What are British Standards for roofing and why are they important?

Pitched and vertical roofing standards

There are currently three main British Standards associated with the installation of slate and tile pitched and vertical roofing. They are:

  • BS 5534 : 2014 + A2 : 2018, Slating and Tiling for Pitched Roofs and Vertical Cladding – Code of Practice
  • BS 8000 – Part 6: 2013 Workmanship on Building Sites, Code of Practice for Slating and Tiling of Roofs and Walls
  • BS 8612 Dry Fixed Ridge, Hip and Verge Systems for Slating and Tiling – Specification

These British Standards do not relate to the structural support sections of the roof, only the roof covering.

They are constructed as a guiding set of rules and recommendations that offer the best collective practices for pitched and vertical roof slating and tiling for both new roofing and roof refurbishments.

Why the standards exist

Adherence to these recommendations is to create the best end product possible which will be guaranteed by the manufacturer of the materials and also qualify the works for insurance cover should it be required.

In most cases, where the roofing works are found not to have been fitted to the relevant standards and / or manufacturers’ installation requirements, any guarantees for the materials or the workmanship would be void. This is because of the risk of premature failure that may arise in the future due to an initial sub-standard fixture. Any insurance cover would also be void and any claim, for example storm damage, would not be considered.

Trade associations, such as the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, the Confederation of Roofing Contractors and the NFRC Competent Person Scheme, insist that their members and registered contractors abide by these standards as a benchmark for regulation and standardisation of quality.

The Local Authority Building Control that enforces the Building Regulations and bodies, such as the National House Building Council, all insist that roofing works must follow the current and relevant roofing standards.

Different types of pitched roofing

Certain types of roofing may not be designed to comply with the current regulations, such as those having heritage or conservation classifications that use traditional materials, for example those using lime mortar instead of a modern ‘felt’ type membrane or oak pegs instead of alloy type or copper fixings. While these may be classed as out of scope of the present standards, they can still be assessed on the necessary basics of application i.e., the slates or tiles having the correct head and side overlaps for the exposure that they are situated in.

The use of reclaimed slates or tiles, which are fixed over modern materials, with an up-to-date specification can also be assessed for compliance – the only difference being that the re-used materials would not have any manufacturers’ guarantees. In this instance, the materials guarantee would have to be provided by the installer, the involved body or involved professional, such as an architect.

The important bit

In summary, these roofing standards, while not in themselves a mandatory requirement, are the recognised industry basic rule set that most pitched roofing installments must be carried out to. In any tribunal or litigation, any deviation from these basic rules would have to be explained by the involved parties.