New Build New Risk?

NEW BUILD NEW RISK?

One of the joys of a new build is the assumption that the property has been constructed in line with accepted best practice, reflecting the use of the latest materials, the most up to date technologies and perhaps most importantly, in accordance with current day health and safety guidance.

WRONG.

At least that is the case when you consider the number of new build properties that are being marketed with what can only be described as dangerous powered gates. These gates - frequently referred to in the glossy marketing brochure, in terms of their ability to add prestige / kudos to a luxury build by providing added security and privacy - are in fact in the majority of cases contributing something completely different – a serious hazard.

Perimeter security / access control, call it what you want, but the reality is that all too often the exterior space linked to the property becomes the rushed phase of the build. By the time works are completed on the main building, the developer is anxious to get the property onto the market and perhaps speed rather than attention to detail become the priority.

For properties that feature either within a gated community, or which benefit from their own impressive entrance this can result in a number of issues:

  • Insufficient planning may have gone into establishing where the gates should be sited and how they will operate. For example, if the drive to the gates is on a slope, how will this impact on the opening and closing of the gates? Will this result in an unsafe gap at the bottom of the gate, which could become a potential trapping point for a child? Does the gate open out onto a brick pillar which could also represent a dangerous ‘pinch’ point, as evidenced by the tragic deaths of two young girls in separate powered gate accidents within a gated housing development ….
  • Who has actually installed the gates? Frequently, the main contractors involved in the construction of the house may be diverted onto other building projects for which they have not been specifically trained. The ‘accidental installer’ will not have the requisite knowledge or expertise to deliver a safe – not to mention legally compliant - automated gate installation
  • Equally, if the overall build cost is starting to look a little over budget, then possibly the developer may have brought someone in to handle this aspect of the project based purely on cost rather than expertise? Including the essential and yes, legal safety features on an automated gate will add, in the region of £700 to the overall installation cost. The question to ask is, is £700 really so much to spend if it represents the cost of saving someone from a serious accident, or potentially saving their life?
  • If the developer is selling the property as a brand new build, does the gate come complete with all the necessary paperwork and details of the ongoing maintenance arrangements that should have been negotiated with any reputable installer when the gate was originally fitted? If the gate has been in situ for a number of years, is there access to records to demonstrate that it has been adequately maintained in line with industry best practice, every six months?

Gate Safe conducts independent audits on automated gates all over the UK and the results remain worrying. Over 90% of gates audited feature risks that should have been designed out / mitigated against by the installation of the appropriate safety features.

If you are a property developer the advice is simple. Always seek out a Gate Safe Aware installer to undertake any works associated with an automated gate to avoid ending up facing a possible hefty fine, loss of reputation and living with the guilt of having caused an accident.

If you are an estate agent, don’t risk putting your reputation at risk by selling on a property which features an unsafe gate. Just as you’d ask for documentation regarding any gas appliances, seek out the relevant documents to reassure you that the gate (which is actually classed as a machine) is safe.

If you are selling a property with an automated gate, you should be able to produce all the relevant documentation to prove that the gate has been installed and maintained correctly. If not, get the gate checked by a Gate Safe Aware installer to avoid selling on the risk and possibly being implicated in any resulting court proceedings.

Finally, if you are a buyer. Buying new does not always mean buying safe. Ask the right questions to check the safety and legality of any automated gates. Or ask a Gate Safe Aware installer to look at them before you put in an offer.