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What is the piece of legislation that has affected your working life the most? Is it Part L? Is it the Disability Discrimination Act? If you were a carpet manufacturer you might find neither of these to be the most important. Instead, you would be most worried by the government's move to ban smoking in the majority of pubs.

Smoking may be bad for your health but it is very good for the makers of wool carpets.

Nylon has lots of advantages - it is durable, colourfast, etc - but if people are going to be dropping hot ash or even cigarette ends on your floor, you really don't want it melting your nylon carpet. Hence, pubs traditionally specify woollen carpets, often with a nice bright pattern that will help to disguise the occasional cigarette burn, not to mention spilt beer. Take smoking out of most British pubs and you can expect sales of woollen carpets to plummet.

And sometimes even searching out obscure rules is not enough. As Keith Roberts points out in our focus on roofing (pages 41-48), roof drainage is still designed on the basis of rainfall tables that climate change has long since made obsolete. Ironically, after nearly a year of drought, our greatest problem is the increasing frequency of really heavy rainfall - the worst kind for overtaxed drainage systems. The justly cautious architect will design for the rainfall that they really expect, rather than the theoretical figure. And, of course, they will avoid anything really risky like gutter details that can too easily be blocked by leaves.

What all this means is that you can never be truly on top of your subject and that circumstances always change. There are those who knock innovation and believe that we should all settle for tried and tested products.

But, while there is certainly a place for these, the canny manufacturer and the wise specifier both know that in a world of constant change there will always be a need for something different.

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