Don’t underestimate role of PVC-U in flood resilience, says Eurocell’s Coxon

“The extreme winter weather, having ruined Christmas for tens of thousands and likely to cost the country up to £1.5bn, serves to remind those concerned with building design, construction and management of the important role PVC-U building products can play in adding flood resistant and resilience to homes actually and potentially threatened with disaster”, says Chris Coxon, Head of Marketing at Eurocell.

Not only has the insurance industry estimated the cost of flood damage as being between £900m and as high as £1.5bn; it is also being said that it will strip 0.2% from UK Gross Domestic Product this year.

Flood resistance refers to buildings constructed so that water cannot get into it; while flood resilience means building houses such that while water may enter, the impact is reduced, structural strength is maintained and property recovery is easier and quicker.

These are respectively referred to as ‘water exclusion’ and ‘water entry’ strategies by the Government in its guidance Improving the Flood Performance of New BuildingsFlood Resilient Construction.

“While it would be a significant overclaim to say that PVC-U windows and composite doors would play a major part in a ‘water exclusion strategy’, there is no denying that their inherent weather tightness would at least slow the ingress of water to a degree – and keeping low water thresholds at bay for even short periods buying a little extra time for sandbagging, or a chance to move furniture, valuables and appliances out of the way”, continues Coxon.

“However, PVC-U products – including fittings such as plastic skirtings – have an unequivocal and obvious contribution to make to flood resilience: being resistant to twisting, swelling, shrinking, rotting or warping – unlike the many porous timber windows and doors undoubtedly wrecked in the recent deluges”.

“Not only is this of benefit to the poor homeowner – who is saved the hassle of replacing ruined joinery items; and is able to maintain the security of the home in the face of looters, like we shockingly witnessed in York recently – but also to the insurance sector, reducing the cost of claims by thousands of pounds”.

“While no-one wishes to profit from the misfortune from others, our sector’s products meets a very specific – and increasing – need for resilience in the face of severe weather conditions”.

The Government implicitly agrees, with Improving the Flood Performance of New Buildings stating under General Advice for Resilient Design saying: “The main principle is to use durable fittings that are not significantly affected by water and can be easily cleaned (e.g. use of plastic materials; or stainless steel for kitchen units)”. It then goes on to use an illustration of PVC-U skirting – like Eurocell’s Roomline – as an example of resilient fittings.

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