This page contains answers to frequently asked questions and advice for the public and members regarding Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).

The below link provides guidance from the government for responsible bodies and education settings with confirmed RAAC.

Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete: guidance for responsible bodies and education settings with confirmed RAAC - view on GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Find a surveyor

Find a surveyor is a RICS resource to help you find a suitably experienced professional to help you with your property problems, such as a RICS chartered building surveyor.

RICS Find a Surveyor (ricsfirms.com)

RAAC: Statement from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

04 September 2023

The public concern about this matter is understandable given the potential safety issues involved and the impact of current measures on students and teachers.

RICS and fellow professional bodies with specialist structural expertise have been working with government and building operators through the Construction Industry Council (CIC) to better understand the nature of RAAC risks and identify buildings constructed with it.

Through this work, RICS is actively advising the UK Department for Education (DfE) on surveys of the school estate the department has commissioned. We are working collectively with industry partners to provide appropriate professional guidance on remedial action to make the buildings and those occupying them safe.

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) FAQs

RAAC is a reinforced form of lightweight concrete used to form panels or planks. It has no aggregate unlike common concrete. These were mainly used in flat roofs but also in some floor and wall panel construction in the UK from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s. There is evidence that it has been used in a limited number of buildings through the 1990’s and 2000’s. RAAC was used in a range of building types, both public and private sector, but is believed to be more common in schools, hospitals and public buildings. It has been discovered in courts, theatres, sports halls, public toilets, and a range of non-domestic buildings. It’s use in residential buildings is thought to be limited to roof top plant rooms, and some wall panels.

RAAC has proven to be not as durable as other concrete building materials. It has a variable service life which is influenced by many factors and an arbitrary time, such as the widely reported ‘30 years’ life span, should not be the deciding factor when decision making as it can last longer if the building is well maintained and the original design factors haven’t changed, (such as calculated load weights). There is a risk it can fail, particularly if it has been damaged by water ingress from leaking roofs which causes corrosion of the reinforcement, excessive thermal degradation, or if it was not formed correctly when originally made.  Poor original installation, cutting the reinforcement bars on-site, can dramatically reduce the end bearing capacity of the planks. It can fail suddenly, hence the recent action by the UK Government. Later RAAC planks are known to use galvanised steel or stainless steel reinforcing bars, and are of less concern provided the roof is kept watertight.

Our advice to the public is not to attempt to identify whether there is RAAC in your buildings, or to assess the condition of known RAAC planks yourself. Due to the nature of the material, defects can be difficult to identify. If you are unsure whether your building includes RAAC, then you should use a suitably qualified professional, such as an RICS chartered building surveyor or chartered structural engineer. Regular Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) surveys should assist in identifying and managing potentially defective materials.

The steps for an owner or building manager to take in identifying RAAC planks would include the following: 

  • Note that RAAC planks were used from the mid 1950s until the early 1990s, so buildings (or extensions) built before or after this period are unlikely to be affected. 
  • Ask the local authority whether any similar buildings to yours in the area are known to have RAAC roof or floor planks. 
  • Check any records about the construction to see if RAAC is mentioned. But be aware that RAAC may not be mentioned even when it was used. Note that certain product names such as Siporex, Durox, Celcon, Hebel and Ytong are indicators of RAAC. 
  • If you do not know the construction type of a roof but it could be RAAC planks, then the roof should be inspected by a suitably qualified and appropriately experienced professional, such as an RICS chartered building surveyor or chartered structural engineer, who is experienced with this type of construction.  Suitably qualified professionals are detailed on page 16 of the Department for Education guidance.  

After inspection and identification, put in place measures to manage the risk e.g. temporary propping under the roof.  The remedial works advised will be risk-based for priority and what is most appropriate.  The use of the space beneath a roof will affect the risk assessment e.g. a classroom will be a higher risk than a storeroom or plant room.

There are reports of unqualified traders and scammers who are cold calling households offering RAAC surveys, according to Trading Standards. Always ensure that a qualified experienced competent professional who is a member of a regulated professional body such as the RICS and/or IStructE is employed for such work.

The concerns about RAAC are solely linked to its durability and structural performance. There is no evidence to suggest it poses any other health risk. 

You may have heard some reports linking RAAC to asbestos. This is because some buildings built with RAAC were built at a time when asbestos was still legal to use, but there is no link between RAAC and asbestos.

Before any construction remediation of RAAC work takes place there are legal procedures to follow to manage any asbestos risk.  Remediation of RAAC will take into account asbestos identification on the specific site in the location of the work, and careful management if it is present.

Where RAAC is known to be in place it is likely that a responsible body, for example the UK Government Department for Education, will have advised you to vacate the building if there are immediate risks for safety reasons.   

If you are unsure if your building contains RAAC, follow the steps above and appoint a suitably experienced professional, such as an RICS chartered building surveyor or chartered structural engineer. We advise and encourage everyone to report any concerns about the buildings they are working in, to the responsible individuals.

Careful planning of any remediation works will vary from building to building, and it is not possible to provide definitive guidance on how long remediation might take. Removal of a RAAC flat roof for example may include the opportunity to redesign the roof involving planning and building regulations considerations. 

Similarly, the cost of remediation will vary due to a large number of factors, including size of the building, location, temporary works such as a temporary roof etc. 

Following the initial emergency remedial work or replacement of RAAC, RICS members can assist responsible bodies and owners with Planned Preventative Maintenance, which can help prolong the life of a building, identifying and addressing issues before they become critical safety concerns. This assists with both public budget planning and avoiding consequential effects on people, families and society.

Surveyors should continue their professional development whilst advising on RAAC installations starting with the following published articles.

RICS Built Environment Journal article | Nov 2019

Identifying problematic RAAC planks: The potential for sudden failure of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete planks has been highlighted recently. So how can surveyors tell whether the material has been used for construction and identify the warning signs? Author: Trevor Rushton FRICS.  21 November 2019.

Identifying problematic RAAC planks | Journals | RICS

RICS Built Environment Journal article | Sep 2022

Identifying issues with outmoded building materials. While some construction features have long been superseded they can still present issues for technical due diligence on existing buildings, as the first of two articles on such defects explains. Author: Jay Ridings MRICS. 08 September 2022.

Identifying issues with outmoded building materials | Journals | RICS

RICS Built Environment Journal Article | Sep 2023

Although the limited life expectancy and potential for defects of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete have been known for some time, recent safety concerns have prompted a change of approach. Author: Jay Ridings MRICS. 18 September 2023.

How to locate RAAC – and what to do about it | Journals | RICS

SCOSS Alert - Failure of RAAC Planks | May 2019

Who should read this Alert?

Owners of schools and similar buildings dating from the 1950-90s with flat roofs. Government Departments and Local Authorities who have schools and similar buildings in their asset portfolios. National Health Trusts, Dioceses/Parishes, building surveyors, architects, structural engineers, facilities managers and maintenance organisations may also be interested.

Failure of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) planks - view on cross-safety.org

The Education Hub by Department for Education

Everything you need to know about the new guidance on RAAC in education settings - view on The Education Hub (blog.gov.uk)

IP 10/96 Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete planks designed before 1980

Published in 1996 by the BRE (Building Research Establishment). Replaces BRE Digest 413 no longer available from the BRE - view on BREbookshop

IP 7/2002 Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete panels: test results, assessment and design

Published in 2002 by BRE. This paper is a synopsis of a more detailed report (BR445) - view on BREbookshop

The Institution of Structural Engineers also has published useful additional information

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) panels: Investigation and assessment

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) Investigation and Assessment – Further Guidance

The Local Government Association has also published information

Information on Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC)

Page updated as of 29 September 2023.