|It is less a recurring theme and more a constantly dripping tap to hear and read that the Lead Contractors Association regularly vet all of their members – but what exactly does vetting mean, what is involved and why is it so important? LCA Vetting Chairman Steve Hempstock provides an insight.|
Vetting is quite simply an on site inspection by a member of the LCA Council to look at the work carried out by a member of the LCA. It is a mandatory requirement of LCA membership and there are no exceptions. On site inspections require physical access to the roof (not just a quick look up from ground level) and may even require leadwork to be lifted so that sizing and fixing details can be checked and verified.Fortunately one of the beauties of working with lead sheet is that it can be lifted and replaced without detriment to its appearance or performance and our vetting officers take full advantage of that opportunity for close up inspection.
LCA vetting officers are making sure that the leadwork conforms to BS6915, the Code of Practice for lead sheet roofing and cladding. This is because lead sheet is a soft metal that when fitted is subject to temperature changes that cause expansion and contraction, so has to be sized and fixed correctly to allow for this movement and yet remain securely in place. It is therefore essential to follow the rules of BS6915 (as illustrated and detailed in the Lead Sheet Manual) in order to gain optimum performance from the lead in situ and it is one of the reasons why lead sheet has such an unrivalled long term maintenance free life span.
Vetting also provides the opportunity for the vetting officer to discuss the project being inspected with the LCA member in person and perhaps explore why a particular detail was used. In this way they can be satisfied that the installer not only knows how to use the metal but also why that detail was required i.e. there is an understanding of the theory / design aspects behind installing lead sheet. Any detail that is found not to conform with BS6915 must be corrected or the contractor risks losing their LCA membership. A formal report of the inspection is compiled by the vetting officer and sent for approval, before being filed with the LCA Secretariat. It includes a grading of the work inspected and these grades are published in the directory and on the LCA web site. The vetting officer can award one of three grades, Satisfactory, Good or Excellent.
|Satisfactory – Every LCA member undertakes to install lead to the Code of Practice and so full compliance would result in them achieving a “Satisfactory” grade – i.e. the vetting officer is satisfied that the work he has seen fully complies with BS6915. Members with a Satisfactory grade are vetted the following year (as are all new members, regardless of the grade achieved in their initial vet).|
|Good – However, within such a “hands on” craft as leadwork, there is the opportunity to show a level of skill and knowledge that goes beyond the basic standard. A bossing detail for instance where no dresser marks are evident on the sheet, means an additional degree of care has been taken with regard to the finished aesthetics of the work. Under such circumstances, where the vetting officer views work that was not only fully compliant, but where a degree of additional care and attention to detail was demonstrated that exceeded the minimum requirements, he would award a “Good” grade. Anyone receiving a grading at this level will not need to be vetted again for two years.|
|Excellent – There are also projects where a comprehensive knowledge of leadwork can be demonstrated, together with an application skill in a complex or demanding technical situation that maximised the integrity and durability of the material. For such projects the vetting officer can award an “Excellent” grade and is confident that the member concerned would not need to be vetted again for a further three years.|
We take a great deal of pride in our vetting programme and self-policing the standards of our members work. In our view it is absolutely vital to make sure lead sheet is installed correctly as the consequences of getting it wrong are potentially horrendous.
|So if the LCA take quality standards in leadwork so seriously, shouldn’t the client, the architect and the main contractor take similarly stringent precautions to make sure the lead sheet being fitted on their project is done correctly? Shouldn’t all contractors have their work vetted?|
|Ungraded – Please note: It is compulsory for LCA members to attend one of the technical seminars held each year to ensure they remain up to date. Members that do not attend these Continuing Professional Development events are penalised by having their vetting grades reduced. Those already on the minimum grade are reclassified as “Ungraded”.|