In April 2011, January 2012 and September 2013, NBS published articles which discussed the status of Building Regulations Approved Documents A and C with respect to the use of Eurocodes and British Standards. Since those articles were published, the Approved Documents (England) have been updated. This article brings the situation up to date, and provides guidance on how Building Regulations apply Eurocodes across the different jurisdictions of the United Kingdom.
The earlier articles made references to specific issues that it was believed at that time may be addressed in the future amendments of the Approved Documents. Here we update readers on whether or not these potential changes were actually implemented. It should be noted that the 2013 amendments to Approved Document A only apply to England, and not Wales.
The implementation of Eurocodes and how these are dealt with in NBS
Since the introduction of Eurocodes on 31 March 2010, NBS have enabled the specification of both British Standards (BSs) and Eurocodes (BS ENs) as structural design standards. Although designers engaged on private sector contracts could continue to use British Standards, from 31 March 2010 designers of all new public sector projects in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were directed to use Eurocodes only.
In a letter issued on 13 July 2013, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) recognized that designs using the withdrawn British Standards would continue to be produced for some years, commented that this is acceptable, and that it would be the responsibility of local Building Control bodies to assess submissions on a case by case basis. The DCLG also reiterated their concerns of the potential risks associated with using a mixture of withdrawn British Standards and Eurocodes, and this warning is repeated in Northern Ireland Technical Booklet D.
The DCLG have confirmed that there will be no distinction between public and private sector submissions.
Following 1 October 2013, when the revisions of Building Regulations (England) Approved Document A were published, NBS has generally removed references to the withdrawn British Standards, although the flexible nature of the specifications permits the incorporation of any standards. Specification writers are therefore able to continue to call up withdrawn British Standards where they wish to do so.
It is worth noting that the withdrawn structural British Standards have not been maintained since 31 March 2010.
Building Regulation requirements
Guidance on the acceptability of different structural standards in the different jurisdictions is provided in the relevant Building Regulations, summarized below:
On 1 October 2013, a revised version of Approved Document A was published, for use in England only. The requirements of the Building Regulations are met by following the guidance documents listed in section 1, (the design codes and standards).
Updated Approved Document A text in the 2013 England version confirms the replacement in section 1 of the British Standards with the Eurocodes although it states that the requirements of Part A may continue to be met using the withdrawn British Standards.
Disproportionate collapse: Approved Document A still does not state that Class 3 buildings should at least comply with the requirements for Class 2b buildings.
Flood resilience: In the article of April 2011, it was noted that the DCLG acknowledged that some would like to see flood resilience addressed in Approved Document A, but it remains silent on this issue. However, the 2013 amendments to Approved Document C include reference to flood resilience as well as flood resistance.
Self- certification of structural engineers: The article of April 2011 also referred to the potential development of a voluntary self-certification scheme for structural designers, but this has not been taken forward in the latest version of the Approved Document.
The 2010 version of Approved Document A continues to apply in Wales. It includes text which refers to the imminent publication of the Eurocodes and states that when approved by the Secretary of State, they will provide the guidance which will meet the Part A requirements of the Building Regulations, namely those requirements described in Part A of Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations (England and Wales).
Technical Booklet D, most recently revised in October 2012, lists Eurocodes, but permits the use of alternative standards where the reliability of the design can be established. It includes a caveat that because of climate change, data in the withdrawn British Standards may be out of date, rendering designs unsafe.
The Technical Handbooks in Scotland, last updated in 2013, require that the calculation of loads and subsequent designs should use the Eurocodes.
We currently have the situation where in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the default standards that satisfy the requirements of the Building Regulations are the Eurocodes, but in Wales, the default standards are the British Standards. The jurisdictions of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all carry the caveats which permit the use of alternative standards, whereas in Wales, the documentation states that use of the Eurocodes would be permitted.
These requirements apply to both public sector and private sector projects.