Britain's appalling residential building standards under the spotlight

Originally published at: Britain's appalling residential building standards under the spotlight | Boing Boing


I was once told that the typical mortgage for one of these homes was 30 years, and the rated lifetime of the structural timbers holding it up was 25. So before you’ve even finished paying it off, it’s already starting to fall apart.

Not a crime, but it should be.


… needs more flammable cladding :fire:


Not only bad building practices, but think of all the waste material when stuff like that has to be torn down and replaced. :man_shrugging:


What’s the British equivalent of tofu dreg?


From one of the articles linked in the article.

It would appear that the incentives are profoundly broken.


My guess is either the Tories are so sure that the Murdoch press will help them squeeze out a victory in the next general election, or they’re so sure they’re going to lose, that they’re not doing anything at all to rock the boat with their financiers and grab as much cash as they can for themselves


Jellied eel? Maybe mushy peas.


But, tradition!


That doesn’t strike me as a failure of standards (regulations). It’s a failure of execution in the knowledge that there would be a failure to inspect the buildings properly.

In Ireland during the celtic tiger years (late '90s - '09) we had a similar experience.

Inspecting and signing off on completed buildings was slowing down the flow of profits because there were relatively few inspectors for the number of buildings being built.

So the builders and developers lobbied the ruling government party (Fianna Fail, the party of builders and developers, and also farmers who were equally complicit in the whole clusterfuck) to introduce a system where the people who had just built the buildings would also certify/pinky-promise that they were up to standard.

So the 2008 financial crash arrived here in 2009 and all those builders and developers went bust. And over the next few years it transpired that a very large portion of those buildings were unfinished and/or badly built, often from sub-standard materials, but none of the pinky-promisers were around to take responsibility.

Many new homeowners living in these sub-standard homes were moved into hotel rooms for years at taxpayer’s expense because their new homes were unsafe. Many of the unfinished housing estates were bulldozed for fear of children being harmed while exploring them. And many completed developments were bulldozed simply because they were built in rural towns where there wasn’t enough employment for people to live there.

And a decade and a half later we’re still trying to sort out the mess.


As one (actually right wing, but hey) commentator once put it several years ago:

The truth is that both major parties are now just commercial organisations, who raise money wherever they can get it to buy their way into office through unscrupulous election campaigns. They then presumably reward their donors once they are in office. The electorate are a constitutional necessity for this process, but otherwise their fears, hopes and desires are largely irrelevant.

No prizes for guessing which industry is also a major donor to the Conservative party.

Also BTW I think this is quite revealing of how the new political logic works. A tax that only affects 4% of people? But who might those people be, I wonder? They’re not voting in “red wall” constituencies, yet this is the Tory reaction to lack of support in those constituencies? … Er, what?

(Jeez, I know what Cory Doctorow means when he says that Qanon fuitloops are in a way right about conspiracies to keep people down, just wrong about the actual conspiracies themselves.)


Builders in the UK can’t self-certify, but the inspectors are friendly.

Building control used to be run by local authorities but, like so many other public services, it has been progressively privatised since the 80s. As the Grenfell inquiry heard from expert witness Luke Bisby, professor of fire and structures at the University of Edinburgh, the privatisation of the system has continuously eroded its independence and rigour. His report explained how, between 1984 and 2017, a culture shift occurred, from one of inspectors “policing” developers to one of them “working with clients” under commercial duress, resulting in a “race to the bottom” in practices within the construction industry. Architects talk of encountering inspectors who are happy to sign off stages of work without even visiting the site, basing their judgment on a few photos – which could be of anywhere. One said they witnessed a clearly non-compliant project being awarded a building control certificate before the correct fire seals had been fitted because the contractor “promised they would finish it”. “As the architects, we tried to stall the issue of the certificate,” they said, “as we could see the contractors would stop all momentum. The lack of diligence was nauseating.”


There was a new housing development that went up in Cambridge while I lived there. The “nice” housing was bad enough, but the low cost housing they had to put up was something to see. You couldn’t see a 90 degree angle anywhere. I doubt some of the windows could open properly. Before anyone moved in the places looked derelict.



The next he discovers garden turf laid straight over rubble

Not a new thing. Our place was built in the late 90’s, and it was the same.


… it’s pretty obvious that somebody is lying to us all day every day— but good luck getting anyone to agree about who is telling us the truth instead :confused:


The thing that shocked me about the Grenfel tower disaster was that the building code permitted high rises with only one stairway.


Everybody knows in the U.S. all the old buildings have extra metal stairs bolted to the outside walls — do they not do that in the UK :confused:


Of course they’re safe. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. They are as strong, solid and as safe as any other building method in this country provided of course people believe in them.


In desirable cities with housing shortages, developers and their tame politicians use the situation to call for lowered inspection and zoning regulations. “We desperately need more housing for ordinary people!”, they cry like socialists, hoping no-one will note that the only housing they want to build are high-margin luxury condos and McMansions.


Do modern apartment blocks in the United States have external stairs?