British Standards Relevant to Agriculture

British Standard Summaries

BS5502: Part 21: 1990
Building and Structures for Agriculture.
Code of Practice for Selection & Use of Construction Materials

The text herein is not a a full reproduction of the British Standard. It is summary based upon interpretation of the original text and not intended as a replacement for the full text. It should be used for general guidance only.

BS5502 is sub-divided into a number of individual standards. These can be broadly broken down as follows:

  • Part 0: Introduction
  • Parts 10 - 19: Reference information
  • Parts 20 - 39: General designs
  • Parts 40 - 59: Livestock buildings
  • Parts 60 - 79: Crop buildings
  • Parts 80 - 99: Ancillary buildings

BS5502 Part 21 provides detailed recommendations for the selection, performance and use of materials for agricultural buildings and structures.


  • Any material, surface or fitting which may come in contact with persons and/or livestock should be free of projections, sharp edges and perforations which may cause harm or injury.
  • Any material used which may be used for livestock buildings should be selected to avoid toxic hazard from contact or chewing.
  • All materials used for internal surfaces should facilitate easy cleaning.
  • All materials used for internal surfaces used for crops should not impart odour or taint.
  • Materials which are exposed to weather should be able to withstand the typical local climate and its variations.
  • Materials which may come in contact with farm chemicals and corrosive wastes such as slurry should be resistant to chemical attack or coated / painted such that they have a protective layer.
  • Insulating materials should be selected and used with due regard to all health, safety and environmental issues. 
  • The full Standard provides guidance on selecting wood, plywood, fibre board, aluminium, steel, fibre reinforced cement products, glazing, concrete, masonry, hot rolled aspalt. The salient points are given below. 
  • Appendix A of the full Standard provides a checklist of attributes for certain materials.

Timber, fibre board and plywood

  • If timber is used in structural applications see BS5502:22.
  • Fibre building boards should comply with BS1142.
  • Wood and wood-based materials which are in conditions which may encourage rot should be treated with a wood preservative.
  • Creosote should not be used near growing plants and avoided near livestock where possible.
  • Wood preservative and treatment guidelines are given in the full Standard.
  • Claddings should be of sufficient thickness to properly perform their intended function.
  • Appendix B of the full Standard provides details of  the durability and preservative treatments for timber.

Steel and aluminium

  • If aluminium or steel is used for structures it should comply with BS5502:22.
  • The full Standard contains detailed specifications  for aluminum and steel materials including claddings, fixings, and protective coatings.

Fibre reinforced cement products

  • If the material selected contains asbestos certain special precuations will need to be followed as asbestos dust is dangerous to health. The appropriate regulations should be strictly adhered to and a full COSHH assessment carried out.
  • The full Standard contains detailed specifications for fibre reinforced with cement products including claddings and fixings.


  • Vertical glazing should be installed in accordance with BS6262.
  • Glass used in greenhouses should be soda-lime silica at least 3mm thick and a light transmission value of preferably 83% but not less than 75%.
  • The full Standard contains detailed specifications for glazing materials including claddings and fixings.

Concrete and masonry

  • Concrete should comply with BS5328 and if used for structures should also comply with BS5502:22.
  • If masonry is used in structural applications also see BS5502:22.
  • Appendix C of the full Standard gives recommendations on the selection of concrete mixes.

Hot-rolled aspalt for forage silos

  • Comply with BS594 parts 1 and 2.
  • The full Standard provides details for mix composition and aggregate grading. It also covers performance issues and constituent materials.
  • Limestone coarse aggregates are not recommended due to the acidic environment inside the silo.
  • Limestone fine aggregates are not recommended due to their poor durability in acidic environments.
  • The full Standard covers specifications for silo floor refurbishment.

A British Standard nor this summary does not, necessarily, include all the necessary information for correct implementation of the Standard to any specific application. This is purely the responsibility of the user. Standards are updated by either amendment or revision. Users should ensure that they are using the latest version.

The full text of this Standard can be obtained from the British Standard Institution

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