Myth: BBA approval is needed for steel lintels to meet NHBC technical standards
Fact: NMBC requires all products, materials and systems used on their registered sites to meet their technical requirement R3.
This frustrating myth is one we encounter on a regular basis here at Stressline; frustrating because we have seen first-hand evidence of the market being supplied with misleading, or dare I say, false information.
We took it upon ourselves to investigate exactly what NHBC requires to ensure we communicate with our customers, and the market in general, where they stand with regards to specifying, selecting and installing steel lintels. Whilst this investigation is not yet exhausted, it has enlightened us as to the overall view of NHBC, and why there may be some confusion.
This BBA certification issue is borne out of confusion in the marketplace, and as I stated at the start misleading information. It is true that the BBA, along with some other certification bodies, assess against the requirements of NHBC standards, and if they satisfied, there is an NHBC acceptance clause included in the agrément certificate.
This may give BBA certified products an advantage but it does not mean that BBA certification is essential, in fact as part of our investigation; we received a statement from NHBC:
“The BBA is an acceptable technical approvals body, but there are others across Europe. The NHBC does not endorse a particular approvals body.”NHBC Technical Department“The BBA is an acceptable technical approvals body, but there are others across Europe. The NHBC does not endorse a particular approvals body.”
Within their entire technical standard documentation, there is only one mention of BBA, and this relates to curtain walling and cladding systems. Their technical standard R3, which can be found here states that ‘materials and products used in critical functions’ should reach “compliance with the relevant British Standard or equivalent European Technical Specification approved by a Committee for Standardisation, provided they are used in accordance with the relevant Code of Practice.”
Alternatives to BBA
As stated by NHBC themselves, the BBA is one of many certification bodies, others including BDA Kiwa and BM Trada. However as you can see above in order to meet NHBC standards products must meet the relevant British or European standard, and this means compliance with the Constructions Product Regulation (CPR).
Under the CPR, it is mandatory for manufacturers to apply CE marking to any products covered by a harmonised European standard (hEN) or a European Technical Assessment (ETA). Steel lintels fall into this category and are subject to the most stringent of tests by a third party testing house in order to obtain CE marking.
Lintels must adhere to the British Standards BS EN 845-2 and BS EN 846-9:2016, in order to be sold within the UK. These British standards underpin the CE marking.
In addition, Stressline has recently achieved the BS EN 9001:2015 quality assurance accreditation, which includes an ongoing commitment to improving quality systems and factory operating procedures. This is assessed twice-yearly whereas BBA certificated products are only comprehensively reviewed every three years.
Surely, BBA approval is better than not?
We certainly take the point that if it is company policy to seek BBA approved products, and lintels specifically, before specifying them, then that is what will happen. But bear in mind that obtaining BBA certification is a costly exercise; a cost that invariably gets pushed on down the line to merchants, builders, and developers.
Stressline steel lintels are not BBA approved but they are CE marked, meet all NHBC technical requirements and more often than not represent a small, and sometimes significant cost-saving when compared to our competitors. We also have a comprehensive range and can engineer special lintels upon request.
For more information about steel lintels and our technical standards, please do not hesitate to get in contact.