Composite aluminium, a flammable coating.

Published by Basilio on

composite aluminum

In 2017 it was discovered that the composite aluminum installed in Grenfell Tower and in thousands of buildings in the UK was a composite highly flammable due to a fire. Many people lost their lives that day; Tens of thousands of others had to pay more than 50,000 euros to make their homes safe. In the following paragraphs we will explain more about it.

Composite aluminium, a flammable coating

The composite aluminum is a composite panel that was developed in the Netherlands, with the aim of design innovative buildings; It is made up of two aluminum panels that house a polymer-type filling. It may be filled with a fire retardant compound or not, when the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower, London, Great Britain, in 2017 the danger of using non-fire retardant materials as fill was highlighted.

The building had more than 20 floors dedicated to social housing, and was devoured by flames on June 14 of that year at dawn. Officials declared 72 people dead. 18 of them were minors. Since then, building regulations in the United Kingdom have been tightened; hundreds of buildings began to be considered 'dangerous' because they were made of this material.

Not to mention, the owners had to invest in a new alarm system, fire doors and balconies, and exterior siding to avoid similar problems.

The case of the Grenfell tower, where the aluminum composite acted as a flame spreader

The fire started in the refrigerator of a tenant who lived on the fourth floor of Grenfell. A small spark triggered the entire tower to burn. Forensic experts claimed that it 'spread like wildfire', all thanks to the fact that the building had coatings of flammable components.

The exterior cladding was made up of aluminum and ACM plastic sandwich panels; It is a combination called Aluminum Composite material (aluminum composite material, in Spanish). They put together a pair of aluminum sheets with a polyethylene core in between.

Thanks to this, some buildings calculated that renovating a single apartment would have a value of up to 120,000 euros. It is a sum that not everyone can pay. And this doesn't just apply to buildings with ACM cladding, but those made from 'flammable materials', including wood.

How many buildings were modified in Great Britain?                            

Although the British government never published the exact number of the structures that were classified as 'dangerous', the Labor Party estimated that the affected apartments exceeded one million. While experts in the field noted that the figure was 2-3 times higher.

On the other hand, the new laws made sure that nobody bought these apartments, so the affected people had only two solutions: evict them or stay until the final reforms.

How much does a quality coating cost?

Many people lived quietly in their apartments, which, in less than 24 hours, were considered dangerous. This is because the cladding or exterior revestment it was not regulated. To avoid legal problems they had to pay for a new lining.

One of affordable high-quality options were around 60,000 euros per apartment. Of course, this depends on the building, its age, and other problems the architects encounter during the renovation. In 2017, a woman had to have her walls renovated for at least 100,000 euros. Not everyone could afford this.

In order for the companies to cushion the changes, they had to raise the rent of their apartments by an extra 300-400 euros per month. This meant that many people had to move and the services offered, such as surveillance, were reduced. Residents who persevered had to take turns patrolling the building at night, all to lower their rent prices.

What is the EWS1?

After the fire and renovations, in early 2019, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors designed a new safety certificate for exterior walls called EWS1. However, it was only provided to them for buildings that had completed the corresponding modifications.

Consequences of not having the EWS1

Initially, apartments or buildings cannot be sold. Being classified as 'dangerous' to health, people could only evict them. Not to mention, without this new certificate, you can't get mortgage loans from London banks.

For what reason? Whenever they are valued as insecure, the banking associations give them "zero value". This affects building owners and tenants.

Similarly, many guests who had pets had to give them up to their families, put them up for adoption, or put them in a kennel because the government prevented the animals from living in such an unstable area.

This is due in the first place because they did not fully own their homes. Millions of people bought the apartments, so owners of these were cataloged; however, a firm known as freeholder owned the structure of the building and the land.

The difference is clear: the owner of the land (the company) is in charge of maintaining the buildings, but the owners of the houses are the ones who must pay for repairs or similar changes. Otherwise, their contract could be cancelled, even though they paid up front and had little more than a century to renew it.

Who should pay for renovations because of using aluminum composite?

The tenants were annoyed when they understood that they had to pay an extra €400 euros on top of the monthly rent to make the changes provided for by law. According to this, your belongings are those that are located within the space established in the contract; the rest is owned by freeholder, however, loads were placed on them such as the lining of the entire building.

What affected them the most was knowing that the price of their rents increased overnight, without prior notice, and without having a way to pay it - considering that they did not have 50,000 euros in their banks.

Others declared that the government should take charge of the arrangements. However, "The laws protect or favor construction companies and inspectors, which is why the burden is on the tenants."

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