REUTERS | Navesh Chitrakar

Ask the team: what are the Eurocodes and do I need to change my drafting?

What are Eurocodes?

The Eurocodes are a flexible, pan-European set of standards for use in structural design. They are divided into ten areas, the first two of which act as the common foundation for the detail that follows:

  • Base Eurocode – Basis of structural design (needed for use with all other Eurocodes).
  • Eurocode 1 Series – Action on structures (Eurocodes and related information on loading).
  • Eurocode 2 Series – Design of concrete structures (Eurocodes and related information on concrete).
  • Eurocode 3 Series – Design of steel structures (Eurocodes and related information on steel structures).
  • Eurocode 4 Series – Design of composite steel and concrete structures (Eurocodes and related information on composites).
  • Eurocode 5 Series – Design of timber structures (Eurocodes and related information on timber).
  • Eurocode 6 Series – Design of masonry structures (Eurocodes and related information on masonry).
  • Eurocode 7 Series – Geotechnical design (Eurocodes and related information on geotechnics).
  • Eurocode 8 Series – Design of structures for earthquake resistance (Eurocodes and related information on seismic regions).
  • Eurocode 9 Series – Design of aluminium structures (Eurocodes and related information on aluminium).

The Eurocodes are primarily intended for use by structural engineers as they carry out their professional functions.

Why are the Eurocodes important?

Although they have received relatively little publicity, following completion of the final Eurocodes, from March 2010, equivalent national standards were withdrawn across the European Union, leaving a common European approach to structural design.

Confusingly, in the UK, although the Eurocodes have replaced any previous equivalent British Standards, the Approved Documents to the Building Regulations 2010 still refer to some of those withdrawn British Standards. For more information, see this letter from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

In summary, the Eurocodes are vital, in that they underpin the structural design aspects of the Building Regulations.

Do I need to change my drafting?

Construction contracts typically require a professional consultant or contractor carrying out design to comply with all applicable statutes and statutory instruments. That drafting is usually sufficient to incorporate an obligation to comply with the Building Regulations 2010, even if the clause does not expressly refer to those particular regulations by name.

In turn, the Building Regulations refer to the Approved Documents, which refer to British Standards. Despite the potential confusion caused by the outdated references in the Approved Documents referred to above, in this way, a typical clause will also encompass an obligation to (in effect) comply with the appropriate parts of the Eurocodes.

Many construction and engineering documents and contracts also impose obligations not to use or specify inappropriate materials (or “deleterious” or “prohibited” materials) in a project. For example, see the definition of Deleterious and clause 3.2 of our professional appointment.

If you use or come across a prohibited materials clause that refers to specific British Standards, check that the references have been updated to refer to the latest EN series, which implement the Eurocodes. However, a generic reference to current British Standards will still be effective, so it would usually be appropriate to leave alone a prohibited materials clause that refers to current British Standards. It would be a duplication to refer to current British Standards and the Eurocodes, because current British Standards implement the Eurocodes.

For these reasons, we have not had to update the prohibited materials clauses in our PLC Construction standard documents (precedents), but you may come across other documents that should be adjusted or updated.

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