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leogeo
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26/07/2018 9:02 pm  


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leogeo
(@leogeo)
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Joined:3 months  ago
Posts: 5
27/07/2018 7:37 pm  

Hello,

 

Hoping someone could help. I live in a council flat in Birmingham and I am currently going through the right to buy scheme. The building is mainly made out of concrete and I’ve been trying to find out if it has had the PRC repair or if it even needs one. I’ve been trying to get this info off the council but have been getting nowhere and going round in circles, so does anyone know where I can find this information from or found out what type of concrete was used etc? The only info I have managed to get off the council was that traditional materials were used, but not really sure what that actually means and they so far have been unable to tell me anything else.

I had a building survey done and the surveyor believes it has a brick base with reinforced concrete on top and pebble dash around it. Any info/help would be brilliant.

The image should be above. Thanks.


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Admin
(@bisfadmin)
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30/07/2018 1:42 pm  

Hello Leogeo, Welcome to the forums and thank you for re-submitting your post.

I must point out that high rise buildings are not my area of expertise but I shall do my best to assist you. Your question is the very first that we have received in respect to this type of Non Traditional construction and my investigations so far, have been a little challenging to say the least. In part, the challenges faced are due to the lack of available information, which is surprising considering the number of similar builds in the UK.

A Little Background information.

There is no exact figure as to the number of tower blocks constructed in Britain following the post war period but it has been estimated that around 6,535 tower blocks were built in Britain, with the majority constructed between 1963 and 1967. Construction declined after 197 with only 155 new blocks built.

This figure relates to buildings of 6 or more storeys. 42% of these blocks were built in London, 13% in Scotland and 7% in Birmingham. which includes Radcliffe house.

A total of 801 tower blocks were constructed in the Birmingham area. A further 32 towers were constructed in nearby Coventry and 43 towers were built in the satellite and overspill towns around Birmingham’s vicinity.

Your Question

The building is mainly made out of concrete and I’ve been trying to find out if it has had the PRC repair or if it even needs one. I’ve been trying to get this info off the council but have been getting nowhere and going round in circles, so does anyone know where I can find this information from or found out what type of concrete was used etc? The only info I have managed to get off the council was that traditional materials were used, but not really sure what that actually means and they so far have been unable to tell me anything else.

In the world of Non-Traditional or Non-Standard construction,we often hear the terms, Traditional and Non-Traditional used to define a construction type.

“Traditional”, usually refers to properties built from traditional materials, such as bricks and mortar, whilst Non-Traditional, refers to properties built by other means, including steel framed, Reinforced Concrete, timber etc.

In the case of High Rise buildings and Tower Blocks, these terms can lead to some confusion.

Tower blocks were built using a small number of different construction systems which are often varied in design, making identification difficult even to surveyors.

The main construction systems that I am aware of include:

Bison

Example: Essington House, Washwood heath

Essington House

No Fines Flats

no fines flats

Wates High Rise Blocks Example Falcon Court, Brighton

falcon court wates high rise

Traditional R.C Frame High Rise Blocks

richmond heights trad rc frame
montague Trad RC Construction

It would appear from my investigations into documents held by Birmingham City Council, that Radcliffe House, is listed as being Traditional in construction, and therefore I strongly assume that the building is indeed of Traditional Reinforced Concrete construction.

Reinforced Concrete properties are often and quite wrongly viewed negatively within the housing market. The main cause of this was the Housing Defects legislation.

The building research establishment conducted a wide sweeping survey of various Non-Traditional housing construction types in 1984, with the aim of finding and identifying serious defects within certain buildings. A number of construction types were found to have serious defects which eventually resulted in the government creating the Housing Defects Act 1984. This was subsequently incorporated into the 1985 Housing Act. Essentially the act condemned many but certainly not all of the PRC (Precast Reinforced Concrete) designs as fundamentally defective.

Most of the problems related to corrosion of the steel reinforcement bars used within the concrete and deterioration of the concrete itself.

As a result of the legislation, mortgage providers would not loan on these properties, unless they were the subject of a government approved repair scheme. 

This is what often causes confusion in the housing market as many potential buyers presume that all PRC constructed properties are defective, when in fact this is not the case at all.

The defects legislation was quite specific about which properties were defective and a list was issued, identifying these construction types. It was ONLY PRC properties that were identified and included in this list of defective properties that were required to be repaired under the PRC approved repair scheme. Once the property had been repaired, a certificate was issued and the property would be deemed safe and mortgageable.(See Below)

England and Wales

Airey House

Boot House

Boswell house

Cornish Type 1 House

Cornish Type 2 House

Dorran House

Dyke House

Gregory House

Hawksley House

Lileshall House

Myton House

Newland House

Orlit House

Parkinson Frame House

Reema Hollow Panel House

Schindler House

Smith House

Stent House

Stonecrete House

Terran House

Underdown House

Unity House

Butterley House

Waller House

Wates house

Wessex House

Winget House

Woolaway House

Scotland

Blackburn Orlit House

Boot House

Dorran House

Lileshall House

Lindsay House

Myton Clyde House

Orlit House

Tarran House

Tarran Clyde House

Tee Beam

Unitroy House

Whitson Fairhurst House

Winget House

Only PRC or RC property types shown on the above list are required to have a repair certificate in order to be deemed safe and mortgageable.

Radcliffe Tower, being we suspect of The Traditional R.C construction, therefore does not require any form of certification.

As yet, I have not been able to locate any specific data or construction plans relating to Radcliffe House or on Traditional RC high rise builds.

The BRE (Building Research Establishment may be able to provide some information as they have a library of documents which can be accessed as part of their paid service.

I have located one document that relates to large panel building systems used in many Tower Blocks which you may find useful. It is a pdf file which can be downloaded here.

Here is a link to another pdf file that relates to a survey that Brighton council conducted on their non traditional housing stock, including high rise buildings which you may find interesting and relative.

Brighton Stock survey

I have come across a number of online articles relating to certain difficulties prospective buyers face when dealing with High Rise properties which you may find useful. See links below:

thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome

everything-you-need-to-know-about-getting-a-mortgage-on-a-high-rise-flat/

Finally, I see that Radcliffe house is due to receive a sprinkler system in 2021 which is good news.

I hope I have been able to address some of your concerns, The main one being that you don’t need a PRC certificate for the property because it is not considered defective under the Housing Defects Legislation.

There are many thousands of PRC properties in the UK that are considered safe and structurally sound despite the negative press they often achieve. It can still be a battle though when dealing with surveyors and mortgage lenders, simply because it is a PRC property. The housing defects act did not identify all PRC or Non Traditional constructions as defective but it did negatively impact the markets perception toward all Non Traditional properties.

I hope this helps and please keep us updated.

Best regards

Marc

 

 

 


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Admin
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30/07/2018 2:20 pm  

I have also managed to find the following information that you may already be aware of:

Highgate is a large residential complex in inner-city Birmingham, directly south of the city centre. The area was designated as a Redevelopment Area following World War II and saw numerous tower block plans approved for construction from 1958 till 1967. Within the Redevelopment Area, the St Luke’s estate was constructed. To the north of the area, the St Martin’s Flats complex had been built in the interwar period, but was demolished in the 1980s.

The first tower block to be approved was Charlbury Tower on Southacre Avenue in 1958. In the same year, Gresham Tower and    Radcliffe Tower     were approved on Alcester Street, and Elmstead Tower on St Luke’s Road. In 1959, Ashford Tower was approved for the Alcester Street site, as well as Bransford Tower on Vaughton Street, and Baskerville Tower on the Stanhope Street site. In 1960, Cantlow House was also approved for the Stanhope Street site. In 1961, Highgate House was approved for Southacre Avenue.

In 1962, plans for taller tower blocks began to emerge with the first to be approved being the 16 storey Wellesbourne Tower on Hope Street. In 1965, Brinklow Tower and Wilmcote Tower were approved for Highgate Street. In 1967, Studley Tower was approved for Canford Close, and Lapworth House and Earlswood Housewere approved for St Luke’s Road. Barford House and Dunchurch House were approved in 1967 and 1968, respectively. Also in 1968, plans for Princethorpe Tower were approved as the final tower blocks.

In 2008, regeneration work for the Highgate area began with the clearance of the St Luke’s estate.

http://ukhousing.wikia.com/wiki/Highgat e” target=”true”>Source

http://ukhousing.wikia.com/wiki/Highgate


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leogeo
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30/07/2018 3:08 pm  

Hi Marc 

Many thanks for your reply. This is some brilliant piece of information. I am currently at work but will dig into this info you have provided when I finish and can’t wait to do so.

But based on what you have said are you also saying that the building also has large panel systems? As again I’ve heard lenders don’t like those either. 

 

Thanks


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Admin
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30/07/2018 4:47 pm  

You’re very welcome and glad it might be helpful.

Sorry, I should have mentioned, that the Large Panel System link was just for information purposes as it may contain some information applicable to your property.

If I’m perfectly honest, at this point I do not know if Radcliffe House is an LPS system, despite this type of build using Precast reinforced concrete. I’m hoping that Birmingham City Council may be able to provide further details in response to a Freedom of Information Request I’m about to send them.

You can also write your own FOI request using the WhatDoTheyKnow  website. It’s a free service and the Council are legally required to respond within a certain time limit.

Hopefully, we should be able to get some concrete answers for you.


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Admin
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30/07/2018 5:10 pm  

Here is a copy of my FOI request to Birmingham City Council upon which we should receive a reply within 20 days.

 

ToBirmingham City Council

SubjectFreedom of Information request – Construction Details of Radcliffe Tower, Shawbury Grove, Birmingham

 

Dear Birmingham City Council,

I would like to establish the exact construction type of Radcliffe Tower.

Would the Council please supply any information that it holds regarding this building please?

I understand that in broad terms it is listed as a Traditional Reinforced Concrete System, however I am trying to establish the exact name/ type of construction of this building.

I am also aware of a number of variants to the Traditional R.C system with variants A through to E and I would be obliged if you could state the variant of this property if known and also state if this building is of LPS (Large Panel System) construction?

Finally, may I ask if the Council holds any construction plans for Radcliffe Tower or any one similar tower of this same construction type? If so, would you kindly provide a copy of this?

Yours faithfully,

Marc Buck

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/construction_details_of_radcliff


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Admin
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Posts: 702
30/07/2018 5:22 pm  

Final Snippet for today – take a look in particular at the last paragraph taken from a BRE report into high rise buildings.

Mortgageability Issues
A total of 238 houses and 131 self-contained flats which collectively form the constituent Cornish, Reema, Unity and Wates stocks are classified as being ‘Defective’ under Part XVI of the Housing Act 1985. Consequently, most lenders would not consider these to be a sound investment for mortgage purposes, although some institutions will provide for properties that have been repaired using recognised over-cladding systems such as those approved by Norwich Union or more notably NTHAS. Whilst the Cornish type (I) flats, Reema and Wates houses have all effectively been party to this more cost effective approach, it is nevertheless anticipated that these and the remaining Unity houses will all need to be reinstated in accordance with a PRC Homes Ltd licensed scheme if full mortgageability is to be achieved.

Accepting the above to apply in the broader sense, it is important in this instance to remember that these licensed repair schemes were only ever intended to deal with single and two storey houses. Flats were effectively excluded from consideration at the time and are accordingly still approached with some caution by lenders today.

Before any long term decisions are taken with respect to the Reema houses, the Council are advised to investigate the potential for redeveloping the existing sites to accommodate an increased number of new, traditionally built, properties. Whilst a PRC Homes Ltd licensed scheme will serve to provide a fully mortgageable solution, the requisite scope of works and associated costs are such that it is often makes
better financial sense to demolish and rebuild.

Being as none of the other non-traditional dwellings are designated defective, there will be no recognised restrictions on mortgageability. Mortgages should therefore be readily available, subject to the individual status of the applicant and condition/marketability of the property.As regards the medium and high rise flats, whilst lenders can be reluctant to provide mortgages for these dwellings, the fact that some individual units are understood to be in private ownership (leasehold) may suggest that mortgageability has already been established locally.

 


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leogeo
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30/07/2018 8:04 pm  

Okay thank you so much for all of this. This has made things a lot clearer and I’m able to research this and do more research if needed. Thank you also for contacting the council for me for more info, let me know when you get a response. My mortgage broker managed to find a lender that does free valuations and has processed an application for me so I should be having their surveyor coming out soon and ill be able to hear their thoughts also. I’ll keep you informed on my application. many thanks again


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Admin
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04/09/2018 10:59 pm  

Hi Leogeo

I’ve had a reply back from our Freedom of Information request. Please see below:

Original Question

Request
“I would like to establish the exact construction type of Radcliffe Tower.
Would the Council please supply any information that it holds regarding this building please?
I understand that in broad terms it is listed as a Traditional Reinforced Concrete System, however I am trying to establish the exact name/ type of construction of this building.
I am also aware of a number of variants to the Traditional R.C system with variants A through to E and I would be obliged if you could state the variant of this property if known and also state if this building is of LPS (Large Panel System) construction?
Finally, may I ask if the Council holds any construction plans for Radcliffe Tower or any one similar tower of this same construction type? If so, would you kindly provide a copy of this?”

Response Birmingham City Council

Response
Construction of Radcliffe Tower consists of a reinforced concrete frame with cavity brick and block infill to the external walls. An external insulated render system was applied to the block in 1993.

The system of construction used on Radcliffe Tower is known as Alternate Frame Construction and was built by the Council’s Building Department in 1959.

No constructional plans are available for this or similarly constructed blocks.

We can confirm that this type of construction is not of a Large Panel Construction.


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