Recent changes to the testing and verification standards for MgO Building boards as required by the UK Insurance and Warranty market -in particular NHBC- highlights again the need for a single voice to represent the UK MgO (& MgSO4) board suppliers and board users.

MOBBTA (Magnesium Oxide Building Board Trade Association) was formed in 2017 precisely for the purpose of maintaining quality standards for boards to be used in UK Construction, and ensuring that an objective and impartial voice would exist to handle any issues raised by the users, the regulators, the insurers or the public at large.

The founder members of MOBBTA, some of the largest suppliers in UK, formed a Technical Committee to start the dialogue with the professional bodies, and co-opted a highly regarded independent consultant in the field, to serve as a counter-balance. In addition, contacts have maintained with other Trade Associations such as STA Structural Timber Association, to ensure good communication between interested parties.

For most of 2018, MOBBTA was developing a technical guide with NHBC and other insurers, to address both issues raised by the original ‘Denmark’ tests as well as other concerns of the insurers such as board labelling and audit trail, support structures and fastener specifications. In addition to a set of standard BS EN testing for all boards, MOBBTA proposed an enhanced testing programme focusing on long-term humidity, in essence a more comprehensive set of tests of boards than the Danish tests of 2016 had carried out. All MOBBTA boards had already been tested specifically to ‘Danish’ standards by the same Denmark Labs, and found to have none of the catastrophic results (mould, leaching) at UK humidity levels. Subsequent tests using realistic sized board samples (Denmark tests were based on 2 gramme split-board samples) gave even more encouraging results for UK boards.

Significant progress had been made in both these new tests and the Installation Guide for the Insurers, before NHBC elected in Dec 2018 to publish their technical note on their website, applying conditions to the use of MgO board on their projects (in particular third-party verification of basic boards) Other insurers such as Premier Guranteee / LABC have followed suit to a greater or lesser degree, and the market has been trying to adjust to this seismic event, from board suppliers, to modular assembly factories, to render-board and systems suppliers, ever since. MOBBTA are presenting their final extended-test proposals to the insurers in the next week or so, before hopefully starting the approved testing programme shortly thereafter.