30 October 2023

How do we bring existing commercial building stock up to standard? - Refurbishment of warehouses and industrial buildings

According to a report by Savills in 2021, the size of the UK warehousing sector had grown by 32% since 2015 and stood at 565 million square feet of space for storage and distribution. This indicates a busy sector of the market and because warehouses, along with industrial buildings, experience high utilisation rates that can take their toll and introduce wear and tear, they will inevitably require refurbishment of the building fabric. When this happens, how should they be brought up to standard, both to comply with the building regulations and meet the project requirements of the client.

From a regulatory perspective, the Approved Document Part L 2021, which covers the ‘Conservation of fuel and power Volume 2: Buildings other than dwellings’, is the regulation that drives improvements to the thermal performance of the building fabric. From a business perspective a refurbishment can be an opportunity to carry out repairs, fix faults, upgrade the performance of the fabric, and refresh the look of the building. It may also be the time to consider extensions to increase business capacity or add other benefits to the site.

Whatever work is done, many warehouses and industrial buildings will utilise metal panels, either in their walls, floors, or roofs – or sometimes in all three areas of the building fabric. We will look at the some of the options available when refurbishing these elements but first we will explore what must be done to meet building regulations

Minsthorpe Leisure Centre

How do the building regulations affect refurbishment of industrial buildings and warehouses? 

Volume 2 of Part L 2021 has a section that covers the requirements when carrying out work to renovate thermal fabric elements in existing buildings, or, when adding new and replacement thermal elements.

Work to renovate fabric elements in existing buildings

Renovation relates to work done to a thermal element and is defined in section 11.2 of Part L as meaning one of the following:

thermal element

If the refurbishment of a warehouse or industrial building is included in the definition of a ‘renovation’ and the following applies:

a)    More than 50% of the surface of the individual thermal element is renovated
b)    The work constitutes a ‘major renovation’ (defined as major where more than 25% of the surface area of the external building envelope is renovated)

Then the thermal element should be improved to achieve the U-values in Table 4.2 column (b):

Limiting U-values for existing elements in existing buildings

As it may not always be feasible or viable to upgrade existing buildings to the levels outlined in Table 4.2, there are some instances where poorer U-values will be permitted as described in paragraph 4.8


New and replacement thermal elements in existing buildings

Guidance on new elements in existing buildings within Part L covers all the works defined in section 10.1

New elements in existing buildings - thermal element

If the refurbishment or extension of the warehouse or industrial building requires new elements or the replacement of existing elements, then the minimum standards in a different table apply.

This includes all the following:

a)    Elements in new buildings
b)    New elements in extensions to existing buildings
c)    New or replacement elements in existing buildings

 This time the limiting U-values in table 4.1 must be followed:

Limiting U-values for new or replacement elements in new and existing buildings and air permeability in new buildings

What other factors should be considered when refurbishing warehouses and industrial buildings?

From a business perspective, a refurbishment represents the chance to enhance the aesthetics of the existing building. Therefore, the surface finishes and colours of external and internal panels that are available will influence choice, as will their ability to resist weathering and any warranties from manufacturers that cover long term durability and performance. However, changes in the aesthetic appearance of existing buildings may be require planning permission so this may narrow the choice of suitable external panel colours and finishes.

The weather tightness of the metal panels and systems on offer will also be a key factor for consideration. This is especially true for exterior wall and roof panel systems. Sourcing both elements from one single manufacturer can create a building envelope where robust junction detailing comes as part of the package, to ensure maximum protection for the building contents after refurbishment.

Any refurbishment work will clearly lead to an element of disruption to the business. The level of disruption will depend on the refurbishment method required with over-roofing the existing covering being less onerous than a roof that is stripped off and re-sheeted. Choosing systems that can be quickly and easily installed can have a major impact as they shorten the time of the refurbishment project and minimise the impact on revenue generation. 

How can I get the best advice when selecting metal panel products for the refurbishment of warehouse and industrial buildings?

If you are looking for metal panels systems for any part of the building fabric when refurbishing a warehouse or industrial building, the experienced team at Building Systems UK, an enterprise of Tata Steel, can take you through a wide range of wall, floor and roof products.

For a quick and easy to install roof, we can offer the Building Systems UK, TrisometÒ system, an insulated panel manufactured for roofs & walls, available in a range of insulation thickness to match the requirements of Part L.">

For an over wall solution, we have TrisobuildÒ also available in a range of thickness and finishes to match both the thermal performance   and aesthetic requirements of your project. Alternatively for a flat wall appearance we have Trimapanel Flat and FormawallÒ insulated wall panels that produce a smooth faced, secret-fix, high end architectural finish and are available in bespoke lengths to minimise waste.

Both TrisometÒ and TrisobuildÒ can be specified with Colorcoat HPS200 UltraÒ pre-finished steel, where the durability of the finish is covered by a 40-year ConfidexÒ guarantee. If you are also considering fitting renewable energy systems as part of your refurbishment, the ConfidexÒ guarantee includes its use under PV panels.

Where your refurbishment requires decking for the roof, then the Tata Steel RoofDek offers structural steel roof decking products from 32mm to 200mm deep in a range of structural liner trays to suit your exact project requirements. If you are creating new space during a refurbishment project and require composite floor panels, then the ComFlorÒ system comes in a range of seven profiles and is designed for rapid installation to create long clear span composite concrete floors.

If you would like more information on how we can help with your refurbishment requirements please contact the Building Systems UK team who will be happy to offer support and guidance.

For further information