Unfortunately, the issue of building cladding is currently in the headlines for all the wrong reasons – and it looks set to stay there for a while.
Cladding is essential to the exterior of a building and plays a variety of roles in the overall efficient construction.
First and foremost it keeps the building weatherproof and prevents seepage of rainwater into interior areas.
Building façade design also has an energy/thermal role to help protect the building from outside temperature fluctuations, keeping internal air quality high.
And there is also an acoustic element to its inclusion – maintaining acceptable noise levels allowing people inside to enjoy a comfortable environment with the windows open and those in outside areas the chance to relax without excessive noise transmission from inside.
The correct installation of cladding, or curtain walling, is imperative to acoustic performance. If it is incorrectly installed it can create a “flanking” path – an area of weakness – that can undermine the sound insulation of internal floors and walls and the exterior building façade itself.
Flanking noise transmission routes include through mullions in windows and between the slabs and the curtain walling itself.
All local authorities are currently testing their building cladding for fire retardance suitability.
There will undoubtedly follow a wider review by councils and private developers of the systems in place regarding compliance with Building Regulations.
Everyone, after all, is entitled to live in a safe place. If it’s also practical, comfortable and energy efficient, that surely has to be worth the investment too.