MMC and the certification process that backs structural defects warranties – A Micro view – Part 2

In this second of our two-part article series Foot Anstey and Premier Guarantee explore key issues in respect of the system acceptance processes governing structural defects warranties.  You can find the first article here.

A structural defects warranty sets up rigorous and independent checks by the warranty provider in the approval processes of the MMC systems.  In this regard the system acceptance processes are key to approve the MMC systems such as the modules.  This is a separate process that precedes the quote that is provided by a warranty provider for the structural defects warranty itself.

This Q&A is based on some broad questions raised by Foot Anstey to draw out some key themes and issues in the certification process that backs such warranties. The answers provided by Premier Guarantee draw on their industry experience and operations to shed light on the system acceptance processes. 

1. How long does the certification process take? Is there any ongoing monitoring requirement? 

The time frame is dependent on the type of structure and the complexity of the system. Generally modular systems take much more time for assessment due to the complexity of the whole build and the many variations of use for that system.

Simple open panel systems assessment should take no more than three months depending on our  current workload and assessments in progress. In addition this timeframe is dependent on whether a full design pack including product specification and calculations are also provided and the degree of the information provided is deemed sufficient by us.

As part of the system assessment we carry out factory and test site inspections. Once the system is accepted for the warranty, the system is subject to annual renewal assessments and factory/site inspections that are carried out by a member of our Innovation Team or Risk Management Surveyor dealing with a specific project.

2. Why is a Premier Guarantee helpful with regards to certifying an MMC system?

Our system acceptance process has been developed to help manufacturers gain accreditation under our technical requirements, allowing them to promote themselves as an accepted system provider. As part of our warranty application process, property developers must ensure that the products and systems that they use on site are accepted by us in line with the requirements of our Technical Manual. Using products and systems that are not accepted by Premier Guarantee may lead to lengthy delays on site and could result in the development being rejected for structural warranty cover.

Our approval process is one of the most robust in the Structural Warranty market where we audit manufacturers on design, quality control, assembly, transportation and on-site construction, giving developers and lenders the confidence and trust in the system.

3. As part of your review process, do you consider the practicalities of delivering modular/MMC systems to site?  What are your views on the challenges in this area?

We do not review practicalities of delivering modular / MMC systems to site as it is very individual and is virtually impossible to assess under standard acceptance. We do however assess the system regarding durability and issues posed by multiple loading/unloading and lifting into place. We do also review protection of the elements during the whole production cycle, non-conformity process and probable issues in regard to potential damage and remediation plan.

4. Can you explain the interplay between Premier Warranties and BOPAS? 

There is no interplay, our assessment processes are different and we cannot accept each other's certification at present. We are however working with NHBC and BLP to create a minimum standard for off-site construction, although each warranty provider might have their own additional requirements based on their history and claims experience.

5. When considering a new system from a warranty / insurance perspective, what are the top 3 features / elements of the system you look for?

(a)  Structure - we ensure that materials and structural design achieves a minimum of 60 years of designed life span

(b) Protection from moisture and water ingress through the envelope - we assess protection of the system at each stage of construction starting from the factory, storage, transportation up to on site installation

(c) Metal corrosion and timber decay protection – this is due to interstitial condensation risk and running/seeping water i.e. into floor cassette construction, which is often related to design below the external ground level

(d)  (and one more for the road) Evidence of suitability for all components for their intended use.

Please note that Premier Guarantee Acceptance does not constitute a 3rd Party Product Approval from a UKAS Accredited Testing Body or any form of Building Regulation approval. This Premier Guarantee Acceptance is purely to recognise that this system/product can meet our warranty requirements and must not be considered to be anything else.

This article is a collaboration piece to build crucial industry links to positively enable the take-up of MMC and its role in sustainable construction. The authors are Maciej Pulawski (Head of Innovation, Premier Guarantee), Piers Durrant (Marketing Manager, Premier Guarantee), Suriya Edwards (Managing Associate, Construction, Foot Anstey LLP) and Adam Burrage (Senior Associate, Commercial Property, Foot Anstey LLP). For further details on MMC and stress-testing contracts please contact Foot Anstey LLP or for Premier's structural defects warranty please contact Premier Guarantee.

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