Size of Development Project Should Investors be Looking At?
- What National Guidelines for Room Sizes Do Developers Need to Consider?
- What do Investors Need to Know About Fire Safety?
Amy: Grant, I know fire safety has been a hot topic after the tragic incident of the fire at Grenfell Tower.
From an architectural and design point of view, is there anything we can and should be doing to minimise risk?
I’m sure this has terrified many landlords and investors causing them to review their fire safety plan. But from your side of things, how should investors, as much as possible, be mitigating their risk.
Grant: That’s a really interesting question. When you look at the Grenfell Tower incident, ultimately, everybody wants to know who’s to blame.
Where did it go wrong?
I’ve read up on quite a bit of this. There is a whole load of little things that went wrong. One person was rubber stamping something that perhaps they shouldn’t have been rubber stamping but they had the paperwork to say that it could be rubber-stamped.
The paperwork was a bit, let’s say, approved but not quite approved. And there was just a whole load of things that came together to make that horrific incident happen.
Don’t go Cheep
The big thing for me is, don’t go cheap and ultimately that’s what it came down to at Grenfell. The foil, the sandwich panel, they reduced the spec to save money.
If, for example, you’re developing an apartment block and it’s an LD1 System, then it’s an LD1 System. It’s as simple as that.
And, for the sake of saving a couple of grand, early on, this is… Well, I say, just make sure it’s designed, correctly.
Consult Building Regs
The big, big one, for me, is you need to get building regs in for your projects and if you’re working with me then you are using building regs.
There is no grey area here, for us, at all. There are people who still ignore this part of development. They think that just taking down a chimney or knocking up a steel means they don’t need to consult regs at all.
In the end, those people get so crucified and quite rightly so.
Amy: And it’s not worth cutting corners on, as Grenfell Tower has demonstrated.
Grant: It’s a little bit of heartache. You’ve got to get a guy out to come and visit you a couple of times and pay about five-hundred quid.
But if your business model is such that you can’t afford 500 quid on the renovation of a property then you aren’t doing it right. You’re not a professional.
So be a professional and get building regs in. Get the worked checked, use an engineer. Don’t just be using a builder using old-fashioned terms that haven’t been in circulation for 50 years.
Get an engineer to size your bit of steal right, check it’s put in right, get the building regs inspector to check it’s all okay.
Do the work properly.
The building regulations, I believe, come from the Great Fire of London, where, prior to that, everybody just built houses wherever they wanted.
Half the city burnt down and somebody said, ‘Should we write up a list of rules to keep people safe?’.
And that’s what the building regs are. Their aim is to create an environment which is safe and comfortable for people to live in.
And okay, there’s a certain amount of energy efficiency in there and stuff about sustainability but at its heart, it’s things like, are these stairs too steep, is somebody going to take a nose-dive down them when they try to go down them? Is someone going to fall out of this window sill?
It’s there to protect peoples’ lives, so do it right. It’s as simple as that.
Amy: I totally agree with you.
Grant, I just wanted to say a massive, massive thank you for coming and joining us today.
It’s been so interesting chatting with you and learning more about what you do.
Any investors that are watching our videos today, if you need a great architect then go along and visit Grant’s website.
So, if you want to get in touch with Grant, if need any help with the design of your projects then please do and his website address is below.
So, thanks for joining us today and I will see you next time.
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