In response to the letter Misinformation results from batten change, I note Mr Coulson’s comments suggesting that changes to the British Standard have caused confusion. In reality, the changes have provided absolute clarity in terms of the size of side-knots now allowed – they have been reduced from 15mm to 5mm.

There is clearly sufficient published evidence in the hands of the British Standards Institute to support that professional body’s view that a change to the British Standard was required. Not all evidence is widely published for the consumption of those people who sit outside of the key decision-making bodies. The inference that the BSI has somehow “pushed through” this change is also surprising, given the stringent processes they follow, including a formal period available for public comment.

It’s worth reminding readers that this change to the Standard merely rectified an irregularity in the 2003 version. Also, in my view, the extract quoted [in the letter] shows that the comments are made in the context of smaller section timbers only, such as those cut for roofing battens, rather than in the wider context of structurally graded timber.

Finally, no-one has denied that it’s possible to grade all timbers if the grader has been properly trained to recognise defects. However, this comment has been taken out of the context in which it was made – ie, on-the-job grading on building sites, most of which are unlikely to contain graders properly trained to recognise defects.

I feel I should make the point that when one purchases structural timber it is stamped and graded having been through stringent checks at the sawmills, meaning that further on-site checks are not required by site fixers. This was clearly not the case for tile battens until the advent of JB-RED, which finally offered surety from the supplier, eliminating any need to on-site checking to conform to the BS. This is the reason that Bracknell Roofing decided three years ago to specify only JB Red on future contracts.

Alan Chumley
Managing director
Bracknell Roofing