Design Working Group Meeting BIM4Housing 05-07-2023
GEORGE We did the Digital Construction Week event where we picked four questions and then tried to relate those questions in a very practical way in terms of trying to see what were the answers on that. What we’ve also done this last couple of weeks is we’ve gone through and tried to do a refresh on the original guidance that was done and that’s been very useful because we’ve had another set of eyes on all of the asset types. We’ve done all 12 and Richard is going through them at the moment updating the guidance with that, but one of the particularly useful things from my perspective is that we’ve had more people look at them than we had originally. So for example on sprinkler systems, originally we only had 2 or 3 people engaged in that, and they did a good job. Whereas this time we had a much bigger group and all of that is contributing to it. We had one last Thursday, that Jim was very actively part of, on signage. As a layperson like me you’d have thought that signage was pretty straightforward, but I’ve learned that’s not the case, and in fact as Active Plan we’ve been doing floor plans with some big scan-to-BIM surveying companies for Tower Hamlets and Origin Housing etc.
What we were trying to do was come up with a standard set of symbols: What symbols should you use for an AOV? I spoke to Jim on it and he said actually, there aren’t any. There’s stuff that’s been discussed, but there’s no definitive standard and what we’ve had to do is arrive at something which is a compromise.
JIM CREAK Well, no, because in the standards they’re laid down as notices because they’re for fire & rescue and not for the general public. The case in point of everything that I spoke about on Thursday is over Andrew’s left shoulder because here we have a sign that theoretically supposed to be illuminated internally, but it isn’t, so it’s relying on viewing distance from an external light source, and we debated that for about half an hour. The graphical symbol is not standardised anywhere in the world, but it’s being used as being familiar and understood by the whole of Andrew’s office environment and yet research has shown that it’s not understood because the white rectangle is very difficult to resolve and it’s open to assumption. In certain contexts it could be a cubicle, another room, but we’re left as an assumption to understand what the graphical symbol means. So that absolutely galvanises everything about our group in the design because these things should be laid down fundamentally as an arrangement for day one.
But that one is a sticky thing stuck on a luminaire that the engineer gets out of a box and if it happens to be the right one, lucky, if it’s not it’s my old Airfix Spitfire that was half ME105 on one side, because that’s what the little symbols were on the box of Airfix, or a proper Spitfire decals on the other side. Anyway again, I illustrate my point about signs and I think in retrospect last Thursday we made the whole thing so complicated, because you’re right, the Standards Committee spend huge amounts of time building a registration system for graphical symbols which are safety signs, but then there’s a lot of other things like fire & rescue deployment which is about dry risers and other pieces of equipment. And the plethora of graphical symbols, there’s a test method to make sure that people understand it.
So currently the notice for dry riser is ‘dry riser’ in text because the committee make the assumption that fire & rescue services in the UK can speak English because that’s an international safety language, but its got flames on it as a determinant, meaning it’s for firefighters. So there is a vocabulary for it and unfortunately very few people, my committee know these things, but externally outside that everybody assumes that signs are easy. And so they should be because they’re communication so we should understand them, but when we start to look at them like the one over Andrew’s shoulder we have to be critical about it because what does the arrow actually mean?
GEORGE The other thing, Jim, I actually misspoke earlier because I was talking about signs, whereas actually what I meant to be talking about was CAD symbols. The point is there’s no standard for CAD symbols for a lot of these things either.
JIM CREAK Well, that’s not correct because there’s CAD symbols as a British standard for the older fire certification plans, it’s still there, it was never taken back. And again, this was also coming out on Thursday about what the definition is of a fire safety sign. People wanted to take it off on other tangents, but fire safety signs have a definition. The safety sign has a definition, and there was a comment from somebody who said we want to call it signage, but internationally in standardisation it’s called signing. But oh, because we’ve always called it that way and we’ve put out a contract for signage. This is not correct because if you want an expert like me to come and do you a safety sign survey and tell you what you want. you make it into all signage, you are gonna have me looking at everything like ‘do not put your bike here’ because that’s a sign, it’s not keeping what it should be as an arrangement for fire safety, and that’s this forum specifically after Grenfell, specifically because there’s been a problem with communication.
GEORGE I guess the point I was trying to make is that what’s become clear from the various different workshops is that there are different views and part of that is how people interpret the guidance. For example, just on the location and positioning of signs, there was a conversation as to whether they should be at eye height (maybe at 6 ft) or at 300 mil.
JIM CREAK You must be feeding me because there’s a specific height for an escape route sign and it’s 2 metres, that one above Andrew is way above 2 metres. It’s specific, it’s 1.7 metres on walls for escape route signs. It’s already in the standard and it’s very prescriptive.
GEORGE Yeah, but the point I was making is that it isn’t that clear. it may be in that standard, but the point that Andy Cunningham makes, who is also a specialist in signs, is the signs should be lower down because of smoke.
JIM CREAK Yes, but that’s already covered in another standard for low location safety way guidance systems, and yes I agree, but because it’s never been proscribed in law, and I come back to this thing I was talking about with Jiss which is the difference between compliance and conformance. If you want to do a safety way guidance system and you can go above code it’s perfectly correct, that is the place to put them. But again, in this context, we need to deal with what the current guidance is under ADB, and unfortunately there is no guidance in ADB for safety way guidance systems, it’s only a recommendation.
GEORGE Good, OK. I hope my point has been made.
JIM CREAK And I’ve probably done what I normally do, and thank you for helping me, yet again is to try and put this thing at a higher interest level. I hope I did that.
GEORGE Yeah, you did. The point is that if, for example, a landlord is asking for an expert’s view of whether they’re complaint or not, it does appear that having one expert’s view may not be adequate. We need to have that consolidation of views so that the safety angle is being properly covered. Anyway…we’ve got the new guidance coming out.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ The guidance…are updates to the guidance for specific assets that everyone’s been working on, is that correct?
GEORGE Yes, we’ve done 12 asset types. Actually I’ll show you what we did at Digital Construction Week because that will help with context to that. (shares screen). Just for anybody that's not aware, this is what we did 18 months ago that we fed back into the golden thread process. So we produce guidance for the 12 asset types that are set out there and that’s what we’ve been refreshing. This is what the fire door one includes: what is the risk it mitigates, what do people do to the fire door to stop it from working, what information do we need for specification, construction, installation. We’ve done that now for all of those different asset types. Then this is what we did at Digital Construction Week that both Pauls on this call and Jarek contributed to. The first question we came up with was how do we prevent incorrect design, selection and installation of fife safety products. We had same good outputs from that group. We probably need to decide how we’re then going to use this information, I’d be grateful for peoples views. So that was one table.
Another table was how do we ensure that what information is captured about a product is actually related and then can be updated through the lifetime. I’ll just explain the context of this. As Active Plan we’re doing some work at the moment for Barnet Council and they’ve asked us to create something that pulls together their safety case information, fire risk assessments, external wall surveys and all their O&M information so that they’ve actually got something that’s joined up. What they’ve also asked us to do is tie in some live sensor data from the emergency lighting system and the sensors that are in the flats. As we were going through building it up we discovered that they had two different fire stopping data sets. They’d got one, the fire risk assessment that was done 2-3 years ago had resulted in some fire stopping work that was recorded in a software application called Bolster and when we then started going through this with them we found that they were also using, the current work on fire stopping was being done using an application from Hilti.
So we asked them how they were using the Bolster information, in other words, if they’ve got fire collars that were inspected 2-3years ago and remedial works were done to them how was that then being fed into the new system, Hilti. And it wasn’t, basically it was a completely discreet record of that work. And it then became clear to us that what was happening was each time somebody does an inspection they’re creating a brand new data set, so therefore there’s no history of what was inspected last time around, which is a fundamental break in the golden thread. And that’s broadly because the client didn’t have a good record, maybe from a baseline, to work from to say what that asset was from their perspective, irrespective of who’s doing the inspection and the remedial works. So that’s part of what we were saying here. That particular group looked at this and we came up with this methodology to say that each asset that is then being inspected needs to then be identified and then any inspection or maintenance work that’s done against it needs to be against that particular asset. That may sound blindingly obvious, but it just shows the importance of feeding through to the asset team exactly what’s been installed.
The other question we had was how do we ensure that the building safety data is actually a live thing, not simply a report of a snapshot in time. The reason we’re doing that is that we are finding that understandably landlords are under a lot of pressure at the moment and they’re registering their buildings, they may be commissioning a building safety case report, but what they’re not realising is that’s got to be kept live and up-to-date. This group here led by Andrew Holley was working on this. We’re working with this company called RiskBase now, they provide risk management software to be managing that through. So this was the findings that came from there as well. I think we’ll get some rally rich data. The final thing was how do we deal with this problem of building services design being done after the rest of the design is complete and during construction. That’s something that Paul McSoley is very passionate about, so he led this particular group. That’s my report from DCW.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ That’s really cool, George. The question we asked in terms of where could it be located, there are some slides someone in the team sent through from the building regulator conference which I’ve been going through because I wanted to refresh my mind in terms of things that are moving. I have a couple of basic but very important questions. I notice there’s a lot of links to the HSE website, for example, the new gateway 1 planning advice link. The HSE have created this planning advice where web app that allows developers to ask questions at that early stage to meet gateway 1. I’ve been in one of my one notes rewriting and updating myself about things from these various presentations. So could it be that some of the findings from the groups, I guess at the moment it’s probably in the BIm4Housing website, could there be a discussion with the HSE about links to those findings? It has a general section about golden thread, it just says the right information at the right time to the right people, and in the HSE website your building information must be kept digitally, kept securely etc. But maybe there’s links form the HSE website to your findings which may then keep it centralised. But that’s a government website etc and they’d want to make sure the information is censored or checked or whatever. Could that be a portal? Or could that be a way?
GEORGE A couple of people from the HSE were actually at the workshops at DCW. It’s a good idea. At the moment I’m just trying to think through…as I say, Paul White, Paul McSoley and Jarek were on those workshops. Paul White, do you have a view as to how we could take what we did and then turn it into something that is consumable my people?
PAUL WHITE I suppose we can pick a trade association or the group that Paul McSoley is in and publish it through that, if we come up with a format.
GEORGE Yeah, I’m just trying to get my head around how to take the great comments that people made and then turn it into something that is useable. Maybe it’s something that we feed into some sort of risk management questionnaire or something like that.
PAUL WHITE We could put it into a form of FAQ and then put answers to the questions. And then send it to…
GEORGE That’s a good idea. Those are answers to the questions though, aren’t they?
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ On the HSE website I’ve seen where they talk about different templates they’ve got for the planning stage, so could it be a very simple checklist or a prompts list. Simply a list that people could download and use to check their processes against or their workflows against. Obviously this is all guidance, but it’s just in a downloadable format, a simple PDF that people can use internally, whether they want to digitise it internally or not that’s up to them, but just as a set of prompts I was thinking.
PAUL WHITE That makes absolute sense, but there’s some of those already. I was looking at one yesterday, I think it was Richard that gave that link to building regulation 156 and we could perhaps help with making sure people have got the right information. A lot of this is about the law being very simple and with the law and the guidance being very simple people avoid doing any work and therefore they don’t consider everything as a whole. I think what I was reading yesterday that was good guidance was the one from the insurance, BDM 01 from the FIA. There’s quite a good section in there which says really you should be doing this, this and this before you even get to this point. But again it involves people who don’t normally do stuff doing stuff that they doh’t think they should be doing. But I think this is where everything is starting to change and the fact that design rally does need to be design, and construction needs to be construction because just waiting now to see if it’s going to work when you get to it is clearly becoming more and more unacceptable.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ I guess what we want to do is try and reduce the number of clicks or whatever that you need to do to get to the findings form the roundtables, hence why I though the HSE might be quite good because that’s where a lot of people go. That’s where I would search for any kind of guidance or help on this matter, or gov.uk or something like that. So if you do speak to the HSE representatives that were there and ask them could it be a simple checklist or a prompt list, that would be the way to get the most coverage.
RICHARD If that’s actually a route that would be just as much a route for our overall guidance, wouldn’t it?
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ Exactly, because it’s gone through so many knowledgeable people in the various groups that it’s got to be as good as anything else that the government bodies would be doing. And because you do have connection with the HSE directly that would make sense to ask them. I wanted to bring it back to a couple of very basic questions. As I said I was trying to refresh my mind with all the information that’s been coming from various sides. The first one, I saw a post from you, George, about the HSE not necessarily being the building regulator anymore. I don’t know really if it changes anything from a designer point of view because whether we’ve got to submit it to….whether the building regulator is an arm of the HSE or not, if the process hasn’t changed and the timelines haven’t changed, as designers it doesn’t make much difference, it’s just knowing who it is. But I don’t know if there is anymore information about that, there was murmurings of the HSE not being the overseer anymore.
GEORGE My understanding is, and I don’t think anybody knows at the moment, is what I think’s happened is that the legislation has gone to the House of Lords for approval and Baroness Scott, she’s been part of DLUHC, so although she’s in the House of Lords she’s obviously been very closely involved with DLUHC and Michael Gove. They’ve introduced the possibility of a new regulatory authority being set up which some people I’ve spoken to have said that’s probably going to mean it’s going to be more stringent because, to some extent, the regulator being under the HSE is going to potentially soften it because the HSE is there to encourage people to do the right thing. And therefore (this was a view of one of the people who seems to be very knowledgeable about this said to me) it’s a bit difficult for the HSE to then become the enforcer because they’ve got both hats, as it were. Whereas if a new regulator is set up to enforce the legislation and HSE is there to support the legislation then that’s a positive thing.
The other thing is that the HSE at the moment from a government perspective reports into…the HSE is under a different government department, it’s not under DLUHC. The fire is under the Home Office and building safety is in theory under DLUHC, but the HSE reports into a different government department, I can’t remember which one. So that’s one of the things I’ve learnt just in this last week, so I think what they’re trying to do is trying to clarify it so that there’s a stronger regulatory body there that can take enforcement action.
JOE STOTT I’ve just Googled it, it’s the Department of Work and Pensions.
GEORGE That’s it, the HSE, which is quite different, isn’t it?
PAUL WHITE So there’s going to be a lack of work and no pension out of this then.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ And then the other basic questions that I had is have they changed the height parameter for relevant buildings now? Because I’ve seen three heights now, 11, 15 and 18. Is it still 18 for a relevant building, or has it gone down?
GEORGE This is an interesting one. From a fire perspective my understanding is it’s all buildings. The 18 metre rule only relates to the Building Safety Act, not the Fire Safety Act.
PAUL WHITE Yeah, generally everything is for everything, but then the additional bits for HRBs is anything that then comes in over 18 metres, and then there’s some considerations at 11, but I think HRBs are basically starting at 18.
RICHARD I had a number of one-to-one conversations on the Fire Safety Act with landlords, a lot of Housing Associations, And they were all working on the basis that that only applied over 18 metres.
GEORGE Yeah, they’re wrong.
RICHARD Really. Some of them have gone lower because they know it’s going to become lower, but they were all working on the basis that legally it only had to be above 18 metres.
JIM CREAK I think there's a difference between some of the prescriptive measures and the management. The management side of it is actually for any, including homes in multiple occupation, so the management comes in and then it’s 11 metres and then it’s 18 metres, but it’s the prescriptive requirements over 18 metres.
RICHARD Well, if it’s the Fire Safety Act that applies to all residential buildings, then it applies to all residential buildings.
GEORGE It’s all buildings. You just said it’s all residential buildings.
RICHARD Yeah, in terms of us. But I can absolutely tell you, and I must have had 20-30 meetings with major housing associations, local authorities, and every single one of them was working on the basis that it was over 18 metres. And these are the people doing it, not somebody in a different department or something, so that’s quite astonishing.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ Yes, I think that when it comes to the Fire Safety Act it’s all buildings, all use classes and all heights. When it comes to the relevant new build, the definition of relevant, I’ve kind of extracted from various, either the HSE or the government documents. From the list that I’ve been seeing I’ve got flats, student accommodation, hospitals and care homes (but they need to go through other gateways for design and construction only, not the management side), prisons, hotels, boarding houses and hostels. Is that list correct? And I also have different heights for those. I’ve got 11 metres for flats, student accommodation, hospitals, care homes and prisons, but 18 metres for hotels. boarding houses and hostels. I don’t know if there’s a website which has a definitive definition now of a relevant building anymore.
Like I said, this is extracted from the BSR slides and form the HSE website info. The only other one was sprinklers are mandatory on new build if the finished ground level to the finished floor level is 11 metres or more. So flats, student accommodation and institutional buildings (I guess that’s prisons), then they talk about hostels, hotels and boarding houses which are kind of expanded, and then the care home has also come in. I don’t know, Joe, whether from an architectural point of view from within the office these are the right use classes and the types of buildings that is internally in discussions with yourselves.
JOE STOTT I’m not sure, I think I’ve got the same reaction as Richard, really, there’s an awful lot of confusion around this. I think I’d have to ask our building surveying team because they’re the guys that are dealing with this more, but the priority does seem to be anything that’s high risk 18 metres and above, that’s what I see going on in the office at the moment.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ And that’s what I have for new builds, definitely, for anything which is residential, definitely, but there are these other…it used to be just simply dwellings and now they’ve obviously started to add things like the hotels, boarding houses. If people are sleeping, that’s the general driver, if someone is sleeping in these buildings, whether it’s for one night or multiple or living there, then that seems to be the trigger and that seems to be why they’ve added things up. But I’m a little bit confused because I’ve still got different levels being mentioned, 11, 15 and 18, and also different sectors or use classes being defined. I’ve tired to summarise the gateway timelines and what’s required, there’s a couple of diagrams that I’ve extracted from the Building Safety Regulator conference and then a couple of diagrams of the height definitions. I’ll share that and I’ll share the link to all the slides as well. From a design point of view these are quite basic questions which I should know, but when I research I’m not so sure.
And then the only two other things that are going to impact us as designers and suppliers in terms of the projects is the need for this as-built specification and as-built drawings, which theoretically changes everything in terms of what do we tend to provide. For example, we issue a final record because we don’t go around remeasuring the installation and checking that every build up is exactly as per our drawings. We obviously keep up-to-date if we’ve been informed by the contractor because it’s a VE exercise or a pure design change from the client. So those kind of things we’re keeping a tab on and tracking in our documentation, but the fact that it specifically says that the final record can’t be issued as final record, it has to be as-built information. That puts quite a bit of onerous responsibility on, let’s say, from an architectural set of drawings how do we know exactly how it’s been built. And I don’t think anyone has necessarily answered that yet, but it will affect all of us.
JIM CREAK My reading and understanding of this from day one, and that’s why I’m on the design group, is that so much now is theoretically influenced by the risk assessment. It used to be the old purpose group of building, but now the one arbiter of arraignments within the building is the person that’s carrying out the risk assessment. Now, if that risk assessor decides to just use the old basis for purpose group of building then he’s not actually taking in some of the new risks involved. From my perspective now in the design side, we do really have to lean on the person that does the risk assessment with the developer or the property owner to determine what that risk matrix is, regardless of what height it is. But with all of the different types of buildings that you mentioned, Andrew, it’s perfectly correct because the risk matrix is different for all of them and you can’t have one thing that fits everything. So it’s the risk assessment that determines the arrangements.
GEORGE I agree, and one of the things that Steve Coppin, who’s our guru on the CDM and safety side of things, has said that the risk assessment obviously is the critical thing here and that is going to be the driving force. The point he’s made, for example, what does HRRB stand for? High Risk Residential Buildings. That’s what it originated on, and that’s the point that Steve’s made. but they changed it to High Rise Residential Buildings.
PAUL WHITE Which is just one form of HRB which is a high risk building which is what I think they’re aiming for.
GEORGE He gets quite cross with the HSE over this because they’ve changed the terminology from High Risk Residential Building to High Rise Residential Building and he thinks they did that intentionally because it cuts back on their responsibilities.
JIM CREAK I’ve a problem with even the definition of high risk because we’ve had this long running debate that’s going parallel to this about PEEPs and people with disabilities and the HSE haven’t come clean with that. And one of the reasons why I don’t think they want enforcement of things is because of how it impacts onto social services. I still think that eventually us in design will have to determine what the risk matrix is ourselves and where that is in high risk, because high risk can still be a home of multiple occupation. If you’ve got 5 or more, let’s say immigrants from Syria that don’t speak English, they’ve got an elderly grandmother, young children in a single bedroom, you’ve got a whole bunch of risks to do with fire that needs our discussion in design.
PAUL WHITE Just going back to the fact that this is where design is design, going back to our previous subject. If you want to make changes that are significant you’re going to have to run them back through the HSE anyway and therefore you should be tracking those changes in your as-builts. So nowadays design is not a wishlist anymore, it really has got to reflect the as-buits and you’re gonna have to keep all the drawings completely up-to-date on a daily basis. So if somebody does something different then you’ve really got to make sure that you’re tracking that. I was brought up in the old days of engineering in the manufacturing shop and we couldn’t change anything without informing ten people and getting it signed off by three people above us. But very drawing that was issued was always up-to-date and we’ve lost that skill, that nobody has to check anything, or it’s just peer reviewed by the guy who’s sitting next to you and we’re not actually reviewing anything and I think we’re going to find our ways back into this because I don’t think there’s any choice.
PAUL McSOLEY Jim, your language on purpose group is so refreshing when you hear it. Because I work in construction you don’t always hear this kind of language being used, which is good because I think when you look at purpose group and you look at risk of space, risk of space is affected by purpose group, so the hard bit I think is you end up going that you’ve actually got to know every space in the building, what classification of risk is associated with it, and this will even apply to emergency lighting and things like that because some things are on escape routes, some things aren’t. This all effects actually what you’ve got to do to the wall, what goes through it all, how you treat the space, it could become really hard, getting to your point, Andrew, about how you track this for…purposes. You’re going to end up, and I can’t think about the best way to portray it, because I think those Excels are spot on, George, which is how you do the ontology for pipework and it’s mega-complicated.
You look at it and you go you’ve got to record that for every single location in the building, link it back to the detail for the manufacturer who’s done the seal to make sure that’s correct in the as-built condition, they you need to have the original drawings from yourself that says we had a hole here, refer to this which tells you the detail. it’s going to be really difficult, because you’re not going to do it on one set of drawings and my biggest fear is that Navis is a great tool, but it’s fluffy, you can’t actually see the detail, you need to have a good set of drawings to actually understand what is there. And that ’s what I’m finding, you can’t see it in model space very well at the moment.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ I think rewinding everything back, within the office here we’re kind of assuming everything is a relevant building, generally speaking, because that seems like, from a de-risking perspective. Assuming going forward, obviously a lot of clients will not necessarily want to do everything that in a relevant building needs to be done, but that’s where we’re starting as a baseline on the assumption that these heights will come down and encompass all buildings. So we’re starting from that as opposed to trying to start trying to figure out what the limit is and then work just above that. In terms of the final record or as-built nature of things, the tricky thing is we can draw and stuff, but then you’re relying on the contractors, the specialists etc to feed back up the chain to inform us of various changes. Going forward, on a relevant building, that clearly has to be done on a formal basis, so theoretically change should be very little, which is great for everyone. But that does need this feeding back up the chain to say we’ve actually changed the wall buildup here, it wasn’t a variation but it’s just something that we had to do on site.
But to get someone on site to feedback all of those changes is going to be unrealistic for a number of things, but again I think we have to start with trying to get maybe 80% of the 80/20% rule where lets get 80% of it right, if possible. The 20% may be critical but if we don’t start we’re never going to be able to get into that thing, but it does require other, at the moment we’d simply ask the contractor, OK, here is the final record information we issued for construction, can you inform us and mark up any other changes that you’re aware of during the design and build project that we need to be aware of. And they may do a markup, this is happening live on a couple of residential schemes which don’t fall within the relevant heights or fall into relevant building category, but we’re basically saying, look, here are the drawings we issued for final construction, has anything else changed? And that’s the only way we’re kind of trying to capture anything that might have happened.
The design managers who are walking around aren’t necessarily going to know everything that’s changed or everything that’s been built differently. They will just do it because they know or because they can physically see that partition isn’t where it is in our drawing and provide a markup. That’s the kind of level of accuracy that we’re getting back. Some other contractors are doing the point cloud surveys to make sure that every wall is adjusted slightly to match the as-built scenario, but that’s probably a minority rather than a majority at the moment.
GEORGE I think there’s a lot of things going on at the moment where people are using technology to create their golden threads, but they’re not being brought together. So you’ve got people that are using things like HoloBuilder and OpenSpace and things like that, and I think largely contractors…what that’s doing is it’s creating a discreet set of information, it looks pretty cool that you can walk through afterwards and see what’s been stored and what’s missing and it’s being done largely for valuations and things like that. But I’ve not seen anybody then taking that and then reinterpreting it back in to produce the as-builts. People are using Revitza? 54mins 29secs and things like that for doing snagging and recording things, but again, I don’t know whether there’s any budget for people to actually update their information. But what I found interesting, we were having a conversation on fire doors in a recent session and there was a debate between the fire door suppliers and the people that were interested in the asset management information and somebody mentioned Regulation 38 which actually from a fire perspective is something that does require information that is otherwise seen as confidential actually to be reported. So the asset information, and I guess the as-builts, Das, which is what your saying as well, that is a legal requirement for the delivery team to complete, and yet how often is that actually being delivered.
JIM CREAK I’ve got first-hand experience because in the last ten years I’ve been on about Regulation 38 and it’s just been the M&E manual. They’ve failed to bring across specialist contractors stuff in the regulation 38 paperwork as handed over to the building owner or the manager, and I’ve been banging that drum for ten years. That is the legislation, that’s all you’ve got to produce. The golden thread is a wishlist, and on piece of legislation is Regulation 28 and it doesn’t say as-built, it says what’s the situation now because you’re supposed to update that Regulation 38. You don’t necessarily have to have history, but you do have to have, it has to be handed over from a new building or you have to start it again if you haven’t got it. So you have to put a line in the sand, and I’ve had this discussion with regulators, specifically the fire & rescue inspection, and they didn’t even know about Regulation 38 as far as fire is concerned, they though that was just an M&E handover, so how you turn over on the central heating and stuff like that.
GEORGE I’ve just looked up Regulation 38, it expressly says fire safety.
PAUL WHITE Yes, and I’ve been saying to people now that, for instance, your smoke control design needs to be complete and you should be handing that over as building 38 because if somebody else comes to inspect the building they’re going to need to know what you’ve designed otherwise they’re gonna have to condemn it. If you’ve fire engineered it in anyway they need to know that because you went and looked at it and it didn’t do what you are expecting it to do from a so-called compliance system, then you need to refer back to the design information and that should form part of the BR 38 stuff.
JAREK WITYK It’s true that many people don’t even know about the regulation, from where I stand I don’t really know what to do with it. Going back to previous comments regarding how to capture the information, we work with a few contractors who do point could scans free of charge because they can benefit financially from it afterwards. That’s the only way to really capture the as-built information, the better way of doing it is companies like Buildots. We generally have a technological and financial barrier to capture this. It seems me that technology like Buildots is the way to go to capture this information accurately and then have the golden thread, everything else, it’s manual and will introduce error and there will be some omissions. I can’t see any other way of…automating it, scanning with point clouds or something like that.
GEORGE But if somebody is using Buildots, all that Buildots does is identifies where there are differences.
JAREK WITYK And whether it’s done according to design.
GEORGE Yes, but if it’s not done according to design is there a workflow that then updates the information? I don’t know whether there is.
JAREK WITYK It does checks and highlights whether it has been done correctly to the design or not, or it’s not done yet or it’s done incorrectly and flags it up and sends a report. And then you have to do something about it, it’s a reporting tool.
GEORGE Bit do you know anybody that’s actually using that to update the as-builts?
JAREK WITYK Not personally built, but I had some communication email exchange with some people from Buildots when I was doing my research, so not like hands on.
PAUL McSOLEY It’s interesting that the on thing that’s getting us all into a pickle, the holy grail we need to fix is you need a mechanism that you know what it was to make the risk of the space in the building, then how it changes to the end because all of these systems, Buildots, ? 1hr 1min 5secs, Operance, they’re great systems, but the one thing they cannot do is tell you the thing is functioning correctly for the hazard of the space, and that’s the bit that’s really hard to get right. If you know that the room’s got an EIS risk, an EW for a revision panel on a door, that is not traceable in that system at the moment because unfortunately those templaters don’t exist for all that different classification information for those products. It’s got usability and function, but you’ve still got to make sure what goes into the O&M is right because you might end up with a record that’s digitally recorded and it just comes back loading the gun to incriminate you later on, because actually it’s functioning correct for the space, but you’ve got a nice record of it.
ANA MATIC George, I just wanted to follow up on your point about federated golden threads. I think we’re now at a point where we’re all going to get much better delivering as-builts, but who’s going to pay for this I don’t know yet because there’s an unclear grey area at the end of the project from what’s been designed a s design and then what’s been built and what’s been actually handed over to the client, so that the client can manage the building and manage the updates to the building as things progress. I’m working with lots of different clients as we’re heading over our designs and also with some clients who are actually having designs from other architects and trying to work out how to manage their buildings in the future. My point is we need a new type of PDF, something that everyone can read. We don’t have those things yet, very complicated digital twins are obviously available, but I think it’s a long way until our clients will be completely ready to take those on and maintain them.
So in between those two we do need to find several very simple strategies for clients to be able to receive the information, keep on top of it and then be able to manage the building. I think this space needs very much more development, and the biggest issue is that it’s not really making money for anyone at the moment. If it was, lots of people would jump on it. So what Buildots do and what digital twin does, we’re part of this conversation very much, is giving solutions, but you still have to spend quite a lot of money to get those solutions in place and then you have to spend money to keep them maintained. So I don’t think we have a fully resolved situation, I think this is going to take a couple of years until it settles.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ You’re obviously going live through a relevant building in terms of the stages, how is that going? Because I guess it’s nothing more so that the proof is in the pudding. Last time you spoke i think you’d tried to follow everything, but there were some subcontractors who had gone bust.
ANA MATIC Still there, still there. The live project that’s approaching gateway 2, the subcontractor with whom we’ve developed the entire builders work strategy is no more, and now there is a big argument of who will take the risk or whether the new subcontractor will actually have to redesign everything and we will have to then submit a variation. We're not progressing very quickly on this.
JIM CREAK Ana, you’ve hit the nail on the head, who’s gonna pay, and this really is the crux of the matter because I’m on the manufacturing side as well and for years I would be looking at drawings that would have mistakes on them and when I went back and said these have got mistakes on them to the procurement they’d say can you put the changes on there for me and send it back and we’ll send it out to all of the other people tendering for this business so that they can tender for the right specification. Well, after a while we had two options: we either just discarded the possibility to quote for the business or we rubbed our hands saying we can quote for the cheapest possible solution because somebody in design has got it a bit wrong. I’ve been advocating that specialist contractors need to be called in at design stage and we need to be able to charge for that design service, taking into account everything that we’ve written and done over the last 6 months.
Because, as I say, I still look over Andrew’s shoulder and the escape route door opens the wrong way, the sign is incorrect and it’s in an incorrect position. It illustrates everything that I’ve spoken about over the last 12 months. So yes, it’s about paying, because we need to pay for competent people, good contractors, and we don’t want to go to the lowest common denominator. Grenfell was caused by £14 million going back to £11 million, You can’t take £3 million out of a contract without cutting corners. I really do hope the scheme works, but if everybody’s expecting just free information it’s going to be worthless.
PAUL WHITE Basically, and Ana’s example really proves it, if the design is done at gateway 2 you can give it to any contractor because they know what they’re quoting for, but if you’re then expecting them to do design at a later stage they’ve got to look at everything because they’ve got to check everything. I’m seeing a lot of specifications that just aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, but of course the people who’ve written them have no responsibility for them. This is the issue that design needs to be design and if you need specialist designers, exactly as Jim said, you pay for it then. Because the basis of people giving you free design for things like smoke control and Jim working with the doors is that you get the job, but if you give all of that information away and somebody goes and gets it quoted for elsewhere then you’ve wasted that time and money. So what you’re actually getting is the true cost at the right time rather than them getting it done apparently for free.
JAREK WITYK I’m going back to what Ana said, and I think Jim touched on this as well, regarding how to make sure the as-built information is correct. You all started referring back to design and I do agree with this, but they’re two different kinds of systems or processes because you then have to design according to regulations, guidance, specification and so on. Someone needs to verify and check that design and approve it, but then you have to monitor the progress on site and capture it, that’s the technology. And then you have unfortunately often a rework of updating the designs, so there’s completely different stages and processes involved. Also, earlier in this meeting we started saying about the design and how we’re feeding into the wider population and basically how do we provide the guidance. This is a question to `George, how do we publish the guidance? Or is it just a collection of our meetings and so on, on the website. Is there actually anything published?
GEORGE The guidance is always published. it’s published on the BIM4Housing website.
JAREK WITYK I’ll tell you why I asked that question specifically. It’s because I was part of the UK BIM Framework and co-author of one of the guidance notes. So the way they organised that was a group of people (like this group here) would actually write the guidance and meet separately to resolve issues within the document, but I feel like to really get some engagement and have something to go to agency or any other body we actually should write a proper guidance in whatever form, it could then be published on the website as a report blog or whatever. There’s a lot of knowledge in here and other groups where this can happen and basically in a similar way of what UK BIM Framework did with guidance notes for ISO 19650. We should take all this knowledge accumulated for the last 2 or 3 years, review it systematically and then provide guidance. That’s what’s missing, I think. Unless it’s there and I’m not aware of it.
RICHARD The original guidance we published on the website 18 months ago, that’s been open for comments, we’ve had a lot of comments. It wasn’t just form a couple of roundtable sessions, it was numerous meetings online, telephone conversations, and emails which gave us what we had 18 months ago. This time we’ve had 20-30 people in meetings.
GEORGE I suppose the question is really, Jarek, you’ve seen the guidance that we produced. Is it what you would call guidance or is it more of a brain-dump from a number of different experts?
JAREK WITYK I don’t want to rub anyone the wrong way, but I see it as a brain-dump rather than guidance, so it needs structure, it needs to be reviewed systematically and to provide proper guidance. I think that’s not where we are at the moment.
GEORGE No, I agree. It is guidance for people to read and interpret and apply, but I think you’re right that we’ve not turned it into something that’s formal. Having said that, to actually achieve that is a significant piece of work by somebody. The reason the UK BIM Framework was able to do it was because they have funding.
JAREK WITYK Well, we have, I hate to say it but I will anyway, just an example, obviously you’ve all heard about Chat GPT, you’ve got various ways of harvesting the AI to summarise all of this information we’ve gathered as a first step of filtering and systemising this information, creating a checklist. And that can be done fairly quickly, I’ve done some tests on various documents comparing documents and it works very well. I’m using Notion. So, we could do this fairly quickly to analyse, systemise and group information and create checklists, and then there will be a lot of work to do it. But we need proper guidance documents.
GEORGE I do agree and what we’ve done form the recent workshops is we’ve asked for a number of people to come together afterwards and look at things from a data perspective, from process perspective and also from an application perspective. I think your suggestion is a good one, perhaps we can explore that.
RICHARD We’re willing to improve it, we’re open to that all the time. At every stage this goes out to people within the meeting, other experts who weren’t at the meeting to add their comments and help us improve it. It’s not a static document, it’s supposed to be dynamic, and anyway we can improve that then obviously we will. But by the same token, as George said, within the constraints that we’re all volunteers, there’s only so many hours in the day and we all have to work too.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ Jarek, are you thinking from something which gets like a BSI or an ISO stamp? So it’s got that level of authority or reassurance to people.
JAREK WITYK Working towards that goal, that’s what I mean, yeah.
RICHARD Jarek, why don’t you and I chat and you tell me what I can be doing, or what you can help me to do to start that track. Since you’ve already done it, gone along that path, if you can point me in the right direction to that we can give it a whirl.
JIM CREAK As a real dinosaur, Jarek, five years ago I’d be totally with you about having some editor edit the work and giving it provenance, as the years have progressed I’ve found that because there’s so many loopholes in guidance, specifically guidance that’s already out there, I can name one in my own sphere, L64, which offers absolutely crap guidance. I can talk about all the documents that give you guidance to the fire safety legislation in purpose groups of buildings, there’s great gaps and anomalies within those guidance. I started to look at guidance, and I quite like the term brainstorm, because that’s how I look at guidance now, and what I’ve managed by brain to do now is to decide what fits in with my professional competence and what I can handle and what I have to leave behind.
So whilst I totally and utterly agree in a perfect world I would love to have guidance that I could really put my soul on this, there’s so much guidance out there that I now almost turn back to the legislation and look for the objectives that I’m trying to achieve, rather than the written word all the time on what I know is someone’s contribution that hasn’t quite really understood the basics of what the legislation is trying to achieve.
RICHARD I think there’s something to be said for having the voice from the coal face as well. I think it’s OK being very formal, and there’s lots of guidance out there and regulatory compliance etc out there with that kind of formality. I think ours is different, it may not be as organised and certainly not as formal, but it’s an authentic voice from people who actually know what they’re doing, because they’re doing it.
JAREK WITYK Well said, and that’s what I meant to capture what we’ve discussed for the last God know how many months. But working in a structured way with high standards in mind and capture what we’ve discussed.
RICHARD Yeah, I think it’s important we do.
JIM CREAK I’ve had a little bit of experience with Chat GPT, specifically where I was looking for a definition with something that got printed in ADB and I was very pleased to find out some of my own texts came back at me as part of what Chat GPT actually put on there. But when I really examined what I actually got from artificial intelligence was a brain-dump, because it wasn’t actually contextual to the question I asked which was the context of wayfinding in conjunction with fire & rescue deployment signing and signs, I got a full breakdown of what wayfinding is. Really helpful, and then I find out that on Chat GPT a couple of legal people in the United States quoted case law that was on Chat GPT and are now facing a prison sentence because it was completely fictitious.
JAREK WITYK That’s why we have you, Jim. I’m not proposing to use this instead of our brains, I’m proposing to use it to help us to systemise and structure information, but that’s why we are having our brains to use it, not to just blindly trust it.
PAUL WHITE Just going through what you said, I don’t know whether anybody clicked on the link that I put in there, but I’m just going to briefly share it. (shares screen). Basically they’ve come up with A-Z essential principles, title and descriptions. The one that comes in in here is support fire fighting operations which is an interesting way of putting it because it tends to get ignored. It then gives you a consult with the fire rescue to do this, that and the other, but it might require additional measures. And then you go through the different bits and then…prevent the fire starting, property loss etc. Then basically it goes through and tells you which of these that the principle applies to and where it would fit in the thing. And then you’ve got that in the different work stages which I thought was quite an interesting thing.
Then you go through the checklist, we’re looking for C. Each one has then got its principles. It’s an FIA document. It’s principle C, support fire fighting operations, and then we get principle evacuation fire, consider fire engineering the whole building, compartmentation sprinkler rules, fire & rescue service consulted, combustibility, looking at principle P as well. There’s so much in here, but I don’t know if anybody is taking any notice of it. It’s a really good checklist and if you follow this sort of thing, if we can maybe think up the principles that we were looking at. Within this C, consideration for firefighting, there are 26 principles that people should be thinking about and I bet that most people never even thought there was 26 principles to do with whatever it is. I think it probably bears a bit of analysis.
GEORGE I think you’re right. The interesting thing for me is that it talks about the protection of buildings, not the protection of people.
PAUL WHITE That’s because it comes from the fire industry and therefore the insurers are involved. So they’re maybe looking for extra things, but of course this comes down to the where does it tell me that I have to do that. Actually the bit that people tend to forget is that in design we have a duty of care to the firefighters because if they go in then they need to be protected, or essentially if there’s no persons reported they can let your building burn down. So they are important principles. There’s a chance that there’s nobody there and everybody is evacuated then they’re not going to risk their own lives to go 8and put the fire out, then you’ve got business continuity issues.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ It’s been really useful. I’ll share the notes that I have and then some of those key questions. The reason I keep asking them is because they keep changing and for me as a designer and advising clients, like we all are, it’s good for us to know what are the definitions and the current requirements. I’ll also share the slides form the building safety regulator conference. I think, Paul, what you’re trying to say there is if you’re talking about producing this guidance for the different things it’s little things like making sure the terminology that we use across those guidance is the same. I guess, Richard, that’s where the particular wording and the references to certain things as assets, properties or whatever, is consistent across the various guidance that we use so it doesn’t contradict ourselves. I guess that’s where that rigour comes in, in terms of becoming more guidance documents standards. Thanks again everyone, and see you all soon.
GEORGE Just picking up on that point, Richard at the moment is trying to pull these things together and what we now want to do is apply them effectively. So that’s why we’re looking for a bit of additional help over the next few weeks to pull these things together. I had a meeting this morning with Adam Sanders from RiskBase who’s a data person, a lot of the housing associations use their software to do fire risk assessments and things like that. What we’re talking about, you know the information section in each of those things with the RACI analysis, we went through with him with Paul Oakley this morning showing how Templater could be used to group properties together. So that we end up with a data dictionary, exactly what you just said there, Das, so that we’ve got common terminology across the different documents, because at the moment each of them has been a brain-dump by people that are specialists. It would make a lot of sense if we can come up with a standard taxonomy between the standard dictionary.
ANDREW DE SILVA ‘DAS’ And maybe a sort of glossary of terms which de-jargonises stuff for everyone for the lay people who are working on these projects. whether installers, designers or occupiers.
RICHARD Absolutely, because there have been so many times in these meetings where it’s 10-15 minutes talking about terminology. Jim mentioned something earlier on about signing and signage, we were talking about that for 10 minutes and there was no agreement at the end.
I was having a discussion around the topic of information overload the other day in one of our offices and as a result - (very sadly) counted the number of signs within one stair core. Running from the 4th floor to the ground i counted over 100 different pieces of signage.
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Jim Creak (Guest) - i am going to send you a picture of some amazingly bad fire signage i have to pass in a council carpark every week. Every time I see it I think "I wonder what Jim would make of this"...