The potential for water damage during the construction phase of a project is nothing new – but when it happens, the effects can be devastating, particularly for SME developers. Why then, does water monitoring often play second-fiddle to fire and intruder alarms?

According to some of the UK’s leading Contractors All Risks (CAR) insurance underwriters, ‘water is the new fire’. Having seen the impact unexpected – and often uncontrolled – egress can have on the best laid plans, the industry is slowly starting to wake up to the importance of protecting sites from the damage caused by burst pipes and leaks.

While fire and intruder systems are installed without a second thought, a leak detection system is often the first thing to be cut from project budgets, in spite of the massive knock-on effect – in terms of time and budgets – when things go wrong.

Water leak detection solutions can effectively monitor and track the flow of water through any pipeline. And, if at any point an abnormal flow is spotted, the system will immediately cut off the water stream to the building by closing a valve within the leak detector. Working by carefully monitoring the flow of water litre by litre and analysing the data, thus registering potential problems, isolating the water supply, and preventing further damage.

Although such installations aren’t compulsory (yet!) the best-practice guidance issued by Construction Insurance Risk Engineers Group (CIREG), advises UK developers to consider investing in a leak detection system if they operate within the specialist field of CAR insurance.

Of course, when not stipulated as a requirement of cover, the prohibiting factor to the installation of such devices is often the cost. But, for an average investment of £3,000 at the start of the project, developers could save thousands of pounds on the cost of their premiums – with some underwriters willing to foot the bill for the fitting and operation of the system.

Developers needn’t opt for an all-singing-all-dancing solution. While there are options to monitor water ingress in every room or level, there are much more cost-effective solutions which will automatically turn off the water supply outside of site working hours – in order to give peace of mind that if there is a leak, someone would be on site to notice it and act accordingly.

There’s an added bonus too. As well as mitigating risk in terms of building protection, the installation of a leak detection system also ticks a vital sustainability ‘box’ – counting towards BREEAM sustainability points and allowing developers to market properties as ‘sustainable builds’.

While contractors that have previously fallen foul to the devastation a leak can cause will often include such a solution as standard, there is work to be done in terms of educating the industry as a whole as to the benefits of such a precaution.

If you have any water leak detection queries, please contact our team of specialists. Call: 01226 244 200, or email: