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In response to the HSE safety alert dated October 2008 (updated December 2010), Gas Safe Register along with other industry bodies have developed a Technical Bulletin that provides guidance to gas engineers in relation to room-sealed fanned-draught gas appliance chimney systems installed in voids. The safety alert and update are available on the HSE website and these provide guidance and background information to the issue.
In June 2007 CORGI issued the original Technical Bulletin (TB 200) which required installations with a flue routed within a void to have appropriate means for the gas engineer to visually check the flue. This is achieved by providing inspection hatches. The latest industry guidance is contained in Technical Bulletin TB 008 (Edition 3) dated 1 April 2013 and is available from Gas Safe Register: https://engineers.gassaferegister.co.uk/FluesInVoids.aspx.
Approved Document J 2010 `Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems' contains guidance for what provisions should be made to allow the inspection of concealed flues in new buildings. NHBC has given advice to registered builders about inspection hatches including articles in Standards Extra dating back to edition 38 in April 2007. If you are building homes with a gas flue contained within a void then you should follow the latest industry guidance and ensure that suitable means of access is provided.
In years 3-10, NHBC provides insurance cover for the cost of putting right any defect in a flue or chimney resulting from non-compliance with NHBC Technical Requirements which causes a present or imminent danger to physical health and safety. This part of the Buildmark insurance does not cover the cost of retrospectively installing inspection hatches or void monitoring devices if there is otherwise no evidence of any problem with the flue. However, if any defect in the flue is identified, which is a present or imminent danger to the physical health and safety of the occupants, the cost of rectifying this will be met by NHBC.
Builders / developers should advise homeowners with concerns or queries about flues to arrange a check by a Gas Safe registered engineer and if any problems are identified these should be detailed in a formal report to enable the homeowner to discuss the matter further with NHBC Claims. (Telephone 0844 633 1000 and ask for Claims'). Any details that builders / developers can provide in respect of installations would be helpful.
The builder / developer liability period is normally for the first two years after completion. The first Technical Bulletin was published in June 2007 and it is therefore likely that all installations on homes that remain within the builder's liability period will have been installed to the guidance that was applicable at the time and include a suitable means of inspection.
However, should there be any exceptions where homes within the first two years have a flue located in a void that was not installed in accordance with the guidance that was applicable at the time of construction, this would be considered a defect and builders / developers will have a responsibility under the Buildmark Warranty to carry out rectification works.