BIM4Housing Roundtables Cavity Barriers 20210203 Meeting 2

RICHARD The work that we’re doing here today comes as a culmination of work that’s been carrying on on Bim4housing in the fire safety workstream. This is our second meeting round table on cavity barriers. We've completed 2 for fire doors and 2 for AOVs.

GEORGE The first thing I wanted to just say is the first section that we're going to look at is risks and what we're trying to do is to tie this in with work that other working groups are doing within the Golden Thread initiative. I think you're mostly aware that I'm chairing the asset information working group for L&Q and MHCLG, which is feeding into the guidance. But I'm doing the asset information and survey information group and there's other people doing other bits. So the project management team and the standards team have been developing a standard way of describing risks.

They’re using Uniclass as the method of doing that and the principle idea is so that we can end up in a situation where, for example, the failure to detect a fire or contain risk management information etc, failure to control smoke risk, we might have a number of sub sets under that but they’re all going to be officially classified under Uniclass. So just to let you know that what we're doing here is feeding into something that hopefully is going to be really useful. The principal idea is that if we can have these risks codified in some way, then it means that we can then have solutions to those risks, structured as well, so that we've got some way of joining all this up.

RICHARD Question 1: What risks to cavity barriers mitigate? Is there anything missing or that needs more clarification?

IAN the thing that jumped out at me, if it’s according to ADB it's only life safety, it's not property protection and that’s the confusion about ADB with a lot of architects, they think it’s property protection as well, but it isn’t. Including property protection means going beyond ADB.

SHARON Everything seems to be reactive, Is this not an opportunity to be proactive and make it about property because everybody keeps talking about happening afterwards, so we're just taking the same steps if we don't make an opportunity.

IAN But it's just if the way that the ADB defines a cavity barrier is only 30 minutes, integrity in 15 minutes insulation so if we’re going to go beyond ADB, first of all you've got to identify the categories of cavity barrier, of which I think there's four (some of which are not in that in both diagrams 8.1 and 9.1) and then you've got to think about in those categories whether you need to augment the fire resistance of the cavity barrier. Because the diagrams, as you scroll down your list, the diagram that you pulled up doesn't actually show all categories of cavity barrier.

AUDREY i think in my response I alluded to that, that the person in charge must know what the cavity barrier is doing, what role it’s playing. So I think the brief has got to be clear and the person who's specifying the cavity barrier, installing it or maintaining it need to refer to the brief. And within the brief there should be whether or not the client is looking for property protection as well as life protection. There are two very different specifications there, one allows the second. If you're protecting life, you are protecting property. If you're protecting property. In Kuwait at the time when I went there, Abu Dhabi was very clear at the time when I went, very clear on property.

So they use energy and gas and if you’re not out within two minutes you’re dead. When I worked in Kuwait they had been in the war and they were very clear on protecting lives and so their outlook was different, the specifications were different. So I think that it goes back to the client really and they should state what it is that they are interested in. IAN Halogen gas has got nothing to do with cavity barriers. AUDREY i know, it was only an example. I’m saying that if the brief is clear it leads the specifier down a certain route.

CHRIS I agree with Ian and I agree with Sharon. Property protection is often overlooked, and we must remember that the building regulations are, as Ian has eloquently said, to do with life safety, not property protection. So there's a subtle difference between the two. And Ian is also right that 30-15 is, to use the term, bottom feeding in terms of cavity barriers. I mean, we sell these things everyday and we don't sell 30-15 really, it's kind of 30-30,60-60,90-90,120-120 or whatever. But the reality is I think that it's an important piece of work to be done. But I'm not entirely sure, George, whether this is part of the remit because if you're feeding back to the MHCLG, unless they've specifically said property then I think they'll just be looking for something that's in line with the approved document. I’m not saying that’s right at all, in fact I agree with Ian and Sharon, but you might find yourself opening up a can of worms because Ian has said all of a sudden you would extend this discussion then to a whole host of LPS standards, ASTM standards. Our heads would explode in relatively short order.

GEORGE Let me just answer that. We’re doing this as Bim4housing, one of the consumers of this, quite an important one, is MHCLG but they are not dictating what we do. So as long as we can provide MHCLG with the information that they need…for example, when I was going through things with the risk team they were focused on fire safety and fire risk and smoke risk and I said what about infection control? And they said, oh yeah, we’ve not thought of that. I'm not talking about that, Ian, from a cavity barrier perspective, but from a ventilation perspective. So we as Bim4housing, what we're trying to do is identify what information is needed for a cavity barrier, not simply to satisfy approved document B, but what information should we be gathering. And the point I think you made, Ian, about the intumescent strip deteriorating and probably needing replacement after 10 or 25 years. One of the challenges I’ve got when I talk to people, they say, well, we don’t need any information on cavity barriers because it’s not a maintainable item.

IAN That’s intumescent materials are in dispute about how long they last for, but I think it's more fundamental and diagram 8.1 shows it very well, as does 9.1. It's identical. 8.1 is in there in volume 1 of ADB for housing. The compartment wall is assumed to be solid, the compartment floor is assumed to be solid, there's all sorts of MMC that have got cavities in compartment walls and compartment floors, and ADB just doesn't even get to talk about those even for life safety, let alone property protection.

CHRIS We shouldn't get wrapped up in cavity barriers within external walls. They're all over the building and with modern methods of construction coming in, the cavities are going to increase because of the nature of the construction. So it's important and I do see them as, and for example, if you change the configuration of a dwelling and it happens to have a raised access floor or suspended ceiling, then you have to move the cavity barriers as you change the use so the cavity barriers can be accessed occasionally. Often they are not, to be fair, but a lot of times they are. So I think to consider them a a non-maintainable asset would be missing the point somewhat.

GEORGE Can I just clarify my understanding please, Ian? So when you say MMC, are you saying that is that problem caused because you’ve got maybe two pods that are adjacent to each other and therefore it creates a barrier which would otherwise be a…because you’d have an air gap between them, wouldn't you?

IAN Yes. I'll send some information through on permanent stack modular buildings. That's the worst case, So if you take a step back again to some simple cases. Compartment floors, mostly concrete slabs, just solid boring concrete slabs. They haven't got any cavities in them. But if you start to then put in compartment walls that have got cavities, even into a frame structure, and you've got extensive cavities that run through the compartment walls that may be doubled up because they might have acoustic performance in them, which is pretty much like timber frame or light gauge steel frame for the compartment wall. It’s no longer a 9 inch brick, it’s a series of framed or panellised structures that have got a gap in them.

So all those compartment walls have definitely got cavities in them which also then need fire stopping at their heads because they've got deflection details, as that diagram 8.1 shows. I know the two greens are a bit difficult to read, they print terribly. But the moment you get to the most kind of fashionable end of MMC, which is obviously getting big capital pushed out by…modular, you've not only got compartment walls that are made up of two modules coming together, the compartment floors at the top and bottom of something else. So you've actually got a lattice of compartments running right through the building, from the external elevation right back to the core. Horizontal and vertical cavities that then are intersected by service riser voids pushed through or the corridors going across the modules.

DUNCAN I've always been confused. We sold cavity barrows, linear joint seals. What is the difference? OK, you’ve got two modular buildings, the difference between a cavity barrier and a linear joint seal. So if you’ve got two compartment walls, which are basically what the pods are, should that be a linear joint seal or should that be a cavity barrier? Because actually that's where I used to spend a lot of my time saying to people, what do you need? As Chris said earlier, a cavity barrier is 30-15 whereas actually if you got a compartment floor or a compartment wall it would be a much higher designated fire barrier and there seems complete and utter confusion. People don't know what’s what, in all honesty, in terms of definitions and I think you should always go to the greater fire resistance every time.

RICHARD Taking us back to the question, we’ve kind of agreed we’re going to include property risk as well as people risk. So can anybody think, given that, are there any glaring omissions from our answers?

AUDREY Yes, just from the discussion that we’ve had there seems to be a slight misunderstanding about compartment wall and compartmentalisation. Compartment wall does not offer compartmentalisation if it has things running through it. If it has service holes and builders’ walls and everything, it doesn’t. Compartmentalisation means that that particular unit is sealed against the next one. Wether it’s built in timber, brick, mortar, and cement, anything, that is what it means. So if it is drawn that this particular unit, whether square, hexagon or anything, has compartmentalisation then that is what should be done. And so when there's any breach, when there's any refurbishment, when there's any repair, compartmentalisation should be an aim, an objective of attaining. It can be a compartment wall, it doesn't mean that it's, it's affording compartmentalisation.

RICHARD Moving down to the second part of question 1, which last time was 1b but now it’s a secondary question and this is what, in your experience, might compromise the effectiveness of a cavity barrier? As in what are the risks to the cavity barrier itself? Chris, anything glaringly missing on risk to the cavity barrier itself?

CHRIS In our experience, it's informed by daily inspections and reviews, and I'm sure Sharon and Duncan could share similar horror stories with you. Most of the risk that we see in cavity barriers…the first risk is the wrong product in the wrong application. People making assumptions. Well, it works there so it will work there. It doesn’t.

IAN I think the it's knowing what your cavity barriers being tested between because in the test itself it's tested between two immovable pieces of concrete in the furnace. And then you have to take this step back and realise that there is no cavity barrier test because that's been mired in…so we've got all that going on, which is a risk. Assuming you do get a test and you've tested the product between two removable pieces of concrete you've then got to have it assessed because your substrate is going to be different. So if you try and put that cavity barrier into a timber frame wall or a light gauge steel panel or between various modules that could be anything from CLT to hot rolled steel to a piece of concrete you've gotta make sure that the how that moves and its tolerances are also then reflected in the product.

Because the BRE tried to solve this through system testing. So instead of product testing they went to system testing and the case in the external wall is obviously BS8414 which itself is being criticised now because it doesn't actually test the next next window, but for the point of view of the cavity barrier at least gave you a view of what the cavity barrier did around the first window. And the system test for modules, for example, there might not be system tests for timber frame or steel frame, but the system test for modules which was LPS 1501, I have never ever seen a modular manufacturer test to that system test.

People just don't spend their money, and the system test is based on three modules when actually you probably need to test four, because it's a four way joint at the cavity barrier. The system testing just doesn't happen. So if you're looking at product testing, this is the point. You've got to realise that the product testing is done between immovable concrete lumps and your building isn’t that. RICHARD So basically the testing isn't representative of the real life conditions. IAN Yeah, you need a fire engineer to make sense of it.

CHRIS Ian is exactly right. However, on a practical, and I wouldn't say a weekly basis, but certainly a monthly basis, we find ourselves involved in project specific tests where we are having to be creative in taking the test standards that we've got and adapting them as best we can and replacing often one of those substrates which he has identified, normally lumps of concrete with something more representative, such as a lightweight steel frame such as a timber frame. In fact, we're part of a project now with a large scale framing association to do just that. The challenge that we have then is that because we modified the test for good reason our tests are considered ad hoc and in the current climate of Pi insurance, no one will accept ad hoc tests, however well-intentioned, as being representative, and that's the problem that we have. So we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Ιt's not that we don't want to test to different standards, we just don't have the standards in the first place to test to.

GEORGE What about in five-years-time, ten-years-time what is these experts experience happens that will then compromise the cavity barriers? What might we alert people to look out for? Obviously, running cables through is one that is regularly said, what additionally are we aware of that causes problems? Would a water leak cause a problem? Participants confirm that it would.

IAN I've just been to Croydon and there's a 135 metre modular tower, it's already occupied and there's 150 metres next to it being built right now. And that’s all signed off by BOPAS, or it’s a recognised system. If in the future somebody finds out that that system hasn't got cavity barriers you're in a situation where Notting Hill housing trusts were in the Paragon Estate where they had to evacuate the entire building and because they can't fix it. So the time five years or ten years down the road is not the time to realise that you should have put an entire building's worth of cavity barriers into the thing. Just because ADB didn't ask you to do it isn't the explanation for requirement B3 (4) in the law, so forget ADB are the Scottish handbook or anything. The law of the 2010 building regulations in schedule one requires all unseen cavities restrict the spread of fire and smoke.

AUDREY Following up on what you just said about the buildings you saw in Croydon, how is the building passed to that stage? So I think the risk is that the people who pass different stages of the building construction must be sufficiently trained because how is it that a building can get to that stage, be passed at various stages and not have cavity barriers or appropriate fire. I know why it’s happening but I think it’s a big risk and it must go in. The people who are appointed to pass stages of building construction must be trained.

RICHARD Question 2: What information do we need to know about a cavity barrier to ensure it performs as required? Chris, anything we’re missing?

IAN The combustible content in the cavity, I think that’s a factor because with a lot of MMC you may have walls that are timber framed, you may have walls that are steel framed, but those steel framed walls have got OSB patrices for hanging the weight of kitchen units and and fittings. You’ll have penetrations, which we’ve all seen, round the outside of a module that where the cabling and the plastic piping is actually running in the cavity that's then meant to be the compartment wall. But for two sides you've got plastic services going through into the cavity.

DUNCAN I think with modern construction methods, quite often people don't really understand the substrates. For example, you've got sheathing boards overlapping concrete slabs. So in fact, actually you've got two cavities. You've got one between the edge of the floor slab and the sheathing board, and then one between the sheathing board and the outer cladding. So actually the other thing is when you look at it, people will say, yeah, we've got one hour sheathing board. Yeah, you do have a one hour sheathing board when it’s actually got plaster board on the other side of the wall, but the manufacturers and the board manufacturers, if you actually speak to them and say what tests have you done from it coming from below and up, how long’s your board going to last, because there isn't a test for it. So actually confirming that the substrates that you have will actually provide the required fire resistance available.

Something else which came up, we were looking at trying to make an intumescent cavity PVC closers for around windows, and I know you're not supposed to use them now, but the actual methodology of testing for cavity closers around windows is not fit for purpose because they just use a linear joint seal. So because you can't do a three-dimensional test with corners, they can fill the PVC cavity closer with rockwool and you can build a four sided thing, but you can't seal the corners. So actually you've got four big holes for a fire to spread through the thing and it's never been addressed. That’s a massive risk.

GEORGE Can I just explain what we’re trying to do with this information section. So one of the challenges that we've got is what we want to do is to try and turn this into reusable data that we can use in BIM. And when I say BIM, I don't just mean 3D modelling, I mean to be able to have it as properties that we can automatically validate against to see if we've had the information that we need. So the question then is what information do we need? And I think there's a perception by a lot of people that BIM automatically is going to have everything that you need. And quite frankly, it isn't unless you ask for it. So I’ll take a few minutes to show you what we’ve been doing over the last year or so (shares screen).

I've not got this for a cavity barrier because, quite frankly, understanding how a cavity barrier is defined as a specification is quite a challenge. But I'm sure that you'll be able to relate to this. This is an MBS specification for a door. To actually be able to buy a new door an FM manager, if they went back to the specification, they’d have to be able to understand…you’ll see there the architect has said it needs to be an FD30S, but you've also got to refer to the fire strategy report and you've also got to go and read the appropriate British standards and obviously understand them. And when I've discussed it with the architects, most of them don't know how to glue that together. So what they do is they go to a manufacturer and the manufacturer will then come back and say this product will satisfy that requirement, which in my view immediately starts to open up a bit of an issue.

You've also got, this is a declaration of performance from the product manufacturer and the declaration of performance includes things like what the door closer size should be, but it's not explicit. It's actually telling you how the tests are done so that you can pick the appropriate item for that door. Now that's great as a bit of information for a designer to use, but for the FM manager, they want to know which door was used and which door closer was used. Therefore we need something that is far more explicit than that, in other words, what was the door closer that was used on that particular door? Now you might think that BIM resolves all of this all of this, but actually if you look at different BIM objects you'll see that you've got fire rating there being described in one way and here in this column here it's got fire rating door and that means that that isn't computer readable, they're different.

And also the values themselves are expressed differently. So there you’ve got FD-30-S whereas in the specification I just showed you a moment ago it was an FD30S which a human can read, but a computer wouldn’t be able to read that, or validate it. So we need to standardise this. The other thing is that people will say, well, what data do we actually need? In this group that we've got here, we've got different people, we've got manufacturers, we've got designers, we've got people that are installing, people that are maintaining, people that are inspecting, and all of you have got a different requirement for certain data sets. Now, this is just for a door. These are the properties that are in IFC, which is the BIM standard for a door, with some environmental information in here as well. And although you might look at that and say that's information overload, the fact is that somebody has asked for it. There's a reason why it's there.

And from our perspective, we've come to the conclusion as data scientists working with us that actually what we should be doing is just collecting all of the information that anybody wants against a cavity barrier and then filtering out what isn't needed for the people that want to look at it in from that perspective. So if Sharon's people are working with it, they will have a different perspective than maybe Audrey will need. And it's probably worth just mentioning what you get if you just ask for standard COBie, because this is, if you like, the baseline that most BIM projects are delivering against. So all you've got is manufacturing model number, height, installation date, warranty date. But there's nothing there to say that it's a fire door. All of this information here would be missing unless you ask for it.

So that's why what we're trying to do is build what these special parameters are that are relevant to a cavity barrier. So that's the work that we're doing at the moment, and we we'd like your input to see if we can actually come up with a definitive set of information. Moving on to what we’re doing with the Housing Association data group, here we've got those IFC properties that I was just showing you earlier, which is the BIM properties. One of the tasks that we’ve got to do, that we’re not relishing, we need to take the information that you've been assimilating there and suggesting there and actually put it into parameters that we can then capture information against. So we've got a description of a particular parameter, let's say height, width, depth, whatever the item is, and then a description. NBS, this is what we’ve got for an NBS data set which is not the same as the BIM data set. We've also got information from the wholesalers, basically distributions information, and then we’ve got the declarations of performance. Are there declarations of performance on cavity barriers?

IAN There can’t be because there is no harmonised European standard.

GEORGE Intro to question 3. So the point about this is that is it’s a given that we assume that people have to be competent. But what we want to try and do is make it so that we're not simply relying on people having a qualification. What we want to do is make sure that they have got a series of written instructions to actually work from over and above that competency. In the M&E market (shares screen), this is SFG20. These are the maintenance standards that the whole of the maintenance industry works to, largely M&E, but they’ve also got them for fabric.

And again, so here we've got the core competency that's required, how long it's gonna take to carry out the task, all of the references that they should be looking at. But this is the important thing. You've got an explicit list of tasks that you should be following to ensure that that particular piece of inspection or maintenance has been done properly, and I would like to see if it's possible to get a similar list of explicit tasks that we could have for installing a cavity barrier, maybe inspecting, and maybe what to do if you've got to do certain things around it or to it.

IAN There's a definition of cavity barriers and fire stopping in the key terms in ADB.

AUDREY Wherever possible there should be access to the um area where the cavity barrier has been installed. So if it's below a raised floor for example, it's quite easy to lift up the floor panels and see the cavity barrier. If it is up above the ceiling, there should be an access panel advantage points or across that one can open and then look at the at the cavity barrier. Oftentimes, for example, you may have within a room a flat ceiling, not solid as in building composition, but it's called us against the tiles suspended ceiling needed in a grid, you’d have a full solid ceiling, and there must be a place where an access panel sits in advantage points to enable somebody to get in, open the panel and look inside the ceiling void and see.

SHARON Referring to the accessibility of the cavity, when we are doing our compartmentation surveys, the biggest difficulty we have is trying to find the cavity barriers. And if you own a building, we would much rather have a photograph to prove that it should have been there in the first place. They're less likely to allow you to do a destructive survey. The difficulty we had when we asked our client to do that was the barrier had been put in from the steel column vertically out to the cladding, but when it got to the top where the steelwork was meeting the block work, the slab, everything merged, those haunches, it was almost like they stopped at that point because it was too difficult to install. I know it's an after effect. I think the refurbishment, we've got a benefit of they 're pulling the building apart, we can get into it. But I think if we don't get it right as they're putting the building together you've just got to assume it's not there. But most clients will not tolerate that and just say can we work around it and I think that's the difficulty.

AUDREY It should be part of the things you asked for in procurement, as I was saying earlier on. You’ve got to have the as built drawings and so you've got to put in the procurement, the contracts that the architectural team or the designer team, whatever they are called, stay in long enough to give you the as built drawings, especially where they've marked. They’ve got to mark up where they've done their compartmentalisation, it’s not just the compartment wall because they have to do the compartmentalisation. They should put in the cavity barriers. They should put an access panel that meets their fire rating. If you have just any access panel, it doesn't meet the fire rating, it might not.

SHARON I don't agree with putting an access panel in because I think that should given another breach or another weak spot.

AUDREY That’s why I’m saying that one needs to have access to the cavity barrier. If the brief of the building says the last 25 years, which often for an industrial building, it can. So one needs to have access to their cavity barrier. The only way that the maintenance team at the end or the management team at the end, when the building is in operation, is going to have access is if, during the contracts of the building, you write it, you say it is part of this contract. But at the end you hand over to me the as built drawings showing where the compartmentalisation has taken place and how I can get access to it.

It needs to be put in their contract because if you don't put it in their contract at the time when handing over is happening, the designer team has gone, they've left the area so you can no more get to them. If it is in the contract in the beginning, they are there, they have to be brought in. I have done this many times. I've gone on site and I've had to prepare as built drawings because it is in the contract. But if it is not there, you cannot hold anybody up. And at the end of the building process, everyone is moving the teams off because now money becomes an issue. Nobody's going to keep their designer team for longer than is necessary, they’ll let them go at first pass.

SHARON My point, I agree with Audrey, but we’re involved more with refurbishment and I think if you speak to Duncan or Chris it's easier to plan ahead and to limit the issues going forward. I don't disagree with that. So the huge problem we have is refurbishment or going in and doing inspections on buildings that we weren't involved in the construction of and it's trying to…RICHARD So Sharon, what needs to happen from your point of view to alleviate that? SHARON Well, obviously going forward, if you fix everything going forward, that's great. But you've got legacy issues going back years, even two years. RICHARD in terms of process. What can we put into the process that we've not already identified in the list? SHARON I think everything that you have in the list I don't think I can add to anything. It's just difficult doing it retrospectively.

GEORGE I’ve found something which might do the task which is fire breaks. AUDREY A fire break can be anything that breaks. Sometimes we even use buildings to provide a fire break. Within a building t could be a bathroom…a fire break can be either an element, a system, a product, or even a set of rooms or so. It can be anything that breaks. So depending on how it's used it could be either a cavity barrier, a fire seal, a fire door, it could be a set of corridor that's taking to save access.

RICHARD I'm gonna interrupt here because I think Ian’s made a very important point which kind of runs across everything that we're doing and have been doing for a number of years and that's the consistent use of terminology. Because so many people say you use one terminology to mean something, and then somebody else uses something else. Ian is saying there's no such word as fire breaks in ADB.

GEORGE No, and the point is because people are doing different things, Richard, they will call them different things. So what we've really got to do is to make sure that we can capture what people call things and then, in the software, in the databases, we can actually relate these things together. RICHARD And sometimes we have to name things ourselves if they don't exist. GEORGE Absolutely. So, cavity barrier…I’ve got here in SFG20 (it’s not just SFG20, this is Sodexo’s entire database), they’ve got 177 rows or different asset types that have got fire in the title. Here we’ve got external and internal fire doors, there’s fire stopping. And then they've got this term extensive, semi intensive fire breaks, intensive fire breaks. So they're looking at it from their perspective. This is the terminology that’s used in the FM teams.

And therefore what I’d like to be able to do is to say if maybe the Siderise 60 minute cavity barrier, if that might fit into this then I’d want to have under here the maintenance activity (just like I was showing you earlier with the tasks that you'd have to have inspections) and also what skill sets needed core competency, how frequently it needs to be done etc. I think that would be a useful thing for us to distil from our expertise.

JOHNNY I suppose I don't know what you should be asking, primarily because I am not somebody who designs, installs or looks after cavity barriers, so I'm not an expert in it. But what I would sort of pick up on from listening to is I do know a lot about why and where things go wrong in our business. It’s about trying to get to the key information of why there installed wrong, we’re currently in a building where we’re taking old cavity barriers out because there all either the wrong types in or the wrong ones installed. So it's like what are the key things somebody should be looking out for, particularly somebody who is checking somebody else's work. We all assume that experts do their work right, but they don't tend to. So what are we missing in our QITP process to do.

The other big thing that came up is people were saying that cavity barriers could be affected by water, which is something new to me, which is always great to learn. If that is the case with things like that normally a cavity barrier is unseen, buried behind stuff not to be visible. How do you and when should you then inspect and do maintenance on cavity barriers? And for me if I was listening to all these conversations taking into account all the stuff that everyone said that the testing regime doesn't seem up to standard, that's great. But as a client I can't do anything if much about the testing regime. But what I can do is make sure I do have a good maintenance regime and as a client when I’m procuring buildings I can make sure I have a good quality regime to try and make sure I specify the right product and the right product gets installed to the right way. So they’d be the types of things as both a client and an FM operator I’d be rally interested in.

GEORGE Can I just build on that, this relates back to what I was saying earlier and that is what is being collected in the COBie data set. And there is a view that what you’re asking for from COBie should be fixed by, for example, what Bill East did when he was in the Army. Whereas what I think we should be doing is making sure that any element that needs maintenance, whether that be inspection or part of a reactive maintenance call, or indeed life cycle replacement like we were talking earlier as to whether intumescent strips need replacing after 10 years. Anything like that, we need to know where they are, especially for something that is concealed. So therefore we need to know, not just where the cavity barrier is, but we also need to know the information about what the cavity barrier has been fitted to or fitted within. We need to know what that that wall is and how that wall is constructed.

So therefore that is something that we ought to be, Johnny, I would say procuring as well because I think that is fundamental to these aspects and it's straight forward to do. Most BIM systems will be able to generate you a wall schedule, won't they? It's just a matter of it being procured or required.

JOHNNY Absolutely, it’s those key questions from an FM perspective. if somebody says water can effect a cavity barrier, leaks are one of our most common things. Does that mean our cavity barriers are ineffective that…buildings have had leaks. As you said everybody along the chain of this Golden Thread needs different information and you need a different amount of information to design, to specify, to construct, From a client perspective it’s like where are those key big points we need to be aware of, where can we increase our knowledge on these, how can we make out inspection better during construction, how can we improve our maintenance and inspection regimes.

DUNCAN To be honest, although there isn't any harmonised product standard for fire stopping as such, there are draught standards out there. And coming back to Johnny's point, what are the key things that you need to look at. Within those product standards we voluntarily CE mark our products against the draught standard and as such it identifies essential characteristics of each product. So whether that be a linear joint seal, a penetration seal, a cavity barrier seal. What’s happened, all the wise men around Europe sat around the table and they said what are the essential characteristics which make up a cavity barrier and make it function, not just in terms of fire performance, but also in terms of its durability, the environmental use it can be used in.

So for example, I know for a fact we've done open state cavity barriers where they've actually sat outside in the rain, the wind and things like that for months before the cladding actually comes on. And what you need to do as part of the product suitability, you need to do weathering tests, environmental tests, you have to do a durability test so it gives you a specific minimum life span, and that can be done and it’s actually identified in that product standard.

GEORGE Duncan, what would really help us, if there are essential characteristics that you could provide that you’d expect to have against your type of product it would make it a lot easier for us.

DUNCAN It’s looking at the holistic thing. So in in addition the responsibility of the manufacturer is also to have a maintenance schedule as well, although within cavity barriers that's not always possible things like fire stopping is.  So you can do small checks. So for Johnny for example it would give him or give you as well a schedule of things you might need to look at. I can send you the draught.

CHRIS There are things that you have to declare if you're gonna do a voluntary CE mark, and there are things that you might like to declare. It depends on your level of attestation, of conformity with the CE mark. It's quite complicated, as are most things to do with testing and standards, and that sometimes it's clear as mud. But the reality is, and I'll speak bluntly from manufacturer's point of view, basically we haven't got a fat lot to hide. We want to tell everybody what they need to know. The challenge for us is that we're getting different requirements from different quarters of the construction industry at large and for us to distil it down into something where we can do something once instead of having to do the same thing ten times for ten different people who've got a slightly different view on what they want is proving to be horrific. To be realistic about it we need to be kind to ourselves, George, and realise this is one step on a hell of a long journey.

GEORGE No, most definitely. Chris is helping us, Duncan, and on the AOV side Will Perkins is as well. We’re working with the Housing Association Data Group top produce standardised data templates for all the information that is required. We’re also doing this with an initiative called Lexicon which the Construction Products Association is leading. We’re at the heart of that as we’ve developed the software platform for that. So all of the work that we're doing here is all feeding into that process. The CPA is doing it from one perspective, but we need it from our perspective which is the the Bim4housing perspective as well. So it all adds together.

AUDREY Just a quick response to Sharon because I’ve seen she’s put they get drawings which differ from what they’ve been issued on site. They find that things on site walls and compartment walls differ from what from the drawings they've initiated with. That's because Sharon, you haven't been given the as built information. It’s not what you’re issued with, Sharon. You ’re issued with the drawing design information, working drawings. When you say as built you are bound by is a legal requirement. You have to give the person as built.

GEORGE Audrey, you just said it was a legal requirement to provide as built information. AUDREY Yes, it’s got to be in the contract. Now we’ve all got our lessons learned, the client is here, the client knows that I need this. The maintenance people are here, they know that they need it. If you don't put it in the contract, because realistically during the life cycle of designing and construction drawings and so on, people are let go very quickly because money is at a premium. Nothing in the contracts will be done, no matter how much the architect wants to help you. They can't do it, they'll be let go. But if it is in their contracts at the end of the contract contract that’s commissioning and handover, they are bound contractually to hand over the as built information and so they will hand it over to you.

GEORGE I just wanted to check if there was a statutory requirement to do that, I think there should be, but I don’t think there is. IAN yes there is, its Regulation 38. You've got to provide the handover information so that the responsible person can do their job. If you provide them a load of drawings that don't even reflect the building that they're going to be running, then you've breached the law.

AUDREY But then who is held liable? Who's responsible? It doesn't say, because the new contracts are all management contracts and project contracts in fast tracked design and build and so on. IAN It’s not a JCT contract problem, its Regulation 38 which is statutory.

AUDREY What I’m saying, Ian, is if it is not in the contract whoever is handing over to you, whether they are architectural Q, civil engineers etc., they can give you everything. That was Sharon has said. They get a whole lot of information and they go on site and what is on site, it's not what they've been given. At that time the contract has let the architects go, let the engineers go, there's nobody to go back and ask them. But if you had it in the contract, the clients can say to the people, look here, where are my as built drawings? It’s in the BIM model. Changes have been incorporated. The information is somewhere, then they put a junior middle management architect on it, but the work will be done. Before BIM we used to have to do it, we’ll do it with BIM.

IAN I know, I’ve paid of most of my mortgage by having crap built drawings come out of contractors and I have to check them. The law says in Regulation 38 that the contractor has to hand over a set of documents so that the responsible person under the 2005 regulatory reform order can do their job. And if they send them a load of lies in the form of a drawing, they breached Regulation 38. Yeah, I'm going to, I'm going to close that.

RICHARD Question 4, competency and training.

DUNCAN The training and competency thing is a bit tricky because quite often the specialists aren't there at the time that cavity barriers actually go in. I had a project, Elephant and Castle actually where the management contractor wanted an ASP accredited or a third party accredited contract to install the cavity barrier as well. What the curtain wall people had to do was to employ a fire stopper to be on site 24/7 to do about 2-hours-work a week. So actually it really wasn’t economically viable. So I believe there should be short courses for specific jobs for certain qualified people to do their cladding, curtain walling etc to do these little bits of fire stopping that go on. And that’s the best I can think on this particular product.

SHARON I agree with Duncan. We’ve had the same issue, we were standing a man in attendance and I do agree that, I didn't agree with one of Chris comments previously about specialists and trying to keep it as a dark art, I don't agree with that. I think it is a life safety trade. I do think the products are readily available in any shape or form and we know the difference between what we can and can't do with the products. But I do think there's an opportunity for someone like the curtain walling to be trained for their specific, it might be a same system (that’s the only thing they’ve doing) in which case they’re going to be very competent at it.

I don’t think there’s any benefit in making it such a difficult trade that people who are doing that type of work can’t be left alone to do that as an entire trade. It seems to be too fragmented and there seems to be a bit of difficulty (I don't know if Chris was trying to come from that perspective) but I do think it needs to be limited. I don't think the product should be readily available off the shelf. I don't think that anybody should be putting in products wherever they want to. Again, we know what's tested and is not tested and I'm happy to approach the manufacturers to make sure that we don’t end up in that situation.

GEORGE Sharon, are you saying that that the curtain wall installer should be able to do it if they've been properly trained and instructed?

SHARON Yes, if you’re a joiner and you want to be a fire door installer you can go to specialist fire door training. i think if you’re a curtain walling installer I don’t think it’s beneficial, you know, there’s enough fire stopping to be done if somebody wants to keep lining their own pockets, there’s enough work out there for all of us. I don’t think having a man in attendance to make sure that a set of curtain walling is installed. I don't think it's beneficial for the industry because there's not enough people who know what they're doing and that's going to create an even bigger deficit of a specialist or knowledge in that field.

JOHNNY I think one thing would be really useful is simple visual guides on what to look out for everybody on fire stopping in different locations. I appreciate some some fire stopping cavity barriers stuff is incredibly technical and it's all about the minute details can be whether it performs fully or not. But there should be very simple things like if there's a massive gap at the end, if it's in upside down. I’ve been on the site where over 50% of them are installed upside down. Hundreds of people on site should have spotted that yet no one did because no one was told the basic thing of what of what to look out for on that particular gap cavity barrier which was showing what way up it was going. So I think if on sites people were given simple guides. Now I appreciate this gets hard because I know manufacturers and other suppliers are wary about, if they produce a guide, people will just look out for those things and not do their job properly.

There’s going to be two types, ones where things are simple, yes we can upskill some staff to be able to do stuff, it’s the real specialists that can only do the complicated stuff where you need the real detailed training. And then there should be the almost general purpose training, like there is for lots of health and safety stuff on site, everybody knows to look out for trailing cables, a fall from heights where there is no protection barriers. We still have health and safety experts but everybody knows how to look out for the basics. All the times I’ve been on sites no one has ever trained me in the basic stuff of how a fire door should be installed properly, I know some of it from picking it up over the years. The whole industry could be obscure to some level to look out for the big key mistakes. I do think there is some parts of this that everybody can play a part in.

CHRIS There are certain types of cavity barriers that should always be installed by specialists. They are complicated, they require specialist knowledge and that's an absolute. But on the other side there are certain what I would call other types of cavity barriers, particularly in external walls, where with the right training and the right kind of support from the manufacturer that can be adequately fitted and fitted to a reasonable standard on the assumption that the person doing the job is so inclined to do so. And there are a number of initiatives, the brickwork industry have got themselves a cavity barrier installation course going. The NFRC on behalf of the CITB are working on a scheme to basically provide enough knowledge for a competent bricklayer or a competent cladding installer to install cavity barriers to a reasonable level. But what I think has got to happen is that the manufacturers also have a part to play because we're talking about this liability issue.

And manufacturers have got to step up to the plate and actually become more involved in the site aspect because in accordance with manufacturers instructions is a get out of jail card that's used all too often. If the manufacturers instructions are not clear then you've got a problem. And Johnny, for your information, we do multiple inspections on a daily basis and we've got a crib sheet of what happens and what goes wrong and when it goes wrong. So we label our products now ‘this way up’ and all of them, if something can go wrong it will go wrong. So I think there's probably a case for a basic understanding of cavity barriers installed, but that has to be supplemented by training from a manufacturer. But not also training, inspection by the manufacturer and the manufacturer accepting that he's got some skin in the game.

RICHARD And also for what you're saying, Chris, differentiation and clear differentiation from the different skill sets needed for the different installation. Back to the question, is there anything that’s not covered by our answers?

DUNCAN Trainers. What competency have the trainers got? So yeah, it's alright for manufacturers to actually go out and do training, but what competency have they got? All the people doing the training.

CHRIS IFE Level 3, and also in our case we went to an ISO standard and we had an outside…What we realised, Duncan, was that there's an art to training, so you have to train people how to train. So for specialist knowledge they've got to know how to pass that on and there's an ISO standard that allows you to be assessed for that particular competency.

GEORGE I was talking to fire risk assessor yesterday who, several years ago, went on a NEBOSH course. He actually started as an asbestos surveyor and then trained up to be a fire risk assessor as well. When he’d been trained, and he went on the five day course, came off that, went and did his assessment and then submitted it to complete the course he found it curious that the person that was marking his submission hadn’t actually been with him to do the assessment. So therefore what was he actually comparing it against? And secondly he was saying on intumescent strip on fire doors for example, he was doing an inspection and he couldn’t really be sure that what the intumescent strip was an intumescent strip or whether it was draft proofing or draft barrier. He said when he was on the course they just told them about intumescent strips, they didn’t explain to them that there are many different types. The intumescent strip, actually being able to see visually what type it is, he was not 100% sure. So he contacted the manufacturer of the door and the door manufacturer also couldn’t tell them if what he was looking at was actually intumescent strip or draft proofing.

RICHARD Question 5. Change management, how do we register changes from one product to another, how are they recorded?

GEORGE There should be a robust change management mechanism both for design to construction, but also during the operational phase. And too often we've now drifted…there is an established process called a technical submittal process and there’s technical deviation that should be being operated. The process of doing means you have to start with something that is defined against which to measure the alternative. That's going to require a bit of a change of culture and process, particularly in residential where we've got such a D&B philosophy where the designers should be encouraged, required to state a product, not necessarily specify, but to determine a product that will satisfy their design specification so that when an alternative is being selected (and we have to accept there’s going to be some level of change, whether for value engineering or availability) that the mechanism to actually do that needs to be rigorous. So what I'm looking for here is how come we arrive at a change management process, both for new build but also for during operations, where we mirror that same technical submittal process.

AUDREY With regard to the recent global headlines of accidents on housing projects, everybody needs to realise that this is now a life critical industry. It's got to be treated seriously. And it needs to be driven by the clients saying that I want, as part of my project, A,B,C and D, you can't write woolly specifications. It means going back to what we used to do before: writing specifications that mean something. NBS can do it if the person specifying has been given sufficient training so that if there is a deviation, it will be captured with a change control process. Once that is captured, then you can trace and track whatever was changed, why it was changed, some of these big, big issues will be addressed. But it's no good going to the end having a huge accident and then you look at the specifications which were part of the project and find that they’re all woolly specifications, not meaning anything and yet there's been a massive loss of life and resulting loss of property. So I think that's the beginning.

RICHARD We’re seeing quite a lot of this. Ian has just written ‘rubbish specifications in, rubbish specifications out’ and there is quite a feeling from our group meetings that there is quite a responsibility on the actual client side for saying we need this, we want this. The other disciplines are not going to supply information voluntarily that they’re not expected to, or is not wanted.

AUDREY It is because the traditional roles have been taken away. If you remember at a certain point in time architects were even getting on the nerves of their clients because architects wanted even wanted their client didn’t want, but that has all been taken away now, So the designer or the client’s representative might not be the person driving these things selflessly for the client and seeking to obtain only what is good for the client, even if the client himself hasn’t said he wants it. That role has gone. So now the onus falls on the client to know that, look, I don’t want a the end of the project to have an accident, I want A,B,C and D. If the client doesn’t do it, nobody else in the team will.

JOHNNY I think it’s very easy to say the client should tell you what they want, so let’s look at this in a different way. So I’m a client, i often go and buy a building when it’s complete. So at the stage the building is done, it’s complete, O&Ms are produced. It’s impossible for me at that stage to say what I want, we get supplied what we get supplied and if we think the information is rubbish we put a risk value on it and pay accordingly to that. And we there's other times when the client  designing a building is purely doing it to sell it, so they, again, have no interest in the FM of it, all that they want to know is somebody to sign off that piece of paper saying it's compliant and they're happy, they wash their hands and walk away.

And even from a maintenance point of view I know this well we should know what we need to maintain it. Well we don’t because products change all the time, what I needed to know about an AOV last year is perhaps different to what I need to know about an AOV this year, depending on the make and model and manufacture. So saying it should always be down to the client like we're running these meetings with George and George is doing a brilliant job on on pulling some of this information out, but it’s saying the client knows what they want, they don’t, it’s been proven we don’t know what we want. We want happy residents and safe buildings but, depending on your procurement route, we don't even look after the buildings, we’re essentially middle men.

We will go, OK, there's a lift. we've got a building, we have 500 buildings. There's company X come along and maintain my lifts for me, some people do it in house, some people do it externally. So we've been historically very bad at it, we look at stuff from a purely regulatory point of view. So if I have to do something because of Legionella disease or some of the other core regulatory things like gas boilers, we all know we need to get gas boiler inspected yearly. But apart from that saying that the client should know what they want, we absolutely don't know what we want. We don't know what's the best to do and that's the reason why we're having a load of these meetings. So we just really don't know what we want if. Some of it is driven by manufacturer, some of it's driven by designer, some of it's driven by everybody. Now, I'm not trying to say that we shouldn't have a better idea. We should. And that's one of the reasons for running some of these things.

GEORGE As far as cavity barriers are concerned, are they specified, Audrey, or is that something that is picked up when you're doing the detailing during the construction phase?

AUDREY They should be specified during working drawings and construction drawings, so they should be specified because they are a building element and they'll be given a tag number, so they should be specified. And there are different kinds of cavity barriers. There’s the ones that will be used in the ceiling space, there’s the one to be used under the floor, there’s the one that will be used at compartmentalisation. So there are different kinds, and so they should be picked up and given a tag number as an element. I'm taking what Johnny said very carefully because he's explained everything. They buy houses, they don't go into the nitty gritty of it, why should they? They rely on other people to do that for them. Any contractor works to make a profit, they are not going to take on unnecessarily large work packages so there will be cutbacks. So they may decide cavity insulation fire stopping to contractor, whatever it is, and nobody will specify because nobody is asking.

The regulation for design and build and so on removes the onus, if the onus is put on somebody who doesn’t have the motivation or the knowledge people write something very wishy washy. What I’m suggesting, George, is that now we have lessons learned, so many things have happened, so now everybody is in a position to demand things of a contract at the beginning. We've seen enough so we can say the things which are causing huge accidents on site, when there's a building problem or accident, those things must be identified and specified. For example, cavity barriers, AOVs, fire doors because we’ve seen these particular things can effect life safety.

GEORGE Are we saying collectively that really cavity barriers and fire stopping, for example, isn’t really introduced until stage 4?

AUDREY They should be introduced earlier, but now it could be they are introduced later or as an afterthought or as a package, a package handed over to a subcontractor to do. So nobody actually takes that acute responsibility for it. If it's thought of at the working drawings stage or the detailed design stage when we are doing the compartmentalisation, because that's when they decide which areas are being compartmentalised At that point in time there should be now an understanding of how they are going to compartmentalise. If they're going to compartmentalise units A from B, what happens to services which are running under the floor? Something that we always come across. And that's when you start thinking, that's when you start reaching out to people or to various manufacturers, look, send me your data, send me information. This British standard works, this BSEN works and so on.

CHRIS I’d like to think, as Audrey suggested, the world is like that but the reality is we get asked to advise on a specification (I’m talking specifically now about external wall cladding). When somebody realises there’s a hole to be filled and you’ve got people starring from a scaffold and saying ‘what are we going to put here?’. And it all goes back to the point that Audrey made and that is you have a floor slab and on that floor slab you you're going to fix a myriad of things. You’re possibly going to put a balcony bracket and you are going to put some brick supports and you're going to hang all sorts of other ancillaries off that. And the cavity barriers have to be somehow accommodated in this plethora of kind of obstructions at the compartmentation zone.

Change management within cavity barriers: do your specification as early as you can and don’t allow it to be changed without a strict criteria. There must be a bloody good reason and the reason shouldn’t be we forgot about them or these are too expensive.

DUNCAN I totally agree with Chris. Generally the specification of cavity barriers is wishy washy, nothing’s specified, or if it is there is no control over it. It’s subcontractor driven based on price and half the time people don’t know what’s been used and it’s installed by incompetent people.

JOHNNY From my perspective it is understanding of when you need to go back and get essentially new calculation specifications done. I'm not saying this specifically about cavity barriers because that's probably something you always do, but in change generally we often change one product for the other without, it gets back to the money thing. Without putting money in to allow the professionals to review that change. People will look and say well that cavity barrier says 30 minutes, another cavity barrier says 30 minutes. They're obviously the same, that one's cheaper, stick them in, which obviously should not ever be the case, yet…This almost comes back to training, people understanding when chance can and can’t happen and having o robust change control procedure in place.

GEORGE As I said, what we'd really like to do is to create some objects in the Housing Association Daily Group for cavity barriers. Duncan, am I right that you're not providing cavity barriers, you're providing elements that go to complete a cavity barrier? DUNCAN Yes, we’re more service penetrations and linear joint seals. GEORGE So fire stopping, for example, would be…I’d also like to be able to look at those as actual elements that ought to be in our housing Association library of asset types, we really should have fire stopping and also cavity barriers as elements.

If, Duncan, if you've got a range of product types rather than products that you could help us with. DUNCAN We’ve actually got BIM objects. GEORGE Yeah, OK, that’s a good starting point. And if you’ve got BIM objects and you have properties in them then that would be great for us to use. The reason I’m sort of hesitant about that is people will often, they go in as shared parameters against an object and there’s often not much structure behind that. And also there's a lot of information that probably you've got in data sheets and things like that that's important and won’t be in there.

With the other question that I’ve got with fire stopping is knowing where it is. I’ve spoken before with Sharon and they use an application called Bolster. The thing is with most of these applications, they don’t hold the information in a form that can be read into the master BIM model. At one stage we were going to ask Bolster if we could get a DWG file with the elements in them. Do you know if that’s possible?

SHARON I think they’re quite receptive to a request for that because they have in-house developers so they would take that on board. GEORGE OK. The question is really what we’re trying to get away from is just having an image of a floor plan with some dots on it. SHARON Well, we do an extract that’s a CSV file for a PDF, so there are other elements within Bolster as it stands just now, but referring back to the drop down menu, somebody could do back then mastic when they dropped the details, somebody else does mastic and then bat, so there isn't repetition that needs to be conforming to your BIM. So I think that would be the difficulty. It might be that they need to do a filter or a sort so they do have CSV output but it wouldn't be enough pre formatted as you would require it.

DUNCAN regarding what should be incorporated into the next questions. Our products are CE marked so we look at the essential characteristics of performance. And one of those being that before you even start, things have got to be factory production audited, stuff is sampled and then you test your product makes those sample products against the various European standards. So everybody's singing from the same hymn sheet. GEORGE Obviously the construction side I think we’ve got well tapped. The problem is what happens in five or ten-years-time? The fact that we don’t really have it well documented in SFG20 speaks legions, doesn’t it?