BIM4Housing Design Working Group Meeting-20230315_110602
GEORGE There's a perception in the client community, and unfortunately that goes through into contracts that all of the information that's output comes from the live BIM models. And that there's a perception that there is a BIM model rather than probably 10 or 15 or, 30 BIM models that have been federated. And what I think a lot of people don't realise is that, I’m talking about clients, they don't realise that the outputs are a snapshot in time. And therefore, if then subsequently somebody makes a change to the model, then that output is no longer reproducible in the same way. Especially, if somebody like you is clever and has done stuff with Dynamo, because it might well be that you’ve collected things together or you’ve added information which then somebody subsequently that is then using the models later on in the process wouldn’t be able to reproduce. And it's particularly relevant for M&E, because the norm, in my experience, is that the design model actually gets completely replaced during the construction period by the M&E contractor, or the consultants that are doing the work for them.
But how would the client realise this was happening, because there is this perception that there is a model and then, it’s almost like an accounting system, that’s the way they look at it. And you’ve got a double entry bookkeeping system, then when something changes you update it, then, of course, all your reports are updated. But, of course, that isn’t the way the technology environment works. And I think that we need to become better at educating clients to that, otherwise two things will happen: firstly, they don’t get what they were expecting, and secondly, people are transferring risk onto asset management teams. That is unfair, and I don't think enough is being considered on that.
ANDREW DE SILVA I guess this is the thing about even novating the engineering consultant to this main subcontractor, which is the best start, I guess, to try and ensure what's designed is installed. But then as I say, the lack of experience of in-store processes or workflows has a huge impact on the model as well, and actually physically being able to install certain things. So yes, while being novated the main subcontractor early helps ? 3mins 38secs with the product, yes we’ve only costed for that fan cooler unit so that’s what we should put in the design, but when it comes to actually installing, does the cable trace go in first…wall piping, is there enough space to do all of that. That’s where a good M&E main contractor should be reviewing as part of their design coordination role that the design is deliverable from a sequencing point of view, and a space and maintaining point of view.
On the schemes I’ve just been working on coming close to handover, the main subcontractor didn’t have a design manager person checking that, which I think is an omission on their side. But I don't know if it happens on other projects with other consultants that people are working on, but it's not something I've experienced. That in-store knowledge is so important to the design of M&E, they’re so complicated and so they're trying to get everything into such tight spaces. It’s an open ended question whether anyone has a similar experience, or whether there are companies out there which do more of…they’ve got experience in install and maintenance, but they also do design. So, that would be a good model going forward - not from a 3D model point of view, but as a business model.
GEORGE We’re working on a project at the moment with Barclay, and there’s a company called DAT who are doing the detailed coordination. They’re one of a number of very good coordinating companies on the M&E front, and they do the detail of making sure it’s the right valve and that valve is actually modelled. But there is quite a big cost overhead in doing that. But they would argue, probably reasonably, that that’s part of the whole point of that BIM? 6 mins The challenge with that is the point at which that work is being done, and that that comes back to this whole thing about whether the M&E coordination should be done before design is finished or after. And what we're discovering is that impact on quality…That whole issue about the level of detail that is being done, and also how is that related back to, when Harshul’s company may get dropped at construction on a D&B project, how much of the model that you create, Harshul, would then be picked up and used. Hopefully it should be quite a lot of it, but we often find that the coordination teams, they find it a lot easier to use their own families and their own data. And I think from an educational point of view, that’s something that BIM4housing should be helping clients understand.
ANDREW DE SILVA Yeah, that makes sense. But what I’d be interested to know, Jiss and Richard, thanks for sending through the feedback you’ve had from the construction team members for the questions that we raised. What would be useful to answer that question, George, is what would the procurement team or the client teams fell, because ultimately we’re talking about pulling everything forward and in those discussions with that working team, are they accepting of that need and do they understand it? Can they see that becoming a reality from a procurement program expending costs early? That’s the client expending costs early. I don’t know if you’ve got any feedback on that, also, can we then share those three questions that we did to the procurement and the client team because ultimately they are going to be driving program and cost expenditure.
GEORGE You’re right. We had a meeting of the construction group earlier this week and Balfour Beatty are absolutely committed to bring everything on the RIBA plan of work to the left. They said something really interested in that meeting, that the RIBA plan of work is a core protocol, a core information set, and yet it’s never mentioned in any contract. There seemed to be consensus between them. But there's all sorts of references to information standards and British standards and ISO standards, but there is no mention of the plan of work.
ANDREW DE SILVA They define, typically, in the scope of services this is what you should do at RIBA stage 1,2,3,4, and 5. So they reference the name of the stage. They probably don’t say RIBA, they say stage 4, stage 3. I’ll have to double check but, you’re right, they may not actually say the RIBA right at the beginning of these contracts.
PAUL WHITE I think perhaps that's because of the fact that these all blurred, none of it actually gets done when it’s, in theory, supposed to. So, if it became contractually it would push everything back to the left. Because you have all the CDP bits and design & build contracts, and the design & build contracts don’t have any design capability. 'm seeing it on a lot of projects at the moment where, for instance, a basement smoke control system is being let to various different people, but there's no design document for it. The problem with that is then how do you trace responsibility? To be fair, the specifications are thin, the fire strategies are thin, and there is no actual design going on, somebody just puts a load of ductwork and some fans in, and that’s it, it’s done. People are leaving themselves open hugely is something should go wrong, if that’s the case.
ANDREW DE SILVA What I was gonna do was just share a couple of things and some of the bits of feedback I think we've had from Mark, yourself, Jen and Alistair. If I just share my screen, there’s also a couple of webinars that we've attended recently, which you may have already seen around. But I thought they were quite good. There was a couple of presentations that I went to given by Bureau Veritas. George, are they involved in any of the working groups? GEORGE No, they’re not. I know of them. If you’ve a contact, they we’ll reach out to them.
ANDREW DE SILVA Andy Lowe is the gentleman that we worked with. Bureau Veritas used to be HCD, sort of building control fire, and Andy we worked with on the Bouygues schemes for building schools future, that was 10 years ago, and he leads these presentations, very clear and up-to-date. So, for example, they did one Fire Safety: Where Are we Now?. The presentation they gave, which you can see on Youtube, but the slides are available as well. They’ve got a series of them, so, the fire safety one there’s a Youtube video (they are about an hour long). The next one is Building Safety Act: Transitional Arrangements, that’s on the 20th April. I saw this come up, it’s from Mail Manager, a company dealing with them, Information Management Role and Boarding and Easing Disputes. I’ll send all three of these after the meeting. They’re free and you’ve just got to register and they’ll send you the link to log-in. George, I’ll introduce Andy to you.
Then this is some of the slides that Mark sent, following the NHBC Technical Forum, what are believed to be major or notifiable changes. I’ll share them in the group e-mail, but hopefully it's starting to be a bit more bit more clear as to what these major and notifiable…Major I think was still 6 weeks and notifiable was 10 days, in order to get that change approved going forward for the higher risk buildings.
GEORGE Can I just understand that that means. So, if, for example, somebody wants to swap out a specified or prescribed smoke damper for an alternative, who are you submitting that to?
ANDREW DE SILVA So, there’s the two definitions, the major and the notifiable. In the notifiable, it’s talking about substituting a like for like product where the new product has the same spec. They’re submitting this to the building safety regulator, a bit like you might submit an NMA (non material amendment) or minor material amendment to planners and there's certain periods of time that, theoretically, they are meant to respond by. So it's another sort of change control process, but the building safety regulator in this case. So, even to change substitute of material, a lot of contractors may do that through product technical submittal processes, like that's a Bouygues? 16mins 51secs system, or others through the change control, the digital one that you're building with Active Plan, they would need to submit that.
So again, why completing the design to that much higher level prior to construction starting i.e. post, these are major and notifiable things that would be applicable during construction, so stage 5. At the moment, all of this happens in stage 5. I think it's fair to say design getting changed, designing horizontal dimensions, all of these are things that happen at the moment in stage 5 and I'm pretty sure that statement is true for most people. It’s quite interesting because it again goes back to that question, and we can feed this back to the procurement and the client and contracting teams to say, look, these are maybe the kind of things that are gonna get defined as being major and notifiable, so everyone needs to ensure these things are bottomed out before we start on site, and that's quite a high level of detail. Marc Bradfield from Bouygues UK shared this following an NHBC Technical Forum, and NHBC are not going to be making this stuff up.
GEORGE So, to test my understanding on this, for example, look at our favourite smoke jumpers and fire dampers. What we're saying is that if there’s been a prescriptive definition of the fact that you're going to use a certain Actionair model and that needs to be agreed during work stage 4. before work stage 5 starts. If then somebody does some value engineering, or they can't get a product, during work stage 5, they have to inform the regulator that they're changing from one product to another. Is that right?
ANDREW DE SILVA Exactly, and that either falls into major category, or a notifiable. The major having the longer period of time associated to it, because I guess the idea is that it takes a bit more time to analyse the implications of that change. I think major is 6 weeks, or 4 weeks, I didn’t have it written down previously. And the notifiable is something like 10 days.
PAUL WHITE Basically, this really does mean that you can’t let a design & build contract to a contractor.
ANDREW DE SILVA Well, you can, it’s just that it has to be that the designing has to have been completed before starting on site. So, it doesn’t stop the design & build model, but the procurement of specialist and all the subcontractors, shop drawings etc has to be done before starting on site, or stage 5.
PAUL WHITE Yes, but effectively, if they then decide to change they are using themselves as the change control.
ANDREW DE SILVA No, because this has to go to the building safety regulators, that’s a third-party, like building control, like planning.
PAUL WHITE So, if there was a specification, but the design work hadn’t been done and it was let as a design & build, then actually that potentially slows up the process quite a lot, because then the contractors got to do the design work and the consultants are not in control of that. And then that all has to go off and be approved before anything else happens. So it is kind of pushing things to the left, isn't it?
GEORGE I think it's very much pushing things to the left. Also, I think it’s going to have big implications on the M&E design consultants, because although, in theory, the best people to do this would be the people that are actually procuring and installing the kit, the fact is that’s such a huge change to the industry it will take some time to happen. A quicker way of doing it would be for the consultants to be responsible for prescribing what the product should be that can satisfy their design, which to me seems logical.
PAUL WHITE Yeah, it's just been pushed down for the last few years. But this really is starting to rule that out, and it does mean that the designers have actually got to do the design work. GEORGE And to be paid for that as well. PAUL WHITE I think, potentially, they’re being paid for it now, but the responsibility goes down. And that's the bit that's difficult because the contractual design portions aren't gonna be there anymore because these decisions do need to be taken at the correct time.
ANDREW DE SILVA Does anyone else have any experience or have had any feedback on projects which are falling into the higher risk building category because we’ve only got one scheme which is on the border of it being, but it's already on site and has been for a while, so we haven't actually started on a project which falls into the higher risk building definition, but maybe others have.
PAUL WHITE My experience is that I'm seeing a lot of people with responsibility to design. And the first question I ask is who's responsible for the design, and everybody's looking over their shoulder not knowing who that person is. It would appear to be the people who signed the design & build contract, but of course, they've always followed this design as been there, but they haven’t had any risk associated with it because that’s what everybody did, but now everything’s getting to the point where they’re actually questioning specifications because they’re wrong. Because they’re now saying this says we’re responsible for design, so therefore actually we’ve got to argue with consultants, and the response comes ‘that’s your design now, so you can do what you like’, and this really doesn’t allow that.
ANDREW DE SILVA I will double check in terms of the the periods of time required for a major notifier, but I know in a previous discussion we did talk about it, but it’s in one of these notes. But I think I'm correct in terms of the notifiable was days, whereas the major was weeks. In some projects, we’re working with people like Bouygues or BAM? 25mins 33secs, and people like Balfour Beatty, they are certainly understanding and committed to moving everything up front or further to the left. But we are seeing some clients are local authorities trying to engage and employ someone like LinkCity, Bouygues’ development arm, from stage almost zero. So therefore you can see if they're employing the developer from stage zero to deliver the whole scheme, then there’s a better chance that development team with their financial models, and then it goes to the construction arm, with their financial models, can ensure that they are building in for expending the required monies at the right time to lock-in with the procurement team actual products, actual designs, that are gonna be used, all of that before going to side.
So I don’t…the simple drawing you had on your slides, George, we just need to push everything to the left by one stage. I think on the face of it, that is exactly what we need to do, and it's quite a simple proposal. It would be useful to get the feedback from the procurement and the client teams as to their appetite for spending potentially more money, or if they're employing the developer from the beginning and locking them into some sort of magical figure, then all that risk is transferred to the developer. So maybe that's what the client local authorities are thinking when they're adopted that strategy.
GEORGE One of the big problems is that obviously at stage 4 or stage 5, or all the stages, they happen to different people at different times. So, there is a stage, but the stage for different disciplines is going to vary, isn’t it?
ANDREW DE SILVA Exactly, and normally M&E and architecture, I think structures and architecture are sort of aligned, but then M&E is the one that normally is half a stage or a stage behind. So again, that’s where those master information delivery plans etc really help, because actually drawing out the critical part and making sure they’re complete in the design. As you said, George, it’s [putting meat on the bone, and making it very clear which should, coming from a designer’s point of view, should help us because it is forcing the need to get the specialist on board for us to be able to coordinate with them and therefore develop details which don't simply say window head detail specialist, curtain wall detail specialist, riser fire strategy to specialists, because that’s all we can do at the moment. because no one’s appointed and we don’t know who the manufacturer is going to be. So, from a design working group point of view I think this is really helpful for us.
GEORGE Balfour Beatty were saying earlier in the week that they've actually now recruited three clerks of work, which is very interesting, because if they’re doing it…
ANDREW DE SILVA Yeah, I guess that's kind of helping them to monitor and record on site. George, I don’t think you’ve been followed up on that email for the Barnet Homes, for example, in terms of the EWS1 form that I was trying to put you in touch with Mike Beckett from Stack. They are interested, by the way, so I’ll make sure that’s followed up. In the employer’s requirements now, from people like Barnet Homes, they're also referring to ensuring that the schemes are following the golden thread principles, photographing things etc, even though these homes are only ground plus two storeys, actually, ground plus three ground plus two, they're tiny schemes.
GEORGE I’m dealing with Barnet at the moment and they seem very switched on.
ANDREW DE SILVA Which is great. It will be interesting to understand from them, are they understanding the fact that they may need to expend more money earlier? With Westminster at the moment there’s level 2 stage, pre-construction service agreement, the price was agreed, and then immediately when that financial contract is signed work starts on site, but that’s also when the specialists are starting to get appointed and therefore us as architects are able to coordinate. But that's all too late according to the implications that are noted in here and here, especially those time scales. So yeah, from a designer’s point of view, I think it’s positive.
GEORGE It comes back to this question all the time, how much bandwidth for resource the regulator is going to have. So, if the regulator has to approve swapping out smoke dampers or fire dampers, even if they’ve got 6 weeks to do it. A) what’s the impact on projects for that, and secondly, they could well be absolutely overwhelmed, unless there's some really effective mechanism for them to be informed.
ANDREW DE SILVA Agreed. I don't know if anyone else has got any thoughts on the major and the notifiable, either in practice or just generally. Like I said, I guess we're getting to a stage where projects are falling, certainly, into the higher risk category.
OK. I then also collated the feedback that we've had from a couple of individuals to the three questions that we raised, I’ve collated them into one Excel. And So what I'll do, George, is if I share this with yourselves and if you could push this to the other teams, and people can maybe just start to add their comments individually against the horizontal queries or the sub-questions. So, what we did in previous sessions was try and condense down into just three questions the major topics that we were coming across all the time. So, for example, question number one was early engagement consultants, specialist designers and contractors are necessary to meet the requirement of the building safety regular gateway 2. And then what we did was we wrote down some additional thoughts on that, and different people are commenting on that statement or that question. So, for example, the question was early engagement consultant, especially designers and contractors are needed to meet the requirement of gateway 2, which is what we've just been discussing with that notifiable thing.
However, what would a new model look like and how would conflicts between procurement risk ??? 33mins 54secs. So, this is the sub-question I’m interested to find out from the procurement client team about their reaction to this, in lieu of also what Marc has shared in terms of what the notifiable and the major are. We’ve had feedbacks from Alistair and Jan, I wasn’t 100% sure about this response and this query because he notes that gateway 2, from my understanding, is the planning phase of how construction we implemented regular. I'm not 100% sure that that statement is true, or that understanding is true, but that's the whole purpose that we're here. That was question number one, and then question number two was between gateway number 2 and 3 the guidance notes the ability to make major or notifiable changes, what does that look like? For this particular question we’re getting a lot of feedback and clarity, as shared by Marc, so that’s quite good, that question is actually being answered. What time scale…we not 4 weeks for a major and 14 days for a notifiable. That may be changing, but that's still quite a long period of time. You think 4 weeks, that's a huge delay to a project potentially, and that's only if the response comes exactly and within that four weeks.
And then the third question, how are teams ensuring the ambiguity within different appointment briefing documents are removed. So this comes back to the point you made, George, about RIBA work stages isn't exactly the same for an architect, the structure and an M&E. Design responsibility matrix sometimes don't align with the written scope of services, or sometimes something that's in the employer's information requirements. So this is more of the issue that some appointment documents are either written by legal team, some are written by design managers, some by construction managers, so it tends to be a conflict. So that is, again, how do we ensure that everyone's aligned? And like I said, BIM execution plan is a good one for model information. But then I think that master information delivery plan helps eke out grey areas, or making sure that everyone can produce information at the right time. But those were the three main questions and like I said, we've had feedback from some members of the team, but it will be great to kind of continue to populate that with input from at least one member of each of the other working groups. So then we can we can kind of look at it realistically across the built environment and then report our findings from that. So that's what I was thinking would be the next step.
GEORGE I was with Jan a couple of weeks ago, and he was expressing that view that he didn't think that there was a need to make that change, but I don't think that's in any way…I think that’s his view, as it were. I think the point that we’ve just covered there is that you’re gonna have to have a prescriptive specification agreed, certainly for fire related things.
(ANA MATIC joins the call and ANDREW DE SILVA updates Ana on what she’s missed regarding major and notifiable and Marc Bradfield’s findings from the NHBC Technical Forum).
ANDREW DA SILVA All of this is suggesting what we had been previously discussing which is that everything needs to come forward a stage. I don’t know whether on either live projects, or projects that are starting to come across, because personally the schemes that we're working on aren’t technically falling into the higher risk buildings yet. But maybe you’ve had more experience on this topic.
ANA MATIC We do actually have a couple of large projects which are just hitting the change control process. It depends on procurement, it depends at which point the change is being initiated. I know it sounds vague, but trust me, the different scenarios for different projects are very different. So for example, if the change is brought about because there is a change in the subcontractor, or there is a switch between the designer and the subcontractor coming on board, we haven’t quite worked out what’s the best way to handle that change yet. Whereas if it's a simple change because, let’s say, a product is not available, or there is a change in the design and then that effects the follow through, that's easier to manage because we are then kind of almost taking it in as part of the normal change control process. So, I think the biggest thing to focus on and try and understand is how to deal with changes that are kind of holistic to design. For example, we have a project where very very careful risk management has been done so far by the full consultant team at Stage 4, just ahead of the gateway. And with subcontractor input, for firebreaks and coordinated fire stopping in BIM package. That was done with the design team and the subcontractor, and now the MEP subcontractors coming on board, which is bringing a lot of different changes and is also not going to employ the same subcontractor to advise about the fire stopping.
And now we've got issue which is that we've already done a lot of work on this, not just us, but the MEP designer and the structural designer as well. And now we need to first work out who’s going to pay for all these changes. We also need to work out how to understand them in the best way, and also if whether they're coming from the MEP or from the subcontractor advising about the fire stopping. So two big things are changing, it's going to take us a little while. We haven't really gone very far with this, but this is a real project, a real example.
GEORGE Yeah, the implications are very significant in that for the last year or so, it’s taken me quite a while to actually properly understand it. Paul McSoley, for example, has been very focused on this thing about descriptive specifications and prescriptive specifications, and the need for there to be a prescriptive specification out of design before you start constructing. A prescriptive specification, from what Paul has explained, needs to be product specific. The point is that therefore if you’re then going to change from one prescribed product to another, at least you’ve got a really strong baseline to work from that that is actually an equivalent. But if you’ve just got a descriptive specification, then you’ve got nothing to base it on. And obviously the example that you've just given there is a perfect one, where a lot of work's gone into making sure that the compartmentation has been designed properly, including the fire stopping and all the rest of it. And then the M&E contractor comes along and they're given the authority, it appears, to select different products. They probably don’t have the competence as M&E contractors to actually understand enough about the compartmentation to make those decisions, they're just looking at it as an isolated product.
Now, the thing that's significant about what Das has just been showing here is that according to that process that decision to switch from one type of smoke damper to another has to go through the building safety regulator. So the implications of that are significant because from a workflow flow point of view, first of all, I wonder who pays for the building safety regulator to do that review? Secondly, they could easily be absolutely inundated with information. Now, that’s not a bad thing because it means that the people that are providing that information are going to have to be much clearer than they often are at the moment. We get involved in projects where you're trying to hunt around to see where the fire dampers are actually identified on the drawing or in the model, because it’s fairly incomplete. So, what’s really interesting about that is what happens if they don’t come back within the 4 weeks.
ANA MATIC I work for Scott Brownrigg, we're predominantly architects, but we also have several other services. So, we have a delivery service and a design review unit which deals with reviewing other people’s designs on behalf of the client, those two units are dealing with quite a lot of current…
ANDREW DE SILVA On this project, is the contractor already on board, or have they just got on board after Stage 4 tender?
ANA MATIC The specific project, we’ve joined the project quite late at Stage 3 plus to just do the delivery and then the contractor has just come on board. So again, it’s quite a typical D&B situation, basically.
ANDREW DE SILVA Exactly, but as now the safety Act is in play and this is not started on site yet, it certainly has to go through that Gateway 2.
ANA MATIC Yeah, it’s ramping up towards Gateway 2, but just before Gateway 2 there are all these changes. So, at least we're not dealing with post Gateway 2 changes, but still it’s a big change.
ANDREW DE SILVA My understanding is that this change control, the major and the notifiable, is between things that are changed between Gateways 2 and 3. So theoretically you're not in that zone yet, so that's good as far as I understand it.
ANA MATIC It’s good, but the change I’m describing could easily have happened just after Gateway 2, so in a way we’er just lucky that it’s here, although it’s going to be a major change and the money is not clear and all of that. But this change could easily be happening just after the Gateway 2, and then we also need to understand what’s notifiable.
ANDREW DE SILVA I guess the discussion to have with the contractor and the client, the thing is to say we’re before Gateway 2, but before Gateway 2 we need to iron out all of these things, because beyond that we're then getting into the formal notifiable periods or change control process. And therefore if Mr. Contractor, you wanna change your product, you're gonna have to, to answer your question, George. I think whoever wants to make the change would have to pay, whether it's subcontractor wanted to make the change, the main contractor, the client, the design team. Whoever wants to make the change would have to pay, I would imagine, because they're initiating something that should already theoretically be priced for, designed for, coordinated, procured, and just needs to be installed. The other thing, there’s an interesting lecture that George and I went to at the Building Centre which is with a gentleman from HSE…they’d done some reviews on projects as they are at the moment and they found quite a lot of things which were non-compliant. But he did make the point that sometimes when we submit things to building control, we kind of expect them to scour through all the drawings and check for every minute BIM, whatever, and then go, well, you didn't you didn't comment on it, so we assumed it was OK. And he was like well, look, that's a bit tricky because we’re expecting you to design compliance, or if you’re going to submit something like a change control, whether it’s major or notifiable, the way to quicken it up (in response to your question about inundated queries, George) is as the team have to kind of say this is the product at the moment, this is what we want to change it to, the reason why we think it’s fine is X, Y and Z.
So rather than trying to get it covertly through the building safety regulator, or a planner or building control, the team submitting that should make it as clear as possible why it’s still compliant and therefore make the decision making process very easy, rather than hoping that the regulator or the building control doesn't see it, signs it off and they’re like, well, you said it was OK, so we just went through with it, which I think a lot of people still do. That, again, is just my personal, thinking aloud, and obviously feeding back from that lecture we went to. One final thing, I think this is where having the QS on the design team, whether pre or post contractor getting on both. It’s helpful, we’ve done one project where we appointed a QS and the whole other team, which helped us really stay within the client’s prescribed budget. But a lot of projects, you don't have that, the QS is maybe on the client side or comes along when we do the tender. So all of this is sort of suggesting we go down a more traditional route, and a traditional route would make sense if you know how much things are costing etc.
So, having that QS input, whether it’s from the client appointed, contractor appointed or design team appointed, I think would be one way of making sure this whole issue, a lot of things happen and changes occur because people are trying to value engineer. If the project is already engineered and designed and valued as it goes through the stages and it's still within budget, not withstanding market forces, then the reasons for change shouldn’t be there because the only reason people make changes is either to try and save money, get back to budget that they said they could meet, but they could never do in reality. Or something has changed that no one has control over. So they’re my initial thoughts, anyway, as to how the world needs to change.
PAUL WHITE I think, just taking on board your points, there are a couple of other issues which is if something is essentially designed wrong and you can’t fit the product that’s been picked, then again, that’s not necessarily the contractor’s issue, and they’re gonna have to go back to you and say, look, sorry, it doesn’t fit. In certain products, for instance, if you take the fire dampers, you can, given a given wall, as long as the fire damper has the right classification, you can fit it. Now, the issue you’ve got is somebody’s got to have decided what the wall type is going to be, and this seems to be a very late decision. But once a wall type has been decided upon, and if you allow room for the largest installation method from whatever manufacturer, then if you allow a perimeter around the damper so this will fit in there, that does give the opportunity to swap products. But it's clear that you’ve got to have decided on what your wall constructions are going to be, and you must have provided the space.
Now, the smoke control issues are slightly different, in the fact that those systems do need to be designed because they have a series of components, all of which are linked together by shafts and controls, and all the rest of it. But if, for instance, right at the start, somebody’s not looked at it properly and they put an extract shaft in the wrong place moving it is gonna be really difficult and complicated, and therefore the skills with regard to smoke control need to be moved right up into the fundamental design, because you need to be putting where you're putting your shafts, where they need to be. So components, I think, can be dealt with relatively easily, as long as when they're put in the into the model, they have a space associated round them that all the different potential types will fit in that hole. So there's enough space, and people have heard me talk about space before. It's not the final frontier, it’s actually where we need to start. So, as long as there's space available, then you will have the opportunity to swap product, and again, you may have selected a product from one manufacturer that has a bigger hole requirement than another one and needs to be further, so you've got to allow for that.
The other issue is that people tend to have favourite suppliers. So if you work on all your projects and you stick your Actionair dampers and all your projects and then you want them all in the same week, you’re going to end up with supply issues because there won't be any alternatives available, and you'll have to wait until they have production space. So if everybody goes we all love Actionair and nobody places any specifications on anybody else, you’re gonna make their lives very difficult. Potentially happy in the short term on their returns, but also you're not gonna get what you want in a given time period. So that's why you've gotta be aware of the other issues. But the key point is as long as you select the walls correctly and you put the right amount of space in to fit things, then you will have the flexibility.
GEORGE But that space argument is one of the challenges. Obviously we’ve got some great architects on the call at the moment and one of the things I hear time and time again is the determination of all of the spaces being defined. You just mentioned the risers there, or, rather, the smoke shafts. Presumably, that’s another space, isn’t it?
PAUL WHITE It's another space that takes room out of the building, yes, and lettable space is the driver, but you've got to be able to fit all this stuff in, and you've gotta be able to fit in properly.
GEORGE I think most people know what we do in terms of the asset information side of things, but what's critical from our perspective is that all of the spaces are defined, not just the spaces that are occupied spaces or circulation spaces. Because unless all of the spaces are actually defined as a space then you you've got nowhere to locate things.
ANDREW DE SILVA Exactly, and I think that’s where risers are a good example because a lot of the time we would ask with an M&E team how much riser space, what dimensions do you need for utility cupboards etc. and it’s an open-ended sort of statement. There may be the size of the riser or the duct given, OK fine, we’ll make the space that size, but I come back to my first point about knowing how to install a duct helps in guiding the design team with its structures for holes or architects for drylining or whatever. We do need to leave a buffer space, which is what the other Paul was telling us about in that workflow diagram. These are things that the M&E consultants with specialist knowledge, or the specialist installer, should know, and therefore be able to feedback and say, yes, the riser is .5 X .5, but we need another .5 in that space to install it. If you’ve got that, then you have a bit more options as to the product, but if you’ve only got a tiny bit of space, that might lead to a bespoke or really tricky installation, or something more destructive to access, which is where the problems come into.
GEORGE The definition of the wall that Paul said earlier, that was interesting. What’s the reason for walls, what is the workflow…is it the case that the construction of the interior walls is delayed for reasons that we might be able to do something about?
ANDREW DE SILVA Typically the wall build-up to the performance is a combination of fire, acoustics, aesthetics, and basement plant areas, typically you might go block work wall because it needs to be robust, acoustic might not be so great, but to practice typically like to reduce wet trades, because they take longer to dry. So then you go like housing and high-rise high-risk buildings, you go drylining pretty much all the time on the upper floors, or in the habitable rooms or flats. We are typically full design responsibility and design responsibility matrixed to do build-ups walls, and so we go to people like British Gypsum to make sure that the build-up achieves the fire, the acoustics and deal with the height of the space. The problem is most projects that I’ve worked on, we’ve picked British Gypsum (most people do), subcontractor comes on board and they’re like, oh, we want to go Knauf, here’s our alternative proposals. Typically we’ll go, fine, but if you want us to change here’s the costs for changing the entire build design to go with that.
They may change it for very good reasons. On one scheme they changed it to a manufacturer who’s boards were suitable to be left ‘exposed’ until the pre-cast came. So it’s a sensible reason why they changed it, but again, the build-ups changed and that could have a 10 or 15 mm difference. Again, from a design point of view, we’re kind of sticking to our guns, because commercially to update the entire design with all of the new build-ups is going to take a long, long time. But, as Paul was saying, if the damper that’s been specified or the M&E kit by the M&E based on our wall build-ups, it’s now changed and now that specified damper may not be suitable, and that’s the problem. So, the changes to wall build-ups happen because of a procurement reason because they want to get a better price, so coming back to pushing everything a stage forward, if that procurement has happened and then we’re fed that then we just design it once with the preferred manufacturer and the supplier that the contractor wants to go with, and they just need to not change and try and save another dollar here, a pound there. And the good thing about these notifiable things is that if they’re going to be then delayed by 4 weeks they’re going to have to incur the penalties for delaying the project. The client’s not going to be interested in why the contractors’s changed the product, the client will say our end date was here, now it’s 4 weeks delayed, you, contractor, pay us for that delay, which is a good thing to stop people changing as well.
GEORGE Joe, you’re into the data side of things as far as modelling is concerned. If you’ve got a wall that’s in Revit and it’s not product specific, I can understand the build would be product specific, but if you’re swapping from British Gypsum to Knauf, could that be done just at a data level rather than having to change the model?
JOE STOTT It depends. Obviously the data could point to somewhere else, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the model itself, and I’m kind of a big advocate of that. In which case the only variable that you’ve got would probably be the overall thickness of the product that you’re working with. But I think the issue is that there's so many variables involved in that decision, and we look at fire, acoustics, height and the risk of installing. The other side of it as well is sustainability, I’ve thrown that into the chat. When these decisions, these adjustments to products are made, I've never seen sustainability be part of that conversation, the only conversation is best price and program, isn't it? So, in answer to your question, I wish it could, but in reality we’ve kind of had to go the other way, and I suspect others are going to do the same. We’re becoming much more prescriptive about our base point of design.
So, we used to run with conceptual elements, so we had party? 1hr 05mins 01sec walls would be 220 thick, internal partitions would be 100, and we’d run with that as far as we could. I think those days are gone. So, now we’re spending a lot of time building our own library of pet products, if you like, that we feel we can hang our hats on from a from all these different perspectives and manage our own risk, because if we don’t hang our hat on something, invariably changes would be made and the benchmark from which those changes are made would be missing, and that would come back to us. So, we’re becoming much more prescriptive about everything. I was talking to the teams the other day, the idea of concept modelling and concept design is disappearing very quickly. We’re pretty much straight into what I would term production information level detail straight away.
GEORGE to EDUARDO GUASQUE What we were just talking about there was what Paul White was talking about in terms of, let’s say, damper selection, and there's a big implication on the type of wall. So if the wall gets swapped out from British Gypsum drylining to a Knauf drylining, then that decision can be made quite late. And therefore it makes it difficult for, let’s say the designer of the damper, to actually have that. We were just talking through there whether there’s a way of making those decisions earlier in the process. My suggestion was, if it’s the case that it’s a wall and it’s in that place, do we really need to swap it out in the model, or could we just say that wall is now a Knauf build-up of this and do it in data. What Joe was saying was possibly not.
EDUARDO GUASQUE Ideally we would replace the wall, it’s not a big deal to change the wall build-up in the model. This is something that is straightforward. I think the holes are more of an issue than the wall itself. We often juggle to see whose responsibility it is to do the building's work holes in the models, or should we do the holes themselves or just annotate them. We keep having this conversation over and over again, but have different scenarios in different projects. Sometimes engineers are more involved and want to specify the holes themselves, or other times they're more relaxed.
ASHLEY KOCHISS I wanted to give my two cents on this, because after I heard Joe and then Eduardo speak, I kind of lean a little bit more towards Eduardo, just because in sustainability up here at the moment we’re trialling with the design team, taking in their design models and then attaching to, let’s say, a 200 mm interior wall, 2 different types of walls, just to see the sustainability measurements, the carbon emission elements of those specific products. So, we’re trying to do it earlier on within the design model, but if it is of the same dimension what will have to be changed or what will have to be taken into consideration will be mainly done by the design team, and it will be told to hopefully sustainability or whoever else is using the model.
GEORGE Yeah, well, that covers what Joe was saying as well that that decision process needs to include the carbon implications, doesn’t it?
ASHLEY KOCHISS That's something that I think we're just trying to figure out, what is the easiest way of modelling for it. Technically, it should be able to be done, or if you could technically be able to just replace that 200 millimetre wall for another product, if it stays of the same dimension.
GEORGE Obviously a lot of these session are about knowledge sharing. Last year, I got involved in something where we’re looking at how we could take data out of Revit into IFC and then what we could do with it. We did an exercise taking a model, putting a standard Revit wall in, then when we exported it as IFC most of the detail was stripped out. The person that was doing it really understood IFC quite well, and what he was explaining to me is the settings that you actually set within the exporter can have a very significant impact on what you get out. The other point is when you export that, you can’t take it back in again because often the walls are parametrics (or there are elements that are parametrics in Revit). The key thing was that what actually came out was far more simple than it was in the Revit object, and I thought that’s an interesting dimension on this.
ASHLEY KOCHISS I guess if the wall didn’t come with a build-up then in Revit it would be a lot simpler to always export to IFC if that's going to be the end result case.
GEORGE Yeah, but the wall build-up now seems to be an important aspect as far as the asset management is concerned, because you really need to know that.
ASHLEY KOCHISS This is what I meant, though, about the sustainability team with taking the wall that could be a view of two products. That’s why we would give the design team the carbon emissions of two products and then they would be able to build the wall up based on the product that they end up choosing. That’s all I meant, it’s like taking from the very simple early stage Revit model and then inputting two products, just to see and compare the products.
JOE STOTT That’s the ‘it depends’ answer, I suppose, it’s the way you are doing the projects.
ANA MATIC Can I just add on adding products and getting IFC information. Really, it’s not necessarily how you’re modelling stuff, it’s how you’re entering the data into the model. And for that the continuity needs to be provided by some form of information management that is really done on behalf of the client. It can be outsourced to the design team, but really the client needs to understand that they want this information to be managed, so that the information continues and is managed. So, you can’t just tell the team, give us a good IFC, you have to actually manage the process, because every client will have slightly different requirements for that process. And this is a cost that is actually quite significant nowadays. So the realistic thing that needs to happen is somebody needs to start understanding how expensive all of this is, because you can do anything and you can do anything well, but somebody has to look after it and manage the process.
GEORGE Yeah, the point that BRE made was that, depending on the selection that you make, the competence and the experience of the person that's actually doing that export, nothing to do with the model, the person doing the export can get a very different output depending on which buttons they press.
ANA MATIC Yeah, and that. But a well information managed project will have somebody who will tell each consultant exactly what parameters to log first, then what parameters to issue out, how to set up the export (they will give them the export file) to import, so all of this stuff needs to be managed. It's no good just saying the consultant will deliver this because the information we're getting out of models will need to be calibrated to fit that clients need. And to fit the process, because if we think that we're gonna hand over at Stage 2 we need to then tailor towards handing over at Stage 3. If we know we’re going to continue to Stage 4 we then need to make the process work for us until we’re handing over at Stage 4. I really think procurement is such a big element in all of this, and that's something that needs to be slightly more described so that people understand which roles are required, how briefs are written, how the information is delivered.
EDUARDO GUASQUE At Stage 4, you can’t read only the model, you need to read specification as well, you may need to refer to the specification for more information for IFC parameters. I understand IFC has more parameters than the Revit model would have.
GEORGE It depends on the model view definition, that’s the point. I think a lot of people don’t understand that IFC is not vanilla. Depending on what you’re going to use the information for there are different model view definitions that describe things in different ways, and the only one that I come across is 2X3, the coordination view. I think there’s 11 or 12 that are published that Building Smart have got that have all been put together for different purposes.
ANDREW DE SILVA What’s been really interesting is the feedback about live projects where in terms of design change, procurement are now becoming clearly real life, as opposed to theoretical. So, I’ll type up a couple of notes and share the links and the slides that I showed earlier, and the Excel file. George and Richard, if you could share that with all the teams, and when you next meet if I could request that one of the topic items is for everybody, or one person, to feed back into that matrix, because we can then see the design team are in agreement, the construction team are in agreement, but the people who are actually employing and paying the money for them, isn’t in agreement.
And then in terms of the data side, it just shows you how complicated, because we’ve got a couple of team members who’ve got a little bit or their head around things like data control, versions, IFCs. It’s going beyond the typical architect knowledge base as well because it’s getting technically, digitally quite complicated. I’m interested, but 99% of the architects, I don’t think they are, and I guess that’s where the role of the BIM managers and information managers comes in. We’ve got two things to solve here in terms of design, trying to make sure that the right people are appointed at the right time, but also about us needing the competency within the practices to generate the data and manage the data in as lean a way as possible so it is open to multiple use. So two ends of the spectrum, in terms of problems to solve.
GEORGE We’re now in a situation where we’ve got a physical building that’s being delivered, and we’ve got a digital building. And I think there’s probably, maybe in architectural practices and senior management, there’s possibly not adequate recognition of the fact that now the digital building, if that’s wrong and it’s got defects in it in the data, then that’s a defect. The project we’re working on at the moment, the main contractor isn’t able to complete the handover because the digital information that they’ve provided has got defects.
ANDREW DE SILVA And in order to keep the digital and the physical aligned, that’s a lot about communication. A lot of things happen on site, there’s a scheme where I got sent some photographs of some flooring exposed, and the floor build-up doesn’t match what was released for construction and there's no product technical submittal documents that I have saying that it's being changed. So, the likelihood of the digital and the physical not being aligned is pretty high, I would say. It could be quite a large percentage of misalignment. And I guess that’s what the clerk of work is there to do, to try and feed and say it wasn’t built like this, and we as designer’s if you’re having to keep the model updated during construction, we need to factor that into our fees as well, because we normally ramp down our fees at Stage 5 to a watching brief or a once a week site inspection type thing. So, that’s something for us as designer’s to consider in our fees as well going forward.
I would also like to say that the physical teams (survey/inspections) need to be at the same level of detail as the digital team and vice versa. It gets hard to be aligned if one is busier than the other.