Last week Ministers have ordered schools to immediately shut buildings made with aerated concrete until safety work is undertaken. The decision could see thousands of pupils begin out of school until the autumn term. Although this is a recent issue within an Education setting, Procure Partnerships have been supporting healthcare clients with RAAC issues for the past six years.
Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) has gained popularity over the years for its lightweight and energy-efficient properties. RAAC is known for its durability and ease of use, making it a favoured choice for public sector projects. However, when it comes to historic RAAC, there are certain risks that clients must be aware of. In this blog post, Robbie Blackhurst we’ll explore the top five risks associated the use of RAAC in school projects and how the Procure Partnerships Framework can help.
1. Deterioration over Time
One of the significant risks of using historic RAAC in school projects is the potential deterioration of the material over time. Unlike modern RAAC, historic RAAC may have been exposed to various environmental factors and aging processes, leading to reduced structural integrity. Cracking, spalling, and delamination are common issues that can compromise the safety and longevity of the building. Proper assessment and maintenance are crucial to mitigate this risk, as structural issues in a school building can pose serious safety concerns.
2. Limited Knowledge and Documentation
Historic RAAC often lacks detailed documentation and specifications that are readily available for modern construction materials. This lack of information can make it challenging to determine the exact composition, strength, and quality of the RAAC used in older buildings. Insufficient documentation can lead to errors in repair and restoration projects, potentially exacerbating existing issues rather than resolving them.
3. Inadequate Reinforcement
Historic RAAC may have been reinforced using materials and methods that do not meet modern standards. This can lead to structural instability and safety hazards, especially in areas prone to seismic activity or extreme weather conditions. Insufficient reinforcement can result in poor load-bearing capacity, making the building vulnerable to collapse or significant damage during adverse events.
4. Compatibility Issues
When repairing or renovating historic RAAC buildings, it can be challenging to find compatible materials and techniques that align with the original construction methods. Using incompatible materials or methods can accelerate deterioration, compromise structural integrity, and detract from the building’s historical value. Achieving a balance between preservation and modernisation is essential to address this risk effectively.
5. Regulatory Compliance
Ensuring that a historic RAAC building complies with modern building codes and regulations is a complex task. Building regulations and safety standards have evolved over time, and older structures may not meet current requirements. Achieving compliance while preserving the building’s historical significance can be a delicate balancing act. Failure to address regulatory issues can result in costly legal challenges and as we have seen last week, schools having to close.
While historic Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete RAAC can be an essential part of our architectural heritage, it comes with its own set of risks when used in public sector projects. Deterioration over time, limited knowledge and documentation, inadequate reinforcement, compatibility issues, and regulatory compliance challenges are the top concerns that clients must navigate.
Speed is of the essence with the current RAAC crisis facing our education system. Procure Partnerships Framework have a host of contractors who we have been working with for the past six years dealing with RAAC issues across our NHS estates. We can mobile contractors quickly via a compliant direct award process under PCR2015 to commence survey and remediation works immediately. In addition, Procure Partnerships Framework already have pre agreed rates with our contractor partners to deliver these works and as such can also safeguard commercial competitiveness.