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RCI March 2018

INSULATION Project1_Layout 1 07/05/2013 The ‘Independent Review of the Building Regulation and Fire Safety’ is due to release its final report in the coming months, and the industry is preparing for the long-overdue changes to the building regulatory system. However, December’s interim report highlighted that, in addition to tackling the inadequacies of the current directives, a careful review of the ways they are enacted and by whom is also necessary to ensure a safer system for the future. ‘A golden thread’ A significant issue raised in the interim review is that, in many cases, “what is initially designed is not what is being built”. Of course, sometimes buildings must evolve as they go along — whether it is due to changes in requirements, the availability or improvement of materials, or regulatory change. However, these changes are rarely documented and reviewed against the original design intent. The Hackitt review advises that there needs to be “a golden thread” of communication and accountability for high-rise residential and complex buildings to ensure that the purpose and intent established at the planning stages of the project is recorded and preserved throughout its lifetime. Any changes, both during the construction phase and any later remedial work or refurbishments, also need to go through a formal review process by a competent person who understands the aims of the original design. Thorough and understandable fire safety measures and information must be handed over to the building occupier at the end of the construction process by the developer. The interim review found that currently the amount and quality of information that had been provided to residents was “highly variable and too often non-existent”. Building Control needs to do more to guarantee this handover process is being carried out to a satisfactory level, and to enforce regular reviews of the integrity of buildings by the building owner. Building Information Modelling (BIM) has also been put forward as a potential way of establishing this ‘thread’ of communication by digitising the documentation process, making the information easier to access by all parties. Roles and responsibility Taking a building from a plan on a piece of paper to a fully-constructed entity is a complex process involving many different parties, each with a specific part to play. However, the current system lacks clarity around roles and responsibilities. Even when there are key requirements to be met, it is not entirely clear who must ensure this happens. The Hackitt review states that as a result, there is a “widespread culture in relation to building and fire standards about waiting to be told what to do by building regulators, rather than taking responsibility for building to correct standards.” She suggests 060 MARCH 2018 RCIMAG.COM Playing our part By Adrian Pargeter, head of technical and product development at Kingspan Insulation that this attitude is driven by parties aiming for minimum compliance to save initial costs, rather than ensuring safety and true value throughout the lifetime of the building. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of every individual involved in the commissioning, designing and constructing of a building to ensure the building complies with fire standards. There are several ways this can be regulated. For example, the RIBA Plan of Work, a definitive UK model for the building design and construction process, is being updated to incorporate more fire assessments at the appropriate stages of the project. This provides an ideal, repeatable process and guideline to follow, with clearly defined responsibilities. Retaining the architect as project manager and reinstating the role of Clerk of Works as a clear responsible duty holder to oversee the whole process, would also help to ensure that the design intention and the quality of workmanship is maintained. Building Control bodies must also do more to confirm and enforce compliance with the regulations throughout the lifetime of the building, and the report hints towards increasing the strictness of sanctions and penalties for those that do not meet the required standards. Confidence in competency Even the best-designed building in the world is only as good as the quality of its construction. Safety can be severely compromised by poorly-installed materials, and currently there is not adequate or clear quality-assurance or enforcement strategies in place to ensure contractors have the necessary competencies. Going forward, it is imperative that fire safety considerations are consistently incorporated into all formal installation training courses. Just as only Gas Safe Registered engineers are authorised to install gas works, only accredited system installers, who can demonstrate that they have suitable experience, should be permitted to work on high-rise, complex or occupancy-sensitive buildings. This will not only ensure a high standard of work is maintained across the system, but will also help to foster a culture of taking responsibility for and having pride in one’s work. As the Hackitt review highlights, there is plenty of good practice in the industry, and it is important that this proficiency is measured, verified and made transparent in a consistent way, thus holding those that do not comply with the expected standards to account. A clearer future Dame Judith Hackitt signed-off her foreword to the interim review with a quote from statistician E. F. Schumacher, which said: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” We have one chance to get the building regulatory system and its application right. It is vital that all businesses within our sector are ready to adopt clearer and more collaborative strategies to create a better and more honest regulatory system and rebuild public confidence in our buildings once more. www.kingspaninsulation.co.uk The final report of the ‘Independent Review of the Building Regulation and Fire Safety’ is likely to stipulate strict guidelines for all involved in the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of complex buildings


RCI March 2018
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