Saturday 10 April 2021

U-turn on Pre-Plaster Door Inspections is Good News for Fire Safety

Richard Kowalski

The NHBC has announced a U-turn on its decision to insist all fire frames must be installed and sealed at the pre-plaster inspection stage.
The amended guidance was published in a new technical update and comes after Stairways Midlands highlighted the potential threat to fire safety in new homes as a result of the change, which came into force in January, designed to demonstrate the product has been sealed to the partition correctly.

It caused concern as it made it impossible to supply door sets that offered greater fire resistance, despite fire safety being in the spotlight more than ever and door sets widely being seen as the way forward to ensure compliance and improve safety.

The updated advice now offers three options for installers and contractors, which helps maintain both the high levels of safety offered by door sets and testing for integrity:

Option 1: Fire door frames installed at pre-plaster stage

This was the original requirement from the update in October 2020 and is still a valid option.

Option 2: Fire door linings installed at pre-plaster stage

Fire door linings could be plywood or part of the fire door set provided by the manufacturer or supplier. The lining would be installed at pre-plaster to allow the fitting of the frame at a later stage of the build process. The fire door frame should fit tightly within the plywood lining.*

Option 3: Fire door frames installed after pre-plaster

Fire door frames can be installed post-plaster and architraves not fitted until satisfactory inspection by NHBC has been completed. Once installed, the site manager should notify their Building Inspector that the door set is ready for inspection. The Building Inspector will then inspect the door frame installation on their next visit to site, thus negating the need for a separate inspection.

The NHBC is also conducting a trial to assess the viability of accepting UKAS-accredited installers (third-party certificated) as an additional option.

Richard Kowalski, Technical Manager (Doors Division), at Stairways Midlands, who voiced concerns after the initial change, said: 
“This is definitely a win for safety and we are very grateful that NHBC has taken comments on board and looked again at its guidance.
“The three options now give much more flexibility and allow for fire secure door sets to be fitted and inspected at appropriate times, rather than making it all-but impossible to use them.
“It demonstrates that consultation with industry on these types of decisions, intended to further improve quality and safety, is essential.”

Stairways Midlands Ltd will continue to highlight updates and any further inspection changes. For more information, visit,

*Installers must ensure that the certification for the door/door set allows this type of installation. If unsure please check with the door supplier.

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