Once upon a time there were three designer pigs:

The first designer pig designed a house of straw, but along came a shower of rain and because the walls weren’t protected by eaves, and the window details were appalling, and the waterproofing system comprised only paint over dodgy plasterwork, the walls rotted and the house fell down.  Along came a wolf, and the design pig was roasted.

The second designer pig designed a house of timber, which was all very well and good, but the pig did not stick around to see if the house got built properly, and the piggies who lived in the house closed all the windows to stay warm in winter, and didn’t venture outside to clean out the gutters or even stop the weeds growing up very close to the walls.  The insulation and building wrap ensured that the walls were always wet inside and before very long the house was a great place for growing mushrooms, many of which were not found until the wall linings were removed.  Along came a wolf who was keen to see that the piggies who lived in the house grew big and fat instead of being weak and sick from the dampness.  He made sure that the design pig paid the costs of making the piggies and the house better again.  

The third designer pig was much smarter and more stylish.  Of course, a brick chimney was out of the question because of the earthquake risk, and possibly because a wolf could fall down it.  Instead, one of those very stylish metal fireplaces was put in to keep the piggies who lived in the house healthy and happy.  And everyone was.  Well, for a couple of years, anyway.  Because what happened then was that the house suddenly burst into flames.  The wolf was not at all happy that the piggies were overcooked and he asked a wise old owl what could have possibly happened.  The owl yawned and said (in a doleful way) “pyrophilia” which the wolf looked up on Google (with some surprise!) and found should have been “pyrophoric carbonization”. 

And the moral of this story? 

1.            Whenever an aspect of design or construction is critical to the performance of the completed building, both design and installation are critical activities.  In these cases, proper detailing and specification, observation during construction, and review of manufacturer’s installation requirements may have saved the designer pigs’ bacon. 

2.            Any hot surface in proximity to timberwork has the long-term potential dry out the timber to the point that spontaneous ignition may occur at temperatures less than would happen by the application of a direct flame.

3.            If reliant on intumescent products for fire protection, do not ignore the need to provide specific fixing details, clearances for expansion, and installation conditions applicable to that product.

4.            If the ongoing satisfactory performance of an element of a building – or its continued warranty cover – is reliant on maintenance, then it is in the interests all concerned that the need for that maintenance is made clear.

5.            Wolves can be scary and hungry