RAAC Council Housing

Various concerns have been raised about the use of a type of concrete in the construction of public buildings known as RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete).  RAAC is a lightweight material which was used mostly in flat roofing between the 1950s and 1990s.

Aberdeen City Council has been aware of concerns about the use of this product and has previously conducted a range of surveys and inspections of buildings to assess whether these buildings have this material present.  This work has identified several properties which have RAAC within their construction.

We are currently reviewing the guidance in place and will be undertaking further inspection and testing works in the affected buildings over the next months.

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) is a lightweight construction material that was used in the construction of some public buildings like schools and hospitals and some housing between the 1950s and 1990s. It was used mostly in flat roofing, but also in some pitched roofs, floors and walls.

It was quicker to produce, easier to install, and cheaper than standard concrete. Despite its name, it is very different to traditional concrete although it looks similar. It is aerated, or ‘bubbly’, and it has now been found to be less durable than traditional concrete.

Desktop surveys have been ongoing across the housing estate with an initial focus on flat roof properties. This also includes mono-pitched roof properties, which are roofs that only slant in a single direction. Inspection work will follow, where appropriate, across all council house properties. 

To date we have identified circa 373 buildings (505 addresses) within the Balnagask area, that are understood to have RAAC construction panels within the roofs at the time they were originally constructed. 

If ongoing surveys identify RAAC in other properties or house types, we will contact occupiers directly. 

 

At any property where the presence of RAAC is likely as identified through the desktop assessment, further surveys will be carried out on these property types (but only as far as within the ownership of the Council).

We are working with independent structural engineers who are appropriately qualified and experienced to assess the condition of the RAAC in a small number of our vacant properties in the Balnagask area.  

Property visits are being arranged with individual tenants to assess the condition of their property. This includes; surveys, non-destructive testing and intrusive surveys where necessary to determine condition, original construction detail and other relevant technical assessments.  

The information gathered will lead to the development of an action plan, to address any risks identified (where appropriate), for further discussion with residents. 

RAAC has proven to be not as durable as other concrete building materials. It has a variable lifespan which is influenced by many factors, such as maintenance, water ingress and the original construction quality and detail. 

If not maintained, RAAC has the potential to develop structural risks over time which can lead to further degradation and potential collapse. 

Consideration is ongoing to fully assess the current condition of the RAAC and identify any works that could be undertaken to improve the properties, where appropriate. 

If you are a private owner, our advice is not to attempt to identify whether there is RAAC in your property, or to assess the condition of known RAAC planks yourself. 

Due to the nature of the material, defects can be difficult to identify. If you are unsure whether your property includes RAAC, then you should use a suitably qualified structural engineer. 

Where the Council are aware that RAAC is likely to be present, we will write to owners/occupiers. The council will look to engage with private owners to identify what support they may require in relation to their property. 

For Council tenancies only and where RAAC is known to be in place, we will advise you whether you need to vacate your property to allow the survey works to be carried out. If this applies to you, we will support you throughout the process. 

We are continuing to work closely with independent structural engineers. We can advise that inspections and intrusive investigation of RAAC panels are currently on-going to assess their current condition. We will confirm the outcome of these investigations and next steps when the investigatory work on the initial sample of properties is complete and we have had considered the recommendations. We expect to provide a further update when a mitigation strategy has been approved.

If you are concerned that your home may contain RAAC, we recommend that you have it inspected by a qualified Chartered Structural Engineer in accordance with the guidance issued by the Scottish Government and the Institution of Structural Engineers. The chartered Structural Engineer will be able to assess the condition of the concrete planks, whether RAAC is present, and advise you on any necessary mitigation works.

In the meantime, there are a few things that you can do to make your home safer:

  • Check for any signs of damage to the RAAC planks, such as cracks, bulges, or discoloration.
  • If you see any damage, contact a qualified chartered Surveyor/Structural Engineer immediately. You should not undertake remedial action yourself.

It is important to take independent advice on the potential risks to you and to have your home inspected by a qualified Structural Engineer if you are in any way concerned.

While the Council cannot provide you with property, legal or financial advice, you can find contact details for suitably qualified professionals via the RICS website or via the Institution of Structural Engineers website. 

If you are a council tenant and have been advised by Aberdeen City Council that it is understood that your property had RAAC construction panels within the roofs at the time they were originally constructed, and you are concerned about dampness or water penetration then you should contact us.

If you are a private tenant and you suspect or have been made aware that RAAC could have been used in the construction of your property, you should speak with your landlord in the first instance to discuss your concerns.

No. Any financial costs will remain with you as owner. You are advised to discuss this with your professional advisor and insurance company. If necessary, you should seek independent legal and/or financial advice (which would be undertaken at your cost).

If RAAC has been manufactured, installed, and maintained correctly, then it poses no more danger to a building than other construction products.

We are carrying out intrusive testing on a small number of our vacant properties and can advise that these investigations are still on-going. It is important to understand that each property needs to be assessed by qualified professionals.

These preliminary assessments have revealed a range of conditions of the RAAC roof panels. Our intention is to extend these inspections to occupied properties to inform our wider consideration of our estate.

At this stage we are currently undertaking a programme of inspection and testing works to assess the current condition of RAAC within our properties. As these assessments are still ongoing, we are not currently able to advise what next steps will be required.

The Council will need to assess and consider the options available to us after collating the reports prepared by our advisors (who are independent professionals).

Any decision-making and/or action plans thereafter will be discussed with individual tenants as soon as reasonably practicable.

The properties have been maintained (roof replacement) in accordance with our asset cycle maintenance.

Current investigations are considering a full sample of properties including those that have been re-roofed and those that have only had limited works.

If you are a private owner, you should contact your building insurance company and discuss your building insurance policy with them. Your insurer should be able to advise whether you have the necessary insurance cover in place to remedy the presence of RAAC within your property.

Any matters associated with insurance and/or remedial works will remain with you as owner. You are advised to discuss this with your insurance company and/or professional advisor. If necessary, you should seek independent legal and/or financial advice (which would be undertaken at your cost).

The Council cannot provide you with financial and/or legal advice associated with your mortgage. You are recommended to contact your mortgage provider should you have any concerns.

From the sample of properties inspected, there is evidence of deterioration due to the passing of time, as there would be with any roof. Options will be considered following a review and assessment of the independent Structural Engineer's report and further communication will take place with individual tenants. 

At the moment, the Council is in the process of reviewing and assessing detailed professional reports. This can take time, although we are aware of the concern surrounding properties potentially affected by RAAC materials. We hope to provide further updates once full details are available. 

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