Ian Blanchard – Associate Director RSK Environment
PhD, Department of Geological Sciences
Ian is an associate director of RSK’s Materials and Structures team and an experienced construction materials consultant. He has worked for RSK (originally within STATS, now part of RSK) since 2003. He is responsible for laboratory testing of building materials, including natural and artificial stone and roofing slate, to British, European and American standards, and for consultancy, managing projects, reporting and quality control.
His principal areas of consultancy expertise are building materials; stone and slate; investigation of problems encountered using stone, cement-based and aggregate materials; advising on appropriate selection and use of construction materials and of appropriate design and materials selection; in service performance of floors including slip risk and abrasion; assessment of dampness and water ingress to floors, roofs and walls.
Ian has specialist skills in the following areas:
▪ investigation of construction materials and building defects
▪ providing consultancy services during the design phase and construction phase of building work, and for remedial and refurbishment works
▪ expert witness services, including presenting evidence in court and participating in arbitration and mediation hearings. Principal areas of expertise are in the
assessment of natural and artificial stone and slate materials, flooring materials and construction defects, assessment of slip risk and slip accident investigations
▪ particular expertise in assessing existing tiled floors for condition and for their suitability for overtiling during refurbishment projects
▪ laboratory testing of various construction materials, most especially natural and artificial stone and slate
▪ investigation of staining and discolouration of construction materials, cleaning and long-term
▪ on-site investigations regarding dampness in construction materials, including leak detection in structures and interpretation of findings
▪ inspection of stone defects in residential settings, in particular worktops and internal flooring, through the SFGB helpline.
Expert Witness History:
EXPERT WITNESS INSTRUCTIONS – INCLUDING PROVIDING EVIDENCE IN COURT Confidential client, pyrrhotite related damage to concrete – Quebec, Canada, 2017–2019
Expert investigation into causes of premature concrete deterioration owing to reactive coarse aggregate. Commentary on the reliability of laboratory testing and consultancy advice provided by third parties.
Confidential client, fibre-cement slate – London, 2006–2007
Acting as expert witness relating to the laboratory assessment of claimed defective fibre-cement roofing slates. Ian’s role included laboratory assessment and review of laboratory data provided by third parties, prior to acting as an expert including providing oral evidence in court.
EXPERT WITNESS INSTRUCTIONS – INCLUDING ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION HEARINGS Confidential client, failure of swimming pool tiling – Norfolk, 2018/2020
Expert investigation into causes of failure of grouting and tiles within a local authority swimming pool. Arbitration found in favour of RSK’s client
Confidential client, failure of stone grills around swimming pool – Hertfordshire, 2013/2015
Expert investigation into causes of failure by cracking and discoloration of natural stone tiles and drainage grills surrounding a swimming pool in a high status
EXPERT WITNESS INSTRUCTIONS – SETTLED PRIOR TO COURT OR HEARINGS Mills & Reeve, cladding and screed investigation – Marlow, 2020
Expert investigation into discoloration of polyurethane cladding panels in a school sports hall wall and of collapsed screed in a weights room.
DLG Legal Services, slip accident investigation – Banbury, 2017
Expert investigation into alleged slip accident on external paving to residential building INTU Broadmarsh – Nottingham, 2016
Expert investigation into the sources of water ingress to the building envelope through a hybrid roof/bridge deck structure.
Luxury apartment hotel, investigation of wall and floor tiling – London, 2014/2015
Expert witness services on behalf of the architect, relating to staining and discoloration of basalt stone tiling used on walls of the foyer and walls and floors of the guest bathrooms.
Confidential client, investigation into floor tile setting out – Colchester, 2012
Inspection of ceramic tiled floor installed as part of a refurbishment of an existing major retail unit. The inspection focused on the setting out and workmanship inadequacies of the installation.
Confidential client, prison kitchen and shower room floor failure – Hull, 2008–2009
Acting as an expert witness, this was an investigation of both tiled and vinyl floor finishes included in a prison extension and redevelopment. The investigation revealed that the floor failures were as a result of the use of an inappropriate anhydrite screed in areas of floor that inevitably became wet in service, causing expansion reactions of the screed and consequent failure of the flooring. Ian’s role was to
provide expert advice, together with suggestions for alternative materials to be used for remediation so as to minimise the disruption to operations and consequential costs (for example in the necessary provision of a temporary kitchen during the remediation).
Confidential client, aggregate reactions and heave – Dublin, 2008–2010
This investigation extends to various projects where Ian has acted as an assistant and co-investigator assisting a fellow director acting as an expert witness in lawsuits totalling in excess of €100 million. The investigation includes both on-site and laboratory assessment of a range of construction materials following the allegation that crushed rock aggregate included pyrite and, consequently, was undergoing expansive chemical reactions leading to damage of the overlying structures. RSK’s role in this multidisciplinary project included on-site assessment of construction and consequent damage and materials testing and evaluation services on the aggregate material and various concrete, blockwork and mortar types used through the building, demonstrating that the causes of defects were inconsistent with the alleged mechanism. (Note – this case settled after the claimants gave evidence in court but prior to the defence experts doing so)
EXPERT WITNESS INSTRUCTION – ACTIVE
Balfour Beatty Construction, external stone paving – Northwich 2022
Assessment of reported failures of natural stone paving used on low-trafficked roads in mixed-use retail/leisure complex. Assessment of design, materials selection and workmanship.
Winvic Construction, render inspection – Coventry 2021–2022
Inspection of rendered façade on newly constructed high-rise accommodation building following reports of areas of unacceptable appearance.
Fellow of the Geological Society of London (FGS)
Stone Federation of Great Britain Technical Committee (SFGB)
British Standards Committee B507/7 Other
Health and Safety Test for Site Visitors, Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)