23 February 1996



There is now a well established British Standard for all types of farm building. Architect Nick Woodhams, chairman of the committee which produced and regularly updates BS 5502, highlights some of the issues to consider when buying a new building

BRITISH Standard 5502: Buildings and Structures for Agriculture, was first published in 1978, but is still unheard of by many farmers.

Since the original part on structures was produced, a further 28 parts have been added to it over the years, and one has to suspect that even many farm building designers and manufacturers are unaware of its contents.

Some that do know about BS5502 think that it is all to do with the strength of a building. Well it is, but there is lot more to it than that.

The standard is divided into five main sections covering general data, design, livestock buildings, crop buildings and ancillary buildings.

For example, the section on design includes codes of practice for the selection and use of construction materials, for fire precautions, the design and installation of services and facilities, and on the control of infestation.

It also includes a guide to waste management, noise attenuation and odour control.

The section on livestock buildings includes codes of practice for the design and construction of cattle, sheep, pig and poultry buildings, sheep pens and milking premises.

It also gives advice on the design, construction and use of slurry storage tanks and reception pits, on slatted, perforated and mesh floors for livestock and on the design of alarm and emergency ventilation systems.

The section on crop buildings includes information on ventilated and environmentally-controlled stores, bins and silos, while the final section on ancillary buildings covers farm workshops, chemical stores and personnel buildings.

Each section is sub-divided into parts. Some parts are applicable to all buildings, while others are directed more to designers than users.

For example, Part 22: Design Construction & Loading gives figures for the strength or integrity of a building, to be ascertained from wind and snow loads, the thrust from stored materials and the risk to people using the building, and Part 21: Selection & Use of Construction Materials which amongst other things refers to new building materials, will be of particular interest to designers and specifiers.

Of more interest to dairy farmers will be the relevant sections of Part 40: Cattle Buildings, Part 49: Milking Premises and if slatted floors are involved, Part 51.

Arable farmers will be more interested in sections such as Part 70: Ventilated Floor Stores.

The committee responsible for BS5502 is not just boffins. It is drawn from a wide cross-section of interests in farm buildings including users represented by the NFU and CLA; designers (surveyors, engineers and architects); farm building fabricators, material manufacturers, veterinary specialists in animal welfare and safety specialists.

The Standard is constantly under review, and being amended and updated. Currently, Part 23: Fire precautions is being reviewed.

Overall, the standard contains a wealth of information from legislation through structural integrity, loads from stored crops and silage, fire precautions, animal welfare to glasshouses and chemical stores.

Not only is the standard the UKs yardstick, but it also has European and international recognition. For example, the greenhouse section is at present being used as the base for producing a new EU standard.

British Standard publications are not cheap, but that goes for anything that is worthwhile. Most county libraries hold British Standards in the reference section, while agricultural colleges may have a set in their libraries.

So the next time you ask for a quote for a new farm building, check that it really does comply with ALL the parts of BS5502 that are relevant to your needs.

Remember that a completed building that conforms to the structural requirements of the standard should have a plate on it stating that it complies, together with any recommended limitations like the maximum height of stored grain. All building drawings and written references should also make that information clear.

An example of a new farm building that meets all the standards of BS5502. This one was built by Marlborough, Wilts – based Scorpion Engineering.

Another farm building from Scorpion Engineering which meets the standards of BS5502. Before you get a quote from a firm for a new building, check they can meet the standard, advises architect Nick Woodhams.