BIM4Housing Design Working Group Meeting-20221012
GEORGE The various different consultations close today. Obviously it’s hard to know what influence we’ve got. I fed-back the document we used for the Golden Thread Initiative, there’s also the competency framework as well. The point that we made last time is there is some things that going to significantly influence everybody, one of them is the proposal for the health & safety executive/regulator, what fees they are going to be able to charge for reviewing the building safety reports. The guide price was between £160-900 an hour, they wanted peoples input to see whether they agreed with that.
The other thing I was raising is who is going to pay that, because if we have a situation where the design is challenged are we actually saying that a project could be delayed going through. reading the consultation, they are also saying that if the regulator doesn’t respond within the timescale it will be considered to have been rejected. I think we ought to have a copy of what the questions are, because when the consultation has finished…has anybody contributed to the various different questions? No responses suggest nobody has, Jarek will try to do it today.
George shares the ‘Consultation on implementing the new building control regime…’ document on screen. There’s two elements to this. One is this Consultation on implementing the new building control regime for higher-risk buildings. And then there is another one which is the regime for occupied higher-risk buildings. Balfour Beatty said this is the one that they’d focused on. Basically, you can go in and it takes you to a questionnaire. I’ve done this one, but I’m not the right person to be filling this in.
What I’m concerned about is getting the questions out before the consultation ends?
In terms of our meeting today one of the things that we need to talk about is how do we manage product change and record that information in a more robust way, and dealing with the fact that the prescriptive and descriptive side of things needs to be addressed.
George sets the context of Monday’s meeting with Tier 1s so Paul McSoley will then comment upon it. One of the things we’ve been talking about is this move towards defining what products and materials are going into the building by gateway 2. The challenge with that is there is fair bit of contractor design portion still and we end up with more defects (as Matt Taylor can evidence from the work they’ve been doing with the FIS). If products are selected later than gateway 2 that’s inherently going to have an impact on design, potentially, and creating risks. I’ve spoken with Mike Smith about this and he said he’s increasingly seeing Tier 1…main contractors are asking them to be more prescriptive by the end of Workstage 4 of the products and materials that are being used.
PAUL MCSOLLEY It’s kind of like the buzzword, it’s the modern methods of procurement we should be looking at. To put it into a nutshell, we’ve been waiting until contractors are appointed to get products selected, but even if this fabulous world with CDP you still need to have the basic descriptive set. Even if you take an e.g. fire door, damper, if the original design has not set out the descriptive of it (and this all comes down to the body being big enough to fit into the skin and you don’t know that unless you know the prescriptive of the product, if you haven’t defined the wall type, the door, compatibility of the wall with the door etc when it comes down to CDP and you select the door at manufacturing stage if that’s not described then there is a good change the manufacturer will give you the wrong door anyway. It’s about that coordinated approach to it.
We were talking about smoke control dampers as well is that if you haven’t gone through the prescriptive (and forget specification) if it’s a case of someone’s got to describe what it was originally a manufacturer then can’t really prescribe it. So if you get to the end of stage 2, or actually if you get to end of stage one and you’re not spatially set it based upon some descriptive and prescriptive product, you run the risk of it not fitting in the building for one, being too small. You run the risk at the end of stage 2 that you can’t actually coordinate it all together
because again the body is too big for the skin.
Even within the fabulous world of CDP you still need the performance parameters of what you are working with, you can’t work out what the fire engineer should be telling you (and the rest of it) because it’s never been recorded properly, you’re always on a loser.
MATT TAYLOR There’s a concern even before that which is the fact that the test information or a lot of components does not exist into different types of dry lining construction. For example, we’ve got a lot of dampers that tend to be tested on an 130 mm…with 2 layers of board, they are then put into twin frame constructions. We have doors which are put into twin frame constructions and only ever tested in single frame. And we’ve got a huge elephant in the room
at the moment in relation to shaft wall, very little in the way of componentry is tested into shaft
wall, yet we use shaft wall in almost every building with a stairwell and certainly it goes up
the entire core in some of our high ridges. So, that’s one of the most important things to address in terms of getting that information now in terms of test or assessment first and then looking at actually what’s available to specify.
PAUL MCSOLLEY The bottom line is, is that we’re stuck in a world where you have a standard
supporting construction which is symmetrical, group A, B and C which is your 130 mm walls. From an architectural POV (and it’s not the architects’ fault) if you don’t know the componentry of the door, the wall, because it’s being procured later on by some elusive Tier 2 contractor after it’s gone through a Tier 1, what is the architect actually coordinating into the design? The answer is nothing. So, there’s that problem as well to address.
LUCY CRAIG All of this does lend it to look at how the design stages of a building, how you work through it to get to that certainty, and the current ones and how you procure design services don’t enable you to do that with any certainty. And I don’t feel like there’s an awful lot of discussion around how they will be redefined and how you’ve redefined. You mentioned CDP, I don’t see an awful lot of that conversation happening, whether it’s BSRIA or RIBA, that needs to be redefined to provide an alignment of designers to enable to do that at the gateways we are talking about.
PAUL One of the big things is for me is that you can't throw anyone under the bus in the current scenario because it's a whole scale issue from procurement and behavior procurement from clients right down to how we instigate design teams before contractors get involved. If no one wants anyone to select products and doesn't want pay for it to be inherently coordinated in a job when it comes to, you know, as as a contractor, we've got to go out and procure and we're doing it ten months after the frames gone out, then it is a recipe for disaster, isn't it?
So we kind of need to support the whole industry to get to the point where actually you are going back a bit to helping people get the descriptive right, then you’re actually helping people to get products to meet…so when you’re coming out of gateway 1 you know the shape and form of the building isn’t going to be affected by it, because the minute it is in gateway 2 you are going to have a rough ride.
ANA MATIC There are 12 consultation documents. I’m just going through them in the background and I’ll try and pick up on all the questions at least. (To Paul) About the specifying elements, we do actually nowadays know quite a lot about each element quite early on. This is the result of RIBA stages actually being pushed forward in some ways, not too much for residential, so actually that sector is lagging behind, but for more advanced tech projects and technical projects, we pretty much specify everything by element around stage 3 plus.
So, already at that point there is a contractor (they just go out to market), or if there isn’t a contractor and the client is going out to the contractor they are going with quite a detailed spec. So, the industry is pushing that way, which is a good thing. The only thing is that removes the ability to do any reasonable VE later on. I mean VE in a reasonable way (not bad way) where you actually do allow a little bit of flexibility later on for certain elements to be either replaced, or if leading times are really long - things that happen in today’s world. So, it’s really not about judging the process as a wrong process, it’s just about the process being like that because of external forces. You could be super precise at gateway 2 and design everything to the last bolt and then what will happen six weeks later is that the contractor that has come on board doesn’t have a supply chain and everything will have to be changed. So I think it’s worth being realistic about things.
PAUL MCSOLLEY The point I’m making is that when you look at ‘specification’ there’s probably about 20 things that need to be predetermined and described for someone to go out and buy a product from a manufacturer. if you’ve got those right that’s what you’re working to, that’s your initial thread, you can’t change that. You can engineer and go for another product that meets those 20 things from different manufacturers to get best value. What you can’t do is derogate the original 20 things because that’s the things that actually depict the risk class and shape and form of the building. To do that you open a pandora’s box.
PAUL WHITE Well, it's just pretty much what you were saying, which is the fact that with all due respect, the specifications that are coming out for the fire safety products just basically put in the kitchen sink just to make sure nothing's missed and actually it can be a lot simpler and a lot more specific in terms of we need this product, it has to be thins product and it’s going in this wall, that’s all you need to do. But at the moment it’s unclear and therefore people try, and value engineer and they end up doing the wrong thing because they try and use the different a different product.
My soapbox is…where people don’t really know whether a fire and smoke damper is a smoke control damper or a motorised fire damper, and therefore they're both specified in the wrong way, and then somebody just says it's a smoke damper and then people think, well, it must be a fire damper and we go round around the houses. The funniest one is people just swap the name around and say a smoke and fire damper instead of a fire and smoke damper. The other thing, since we’re talking about BIM…you’ve got a allow the space to fit everything and if the space isn’t there, it doesn’t matter what you do, you can’t get around the problem.
GEORGE I was on a call on Monday, one of the things that came out of that is that the builder was saying they didn’t need to provide information about where the dampers are because that would be picked up with the panel. Somebody said, hang on, that would only be for things that are electronically controlled. So things like fire dampers would not be picked up by the panel. Therefore, you would need to have a record in your BIM models of the locations of the fire dampers.
PAUL WHITE, You have to test them and look at them every year and you need to test them from both sides and you need to do it and get to them. The whole point about this is not about just getting it in the building, handing it over and it’s all gone. You are handing it over to somebody who’s got to go and check it all every year at least. Yes, having things under the control of the panel help and maybe you can rely on them, but, when you look into it, somebody could have taken an actuator off a damper…back to the panel that the product appears to be opening and closing, but it might not be attached to the damper. So, you have to go and check: you’ve got to know where everything is and you’ve got to have access to it.
GEORGE That’s exactly what I am saying. We need to be collecting this level of detail, we can’t just look at things from a systems perspective.
PAUL MCSOLLEY Just to answer Anna’s point, the point I’m trying to make with a lot of this is what we put in specs currently isn’t enough - this is my biggest problem at the moment. He shares an excel document on screen which he refers to. This is an example. Someone needs to specify all of this and have a product to match because if you change from what was specified on this to a different product and it effects your initial thread of how you got there you are going back to stage 2 to look at your ripple effect. It’s not just about getting all this right (it’s hard enough to do that). It’s quite complicated and it’s going to take a while to get the industry to a point where we can specify these things correctly as a system in the future it’s going to take a while.
GEORGE One of the things I’m concerned about is that are just overwhelming even our audience who are subject matter experts with information. A conclusion I’ve come to is that my drive for having everything digital is possibly getting in the way of us making enough progress with the product manufacturers to get at least some information from them. What we should be doing is doing the basics of saying what asset types are going in the buildings and where are they going (that would include e.g. fire dampers). Then, which products were actually used to satisfy those fire dampers, and at the very least we should have a data sheet (which might just be a PDF) that is then collected once into a common public library.
The majority of the information that we are asking from specialist sub-contractors is fixed information that is coming through from manufacturers. the only thing we’re asking a mechanical installer to provide us about a fire damper is probably it’s settings, serial number etc. And yet we are asking the trade contractor to provide that information on every job in every situation which, for me, is a bit crazy. Whereas if we can have a free common library of data sheets against different products then we’ve got an opportunity to move things forward because we’ve got something that’s (at least at the base level) useful.
We can also then progressively add the level of detail in a machine-readable form that Paul was just showing there. It means that we’ve got some mechanism to actually record change.
JAREK WITYK I’ll comment on your comments, George, and referring to what Paul said about not specifying enough, i think this can be misinterpreted because from my end I’m finding there’s actually a lot specified but it’s very generic. So, the problem is the specifications requirements are not project specific. They are missing purpose - why is something being requested, what is being requested, when is it required, what level of information is needed and when. And then at the end who needs to provide the information. That is the order of what should happen because now with all this digitisation (NDS is probably the most frequently used tool to write specifications) it’s so generic, 100’s of pages of generic information and someone is just ticking the boxes, but there is very little project specific meaningful information.
PAUL WHITE, I see 100’s of these and the problem is that whoever wrote it doesn’t understand what they are writing, and they’ve overcomplicated it by putting in the kitchen sink of standards in there that they don’t need to do. The problem is it’s being used and copied by more people who don’t understand it and it’s not being corrected…I will go and write in three paragraphs, and you’ll never get a fire damper, a smoke control damper and a fire damper wrong again because there is too much information in there. it’s actually very simple, but people are using it to make sure that they are covered rather than putting the right information in there.
Regarding George’s point, all the information you are looking for, George, is out there. Whether we get people to put a QR code on their fire damper so they know which one it is and that can go straight to a website, that’s always been talked about. I’ve seen the information you have mentioned in handover documents etc but the info is sitting in the design, hopefully the majority of that gets handed over to the building owner then they can find their way round it.
GEORGE In my experience the information that actually gets handed over is often just the design information and not what product was provided.
PAUL MCSOLLEY Paul works a lot with us and sees how certain contractors do specify the kitchen sink and what they do specify is incorrect. Trying to get a consultant to be completely descriptive about what the component is supposed to do, it’s intended purpose, so I can get the prescriptive right. If you do anything, specify the test standard because at least then you can’t kind of go wrong.
LUCY CRAIG isn’t that competency of the designer? it’s a slight issue at the minute that we’re seeing in numerous projects and specifications. The top tier organisations, particularly around building services engineers aren't necessarily training their people to be able to know how to do this in the first instance or recognising they've got an issue.
MATT TAYLOR the situation at present, specifications come through that are fairly non-descriptive and one of the issues is that detailed design information isn’t available early on. Then we get to a situation where if there isn’t a sufficient development process that highlights all of these issues and resolves them, when they haven’t been resolved by the point of procurement and we then get questions like ‘I haven’t got this insulation, can I use this glass one instead of that rock mineral wall’, that’s when we get a huge amount of errors in construction.
I’m hoping with the introduction of building safety gateways we will be forced as an industry to have to bring in detailed design earlier in that process because if you’ve got a good consultant or specialist contractor on board they should be highlighting these items earlier in that process. It all comes down to the competency of the person who is tasked with reviewing specification, checking it and ensuring that information is correct through sufficient design development.
At the moment that doesn’t happen. When it does happen, we raise numerous RFIs on projects, they are often outstanding for a considerable time, they may not be answered or they may be reluctant to answer even. That process is about going through the process of design development to try and ensure that we’re building the correct thing. Value engineering works fantastically when it’s done well, but it’s not just about substitution of products - it’s about procurement, sequence, and ensuring we are making the most of the building process to build in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible, not just about saving money on a cheaper product.
GEORGE i’d like to open up the conversation to the architects within the group here, because I understand that the overload of the work that then comes in where you might spend a lot of time finding a product that satisfies your performance specification, then your hit with a lot of technical submittals to approve so you’ve often got to revisit what you spent a lot of time designing.
JOE STOTT i kind of agree. i think one thing that’s helping us is bringing in sustainability credentials into the specification scope as well, because as soon as you start to do that, as well as performance requirements, you quickly start to refine the potential pool of products that can meet those requirements. The more requirements you build into specification that pool gets smaller and smaller. In terms of them being able to review potential substitutions or alternative products, if you’ve put the specification together then you’ve probably visited all of those products, so I don’t see that being additional work necessarily.
One thing that is happening is specification writing is becoming more and more specialist, certainly within our practice. It used to be that all architects would write specifications and now that is certainly not the case, because it is a full-time role that you need to be an expert in doing. There may be an issue there that the knowledge is with the specification writer and not necessarily with the architect using the specification.
GEORGE When you produce the specification you might propose a particular product. Would you also include the others that you have considered? JOE Generally, we name products now, so whereas we used to be performance drive, we have to hang our hats on a product. And then there is the old, approved alternative, it’s still a valid addition to that. Generally, we’ll have 2 or 3 alternative products, so for internal partitions we’ll run with 2 or 3 potential suppliers that we know well. The sustainability side does tend to tell you what those suppliers are going to be, because it’s about where these products are manufactured and sourced from more than anything else.
GEORGE And when you engage with, for example, Paula, if you issue that through to weights, would you provide both the selected product and also the information about the potential alternatives? JOE we’d typically just have the one that we would recommend and that would have also all the performance requirements. Because we can’t specify multiple options. We don’t want to go down the fallback option route, that’s where everything starts to become unstuck. doesn’t it?
GEORGE, I agree. How frequently are the suggestions that you’ve made adopted? Or is it invariable that your specification is being broken? JOE It’s still the case that it’s pretty much being broken because the supply chains that we are dealing with are slow to change. In the last 18 months we’ve been revisiting all of our specifications so it’s too early to tell, but I suspect that there will be a lot of kickback against that because you are removing choice from the process (to some extent).
GEORGE under the new building safety environment, Howell from Sibsey said whoever selects the product then takes on the liability of being the designer, which has significant implications.
EDUARDO GUASQUE Thinking about your attempt to make the specifications and the libraries available, I see institutions like CDDB and not much effort by the Government to sustain them in the UK. We need an organisation in the UK to have people paid to do this job, collecting information from suppliers, but not overdoing it (as it has been mentioned) where you get more information than you need. It takes a collective effort and it’s a huge undertaking to make sure that these libraries will have the exact specified objects.
GEORGE Just to clarify, I was thinking much simpler than that because the challenge of having a national library of BIM objects is so huge because there are so many different ways that it could be done, and also you’d be cutting across a lot of people who are actually doing that. I was thinking something much simpler e.g. data sheets, then from that you could add certain property sets in there that are important.
EDUARDO So, to tackle these her what we did was use simplified codes, use 3 letters to identify the type of object you’re talking about e.g., FLO for floors. This is a simpler way for us to identify objects that we use more frequently. Then from there, typical specifications. We tried to create a mass spec so that it’s used in other projects but what ends up happening is it varies widely from project to project, not only because clients have different requirements, but also, we do different types of projects: educational, theatres, residential, all with different requirements. But it was a good start, not having to rely on Uniclass codes that re really difficult to memorise.
ANA, I think things are going to crystallise as we go along. In a way, every project and every sector will be slightly different in terms of what data you collate for an element, it’s going tp be hard to say ‘this is the right list’. 2 big things everyone will be pushing for is useable correct carbon data and useable and correct fire data. We’ll need those 2 things more from suppliers they will get better at giving us that information. i don’t think one body or one library will be able to run everything because its a humungous task. The push from ground up will be we’ll all be asking the same questions of the suppliers and they will simply jump on that and be able to deliver those (maybe not imminently, but within 6 months - a year). We shouldn’t stress too much. On a project you look at everything at a time when it’s right to be looked at, so it’s doable.
GEORGE Let me introduce Gareth Evans who we’re working with from the Zero group. Zero has become the sustainability arm of Bim4housing. Gareth is a specialist in procurement, and we thought that would useful to have within this group. One of the things we’re trying to tackle here in the design working group is the situation where under gateway 2 products will need to be selected much earlier, the how do we go about doing that. Do you want to explain briefly what smart procurement is doing.
GARETH EVANS, I think we just need to left shift procurement into design. A great challenge is that there’s a huge gap between buyers and suppliers and we need to narrow that gap. we’re scared to communicate. Procurement has been a back-office organisation that’s very transactional for way too long and it needs to become far more strategic and be a business partner that it could be and should be. We have to left shift and go earlier into the cycle, to engage with design teams to understand how we can bring more sustainable solutions to the market and what those barriers are, because procurement is just a vehicle to working through those challenges.
That’s all we do: we facilitate material services etc to be delivered on the projects that we are delivering and we have to work hand in glove with the design teams and we don’t currently do it effectively enough. Smart procurement is setting out to disrupt the status quo and talk about these things and try to set an example for the rest of my procurement fraternity to follow. To be brave and come like a lamb to the slaughter to working groups like this and say ‘right, let’s hear it: what can we do to improve construction procurement’. We need to get procurement to be better at what it does.
PAUL MCSOLLEY Gareth, really goo to hear it, and I’m sure there’s some overlap we can do together. The issue is that what’s kind of caused the problem is that all these relative standards are so complex that if you don’t get your head into them it’s very hard to describe a product because you have to understand the ontology of the building, the risk category of the space, the system approach. Scott said it about a dry wall, certain products work in BG/shaft wall, but you can’t put them in a X? 57 mins 17 secs shaft wall because they are not the same thing.
I feel sorry for architects in this respect that all the stuff that goes in the wall has different requirements but no one knows what it is until an MEP contractor has been appointed by a main contractor 15 months down the line after the frame has been set. There’s no value in that. Value is to understand early on what the descriptive of those systems are, how it all works together, pick a product that’s proscribed against it. We that know need to help those that don’t to get to that place, to support the industry and not just go it’s an architectural and MEP issue. In MEP terms no one really knows how much embedded carbon is in what product, that’s the harder bit, the operational side is a bit easier.
Getting back to the beginning bit, you can help get procurement right if you understand what the descriptive is early enough. it’s getting clients educated as well that you can’t go on a jamboree where you’re pushing everything down the line on a procurement model for best value which is a race to the bottom, you’ve got to do that a bit earlier. Architects, fire engineers especially as they are not product gurus, need advice early on to get those products right.
Another point from earlier: the person who selects the product is not necessarily the designer. if you describe a product and you pick a product to meet that description the design of that system and how that product has got to meet it is by the designer. The selector fo the manufactured product to meet it verified by that designer. This is the issue with CDP, if you say there is a long list of performance requirements it’s not the best way to do it - you actually need all the products that go with it then you can describe the wall that meets the products in that location.
PAUL WHITE if we come back to using the more prescriptive side of things and say ‘we need this product, but we need it to be this to match the wall etc’ with fire safety products now we have a long string of terms - these things should be in approved document B, that was the point of them. There’s a little bit of thought that goes with that, that if you’ve specialised different types of wall you’ve got to realise that a product is available to go in that wall. Then having picked that wall you have to provide the right amount fo space. in terms of a specification, that’s quite easy.
The point is the person who selects the product isn’t the designer because they’ve been given the wall and the product so therefore they have to select those two to be together, but that’s the design. If the designs been given and actually its this wall and this product and you can never put those two products together, it’s got to go back to the designer to make the decision. You’re the designer, you’ve caused the problem, and you’ve got to put it right.
PAUL MCSOLLEY shares ‘Process Working Group’ document on screen. This is an illustration we’ve been using re fire dampers, that’s how you describe the product by ontology, space and risk category. That’s how you verify compatibility with the wall and that’s how you do your builders work. You can’t just go do the builders work against the FD symbol on a drawing which you see all the time. Someone’s got to verify all of this. It’s a whole system approach and this is why specifications a bit of a nightmare because generally it will say the kitchen sink is in here somewhere as well. We’ve got to get to that point where we are helping designers as well and by that way everyone gets better at it.
GEORGE So the person that’s doing this is the designer, principally…aren’t they? PAUL MCSOLLEY If you think about it, that’s the risk category of the building. If its phased evacuation then you’re doing ES category dampers and there’s X? 1hr 03mins 44 secs ES category. We’ve had jobs with E category (Integrity only) - this is about ontology and language, understanding that LS is a low leakage is half the battle. The fire engineers don’t always the talk about it, the MEP consultant just says FD, and the contractor will go and bu something under the E category because it’s the cheapest on the market because they don’t understand any of this either.
GEORGE What I’m asking is who’s doing this? Ι ’m asking the question because, for example, we’ve got Jarek on the call. In his role as an installation contractor Ι’m wondering whether he would get any of this information, so that he understands what the criteria was that was used to select that particular fire damper.
JAREK most of the time there is no visibility of why something was selected. There is typically a product and performance, that’s all. But you don’t know the purpose and why and so on.
PAUL MCSOLLEY If you think, George, that regulation 7 is appropriate for the circumstances for which you are intending to use it it’s important the designers go from a risk POV of the building, this is where that thing is located in this space, and it’s ES and actually the product we looked at was an Actionaire damper and it fits an 122 symmetrical wall and that’s what the architects used. Because otherwise the person who is going to buy it will get to site and go ‘oh, how’s it fit in this wall’ which is made of core board or something like that. Someone’s got to do that piece of work, you can’t just do CDP and performance because a contractors not going to understand all of this.
GEORGE Should this be part of the digital record? PAUL MCSOLLEY 100% yeah. The point that Paul White made earlier is don’t forget about the access of stuff from both sides.
LUCY George, you’re talking about referencing the liabilities of product selection really need to be with the designers. There’s a bigger question of are those organisations going to be comfortable with doping that. If it doesn’t with the designer you cannot confirm that you’ve got a coordinated design and there is no opportunity to do that later, so it needs to be dome as you’ve identified on the flow charts you’ve put up. But, all the liabilities do need to go back to the designers. I think that’s going to be a bid issue.
PAUL WHITE But it has to go back to them because they are the people who have given you the problem in the first place. LUCY I think at the moment they don’t see it like that. When you start mentioning product selection you start getting into more strained conversations. PAUL WHITE but it’s quite straightforward as we have a fire strategy at the start and compartmentation drawings - just write on the drawing what wall you want. But because there is this level of value engineering that goes on it then makes it complicated, because it isn’t value engineering in a lot of cases it’s making it more expensive.
LUCY but it’s existing liabilities work at the moment that consultants do an outline specification, then a trade would select a product (e.g. damper) and then that consultant would approve that. that consultant has no liability in approving it, it’s just saying to the best of my knowledge that looks OK to me and aligned with the specification. That’s where there is a gap because how can a trade contractor who is completing design be responsible for the product selection within a design intent established by somebody else. it needs to be bottomed out, organisations involved in this process need to take ownership of what they are going to be comfortable with.
The big question is are they going to be accepting of doing that product selection….talking about the competency piece because they probably don’t have an inherently large portion of people in their organisations who can make the right product selection with confidence.
PAUL MCSOLLEY One of the things I don’t want to do is to alienate any specific group because I’m appreciative of it took me a long while to get these diagrams out. Consciously, if you don’t know the products and how they are tested then it’s very hard for someone to describe them. There are 2 things going on here: clients are making us kick the can down the road with very late procurement, then we’re trying to be very late procurement - we’re actually trying to be something that probably doesn't inherently work in the first place.
You have to get to that point where if we’re going to do the word ‘specification’ (which is seen by different people in different mind sets of what it actually is). To me all I rally want is descriptive bits about the component.
GEORGE One of the scenarios that we’ve been having is the wall/builders work being designed to accommodate a certain size of damper. Then because of the contractor design portion an alternative damper is picked and therefore the builders work hole is the wrong size. Therefore, that compromises the compartment. In a simplistic way the selection of what the product is needs to be done before the dry lining people have actually installed the wall.
PAUL MCSOLLEY The reason we have the diagrams is so people can understand that if you go from one type, and there's two sides to this, if you've classified it wrong in the 1st place and you gotta go to the right classification. That's why I'm saying. But if you've got the right classification, the right one, you change it. You can't just get another manufacturers kit to fit that hole, it will change the size of the hole and he can change the depth and thickness type of wall.
LUCY if you have to select a standard symmetrical construction wall rather than a shaft wall then you are moving that wall away from your edge of a slab where you might have an opening, then that changes your NIA or whatever you are developing. that changes the plan of the building so the selection of that wall is quite critical and its done very early on for the viability of the build. As you’re suggesting by selecting a product in can change that dramatically and influence that, so it’s early doors.
PAUL MCSOLLEY If I said to all architects on the call, if you had to allow an early ventilation riser 500-600 off the inside walls, the ventilation duct to enable you to do the seals for the damper, at least the only way you can actually probably get them in correct with the right workmanship to regulation 7. I think a lot of people would say my risers at the moment probably don't work because we're allowing, and Lucy's been through this, 90-100 mm space. You can't do breakaway…fire dampers and access install seals in that space, it’s just too small inside the riser.
The bottom line is when we look at the early stages in design of 2 or 3 there’s not the right level of rigour to go through ontology of space, risk category, products. If you go do a smoke control company/damper company and ask for a damper and you don’t know the descriptive of the building, don’t be surprised if they give you the wrong thing.
PAUL WHITE that quite often happens but hopefully they’ll be asking you more questions. What we’re talking about here is a QDR situation in the fact that this should be being considered because we should consider the influences of one system on another. The fire damper is one system through ventilation and the wall is another system that’s compartmenting in general. QDR is Qualitative Design Review, the point of it is as part of your design if they think they’ve got a problem they do a QDR. The point is you are supposed to be considering the influence of everything on everything else. We’re saying we have got to look at the interaction between the ventilation and the walls and the amount of space we need.
GARETH There’s a study that we conducted of the back of London Bridge station, Crossrail and HS2 where I worked as the procurement director, and we asked one simple question. Why is procurement late? The key themes as to why procurement was late was when people don’t know what they want (54% of delay) and secondly once they did know they couldn’t get approval (21% of all delays) and it took an eternity for the consensus to place the order. This is reflective in all sectors. What we’ve got to be better at is reaching consensus quicker and using data…in all my life I’ve never gone up in a fight against a designer as to who’s going to win the argument as t technical clarity, I’ve always lost.
What we need to do as procurement is work with you better. In trying to fix that conundrum of being late (and blamed for being late) we set out to design a consensus mechanism. We said we need squad reviews and we need people firs to come together and be early on in the decision making process to be informed of what’s making the decision, what materials are being specified or what methodologies are going to be used on site to execute the work. Basically, we need to reach consensus quicker. And so for me that's making sure that we have the mechanisms, the people first and then the mechanisms, the systems in place to facilitate that. And once we've got that, the approvals should naturally flow easier because there's more confidence and transparency of that decision making process.
PAUL MCSOLLEY The issue is it gets so technical, and we’ve done a lot of work to make this thing simpler, but as simple as we manage to make it you can’t make it any simpler than that. In your own words, the reason why it’s so difficult with procurement is because no one knows what they want. No ones got the confidence to specify it properly in the first place.
GARETH The pace is going faster, there’s people who just don’t want to do procurement because they keep getting blamed. We have to protect people that are in our sector, your people first approach is excellent. We’ve got to make sure that we’re kind to ourselves because this is complex, it’s really difficult.
GEORGE After today the regulations will then be drafted. I wouldn’t have thought it would be firmed up earlier than a couple of months because they are going to need to take all the feedback into consideration. To some extent I don’t think that’s too relevant. We’ve got to just press on and do what we think is the right thing to do in terms of the information. We’ll talk this through with Das, but I think maybe we pick up on this, we send through the recording and the notes. We need to put some sort of structure behind how we’re actually going to deal with this whole process.
ANA the really tricky things from the Duty Holder document are competency generally. The requirement for competency for ability of contractors and clients to be able to assess competency of a person - who is the person competent enough to agree somebody else is competent? There’s also quite a lot of emphasis on the client being able to set everything up well from the start. That’s fine for experienced clients who are procuring projects all the time but what if you have a client doing a one-off and has maybe not accounted for costs of this. The least described things are the most tricky.
JAREK It seems like the architects can only go so far when doing specifications because they are not working on site (so they wouldn’t have a contractor’s knowledge) so maybe we need more communication and consistency in the way that specifications are done so that the industry can move together and sharing knowledge. Maybe we need a specialist in doing specifications collating information from multiple sources.
MATT I completely agree. There is a huge amount of pressure on principal designers and architects to know a lot about a vast number of different systems working together in unison. And it it's not always possible to to do that, not with the changes with manufacturers and systems that happened in the industry constantly. So it is just about bringing that knowledge to the forefront of that process, getting that knowledge earlier on to ensure that nay of these issues are picked up. We have issues with that in terms of securing specialist contractors and having the budget available earlier in the project to ensure that information is correct. I’m hoping the outcome of some things being raised in this panel will be some changes of things that have to change in order to make the process better.
GEORGE About what Paul White was saying, this QDR (Qualitative Design Review) is a term I’ve not heard before. PAUL WHITE QDR is specifically around fire engineering and fire strategies etc. if you go off piste and you decide you’re going to do something different because you have to you are into fire engineering principles and then you have to follow that standard.
PAUL MCSOLLEY To give you a bit of a steer, George, when you look at the ontology of a risk class of a building, building regulations are set around a square. As soon as you go away from that square box you should do design reviews. Probably most stuff we build in London should have one. LUCY A complex building over 53 meters there should be a QDR approach on the building. PAUL WHITE More and more now if something is slightly different in there (not a square box) then you really have to think outside of that box and really address the problems that your building could possibly have.
LUCY In a nutshell, what the process is that the fire engineer describing the strategy needs to have consultation with other peers on the bespoke nuances of that scheme to establish an appropriate fire strategy and establish whether or not they need to go down a bespoke engineered route or they can apply principle fire engineering standards to it that maybe somewhat amended, so they’d go down a QDR route to seek consensus from the industry of how they apply that. The QDR process is continuous. It’s done at the start to produce your fire strategy. By the end of stage 4 you are submitting to building control a complete fire strategy that shouldn’t evolve too much. Basically, it’s subject to change throughout the design process.
GEORGE We’re checking systems against systems here. If that’s the case that systems against systems is actually something we could have as part of the process. One of the concerns I’ve got is that people are just inspecting fire doors without inspecting the whole compartment.
PAUL WHITE This is the problem. if you go and do a risk assessment of a building you need different specialists. If you don’t, you could well miss something. If e.g. you’re building has got an atrium in it, atria (although described in 9999 on how to design them) you should be doing calculations on smoke which come under the 7974 and its supporting parts so you can look at designing it. But some people might imagine just taking a simple atrium that in natural ventilation it gets warm, it goes up, it goes out at the top. But if you've left various other ventilation systems on or you've got a mechanical ventilation system, you will disrupt that natural process. And so so this is the interrelationship between different systems that you have to be aware of.
GEORGE So if that's the case, just should we have maybe a process whereby the qualitative design review is actually a process that should be an action that's carried out by somebody at a certain point in time at several points in time? What Lucy was saying, it's continuous, but therefore there ought to be a prompt for that to be done.
PAUL WHITE Yes, there should be a prompt for that to be done. The problem is because everybody assumes that their building is this box that fits into ADB or 9999 they don’t fall into doing that process and they’ll go out of their way to fall out of doing that process because it becomes more expensive and complicated.
Paula Chandler (RDD)
The issue we've got is no one dares to specify anything these days as their 'PI doesn't cover it' - everything gets chucked into the CDP bucket and then you have the added complexity of QS looking for a quick buck and not truly understanding the impact of 'quick win' decisions in terms of the long term fitness for purpose and compliance. There is an education piece here for all facets of our industry.
Just wanted to add that we have introduced additional governance gateways within our internal process to make sure any change to the spec'd product/system has undergone robust due diligence to understand the implications of such a change and balance that with the perceived benefits. Talking of the owner of the design George, we would then play this back to our Consultants to get their buy in so that the Design Responsibility stays with the Consultant even though it didn't originate from them in the first instance. Does create programme pressures though!
While we are talking about specifying products and requirements I thought I share with you the ISO 19650 based information exchange process that I am working on. It’s very much work in process but I thought it would be good for context of what should happen when (cross referenced to standards)
Sharon McClure - AVESTA
Agree with Paula, even reading the manual to determine the requirements of the services seems to be a task that no one wants to do - e.g., damper sealing requested on every job yet we, as the passive fire contractor, are the only ones reading the manuals to determine the seal required (if any!) and then if it is, we are expected to work around however it’s been installed - whether it’s in the wall or out of line. They then ask us to certify this or request an ad-hoc or EJ - but it’s all on us.
Agreed Paul, a systems approach should be adopted for the design. Sharing the rational for material selection would be helpful...to support the build methodology...this is very useful data that Procurement needs in developing its procurement package strategies... so let's get procurement representation as early as possible in the design process
Sharon McClure - AVESTA
yes - space is key for everyone!
when we are talking about coordination of product or requirement, we have a few competing objectives
- Technical performance/product vs available space [PURPOSE]
- Space for services vs rentable space (as 3D Volume) [WHAT, HOW & PURPOSE]
- Space for services vs Aesthetic [WHAT, WHEN]
- Performance/product vs procurement/availability [WHAT, WHEN, LEVEL OF INFORMATION]
Decision points should take this into account
Gareth, good point about delay in response/reaching consensus – one of the most painful factors impacting Tier 2 ate RIBA S4 & S5. Often reason being that the people present are not competent to make decision