Eurocodes baffle building industry

Published:  01 November, 2010

LONDON: Building professionals are "falling short" with poor understanding of Eurocodes, said Paul Cowton of property and construction consultancy McBains Cooper.

"We attended a seminar recently, and anecdotally, literally 90% of the construction professionals in the room had not even heard of Eurocodes," he said.

The pan-European model building codes developed by the European Committee for Standardisation should have been fully adopted in the UK from April this year, when British Standard codes for construction stopped being updated.

"This is a potentially massive issue: our research indicates that the vast majority of construction industry professionals are blissfully unaware that Eurocodes are here – and that two-thirds of civil engineers feel uncomfortable with Eurocodes – and that they have been designing and specifying buildings to outdated British Standards since updates stopped," said Mr Cowton.

"Only around a third of civil engineers said they've received any Eurocodes training. It's a ticking time bomb, and sooner or later there's going to be a slip up resulting in litigation at the very least."

"British Standards for building will be withdrawn completely in 2013, and simply aren't being updated. But so far as we can see, the vast majority of professionals in building design simply don't know about Eurocodes, but the front-line engineers do.

"This is about professionalism in the construction sector, and, frankly, it is falling apart when it comes to Eurocodes. But it is a tediously important piece of legislation.

"Back in April we warned that Eurocodes will sneak up and bite any UK construction company or professional services business that does not recognise their importance.

"The EU directive states that national codes were to be withdrawn on 31 March 2010, and the BSI has confirmed they are complying with that directive and will not be supporting changes to British Standards beyond March. The updating of Building Regulations to reflect this directive will not take place until 2013.

Many Engineers see this as the point of no return when they must use the Eurocodes.

"The fact is that it is the contracts that will decide when we must change, particularly public contracts which will undoubtedly require the change to take place immediately."

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