In 2015 floods in Cumbria from Storm Desmond wreaked havoc on hundreds of homes. In response, the Government made available millions of pounds in order that home owners could claim grants of up to £5000 to help towards installing new defences for their properties. This included flood-resistant doors.
On February 11th a story was published on the BBC News website which reported that a proportion of these doors were failing. Given what is going on elsewhere in politics right now this story seems to have gone under the radar. But for the people of Cumbria this is a serious issue and has to be addressed.
According to the BBC report, more than 60 people have said they have had problems with their doors, including locks snapping, issues with locking mechanisms and doors being very stiff. Residents have reported the doors as “breaking”.
Apparently one of the sub-contracted companies fitting the doors has gone into liquidation, whilst another company has picked up the responsibility of putting right the jobs that have been left to sort out by the liquidated company.
Another company is also in the processing of rectifying problems with flood doors.
Snapped cylinders, locking mechanism problems, doors that are stiff. To me these are issues with the quality of the materials of the doors installed. One or two doors you can forgive, we live in the real world where nothing is perfect. But these are problems that seem to have affected many more people than that. At that point you have to question the quality of the materials being used in these doors.
The other factor here is the quality of the installation. You can have the best door on earth but if you don’t have the right people fitting it then it’s just as good as the worst door on earth. As is mentioned in the report, the fact that home owners are having to put this right and even fit additional measures after what they thought was a job done properly only serves to frustrate those people further. Another incident that does nothing to help the reputation of our industry.
Code of practice
In the last line of the BBC report it said that the Government was developing a code of practice to improve standards of flood defence products. You would expect a response like this, it’s from the textbook. But I’m not sure that pursuing just this line is going to solve the problem.
I see installation and product quality issues in this report. Again, going back to my earlier point, you can have the best guidelines backed up with the best products, but if they’re not installed properly then chances are they are going to fail anyway. The only way a code of practice is going to be effective is if they legally bind companies into using products of a certain quality, installed by people who are qualified to install such products. However that won’t be the case. This will be a code of practice to guide companies and that’s a far as it will go.
Flood defence, for those who live in flood-prone areas, is perhaps the single most important issue for home owners. Their home insurance will be higher than average. Considerations will be given on a day to day basis dependent on the weather. Just ask the people who live by the river in York. When it floods there is floods bad. There is a pub that has stopped putting carpet down because there’s no point anymore. So when it comes to products like flood-proof doors and windows it really does matter. For many it’s the first line of defence in making sure water doesn’t get into their home.
Quality matters in flood defence. A flood-proof product that fails is no different to a standard product. The industry is looking deeply at security at the moment, perhaps this is a good time to address another serious area in flood defence windows and doors and make sure that this doesn’t become a problem any bigger than it needs to be.
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