Now is the time to redefine building safety.

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Now is the time to redefine building safety

“Stop making excuses and start making changes, I know you can, and you know you can, and you know you should”.

Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

 

What are you waiting for?

Last month, senior leaders within the construction sector gathered to attend a virtual event hosted by NBS, The Construction Leaders’ Summit: The Digital Future.

The event covered key themes within the construction industry, exploring political and regulatory changes, the acceleration of digital within the industry, and the impact of COVID-19.

Dame Judith Hackitt, one of the opening speakers, discussed changes that will need to be made within the industry when the Building Safety Bill is passed, emphasising that the need for adjustments to skills, competency, processes and practices should begin now, to ensure we are in the best possible place when the draft bill is passed.

Although the exact date is still to be confirmed, it could be at least two years until the changes outlined in the draft bill are implemented, and  Dame Judith made it clear that developing a new, holistic approach to building safety cannot wait, saying, “Every part of the industry should be thinking about its role in delivering safety, sustainability and how it is adapting to the changes, rather than finding ways to comply with minimum standards”.

Preparing for changes in legislation

Construction Minister Nadhim Zahawi spoke passionately at the NBS Summit, underlining the necessity for change and the government’s commitment to the sector.

The unprecedented challenges brought about by 2020 have increased the rate of digital adoption within the industry, and the subsequent improvements to workflows and processes have played a key role in keeping the sector open for business.

The minister spoke about the importance of embracing technology, using digital as a way of improving the whole cycle of a build. Utilising digital technology can help architects and designers, “better articulate their vision of the project and its benefits”, as well as improving design accuracy, ensuring the end result is as reliable and robust as possible.

The ability to adapt and change will be crucial for firms to survive, and particularly relevant for those involved with design and build processes. The current system can result in some specialist contractors taking on design development with little knowledge of the overall design intent or the wider implications changes to the design could have.

Addressing the competency requirements that will be in the new legislation should be started now, Dame Judith argues, “Knowing that the legislation is coming should be reason enough to make changes to your current practices, and certainly to start the debates in your boardrooms about whether you want to be among the leaders in this sector.”  Ensuring standards are met by building the skills now, will avoid potentially costly remediation work later. Dame Judith goes on, ”This is about good, properly motivated management systems as much – and more – as it is about rules.”

These standards were laid out in a report published last month by the Competency Steering Group (CSG), a government backed body representing more than 150 organisations, titled ‘Setting the bar: a new competence regime for building a safer future’[1]. The report is intended to provide a blueprint for improving competence of those working on higher risk buildings and driving culture change in the industry.

Raising the bar in this way will ensure that anyone involved in the design, build or inspection of a building will meet a specific standard. General Insurance Manager at the ABI, Laura Hughes, highlighted earlier this year that being able to demonstrate these standards have been met will “help to improve insurers’ confidence” and open up the hardened PI market[2], a subject explored in our previous article.

Clarity comes with collaboration and early conversations

At Eden Facades, we ensure we have detailed conversations with clients upfront; before entering into a contract, we seek advice from industry experts, engaging specialist fire consultants and insurers. By collaborating in this way, we can be very specific in our contracts and estimates.

The benefits of embracing digital technology are clear to us, having moved away from a paper-based QA process several years ago to an online system, our overall accuracy has improved and we have better documentation across all our projects as a result.

We also understand the importance of encouraging and supporting skilled labour in order for the industry to not only survive but thrive. Mark Farmer states in ‘Modernise or Die’, “For every 1 person that joins the construction industry, there are 5 people that leave”. We take on apprentices and have processes in place to ensure that every member of the team receives the training and support they need; all members of our team know that their contribution is vital to the overall success of the business.

In the words of Nadhim Zahawi last month, “…we have a choice to make: return to how things were done before…or use this moment as an opportunity to ramp up our ambitions, make a break from the old approaches, generate new ideas and enthusiasm, passion, and put us firmly on a path towards the future we want.” We couldn’t agree more.

 

Start making changes to your systems and processes now – get in touch on 01268 744199 or email office@edenfacades.co.uk to talk to us about some of our projects and how we can help with yours.

 

[1] http://cic.org.uk/admin/resources/setting-the-bar-9-final-1.pdf

[2] https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/knowledge-landing-page/will-the-building-safety-bill-make-us-safer

2020-11-04T15:43:36+00:00 November 4th, 2020|

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