Fire Durability Performance - Insurers and Mortgage Lenders Will
Fire & Durability Performance – Insurers and Mortgage Lenders Will Limit the Scope for Lightweight Prefabrication by Brian Ó Murchú Views of British Insurers on fire and durability of light- weight modular homes, shared by the Irish Insurance Industry and flooding Ireland are AlthoughinstormsMexicanthoseinexperienced on a lesser scale than recently the Gulf, scenes of devastation caused by hurricane Katrina to New Orleans and parts of Mississippi and Texas will do little to calm the fears of Irish insurers and mortgage lenders in relation to fire, wind and durability issues concerning lightweight framed housing. The recent tragedy highlights the susceptibility of lightweight homes to damage and raises questions in relation to the durability of Ireland’s future housing stock. A recent article in Ireland’s Off-site Construction magazine highlighted the growing concern of insurers and mortgage lenders in relation to fire and durability performance aspects of lightweight modular buildings. The article entitled ‘UK Insurers increasingly used for low-cost housing, are insurance assessor with Allianz insurance, could kill of modular market’ said that often more of a fire hazard than other opened his presentation by stating that if ‘despite the current push for off-site construction methods. The ABI also the insurance industry had its way that all manufacture in the UK, it looks like expressed concern that the cost of repairing buildings would be constructed in concrete, prefabricated homes may not be a solution such construction after fire ‘can be because of the inherent durability and fire to the UK’s housing shortage if mortgage significant’. ‘The social and economic costs resistance of that form of construction. lenders’ views are anything to go by. of major fires in such constructions will be Referring to lightweight steel frame The article reported that a prominent enormous’, an ABI spokesman said. ‘The construction, Mr. Byrne expressed deep developer in the U.K. had experienced cost of repair can be significant, particularly reservations as to its insurability in the ‘severe scepticism’ from mortgage lenders where the structure has to disassembled in housing context. In relation to lightweight regarding modular homes. This comment order to slot in a replacement module. Our timber frame housing, Mr. Byrne said that refers to modular homes constructed using concern about modular housing is over its although timber frame did not have the lightweight timber and steel frames. The resistance to perils. Modular buildings are of same level of fire resistance as concrete, his article went on to report that a spokesman various fire-resistant quality. Adequate company Allianz did offer insurance cover for the Association of British Insurers has consideration needs to be given to the for timber framed housing. In private upheld concerns regarding the long-term techniques used to provide significant levels discussion after his presentation, Mr. Byrne durability of these (i.e. lightweight modular) of resistance’. The spokesman added that the confirmed that Allianz did not offer buildings against fire, wind and flood. association was worried that fires in insurance cover for timber frame apartment In an article entitled ‘Insurers raise prefab lightweight affordable housing, especially blocks above two stories in height. fire alarm’ the UK Architect’s Journal (AJ) those developments funded in the social The reluctance of one of the country’s reported that the British insurance industry is sector, could put a strain on the public purse. leading property insurers to offer cover for increasingly fearful about the risk of fire multi-storey timber frame offers credence resulting from the current trend towards the Irish Insurance Industry Skeptical to the position put forward by the Irish use of prefabrication. The article alerted about lightweight framed housing Concrete Federation that Multi-Storey readers to the fact that the Association of Speaking at the Fire Safety Conference on timber frame buildings pose an British Insurers (ABI) had warned its 30th June 2005 in the Radisson hotel, unacceptable fire risk and should not be members that off-site manufacture methods, Stillorgan Dublin, Mike Byrne, senior permitted under the building regulations.