It can be a challenge to keep up with the regulatory changes that the UK construction industry has witnessed over the past few years. We have compiled the below summary of current requirements in England, Scotland and Wales, and an update on the state of play in Northern Ireland.

With ongoing revisions to regulatory guidance, it is fundamental that all members of the industry keep up to date with the new requirements – particularly those involved with the design, construction and maintenance of buildings which come under the “high-risk” bracket. This will enable them to make appropriate choices when it comes to building elements, ensuring the creation of safe, compliant buildings which will protect people and property in the event of a fire.
Kingspan offers a comprehensive range of insulated panel, rainscreen facade and insulation board products and systems which are designed and tested to meet a multitude of building applications, heights, regulatory requirements and functions. This includes a suite of systems that has passed the requirements of BR 135 when tested to BS 8414 large-scale system tests.  
Explore Kingspan’s full suite of BS 8414 tested systems.

Cladding and the Fire Safety Regulations: Where do we Currently Stand?

Fire safety is a critical yet complex consideration when creating or upgrading a building. Over the past two and a half years, UK construction has seen considerable change with governments pushing to establish clearer and more robust regulatory guidance, particularly for what are classed as high-risk buildings. For many architects, contractors and other stakeholders, this has been a welcome shake up. However, it can be a challenge to keep track of the various nuances of each country’s approach and understand exactly what materials can be used where.
Below is an overview of the key changes that have come into force.


Applicable since 21st December 2018, the changes to Regulation 7 of the Building Regulations 2010 – Materials and Workmanship restrict the types of materials that can be used in a specific range of high-risk buildings with a storey over 18m above ground level. These are relevant only to buildings and building work that fall within scope in England after that date – that is buildings which contain one or more dwellings, an institution, or a room for residential purposes. This currently covers:

  • Sheltered housing
  • Student accommodation
  • Care homes
  • Hospitals
  • Boarding school dormitories
  • There is also ongoing discussion around extending this to government-funded school buildings in the future
For these buildings, external walls can only be constructed with materials achieving a European Class A1 or A2-s1, d0 in accordance with BS EN 13501-1:2007+A1:2009[1]. There is a long list of exemptions to this rule, including products such as doors and door frames, window frames and glass, membranes, thermal break materials, seals, gaskets, fixings, sealants and backer rods.  
Other buildings with a storey 18m above ground level, such as office blocks and hotels, are still permitted to use systems which meet the requirements of BR 135 using the BS 8414 large-scale system test. A new standard, BS 9414, has also been developed, which allows careful extended applications of BR 135 compliant systems.
Guidance on how to meet the regulatory fire safety requirements is set out in the Approved Documents B, volumes 1 (dwellinghouses) and 2 (buildings other than dwellinghouses). Published in April 2019, one notable change in the new document is that the ‘reaction to fire’ performance for many individual products is now classified under the harmonised European Standard BS EN 13501-1 (or Euroclasses). However, where no harmonised standard exists, the British Standards are still recognised, and the transpositions for this are set out in Table B1 within the appendix.
The regulatory landscape is, however, still evolving in this area. Further consultations and reviews have been introduced in 2020 and the information in this blog will be updated as and when any changes are introduced.
[1] This test has now been superseded by BS EN 13501-1:2018

Kingspan_Guidance to the Amendments to Building Regulations in England_Image_102019_UK_EN

Download our Guide to the Changes in England

An overview of the recent changes to the Building Regulations in England, and amendments to its associated guidance Approved Document B.


Scotland has taken a different approach with its updates to the Building Standards. For example, stricter requirements are triggered for all buildings with a storey at a height of more than 11m, and certain assembly, entertainment, hospital and residential care buildings below 11m (Clause 2.7.1). Also, rather than a blanket ban on materials which do not achieve the required A1 or A2 Euroclass rating, it has maintained the BS 8414 test in accordance with BR 135 as an additional route to compliance for all buildings. All references to British Standards reaction to fire tests have been removed.
Guidance is set out in Section 2 of the Technical Handbooks (THB2) for domestic buildings and non-domestic buildings. This also makes reference to the recently published extended application standard, BS 9414, which will allow strictly limited changes to a BS 8414 tested system where the changes will provide a known higher level of performance. This guidance was updated in July and came into force from 1st October 2019.

Wales and Northern Ireland

On 19th December 2019, the Welsh Government confirmed a ban on combustible materials on certain high-rise buildings from 13th January 2020. A circular published on 29th January 2020 clarified the scope of the ban as set out in the amendments to Regulation 7 of the Building Regulations 2010 – Materials and Workmanship. This applies to “any building with a storey at least 18m above ground level and which contains one or more dwellings; an institution; or a room for residential purposes (excluding any room in a hostel providing temporary accommodation to those who are ordinarily resident elsewhere, hotel or boarding house). This includes student accommodation, care homes, sheltered housing, hospitals and dormitories in boarding schools.”

The requirement is that “all materials which become part of an external wall or specified attachment achieve a minimum European Class A2-s1, d0 or Class A1 when classified in accordance with BS EN 13501 -1:2018.”

The requirement covers the entire height of the building and applies to the complete wall assembly and certain attachments to the external wall, including balconies and solar panels.   

The requirement also applies to existing buildings where relevant building work is being carried out which falls within the scope of the Building Regulations, unless the building works had started on-site or an initial notice, building notice or full plans had been deposited and work started on site within a period of 8 weeks following announcement of the ban.

Guidance for all other buildings not falling under the requirement can be found in Wales Approved Document Part B: Fire Safety.

Northern Ireland has yet to announce any changes to their regulations. Current guidance can be found in The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.

Is BS 8414 still applicable?

In England, buildings with a storey at least 18m above ground level which fall outside the scope of the ban may still use external cladding systems that have been tested to BS 8414 in accordance with the requirements of BR 135.

In Scotland, BS 8414 is recognised as an alternative to external wall cladding systems having a European classification of A1 or A2 for all buildings with a storey at a height of more than 11m, as well as assembly and entertainment, hospital and residential care buildings of any height. 

Learn more about BS 8414 and BS 9414. 

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