Spec Finish

Feature www.thefis.org 15 projects is photographed, labelled and the GPS position recorded. The detailed log then needs to be submitted to building control. Best practice is advancing apace and contractors arefitting cameras on their safety helmets and using robots to provide a continuous digital record of what has been completed.This technology becomes integrated intoBuilding InformationModelling (BIM), alongwith the use of virtual reality (VR) headsets, enabling theworkforce to see exactly how thework being completedmatches the original design, and immediately identifies clashes or variations fromthat design. There is a concern about how this will be applied consistently as the majority of construction businesses are sole traders or SMEs. The current subcontract market won’t be able to afford or access to BIM, yet will still need to provide an evidence trail. To address this mismatch, alternative solutions are emerging based upon mobile phone apps that allow individuals to log their CSCS card, scan the bar code of the products they are installing, and even watch simple “how to” videos so they can ensure they are installing in accordance with the regulations. There is also remote technology that enables a foreman, or project manager to oversee the work of people on site and using the operative’s own smartphone they can take photographs, answer questions, take measurements and record the GPS position where this activity is taking place. This can then be used to evidence to the BSR that everything has been done correctly, and without the need to delay works until the BSR is able to come out to site and physically verify the work. Improving competence building a safer future There is a huge amount of work being done in order to raise competency in the construction industry. The initial work was undertaken via a report called; Raising the Bar . The aim is to drive up standards and evidence competence in a way that gives assurance to residents, duty holders and regulators that everyone in construction is competent. This includes engineers, installers, contractors, designers, procurement professionals, suppliers etc. The inclusion of procurement was considered essential because of current poor commercial practices, where prioritising time and cost over quality puts safety at risk. As profit margins throughout the industry are low and competition fierce, there is a real concern, that despite the best intentions of everyone that the culture of low prices and undercutting of competitors will continue. If inappropriate products and product combinations are used; life and property may be jeopardised. It is therefore important processes are carried out by individuals who are qualified and competent. This requires them to understand the impact that a seemingly simple change can have on performance, for example, simply swapping from one branded insulation product to another may invalidate the test certificate for the fire performance of the entire building envelope. Building inspectors in futurewill also need to be licensed, both as organisations and as individuals, andwill only be able to sign off work if they are suitably qualified.Thiswill apply to both public and private sectors and is expected to have huge implications, asmany of the longest serving inspectors don’t have the academic qualifications required to be licensed andmay choose to leave the profession. This drain on the talent pool at a timewhen requirements for inspections are increasing, could lead to increased costs and delays in getting sign off – if inspectors aren’t available thenworks could potentially grind to a halt. Process change For the highest risk in-scope* buildings, there will no longer be a choice of building control provider. All applications will need to be made through the BSR directly. Safety standards will need to be considered at the planning stage and a fire strategy developed before planning consent is issued, this will then need to be detailed and formally approved prior to works commencing on site – it will no longer be possible to leave the design to contractors as a contractors design portion, to be undertaken later. Contractors must build in accordance with those plans and evidence that there have been no variations (unless these have been resubmitted and formally approved) and that all life safety systems have been fully commissioned before occupation can take place. Failure to adhere to any of these rules (collectively known as the golden thread) will be an offence and can result in stop notices, fines, or even a prison sentence. Competency for testing construction products Manufacturers must evidence that their products are certified and the claims that they make for the products are clear and precise. There will be a requirement for product testing houses to report annually on the number of passes and fails of products that have been tested by them. The BSR will be responsible for validating and updating the guidance in the approved documents on what requirements products must meet. Specifiers must be aware of exactly what a manufacturer’s product claims are, and the manufacturers must be much clearer on claimed performance. There is currently a huge difference in the way products are marketed, in some cases, manufacturers do no more than make a self-declaration that their product is designed to a British Standard. That carries little weight and doesn’t mean that the product has been tested, just that it has designed it to the relevant specification. Others will claim that a product has been tested, but that is simply a snapshot in time on the day the product that was tested. Even then its only valid in the exact configuration used in that specific test, what they have rolling off the production line five years later may not be the same thing at all. Ultimately, the best way anyone can be satisfied is to ensure that they have third-party certification, such as the BS Kitemark scheme to evidence that the products they are purchasing from the manufacturer have been regularly tested. Conclusion The culture of construction has to change in response to what we saw at Grenfell and the cost of not adapting will be huge. The Building Safety Act creates real corporate and personal liabilities. We cannot sit back and rely on the fact that Building Control have issued a completion certificate as evidence that we have discharged that liability. It will be for us to demonstrate that we have fulfilled our role and responsibility as a duty holder and that the golden thread is in place. The impact of being at fault where a product is subsequently found to have been installed incorrectly may mean contractors are liable to pay compensation under the newly amended Defective Premises Act, for decades after completion of the work. *In-scope buildings are currently defined as buildings that are at least 18 metres in height or have at least seven storeys and have at least two residential units. It also applies to care homes and hospitals meeting the same height threshold during design and construction phases, but excludes the occupancy requirements. NB if you are working on the fit out of a commercial floor in a mixed use building meeting the criteria the regime applies even if there are no residential units within the scope of your work. Watch the full webinar here: www.thefis.org/webinar-recordings/ building-regs/

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