BS8102 Design Team, Waterproofing Specialists, and protecting P.I.

showimageBS8102 is the main design guide for structural (basement) waterproofing in the UK.  The 1990 document was revised by a BSI panel incorporating experts from across the industry, then with a public consultation, leading to the document coming into effect on 30th November 2009.

Although there are other relevant waterproofing design guides, as a code of practice BS8102 stands above, and is what we as waterproofing specialists refer to on a daily basis for guidance, and often to prove the requirement for recommendations we make.

One of the principle pieces of advice included in the new BS8102 (2009), aimed squarely at project Specifiers, falls under the heading of ‘Design Team’.  The advice included is that

‘A waterproofing specialist should be included as part of the design team so that an integrated waterproofing solution is created’,

…then listing greater detail of what is required to be considered a ‘waterproofing specialist’.

The principle objective of this advice is to have Specifiers approach experts who can ensure that a design is produced which is correct for a given site, considering all of the appropriate factors laid out within BS8102 (2009) and other applicable design guides.

The purpose of including this advice within BS8102 (2009) is that historically and even now, Specifiers may take on the responsibility for waterproofing design, and without suitable specialist knowledge can make mistakes which result in failures, which we then find ourselves remedying under professional indemnity insurance claims on the designing Specifiers cover.
So, the advice in BS8102 (2009) regarding the use of waterproofing specialists on design teams is potentially game changing??

Not necessarily.

Undoubtedly, part of what has caused issues historically is the use of ‘standard details’, illustrating how a given product may be installed.

These are freely available to download from many system manufacturer or supplier websites or may be supplied for specific projects, and while they can serve a purpose, both for product manufacturers in getting specified, and for Specifiers looking to fulfil requirements for provision of waterproofing designs, the danger is that they are simply included in schemes without first going through the necessary design process laid out within BS8102 (2009), this leading to potential risk because not every detail is right for every site and structure.

Such risks are evidently recognised by those that provide the details, because inevitably they include design disclaimers and statements that state (for example)..

Designs must be signed off by suitably experienced Architects/Engineers/Consultants..

This puts design responsibility firmly back onto Specifiers P.I. Therefore, you might think that designing by standard detail would be discouraged by BS8102 but paradoxically, BS8102 also includes the following:

‘NOTE the waterproofing specialist could be the manufacturer or material supplier, provided that the manufacturer/supplier has the relevant expertise’.

showimageIf employing such parties as the ‘design team waterproofing specialist’, who may then specifically disclaim design responsibility through reliance on suitably experienced Architects & Engineers to make correct use of standard details provided, I question whether you can realistically consider such parties as a suitable waterproofing specialist for inclusion on a design team, because how would this work where the Architects/Engineers are not suitably experienced?

It’s catch 22, and in this respect the standard is somewhat contradictory.

At Trace, we do not supply standard details and waterproofing designs are tailored to individual schemes after consideration of the necessary factors, which we then back with our own professional indemnity cover.  We believe that this is the safest approach to structural waterproofing design both for us and the Specifiers we work with, and better complies with the principle of the revised BS8102.

For those manufacturers who might accuse me of commercial bias in highlighting this, I would recommend that you obtain P.I. cover and take responsibility for the advice provided.  To those that already do, I applaud you.

We also anticipate that it is a matter of time before an issue occurs resulting in a legal challenge, because arguably, in providing design details as a specialist supplier you would most likely be viewed as the ‘expert’, having a duty of care to those that come to you for advice, disclaimers or not.

James Hockey BA (Hons) CSRT CSSW - Waterproofing Designer.