IQ Contractual

The Tier 1 IQ Group of major contactors looks to improve quality across the sector.

Martin Adie - Balfour Beatty Construction

Contractual Group Meetings and Highpoints

If you have a comment or suggestion on a particular meeting, or just in general, please

Chaired By: Martin Adie



Recording -

MARTIN The sustainability voice within my organisation were lobbying for the headlines and the quality were lobbying for the headlines so there was going to be a joined up thing, very messy.

MARK It sounds like you’ve got the same difficulties that we’ve got. The voice of our sustainability team and that whole carbon agenda is very strong within the business and it’s almost taking priority. Then you’ve got the whole building safety act and my frustration internally is that there is a whole number of us that sit on a senior committee to talk about it and I said I don’t think the guys out on site are even aware of what’s going on. There’s kind of this whole echo chamber going on, we all think we know what we’re talking about and learning about.

I’m pretty sure, and it’s part of my interest in doing this roadshow, it’s going to be more discussion than presentation because I want to be able to report back exactly where I think the individuals are and I’m reasonably confident I’m gonna get a lot of confusion back. People will have heard of it, of course.We sit and talk in these groups and think we’ve got a certain amount of learning but when you go out there those guys are busy and not in the least because of things like carbon sustainability etc. They’ve got so much coming at them they won’t be hearing it all.

IAIN We’ve been trying to set down a competency management plan and to be honest safety, quality, compliance, all those words are fairly interchangeable in terms of the competence agenda. So we’ve split competence down into 3 levels: organisational competence, occupational competence and functional competence. Effectively through those 3 processes you look at how the organisation manages the process, how you’re expected to behave within you’re given profession or occupation and then finally you look at what’s different and unique about the way your business and your role works within the business. So you’ve got that functional requirement where all of a sudden you might be giving advice about specification and as a consequence that needs to be looked at. So, using those 3 levels is starting to make it a bit clearer.

It’s looking at competence on a 3-dimensional basis. You’ve got organisational competence which is effectively the quality management environment that you operate, it’s the compliance environment, it’s are people aware of, do people know how to, is your organisation communicating effectively and supervising effectively. Then you’ve got the occupational competence which is the things that basically you’d be expected to do if you’re a surveyor or dry liner etc. Then you’ve got the functional competence which is the nuance of your own particular role, so within every organisation it’s slightly different what that person might be expected to do.

MARK The dynamic i think is interesting is when you talk about competence you can operate in an environment and be ‘tick the box’ competent and then particularly in the world we work in you could be dealing with relatively low-rise at one end of the business and then a 30 storey complex building at another end and it’s finding that balance and being able to say that’s beyond me.

IAIN That’s where the functional one comes in because it’s the functional where you start to look at the tiers and levels, so you start to assign effectively through job description, so it might be saying to work on high rise high risk buildings I need to have a vague awareness of fire safety. To be honest if you look at the wider consultation on the building regs I think we’re all lulled into a false sense of security on what we’re going to get away with on high-rise high-risk buildings because effectively the consultation puts all of the competence requirements on all aspects of the building regs, so it knows says we’ll be checking your admin more fastidiously on the high-rise high-risk buildings. The thing you’re going to be asked to do is demonstrate in court that if you were in a 5-storey building fire and somebody perished you’d have to prove that it was reasonable to be less competent to work in that environment and I think that’s going to be a bloody hard case to make.

MARTIN yeah, this ties in remarkably with what you’ll find, Mark, when you go around the projects because we started this exercise and the first thing you get back from the project teams (who are not working on high-risk buildings) is none of this applies to me and that is a hell of a hurdle to overcome. Well, actually no, it does and you’ve got to go back and sort of re-do the message. This elephant in the room applies to everybody and then there’s a bit of a nuance to it. I don’t think our employees who are working on projects are any different to our customers, designers or supply chain, there’s a lot of people out there thinking it’s all fascinating, but it’s not my bag I don’t have to worry about it.

MARK it’s a really good point. There’s 2 things, the building safety act, people have automatically focused on fire but actually it’s building safety. And everybody is focused on the high-risk building, the 18 metres, so if I’m outside those categories people are thinking no worries.

GEORGE i get a lot of feedback which is it relevant to this particular project I’m working on because it’s already gone through planning.

MARK Yeah I’ve been trying to have some discussions with clients where we’re in PCSAs to try and discuss how we’re going to deal with this. We had a good meeting with Westminster, we’re working on a PCSA for the 2nd phase of Ebury bridge Estate and it was an interesting discussion, but most people focused on the problems of the timescales of the gateways, not so much the management of the information. Actually, whilst I’ve got worries over gateway 2, it’s gateway 3 that from a client POV they were focusing on because before you start that gateway 3 process the way the consultation is written at the moment it needs to be complete and there’s also a potential 12 week determination period. So, where does practical completion sit, and that’s where the meeting ended up focusing on: how do we divvy up the risk on that?

GEORGE When Ffion (a colleague of Mark’s) asked me that question on Ebury Bridge I went out and asked people who I think should know and i got a mixed reply, nobody was clear. Erin Miller said most definitely. Will it be considered as gateway 2 and will it be considered as gateway 3? If a building is being finished in 2 years’ time, say, could it get caught at gateway 3? The impression I have is it could.

MARK I’ve not had that conversation with Ffion, but if he asks me I’ll tell him, absolutely, there’s no debate. I accept this is all subject to the mechanics of the process of the consultation but I’ve got no reason to believe it will be any different. From the 1st April the transition period starts and from the start of October we enter the gateway regime. I know there’s been a subtle change where we thought the gateway regime was April, but it’s not, it’s the start of the transition period. You’re not going to have schemes that are allowed to carry on for a number of years for the reason the government’s become switched on the industry’s gaming of the system.

GEORGE Under those circumstances taking that specific example if they go through gateway 2 by October then they may not have to deliver against gateway 2 but then they would have to at gateway 3. MARK Yeah and I think there’s some complexities in that transition period, the approved inspector of the local authority can refer the building to the building safety regulator anyway. If people want to make this change, I can’t see there being doors left open so my advice to people internally is assume this is happening.

IAIN I’ve asked that question specifically of the HSE and their response was it’s the wrong question to be asking because you should be reassuring internally that you are doing this stuff anyway. The only at-risk bit that’s in question is the cost of delays associated with them full stop, but of course if they can intervene at any point unless you’re reassuring yourselves you’ve done it that’s a clear and present danger. GEORGE And you’ve got the defective premises act which is significant. IAIN There’s the risk of the cost of delay and the risk of the cost of failure so there are 2 different risks that people are worrying about. The defective premises act is now, irrelevant to the gateways.

MARTIN if it’s any consolation, we’ve taken the same approach across the board: assume it is happening when they say it’s happening. If you’re looking for shortcuts or clever moves you’re looking for the wrong things. MARK Stepping away from the difficulties there’s so much of the principles of the building safety act, to me it’s a no brainer, we should have always have been doing it. We shouldn’t be engaging in building something if we don’t know that a) our teams are competent, that our design teams a re competent, that we’re checking that design and that we’re actually building what the hell is on the drawings. It goes on: things are built that it is not what are on the drawings.

GEORGE One of the things we’ve been talking about for a while is contractor design portion and how can we draw that into so that it is finished by gateway 2/ the end of workstage 4. In particular M&E.

MARK To me there’s a couple of things there. We as an industry have probably allowed us to drift into something that isn’t really the right way of designing things, we’ve allowed specifically building services M&E to become, the design process to become disjointed from the overall process because time and time again whoever I’ve worked for, that has been an issue. Concluding building services design via a subcontractor CDP and yet that procurement process always ends up taking longer than people expect and yet there’s still the demands of having that RIBA 4 completed because you’ve got an overlap with construction Riba 5. If we all stopped and thought about this from a design POV the right thing would be to bring that all back in so we’re completing 4 before we submit information for gateway 2.

Do I think that’s gonna happen? No, I don’t. I’m changing my view on that, there’s too much to change in the way procurement works in PCSAs. We as a business are endeavouring to reach that point on our developments but I can’t see that happening rapidly with the general world. I think people believe there will be a staged approach, essentially. Nowhere does it say you would have to have finished the stage 4 design. If we are working within a PCSA and we’re going to the typical RIBA 4A (which doesn’t exist but we all use that terminology) and then we make the gateway 2 submission there’s an added risk of the regulator turning around and asking for more information.

Or the risk of saying, OK, you’ve given me enough information for you to be able to commence on-site, you get your gateway 2 sign-off, however you’re going to have 2 or 3 milestones to submit information on smoke dampers, fire doors etc. That introduces another risk for us as a contractor because we’ve now got prelims clock ticking on-site and we’ve got to make another submission and wait for that to be determined. I can’t see this wholesale change that everybody accepts that they’re going to have to spend all the money in a PCSA to complete every element of the stage 4 design.

IAIN What’s the big block then, Mark? Naively, just start that element of the process, run it consecutively and box it off. Why can’t you do that earlier in the design?

MARK Because I guess from a client POV it means committing to a lot more money earlier on. That’s the simple reason, there are other reasons which as we’re being recorded I’m not going to mention. IAIN Committing to money they’re going to have to commit to, it’s a staging issue not a…it’s not like they’re going to be committing to more money because of it. MARK There’s probably a risk discussion in there as well, the more you complete and develop the design the more potential risks you unpick and part of this is transferring the risks to the contractor, pushing it later.

IAINI I guess that’s part of the reason for the building safety act, to look at how that risk is fairly apportioned. The act is trying to say everybody’s got to shoulder their fair share of the risk, what’s fundamental to it is that money shouldn’t be a barrier to safety.

MARK I don’t disagree with any of that but I think there will be a point that the industry just cannot move beyond. There’s a lot of change coming, I accept that, but I just think that’s a step too far.

GEORGE from developer contacts essentially, I had a workshop with Tower Hamlets recently and they are very dependent on design & build the way it works at the moment. I mentioned this to them, the whole thing with contractor design portion, but on the basis that D&B is likely to be effected and possibly even disappear through it and they were quite shocked. So, it’s something (as Mark’s saying) that’s so embedded in the industry that I think it’s a challenge. On the plus side I’ve noticed (having been talking about this quite a lot to people) and almost across the board M&E consultants and architects are being asked to specify the provider prescriptive verification for the products. That’s a plus that’s happened over the last year-eighteen months.

MARTIN We’re going to be doing that, at each stage outlining what it is that we expect as an organisation exactly what it is in terms of level of detail from our designers and if they want to work with us then those are the minimum entry levels. MARK And that’s another one of those that we should already be doing. If you’re not selecting a product then you’re drawing a pretty picture, you’re not actually designing something because you’re not contemplating that product being integrated into your design.

GEORGE So as far as Balfour Beatty is concerned, you’ve obviously got BBK and you’re obviously also procuring from other M&E contractors, so are you looking to appoint earlier?

MARTIN Yes, very much so. At the moment we’re in a position where we won’t work with customers/developers who don’t want to abide by the spirit of the building safety act, who look to negate that risk through very clever legal representation. We can afford to do that, it just means your turnover is not what it was. But those developers who don’t want to abide by the sprit of the building safety act will find somebody. I’m more optimistic, I suspect, than you Mark, in that the regulator will be populated be people who will ask those really daft awkward questions like ‘are you Mr Contractor happy with the way this has been designed to date? Do you think this is at stage 4 or is it 3 plus. You’d like to think the building safety regulator is going to ask some of those questions.

IAIN You’ve got this Building a Safer Future Charter organisation that you’re all signed up to, is any of this coming out in the audit process? Is this discussion not the kind of thing they’re auditing? MARK i don’t want to comment on behalf of the industry, but i don’t see an awful lot coming out of it, it just seems to be another body that asks you to pay some money so you can put a logo on your website and away you go.

GEORGE In answer to your question in some ways, if Paul McSolley were on this call he’d be all over what you just said there because you’re absolutely right and that is that the wall, by putting a door in it, is going to be compromised and therefore whatever test you’d be doing would need to reflect what type of door and frame it is in that wall.

MARTIN That would be the ultimate, if we could get to a situation where we know all there is to know about the wall and all there is to know about the door (which is where we’re at) but the ultimate objective would be to be able to predict how that door and wall will interact when the 2 are joined.

IAIN I think there’s a 2-stage approach really because eventually everybody seems to be moving across to classification and EN systems in which case you’ve got the ex aps through the European standards to help us do that. At the moment a lot of the test evidence and information is provided in a BS format so we’ve got to work out how to manage the transition in the future because the solution is probably in that classification. The way the classification system starts to work is you can usually extend the applications to start to give you interpretation of scope, probably in a more structured way than the BS does. My worry is the manufacturers are going classification, that’s the easy answer for us, but it leaves an awful lot of space for the industry in the meantime to try and prove the stuff that’s been designed but still won’t fit a classification model.

GEORGE The work Active Plan is trying to do, I’ve come to the conclusion some of the stuff we try to do in automated ways and having everything machine readable is possibly a step too far. Not that we don’t want it, but as you just said you’re probably 2 or 3 years away from having stuff in a form that we can practically use. So therefore the approach I’m taking is let’s make it, so you can actually identify all of the instances where that fire stopping has gone through the wall and provide as much information as you sensibly can to a human that can actually be directed to the right specifications that they need to look at to actually make that decision. That’s a middle way ground to try and address the overwhelming number of different standards that are needed.

MARK In this discussion my worry, as always, losing touch with the design. The use of technology is great providing its augmenting what you’re doing because you only have to look at something like the reporting on Cross, the confidential reporting on structural safety, there’s quite a few that come through where people have produced calculations based on a particular software package and someone has then churned those calculations by hand and gone, actually there is a problem here. So there’s a line we can cross there that causes ourselves even more problems.

GEORGE i entirely agree. Back in the ‘80s I was involved with some of the first clash detection applications and some of the leading building services companies that were doing clash detection, we had the clash detection functionality in the software and the best ones never used it because they had the 3D model, they had the knowledge about where things were going, so they didn’t need to run the clash detection because they had enough information. The clash detection would come up with many false negatives/positives.

IAIN As said in earlier meetings, we don’t really have a well enough defined process to digitise it yet. The other thing is that design constraint is important. At the moment there is no constraints on design ergo we’ve got problems on every job we bloody work on, whereas if we start to coach them, start laying down a process, we can actually start to communicate some of the design constraints. That’s not to say you can’t have that design…you’ve got between serial bespoke and out-and-out bespoke, serial bespoke is operating within the confines of the test evidence, out-and-out bespoke means you’ve got an additional design cost which is proving that design can be built. We’ve got to get to some kind of a process. The process has to set down the right questions being answered at the right points and the first point you made is how do we do that if the procurement process is all cock-eyed?

GEORGE The work that Paul White and Paul McSolley have done which they’re principally doing with Joe Scillia and FIS, that’s taught me how bloody complex it is. What Paul’s been doing is actually turning it into a relatively simpler process of decision making that therefore if we can use that type of way of providing a human (because the human brain can do amazing things that computers can never do), but let’s provide them with information in a form that you’ve got the time to do something with it and also the record of what’s been done. Then you can start to get into proper AI, Iain, which I would say is machine learning and you can therefore start to train things to automate some of those processes.

But at the moment everything is done uniquely. Therefore the more we can look at some of these elements using standardised systems and standardised products within those systems, you can record how they’re going to perform under certain circumstances. And also identify through all the work we did on the golden thread initiative. Every time I ask any expert what information do we need the answer was invariably ‘it depends’. If we can capture what all those ‘it depends’ means then we’ve got a chance of turning that into a decision tree.

IAIN In terms of the golden thread and the BIM templates how far apart do you think they are? Because it still strikes me that we’re moving towards a standard model for BIM template where you’ve got things like Lexicon which are driving us in the right direction, you’ve got standard product data sheets, so you link to that and say the product processes the product side of things, all the information we need should be on a standard data sheet, that should be standardised. The difference is how we communicate, the other part of the golden thread is the information about installation that we need to carry with the product.

GEORGE The data templates, everybody thinks of them as product data templates (like under the Lexicon initiative) but you can use data templates for all of those activities. So, we’ve been trying to look at data templates from the POV of environmental performance, we’re taking the environmental product declaration information and we’re currently turning it into standardised data templates because one of the frustrating things EPDs for different products are structured differently in different localities. In different parts of Europe they’ve all got EPDs but they’re all just slightly different which stops them being machine readable.

I’ve helped start something called Zero which is a construction process, an initiative with over a thousand members. We’re trying to learn how we can take carbon out of the construction process. I’m mentioning that because it’s bringing me together with some people in the States who are doing some really good work on EPDs and we’re trying to use the Templater that we developed with the BRE to gather together the right property sets that enable you to pull those together. And we can do the same with tasks and labour etc so it’s not just about products.

IAIN That ties in because the other aspect to it other than installation is maintenance. For the work we’re doing on sustainability one of the things that’s very apparent is what we declare and the use of that information is sometimes slightly at odds. We’ve got an EPD for a product which has a 30 year lifespan. The average lifespan of a fit-out is 7 years, so 23 years of that is an utter waste of time, right? So what actually do we do with it after 7 years is the question. That 30 year lifespan is only of any use to me if I can get it out and use it again. A relocatable product, happy days. But that comes back to your point about design constraint, Mark, because can we build products with enough tolerance to deal with the floor to ceiling height issues or spanning issues. The lack of standardisation makes re-use an absolute nightmare.

GEORGE The problem for designers is when they are selecting a product based on what the embodied carbon is, how do they find out what the embodied carbon is? Because all of the databases that I’m aware of are all absolutely flawed because they don’t give the right level of granularity. IAIN Embodied carbon is complicated but if you assume for a minute that there is embodied carbon in a fire door (regardless of how much) it makes sense to relocate a fire door from one building to another if we’ve used it on a CAT A 14 mins 24 secs part 2 that’s been opened 3 times.

GEORGE I agree. What I meant was if an architect choosing a door or 100 doors, what they’re trying to do, they’er being asked to provide embodied carbon information. The databases (like 1click LCA for example) that would give you that information is wildly out because unless 1click LCA has been set up for that particular product then swapping it out for maybe where it comes from or what material was used on it. What people do is they’ll just try and get an answer because it’s just ticking a box that they’ve got a figure whereas what we need is something more granular than that that enables people to make decisions that actually do have an impact.

If you look at the values that the BRE have given us through a project called Buildings As A Material Bank, there’s something like 280 data points that you need to calculate for an element which would include where it comes from etc. It’s fiendishly complicated but it can be done.

IAIN They have their digital life cycle assessments in EPD formats, the other name is Linus? We were all trained to use it. The original point was should we just be focusing on product data sheets? As you say they can carry all this information, is it just an iteration of that that we need.

GEORGE I’ve argued for having all of the product data in a digital format for a long time. We should still aim for that, but in the interim just having a data sheet for a specific product would be a real plus, rather than having a catalogue where somebody just refers to a range of products. Having a unique data sheet (as a PDF even) and the declaration of performance and the EPD as a data set, that would be a big step. Many products don’t have all of this. What I mean by that is manufacturers will produce a marketing document or a technical specification that refers to a range of products and therefore when you’ve collecting the information for the O&M the trade contractors just copy in a manual that’s got lots of things in it. You can’t get to it. The same with declarations of performance, if you want to get one for a product that’s not straightforward.

IAIN Does this feel like a piece of work we should be doing, what products are we struggling to get data sheets on? Because they exist. I guarantee you for every single product you can produce a product data sheet. MARK Isn’t it that it’s not so much the data sheet but it’s the data within the data sheet and the consistency of that information. IAIN Again the standardisation of that, because you have to, if you’re putting a product up on MBS you have to provide the standard data format. We’ve steered away from getting too worried about standardisation of data sheets because we feel it’s already happening. I suspect it’s not that the information doesn’t exist in the format we want it, it’s just that we’re not transferring it well enough.

GEORGE With MBS for example, you’ve got SpecifiedBy, you’ve got BIM Object, BIM Store, you’ve got lots of different competing service providers selling their services to manufacturers. MBS is probably the exception on what I’m about to say because most of the service providers they don’t try and standardise in any way the way the products are described so therefore the attributes aren’t machine readable. You must have seen my thing on fire doors where I pull up half a dozen different fire doors and the way the fire rating for example is described on all of them is completely different. Even if we don’t go down that rout, Iain, if it’s still a bit on the too hard scale, actually having a data sheet, I agree with you. I think this would be a really useful thing for Bim4housing to do, to collect data sheets for the products that are going into…

We’ve got 250 or so standard asset types that the Bim4housing community has identified as being important, a lot of them M&E. So if we were to provide that as a standard data set for manufacturers to provide their information on, just as documents, I think that would be a plus. The frustrating thing for me is this information from manufacturers is collected uniquely on every project. Every project you’ve got an O&M contractor or compiler and they’ll be going back top the trade contractor that’s providing the Gronfoss pumps 22mins 49secs and they’ll be collecting that PDF every time and it will be stored uniquely in every single O&M which is madness, isn’t it?

IAIN It sounds to me like there’s lots of databases, but a lack of standardisation and then the commissioner of O&M manuals are asking the wrong people the wrong question putting the wrong information in the pack. MARK it feels to me like there’s some other people who need to be involved in the discussion. A particular scheme and the client was looking for us to use what in the residential world I guess is an enhanced amount of COBie information. I had a conversation with our construction major projects team who more regularly are dealing with this sort of thing and there’s a particular hospital job that we’d be using as a point of reference. I divided this process into three parts: there’s deciding on what the information is, what the assets are that you’re collecting the information out and what the particular pieces of data are, that’s the start of the process. Then, miss the middle bit out for a minute and get to the end of the process and it’s deciding how you’re going to present that information and I guess it could be something like a straightforward COBie spreadsheet or something more funky.

And those two elements, whilst there was some difficulties in making the decision you would get there and you could put a number to what you’re going to do there. The bit that I was told was a problem was extracting the information out of the supply chain and that’s where all the risk was because we could never decide how many people to provide to be continually trying to pull out data sheets, to go back and say that’s not the right information, I need that. That’s where we had the biggest problem going back to the client, the middle bit and just extracting this information. it strikes me listening to this conversation maybe that’s what we need to drill down into, what is the actual problem? Because that’s how it was presented to me.

GEORGE I agree. i’ve spent quite a lot of time with Theon on that and i think we’ve got a solution to that process and part of it is really to look at simplifying a lot of that data capture because we’re asking trade contractors to compile information that they’re not actually very familiar with. They know how to install a pump but negotiating through how to relate a pump against the specification and then…in most cases the installation contractors aren’t familiar with BIM software so therefore they have to relate it back to something. MARK But it’s nothing to do with BIM.

GEORGE I agree, the way I look at it is you’ve got fixed data (stuff that never changes),as Iain said the data sheet on a pump. The information that we really need from the installation contractor is the commissioning information and possibly the serial number. But at the moment we ask the trade contractor to provide the information on the pump when actually that should be coming from the manufacturer and it should be collected once.

MARK yes, I agree. That was the bit I said to Theon, the input and the output, we can put a number on that it’s very little risk, it’s the bit in the middle. How many people am I going to put with your team, Theon, to make sure we can pull this information out, how many have we got to allow for, and that’s where I kept drawing a blank on that particular aspect.

GEORGE I think that’s a worthwhile thing for us to explore, especially if we look at something like residential developments. we’ve already got a standard 250 or so asset types that we know are regularly used and people that are more involved in building safety than I am have said we need information on smoke vents, smoke dampers etc. So therefore if we offered people like Actionair and Sweegone 28 mins 29 secs the opportunity to provide their product information, just as data sheets, into a free library that everybody can access then that’s going to simplify things enormously. IAIN The free library is probably helpful but it’s more about the standardisation. It’s the format that’s the most important thing and actually then we go to all the libraries that are out there and say ??? 29mins 04 secs. Look at the buying power just sat here, there’s a couple of billion quid sat right there isn’t there?

GEORGE No, no that’s part of the problem. The buying power isn’t in Balfour Beatty or Buig’s 29 mins 27secs hands, they’re normally bought by specialist subcontractors. IAIN But you just make it a prescribed contractual requirement to put information in a certain format. GEORGE Yes, I love that, I’ve been trying to do that now for probably 10 years and one of the challenges we’ve got is there’s a lot of vested interests from people like MBS who don’t want that standardisation. There’s two levels: one is actually people that have got structured data and they’ve got services where they encourage people to structure their data (like MBS). You’ve got others who are like BIM Object who expressly state that they will not try and influence manufacturers to standardise the way they provide their product data.

IAIN We focus on the burden in front of us which is the immediate hurdle of inconsistency of information and then that’s another hurdle to jump at some point in the future - if they won’t adapt then they won’t survive, surely. MARK George, you don’t think it’s feasible that we could be in a scenario the likes of Balfour Beatty and Buig, everything they procure there’s a little caveat that says all information to be supplied in accordance with a standard as such, you think that’s not a point we could get to?

GEORGE I’ve spent the last 7 years with Templater and Lexicon and the like trying to do exactly that. IAIN The difference is now the conversation has moved on, it’s a bit like the blue card red card green card thing. Five years ago nobody cared if someone had a blue card or green card on a construction site, now everybody’s rushing to get their blue card because you’ve got to have a blue card. What’s changed, the main contractors actually care now because it’s one of the requirements that they have that you’re going to provide us a blue card workforce.

MARK Exactly, it’s like the job we were just talking about, George. Previously in terms of information about assets, Cobie and everything, our residential clients, the vast majority had no interest, it just wasn’t a thing. That’s why the major project side of the business has got more experience at this, but the world has changed so maybe now’s the time.

GEORGE Listen, I’d love this to be the case a) from a complete philosophy POV I’ve been banging on about this for at least 10 years. And we’ve actually built the technology to actually deal with it so it would be fantastic if we can do it.

IAIN Just on that product process people thing, the other thing that’s changed is people are accepting now that you can specify products and you can specify a process. So, that’s a big change in the world because nobody would ever have specified process before whereas now if you look at particularly sustainability that is starting to come in because I know MBS now are looking at how you can specify processes like strip out for example because now it’s not built into the program because it’s effectively an unspecified thing. So if you then say the strip out must be done in accordance with it’s something we can all build into a program and charge for. So you can specify a process, you can specify a product and you can specify a competence so that product process people thing, that’s 360 degrees specification now.

I think that’s part of the solution for every because at the moment we’re all in a stalemate because the designer won’t specify because they don’t feel they’ve got the competence to do it and they haven’t got the insurance. The industry is doing it because there us no other choice but at some point the building safety officer is going to say no way and the manufacturers put all their attention behind the minimum possible risk to them which exposes the supply chain to even more risk and we’re all dancing around this bit in the middle which is…so how does the building control officer mange this in the lower possible risk environment to them. They can see a product specified a process specified a competency thing specified. Alright, it doesn’t do a 100% of everything for everybody but at least it de-risks the project which is what this is all about.

GEORGE I agree. The solution that we’ve built is it starts by determining what information on each of the different asset types is actually really important. So therefore you’re not saying we want 200 attributes against an item, you might want 5 that are critical. You might ask for more, but the 5 that are critical are what you want to track. And then the product information that is provided from the manufacturer should be complying with that so those 5 things at least are being answered. And then you pick up a different 5 set of information from different people through the process. What we need to do is start with something that’s manageable, but coming back on my frustration with the Lexicon process is because there’s been quite a lot of headwind from people that are protecting their commercial positions (Lexicon’s free, that’s the thing that affected people) to actually start off simply by saying I’ve been looking at the O&Ms.

The O&M information invariably on projects, we’ve got a BIM model, a COBie data set (and sometimes they don’t match) and then you’ve got the O&Ms and i can guarantee that won’t match. So you end up with 3 sets of information which are not aligned. At the basic level even if we can’t get everybody to comply with producing standardised data, as a subset of that if we just asked them to provide a unique data sheet for each of the products that they are supplying.

MARTIN is that not in the constructions product regulations? I’m not over those regulations sufficiently to be able to answer that, but that would have been my answer. I know the construction product regulations are about everybody who touches a product has to make sure that it’s not counterfeit/suitable for its intended purpose. I can’t see that there isn’t some sort of data sheet or attribute. IAIN i don’t think it’s in there specifically but I think it’s sort of in there in terms of if you lined up all the pieces of regulation it’s another one it’s hard to argue that you shouldn’t. I don’t think anywhere it says you must provide all information in a standard format but it does say you’ve got to provide information in a format that people can use.

MARTIN We could quite easily amend our standard conditions to say you’ve got to provide a data sheet in accordance with the construction product regulations. Do we want to bring somebody in who’s a bit more over the product regulations than I am? GEORGE Yeah, that would be a good idea. I think this is a quick fix that could actually be of a lot of benefit. What do you think, Mark? Asking for product manufacturers to provide a unique data sheet for an individual model. MARTIN And then we can list out the 5 key criteria if you like.

MARK It’s got me thinking about why does a manufacturer generate a data sheet, for what reasons. Is it a sales thing? Is it genuinely to provide important information? I don’t know.

IAIN It’s both, isn’t it. In the case of a declaration of performance, which is effectively a data sheet, it’s a mandatory requirement. That’s the whole point of the construction products regulation because the construction products regulation and the declaration of performance is to do with standardisation of declaration so that you can compare apples with apples. It just doesn’t embrace all products so…well, that’s not true. The specific requirement to provide a declaration of performance doesn’t cover all products because that’s linked to the harmonisation of a standard and bear in mind this is EU regulation. So, the issues of standardisation often sit around how we communicate in other parts of Europe rather than specifically how we do it in the UK.

Of course, the gift and the opportunity we have is this is up for grabs because we’re now moving to a UK CA market and a UK compliance market in which case we’ve got more control of what we ask for in the UK. I know that the direction of travel for government is they’re struggling to get their head around why it is right for one product to put a declaration of performance down and not another. There are reasons but government sees them as excuses rather than reasons. I suspect however that regulation moves forward we’re asking for something that regulation is going to demand eventually.

GEORGE A declaration of performance for a door is made up of ten items, isn’t it?

IAIN A door is a bad choice because there isn’t a standard declaration of performance for a door set, not for its full scape of functionality. Effectively the way a declaration of performance works is it sets down a criteria of what it regards as essential characteristics and additional characteristics. Essential characteristics are things that it must comply with as a product, additional characteristics are the things that, if you declare them (there’s no mandatory requirement to declare them), they must be declared in the format that’s required. A window is maybe a good example where you’ve got to declare the performance of a window in a standard format. So the new value of the window is something that has to be done in way that everybody can understand is exactly, its transferable, you can pick up one declaration form and another declaration form and they look identical.

And then with the verification of performance you end up with this different level of the declaration of performance, from level 1 plus down to level 3. 1 plus means the certification body has got to sign it off. At level 3 you’ve got to get the test reports signed off but you can actually sign off you’re declaration of performance, so the test report has to be accredited but the declaration of performance doesn’t and then at level 4 you can just make it up.

GEORGE So declaration is self certification? IAIN To a certain extent, but then there are levels of declaration that require a 3rd party to sign them off. Normally when it comes to resistance to fire or reaction to fire.

GEORGE The point that you’ve made, Mark, is the one I would think as well and that is if somebody has got a product and they produce a data sheet why isn’t that freely available? Now, it probably is, but what I find when I ask people for that information is they say it’s on the website. I’m not saying they are not willing to share data sheets, but it’s not done in an organised way and it means every time on every project the O&M people have to phone up the trade contractor and the trade contractor then has to contact the manufacturer to get the data sheets. It seems such a wasteful process when it could be so much simpler.

MARK You had the spreadsheet showing all the different asset types AOVs, cavity barriers etc, was there any thought about this in terms of what was in data sheets? GEORGE Yeah, we’ve got a data template against every one of those that we’ve created so we’ve got a set of information requirements that’s largely been driven by IFC. That needs refining to be less onerous. IAIN So the base exists, the practicality of it needs to be tested so the product data sheets are practical, and then we need to look at it from a specification POV to make sure you specify this bit of this packet of information. The other point you made was around stuff like sustainability which is probably not going to be in there, but in a way we evolve mandatory requirements and voluntary requirements, a bit like they do with the essential and non-essential characteristics - it’s not an essential characteristic for the purposes of the law but for the purpose of this product we need it to be a declared characteristic therefore it has to comply with the requirements of this data sheet.

GEORGE It’s an interesting point that if more and more designers are being asked to be prescriptive in terms of what products they are selecting then you’ve got the opportunity to build the relationship easily between let’s say the MBS specification and the product that satisfies it. Then you’ve got a baseline at least to manage change.

IAIN And you’ve got a credible process for value engineering as well because realistically value engineering still needs to happen, doesn’t it?

GEORGE Ok, shall we put together something? I’d like to do this quite quickly actually. MARTIN Yeah, I think the answer is out there that you’ve talking about. Would we be able to influence the people who are drafting the construction product regulations at the moment to add this bit in?

IAIN I don’t think it’s a regulation, it could be secondary regulation but also it could be guidance. MARTIN like you were talking about the AVCPs any fire related product should be 1 plus or 1.

IAIN If we wanted to tie it up with the work we’re doing for the pacifier knowledge group 48mins 22secs we could always get somebody from the office of product safety to come and present at the pacifier knowledge group which obviously everyone from this could come along to. The OPSS (Office of Product Safety) could come down and do a presentation. Fortuitously we’ve just recruited somebody who’s been working for the OPSS, not to do product safety stuff but actually to do training. So again we could look at how we unpick that. I suspect that possibly the point we’ve got to is all the right parties weren’t around the table when you were having these discussions before, George.

GEORGE I think what would also be good is if we could do something as a demonstrator under the Bim4housing banner which then doesn’t get influenced by other parties that may have other interests. We can get something that we can then show and then grow it out from there. We could build something around the 250 or so asset types. I’ll pick that up with you, Mark, and then we can arrange another session.


Contractual Workstream Session 6-20221010

Recording -

GEORGE Obviously, as you know, I’ve been banging on about standardised data templates and getting data about products in a machine readable form. i still think we ought to do this, but getting people to actually determine what those parameters should be is a huge task, there’s lots of debate around it. I’m suggesting we do something much simpler. For example, initially we get maybe all of the asset management specialists together and say what information you need, is there a standard taxonomy that can be used to describe a smoke damper. There are many in BIM etc so we can bring those together, the problem is there is no consolidated one.

PAUL MCSOLLEY Isn’t that thing i have given you in BIM what you’re looking for? That Excel file which he shares on screen. GEORGE Those are the attributes, they need to be tied back to a common taxonomy for what is a smoke damper. These attributes need to sit under that particular type of product. MARTIN Are you referring to a system like Uniclass? GEORGE We definitely build on Uniclass, that would be the core. Let’s say we make Uniclass as the spine of the whole thing and then any manufacturers product is mapped against Uniclass. The problem with doing that is that in most cases a product may satisfy several Uniclass categories. If for example you have a pump that might be related to several different Uniclass categories.

In the asset management side of things with SFG20 for example (the maintenance side of things) again the pump has slightly different ontologies in use cases of contexts of use. I think it is quite doable that we end up with a standardised library of asset types. What I’m aiming for, on your projects if the workflow said that for a product to be used - you need to make sure you’ve got a record of what your specialist subcontractors have used because you don’t know what’s going to be important. Therefore if there is a workflow that deals with technical submittals but does so from a POV of the product data we collect…

At a basic level manufacturers should be able to provide a data sheet of the product that is going to be used. At the moment the process requires your specialist subcontractor to gather that information together and put together in the O&Ms. They probably don’t have the competency to do that as it’s given to a graduate or admin person. They’ll go on websites and download what is probably the wrong stuff.

PAUL MCSOLLEY i spoke to Howell about this months ago when we did the CPA stuff and said the biggest issue at the moment is the manufacturers don’t know what data they need to give you. That’s why if you look at a DOP it’s not even a means to an end. It might tell you it’s that particular thing but it doesn’t tell you all the rest of it. It doesn’t tell you actually that needs to be definable, even though you can see from the bloody picture. It doesn’t say it’s a single blade etc. All this stuff needs to be in there. It’s an issue in the industry that you can’t pick all that stuff out from a DOP.

GEORGE Yes, so my suggestion is that we look at this from a process flow perspective to say manufacturers should be proving the information, not a specialist subcontractor because the manufacturer has got the knowledge to say this is how my product performs. A specialist subcontractor can say this is what I’ve installed, what I’m planning to install, and project specific information like serial numbers. But the manufacturers’ information, why can’t we have it that it’s collected once and then used many times. Then you’ve got the opportunity to say where all the instances of that particular product are across all our projects.

PETER I’ll be talking about this again on Thursday. What I was proposing to do was to try to get the information into BIM 360 including everything we need for the O&M manuals so it’s already there before we start putting any of the products in and it’s signed off by the designer at minimum and potentially the client. MARTIN We do tend to visit it (partially) at design stage, procurement stage, collection of info for O&M stage - we kind of have 3 goes at it. It should be more seamless.

PAUL MCSOLLEY shares a document on screen with key symbols. This is what this was about. We’re all on the same page here with this, It’s about the risk category of the space and you’ve got to establish it here. Once you’ve set it before you go into gateway 1 you can’t change it but this has go to support it. So this bit is not fully there, but (no disrespect to architects, MEP consultants, structural engineers and the fire engineering community) they can’t do this bit properly either. That’s why you need to get to a place where…I suppose someone like the pacifier (9 mins 48 secs) safety review team that leads it so you can bridge you’re way through it, but you’ve got to get to that point where you know what you are doing is correct otherwise you’re pretty much screwed and your BIM library has got to support it all the way through. The hard bit is how you manage that process - I’m trying to use the words prescriptive and descriptive in the right order because I keep hearing ‘the architect does a performance specification’, against what? Because they don’t know what the descriptive of it was originally.

GEORGE in terms of quality management, Martin. you’ve got identified products that are being proposed and the information about them is then gathered much earlier in the process rather than at the bloody end. it gives you the opportunity to do the quality checks, doesn’t’ it? MARTIN Yeah, but it’s also the 2nd visit. That should have been thought of when the design elements were going through their machinations. We’ve curtailed one out, one of the visits out of the equation by thinking and talking about it, involving the designer and the customer, which is right. having it right at the very beginning, that’s the ultimate aim.

PAUL MCSOLLEY It’s the only way to do it. Reg 8 is about reasonable levels of safety and health and reg 7 is about the appropriate product for the appropriate circumstance and that drives your quality, so you’re QA is you’ve described it you’ve prescribed it, the quality control is put it in as its been prescribed. It’s that simple. MARTIN The focus should be on the installation, not all the stuff that goes with it. We are as an organisation coming to the realisation that we are going to have to change our approach to our internal management system.

A lot of the leaders in the organisation are saying we need to focus - we call it shift to the left, just get it right before we start digging holes and don’t start digging holes until we’ve got it right, which is very hard as we get paid every month, we’re massive turnover beasts with very small margins, so the turnover is super-critical. having the bollocks to say we won’t take this job until it’s right, we won’t start generating income until we’re happy that it’s right, is taking a bit of going through….It’s kind of like the gateways, we are going to mirror those, we’re not going to mobilise a project until everybody’s happy.

GEORGE Peter, I recall you’re doing this on a high security project.

PETER We’ve had to focus and look at things we normally do as a matter for fact. Because we can’t do them that way we’ve had to step back and look at them and that’s seeing some value that we’re missing from the processes, so we’re now trying to put that back in. One of my hopes is that I do all of this but I just don’t want to let it die at the end of my project, I want to try and get some of it fed-back so we learn the lessons and maybe improve our whole system as a result of it. GEORGE In some way you’ll need data libraries for doing this sort of stuff which you’re obviously going to be creating. is there an opportunity for us to do some sort of collaboration on that? It sounds as if you have the same mindset as I do.

PETER yes, I might not have the tools around me to do it in the most efficient way because BIM 360 field is going to be the place I bring everything into and then effectively I can take everything out of there as I need it, but it’s not the best database as a library, it’s just a place holder. GEORGE I’d like to pick up a conversation with you on that because it might be that we could provide something like that. We might be able to provide an API, everything is in BIM 360 but it’s coming from a more structured way. Would that be OK? PETER From my POV yes, the reality is that the security side of things might cause us problems.

PAUL MCSOLLEY George, I do need to get you involved with what we’re doing, at the moment the struggle I’ve got is trying to get the platform to do it because you’ve got the jump to the left, Martin, we’ve got the sit in the castle and build bigger walls at the moment which is not really helping. Business units…want to sell their soul to the highest bidder to win the work. When you’ve got people like me and martin going ‘hold on a minute, the body is too big for the skin’ they don’t wont to hear it. The world we now live in is that if the body is too big for the skin it will never change. That’s why the cladding case is really prevelant because they prescribed and described their own cladding system and at the end of the day with design & build they fell on their own sword because they were in breach of statutory matters as soon as they sat on that contract.

GEORGE We’ve got two Balfour Beatty jobs at the moment, one that is reaching conclusion and another that’s just getting to the end of workstage 4. So there’s some opportunities to explore those as well. MARTIN Where would you start with the library, George? With the classification of the products. PAUL I think we’ve got to do that ourselves, Martin. GEORGE we base them around Uniclass so we’d start with a data library. Basically, it’s Uniclass, some standardised basic asset information requirements and then products that actually satisfy those requirements. MARTIN the fact that some of the products sit over multiple Uniclass codes, is that a problem that can be overcome?

PAUL if you do things like smoke control dampers you kind of need it’s own Uniclass for smoke control, you can’t have it going across multiple things because it’s specific. If you do fire dampers, again it’s got to have its own specific to stop the confusion and mixing them up. When it comes down to things like pumps, if you’ve got a fire pump which is part of a sprinkler system then it’s not as much of a problem because it’s still inherently just a pump. It’s not doing compartmentation, it’s part of an active system.

So the risk of screwing it up isn’t as big and actually the Uniclass is pretty much prevalent to it. The only difference is fire pumps are direct online, they are not inverter driven. That’s the only bit where you could get caught out. It’s those other key ones, the ducts, the dampers, the doors, where you’ve got to have it in such a way where you’ve got to Uniclass it as such that stops the confusion because otherwise if you’ve got something that goes across multiple different systems people are just frivolous with it.

GEORGE the other thing, Martin, is that Uniclass has got 7 or 8 tables - tables for products, systems, entities, different tables according to how that particular element is being used. So that’s something that we are navigating through at the moment with David Miller Architects, we’re trying to give an example of how that goes together. Maybe within out community if we set something up to say let’s look at what the art of the possible is by having a generic product library. It’s not like BIM store or BIM Object where they are actually being paid by manufacturers, it’s something that’s at Bim4housing repository of the standard documentation. Then, that can be used in all different sorts of software applications. We can build connections into e.g BIM 360.

The trouble is what I’m discovering is that everybody talks at a high level. The UK BIM Alliance has been rebranded, they’ve taken BIM out of the title. It’s now NIMA. I understand the logic of taking BIM out of the language, I wonder whether it’s one of these classic situations of rebranding. It’s taken years for us to get people to start thinking about BIM as something useful. I was a bit frustrated when people switched away from BIM level 2 because we’d just got the industry talking about it and suddenly they said ‘don’t use BIM level 2 anymore’.

One of the guys from the UK BIM Alliance said to me ‘should we be changing the name of Bim4housing to NIMAhousing?’. I said I don’t think so because we’ve got quite a good brand now, people understand what Bim4housing is. Why change the name? NIMA is not an acronym, it’s actually Greek for a thread.

RICHARD i wanted to make a comment about what George was saying about the name change, NIMA. Anyone thinking we should be NIMA4housing, NIMA is the name of the UK BIM Alliance, you don’t swap the word BIM (which is something outside of the UK BIM Alliance) for something that is the UK BIM Alliance, they are totally different things. BIM and UK BIM Alliance are not synonymous, BIM is something that the UK BIM Alliance is promoting so to change our name to the UK BIM Alliance’s name is a bit strange. We’re still talking about BIM, but is BIM becoming obsolete, George?

GEORGE i don’t think so, I think we’re educating the market to understand that BIM is more than for 3-D modelling. RICHARD In a way, we have moved on in BIM4housing because we talk about better information management. So we’ve moved it on in terms of what the letters actually mean. MARTIN We tend not to call it BIM, we call it Field 360, by the software that generates it. NIMA I’m intrigued by because that’s perilously close to the Bank that the Irish Government set up in order to stabilise all the developers about 15 years ago. MARTIN next steps then is sketching out the skeleton for using the…you say you’ve already done stuff on this? GEORGE yes, there is stuff being done with the BRE with the Lexicon initiative (the manufacturers’ product data). I’m also talking with GS1 which is that organisation that’s doing classification. There’s BSI, they’ve brought out a rival service to GS1 which is called BSI Identify. To some extent they’ve now accepted they need to include GSI in their BSI identify which then begs the question why do you need BSI Identify. What BSI are trying to do is get product manufacturers to pay them to give them this unique ID but the manufacturers are already paying GS1 to do it because otherwise they won’t have barcodes on things.

So they charge a very small amount for each product. At the moment GSI have told me that BSI agreed to put the GTIM into BSI Identify category, so I think that’s probably going to be the way the legs go. The other thing is as far as all the builders merchants are concerned they use something again that is aligned with GSI called ETIM. That’s probably the most granular set of information. Therefore, if we can tie these things together in a standard data set that then becomes universally useable then it’s more likely to get adopted.

MARTIN I was just wondering whether that all already exists within the ETIM or GTIM database? GEORGE yeah, but they’ve done things from a POV of…ETIM for example, that goes down to really low levels of granular detail because that’s the way merchants work. Whereas the GS1 would be to a product that carries that, the product is probably an assembly of items. that’s why ti needs to come back to the manufacturers, the manufacturers need to say what are the individual components that go to make us this particular door set (for example) which then might carry a GSI identifier. MARTIN the door set will have its own barcode, but the components within the door set will also have them. GEORGE They will, but then from a Uniclass perspective, which is really the language we’ll probably be working at, that would probably be for the assembly. You would have a Uniclass category for a door, you wouldn’t have, in the door, the ironmongery as Uniclass elements. There might be a Uniclass element for a door closer. MARTIN You’d expect anything that impacts on the system working properly as it’s designed to would need to be part and parcel of the same overarching barcode. GEORGE i agree, that’s the level we should be working at. It’s the cross relationship. In Uniclass you might have that door, then that door might be part of a system. Maybe some M&E kit (a better example), that would be treated as a classification, maybe as a fan cool unit, but it’s also part of a ventilation system.

MARTIN it goes back to the very first conversations we had on this call is that you’ve got to llok at it from the people who are trying to operate the fan cool unit or the door who need to replace the handle or widget in the fan cool unit rather that the whole bloody thing. They need to know what it is within that thing that will work just as well, to have the exact information.

GEORGE So, shall I put together some ideas about bringing the asset management, people like Equans (that’s the old Balfour Beatty workplace). Equans, MyT, Skanska, Sodexo - the big site management companies, so we actually get them involved in the process? PAUL I think you should. At the moment we’ve got everything I think we need, we just need to get it in the right order. GEORGE I absolutely agree, that’s my frustration at the moment. We’ve got the answers, what we need to do is have some dedicated effort and resource and some funding that’s going to be needed.

PAUL That’s right. My frustration is I’d have you doing stuff for me tomorrow, just to drive this through. It’s not uncommon that I do testing with lots of different companies. The tests that I do are not for me, it’’s for the benefit of the industry. But I find a project where it’s prevalent where I need to know the problem is going to come up and I need to get it funded. The issue in my organisation is we have heads of digital etc but my view of digital and what we are doing here is not their level of understanding of it. Many in organisations are in comfy chairs and comfy slippers and it’s very hard to get things moving when they’ve got to do something.

GEORGE I’ll put together some ideas on that. Obviously we’ve for the contractual workstream, I think we’ve lost some people along the way with the Tier 1 group and I think we need to reengage with them. People like Waites and Robert McAlpine. PAUL No, Nicola and Paul are very much still involved, I’m doing some stuff with them on this other thing. The issue we have as an industry is that there is not enough of us to go around. MARTIN At the moment everybody is insanely busy and all of the change work is a bolt on to your day job.

PAUL You said the word change there. There is a big job I’ve got involved with on the east side of London. The whole job is chaos because no one has administered anything. You’ve got discrepancy and divergence, that’s one contract clause, you’ve got adequacy and statutory matters which is another. The you’ve got provisional sun clauses in this contract and clauses around design development, you’ve scope gap clauses, client change, tenant change. And what they’ve ended up doing (it’s design and build) is letting the design team get away with murder by issuing drawings, just accept them and getting them X? 41 mins 56 secs trade drawings, but the employer has never approved a damned thing.

It all comes down to this: lots of organisations say we’re not contractual which means, basically, we don’t want to manage change, we want to be lazy. When we look at this whole Grenfell scenario this is all about change management. The industry doesn’t want to do it properly as it is, god knows how you’re going to get on with this. You’re gonna have to do Schedule 1 and JCTD & B properly.

GEORGE i’d just like to ask one final thing on the contractual side of things. Are you seeing anything at the moment in terms of carbon reporting? MARTIN yes, I am - we’re hearing it, a lot of people talking it. Like this journey it’s all about language, 99% of people talking about it 1% saying ‘well, hang on, put your foot on the ball, how are you going to measure this, what do you mean’ by zero carbon because most people don’t know. We live in a country with a power station (Drax) that runs a zero carbon agenda - it’s got nothing to do with zero carbon.

PAUL The problem I have with it at the moment is that operational energy…when you look at the operational use of a building it’s not much different to the fire argument. It’s about how many people you are having in the building, what hours of occupancy you’re having and how to people behave within it, and if you can’t define that at a start of a project you can’t measure it at the end. That’s the bit that clients really aren’t getting, they’re having consultants go away and say ‘here’s an energy strategy’ and you say ‘what’s happened to the building?’ the response ‘can’t tell you that’.

Going back to 2000-2003 it was all about the Government wanted to work out how much money they were spending on measures on jobs, it was a procurement tour which produced £D drawings. No ones every used it for measuring properly because the money is in the measure. So when it comes down to engineering risk with consultancies the risk is in the occupancy of the building and how they determined it and whether it was right, wrong or indifferent - they don’t want to tell you! They want to hide it, put it under that big rug: gone.

GEORGE What you’re talking about there is operational carbon. I was at UK construction week and we (the Zero Group) had a big stand. We’ve got about 600-700 members now, that’s effectively become the sustainability working group within Bim4housing. What they are very focused at is the construction period because that’s the embodied carbon side of things. What we’re doing is trying to standardise the data sets from all the different EPDs. What I didn’t realise is that there are lots of different EPDs but they are all done differently. Even the European Eco platform, which you’d think would be standardised=, every country has done it slightly differently. So the information isn’t machine readable.

PAUL TM65 by Sibsey is a really good document, it gives you EPD and you’ve got 2 other methods of calculating your rough carbon. When you buy a new ARHU 48 mins, it’s a huge piece of kit, it’s got steel, copper (those bits are not too hard to measure because of the weight of the metal). When you start to look at all the cabling and plastics etc it’s a conundrum. You can have parts that come from S Africa, China, USA, they all find their way into a factory to be amalgamated into a component that gets sent out the door. If someone did give you an EPD for that I’d be gobsmacked. The old Volkswagen scandal was all over nitrous oxide and diesel fuel. If you don’t have the proper method to determine what it is you have to be so careful what you say because people hold you to it later on. Manufacturers are petrified, even duct work companies.

MARTIN the chain of custody on a lot of products isn’t mature enough. Take glass, we use a lot of glass in this country: there is no chain of custody for glass in the UK. PAUL At Drax they are cutting down trees that take a hundred years to regrow, burning it and saying it’s carbon neutral. RICHARD The British Government take the can on that one because they cut down trees in Peru which they then replace with a sapling or seed, ship them to the UK then carbon capture after they’ve burnt it so they actually get carbon credits for it.

GEORGE The reason I’m interested in carbon reporting is that at the end of the day, in a simple way, what we’re needing to do is record what products and materials go into buildings. We need to do that for fire safety, quality. if we standardise those processes then we can backfill it afterwards. PAUL have you seen the work on the carbon fire release that’s going on? Not only should you look at the embodied carbon of what you put into it, you also need to look at the fire release potential because basically if a building burns down what’s its carbon release? It’s huge. A lot of these new age materials, the carbon release that comes out of it (plus other noxious gases) is immense.

RICHARD the reality is it doesn’t matter right, wrong or indifferent, common sense, good sense or lunacy if investors and banks are demanding that information to give you better rates of interest on loans to build things, you’ve got to do it.

GEORGE NEC4, they’ve drafter some new clauses to go around so the contractor becomes viable for providing the carbon data. PAUL the problem is the EPD market is not mature enough yet and I don't’ think in the current situation in the World it will get there any quicker than it really should do.


Contractual Workstream Session 5-20220912 Meeting

Recording -

GEORGE refers to a paper that he has sent out to participants. I’ve been asked to do a report that Johnny Furlough can include in the work that he’s doing and so he can report back to the other nine working groups. The chair of BRAC is Howell from Sibsey. It’s Deluxe that contacted me and asked me to provide this for Johnny…The consultation on the Golden thread finishes in October.

MARTIN shares the Consultation document onscreen. I think one of our people has been volunteered to respond on behalf of the CLC (Construction Leadership Council). The feeling at the moment is that this is fine….apart from the grammar being atrocious. It says what we have been talking about, I find it encouraging.

IAIN McILWEE At the other end of it, though, is the information requirements for the customers as consultation, which is what it plugs into. There’s another consultation out now about the fire safety order, basically what FM needs from the golden thread, so we’re trying to match the 2 together. The GT is about the process, but there’s this whole other piece that’s quite output focused. I’ve scanned it…it builds onto the Building regs. There’s no obvious alarm bells there of something that will cause us huge problems. The issue for us isn’t about how we exchange information so much as what information have we got to exchange.

GEORGE There is a divergence of view I’ve recently become aware of about what is needed for the Fire Safety Act. On the deadline of 23rd January all the landlords are supposed to have fire plans in place. I’ve been trying to get a degree of consensus as to what that fire plan should look like - it’s by no means clear. Even the fact sheet that the government sent out, it’s got a link through to the FIA document (National Fire Chiefs Association) and the document that they refer to isn’t what is required, even though it was in the guidance. They are concerned about asking for too much and therefore they won’t get anything.

I’m worried they’re just going to get people to produce fire plans that then can’t be used for anything else. It might satisfy what the Fire Brigade needs but you want be able to use it for the building safety reports. We need to make sure that if CAD drawings are being produced that they are editable. Everybody is looking at it from the prism of the building is on fire, the fire brigades need some information that goes into a premises information box and they don’t want anything more complex than that.

This breaks the Golden Thread. Part of the reason for that…we’ve got three different regulators: Building Control (now part of the HSE), the Building Safety Regulator (also under the HSE) and then the Fire safety side of things which is actually under the Home Office. There are 43 Fire Brigades and there’s no alignment between them in terms of what information they need. Matt Hodges-Long (Building Safety register/ Track My Risks) has been poking away at this for a few years. He’s introduced me to the National Fire Chiefs Council.

Participants discuss whether the FBU (fire Brigades Union) speaks for fire brigades as a whole, the conclusion seems to be that they do not.

GEORGE but the Fire Chiefs Association appear to be an authoritative body. They’re producing guidance for all the fire brigades and they are joining our meeting on Wednesday.

MARTIN The competency thing landed last month, that’s caused more ripples than, I think, the Building safety Act. He shares the ‘competency’ Built environment specification document onscreen. It’s issued by Dlux (Department for Levelling Up?). There’s some serious minimum competencies in here. They are basically saying whoever runs a construction project is going to be accountable for making sure that it is handed over and all of the building regs have been adhered to.

We’ve started mapping out all of the requirements - each and everyone of our guys running projects are going to need help. We’re more worried about the competency than we have been about the golden thread or the building safety act etc. There’s a risk that people could fail an assessment of the competency of their people running construction sites.

PAUL MCSOLLEY Let’s just face it, construction for a long time has always favoured people to run projects that come from a planning background or a commercial background, and sometimes from a construction management background. The problem is it’s built on this predetermination that operational people are better than people that are maybe more technically competent. Actually, you can’t build something if you don’t know technically what you are building. That’s really what it’s saying, if you think about it.

GEORGE The more I drill into this the more challenging, or actually impossible it is the comply with the Building Regs. It’s impossible because of a number of standards that you need to have access to and you need to be able to interpret. With one of the BRE guys we actually just tried to follow a set of standards an element ( a lighting control switchboard). It referenced a European standard then a British standard and from there referenced 2 or 3 other standards and even when we drilled into the detail it still didn’t expressly tell you what the answer was.

IAIN it’s not impossible to build buildings that don’t fall down and don’t fail catastrophically. That’s effectively what the Building Regs say. Everything else is just standards and guidance. What we’ve got to get through is how to we demonstrate, to have more control through the process. People in charge of decision making in the process, whether the function be specification, procurement, design detailing etc, those functions need to know what they don’t know and ensure that they have surrounded themselves with…that’s where this collaborative system comes in.

MARK It’s about knowing where to look and knowing who to ask because you are not going to suddenly elevate these super technical people that have the knowledge into positions of managing projects because the simple fact is that the significant majority of highly technical people are not good managers, and they don’t need to be.

MARTIN I spotted when reading through the consultation document on the Golden Thread they introduced the term ‘as far as reasonably practicable’ into the language for the first time, that’s an HSE term that we’re all fairly familiar with, so you can see where the direction of travel is going. Agreeing with George when you drill down into some of these specifications you are just chasing your tail and ultimately you know, if somebody was minded to, ultimately they could prove that you had done something wrong. If you can demonstrate that you’ve assessed what’s needed and you’ve backed up the person who is in charge with additional resource they are not going to come after you…but it is a worry.

GEORGE And because it is now a regulated industry the difficulty is that insurers could approach you in 3 years time, even though the regulator themselves may not be pursuing it because they’ve got too many things on their plate. A challenge that the HSE has got is if it’s ramped up to too much then people will say there’s no point in us doing this and you’re going to get people pulling out of construction. When something does happen and you end up with one of the barristers (like the ones at Grenfell) drilling into the detail, that’s where it becomes a bit of a challenge.

MARTIN they’ve not just focused on the technical skills, there is quite a lot on the soft skills as well: you’ve got to be able to keep the golden thread up-to-date, you’ve got to be able to communicate with your customer.

GEORGE I think what it’s doing is just reinforcing the need for us to get this information organised so there is a record and that people have got easy access to the information to support the decisions because as I put in that paper whenever we talked to any of you guys and ask how you go about finding what is the right product for a particular circumstance invariably the answer is ‘it depends’. What Paul has started to do with that decision tree is a way of getting there and if we could start to get people who are subject matter experts to follow the same type of approach it’s a way of starting to document these things.

PAUL What I’ve said in that forum is that you need a globalised process that kind of goes if you are a fire engineer, and MEP consultant, a client you can understand how the passive (and active) fire argument all straps together at the various stages. You need a globalised Racie that says all the different parties at the various stages do the following parts - I’m not going into any detail on this one about what the technical aspects are because I think that’s where you’re ontology comes in for your subject matter where you go this bit is smoke control, this bits detection etc then you strap along together a process map which has your asset, digital. It’s just about how we get that BIM information in product libraries and in a workable format.

Then we’ve all got something that would just work for industry going forward. You can’t upscale everyone, you’ve got to give people a guide, follow this process with the consultants to get where you need to get because at least then you are mitigating your risks down to a smaller level. Everyone wants to be perceived to be operational but they don’t want to know the details, but you’ve run out of people that do the detail. This is the issue. And when you do the detail people are petrified of you.

IAIN Lets loop back to the start of this conversation that was about the ‘get it wrong’ process. This is stuff that needs to happen outside of each individual project rather than. Paul, I’m guessing that your time is spent looking at things that are already going wrong on a construction site? PAUL yeah, it’s like walking round a train wreck or a plane crash, that’s what I’m doing. X…IAIN It’s back to this gateway process and say what information do you need at each gateway to stop having to go through the disaster management plan during the project.

PAUL shares a document on screen. It’s all about the risk, the space, the risk of the operational types and then the ratings. When you look at the language it’s about the competency, about understanding the risk class. Once I’ve gone through this with the other lot I’ll bring you over (George) to see what is going on. It’s the digital part that everyone is underestimating. The 8644 doesn’t really work because it doesn’t do the ontology for each individual component correctly. It’s too generic, because I don’t think they probably appreciate how complex some of these subjects are.

GEORGE I think you’re right, I’m cautious about criticising it (8644) because everybody is criticising it…though constructive criticism is exactly what we should be doing. The BIM world are against it simply because they can’t see how they can put all this stuff in the models. The point is they don’t need to put it in the models, but it’s because they are thinking through that prism.

PAUL (referring to his document again) The big thing is it’s about getting the product libraries in from day one. Once you’ve got your global process you need sub-processes (dampers, ducts etc) then you’ve got those processes that people can follow through.

GEORGE My approach on this is that if we can actually document that these tasks are to be done by somebody it means then that you can allocate them as tasks and the person that it’s being allocated to can then… the competency sin’t just a general competency, it’s the competency to do that particular task.

IAIN It’s up to individual businesses to start saying who’s doing that task or who has that function within their role. The collaborative plan comes together when you say who’s accountable and responsible for these tasks, how are we making sure that they are communicating with each other. If you try and get too granular you’ll fry your brain and everyone else's.

PAUL agrees. Regardless of which procurement you’re doing everyone should be following the same process for passive fire (and active fire). Fire Stopping is a rubbish term because it’s actually a combination of many different requirements. As long as you’ve got a flow for how you assess risk, interface compatibility and do builders work, for those sections you are OK. But then it comes down to knowing who should be strapping together, who is doing what at what point. It’s best to fail early, before you get out of this gateway. All those other tools do is give you a method of checking the key parts.

GEORGE talking to IAIN who has previous experience in manufacturing: In manufacturing there are standard operating procedures for almost everything. They don’t rely on people doing the right thing at the right time, they’ve got a very granular level. IAIN What you’re looking for is optimum repeatability. If you look at what its doing in terms of generating a lean manufacturing process as something goes through the factory you’re interrogating how many people touch it, how far they have to move in order to touch it. It’s an output driven system. In one place you’ve got one supervisor. You are always looking at your changeover times.

MARK Manufacturers of cars have an opportunity that we don’t have in terms of you can build a car, track test it with a set of criteria and away you go. We don’t get the opportunity to put all these components together (though the components have been individually tested in situations) but we put them together in a building and when it fails it can be catastrophic.

GEORGE I find it tedious when people are comparing manufacturing, particularly car manufacturing, with construction. The point I was trying to get to is that in other industries they do have quite detailed task lists that even competent people are expected to follow. Therefore the complexity that we’ve got in the industry (and also the clear lack of adequate numbers of competent people) does suggest that we need to document a lot more of these things so we can support people doing the right thing.

MARK The military work with standard operating procedures so when something happens you know use that SOP, away you go.

GEORGE That’s the direction of travel we need to move towards, it may take 3 to 5 years. If we can do it around the critical products we know (like the ones that we’ve done with the golden thread) I think that’s a starting point.

MARK picking up on your other comment (George) about comparison between manufacturing and construction, it surprises me how few people you come across within our industry that have worked within manufacturing, or even the military at certain levels. I think we’re a bit of a closed shop and we should have more of these people from other cultures to learn from.

IAIN Construction is effectively a manufacturing process, you are building a building. One of the missing pieces of the jigsaw is quite often who is the fabricator. At times the process of fabrication is isolated in construction and as a consequence who’s taking responsibility for the finished product as it’s fabricated, and that’s something to interrogate quite carefully.

Automated construction is more off-site, actually what that is talking about is the fabrication process: where is the product being fabricated and then how is it being assembled. Those processes of construction have become overlapping. We don’t optimise where we fabricate very well as a supply chain (he cites a dry wall example) because we don’t think about the time frames.

MARTIN And also I’ve noticed with modern methods, in terms of language, we struggle to talk with the ‘manufacturing industry’ from a construction point of view and they struggle to talk to us when it came to quality control and quality assurance. We’re using ITPs, checklists, quality plans - they’ve got a whole different way of doing things which is right for their industry. So there was a disconnect there and we’ve been struggling to work through this the last 6-9 months in terms of people making stuff off-site and bringing it onto our construction sites. Asking ‘does this comply with this particular standard?’, we’d get the brutally honest answer ‘no’.

PAUL A manufacturer can do certain things with a minimum level of information they need to know before they can go and make it and we’re not even fulfilling that obligation as an industry. He shares a document on screen. We’re talking about the coordinated BIM sheets. All the asset key data for a smoke control damper is that, it’s everything you need to record and you can’t avoid it - that’s how complicated one smoke control damper is and you have to know all of this stuff to put it into a model.

We put together the flow and when you take in your risk groups you’ve just got to know which one you’re following. I’m not saying everyone can follow this, you need a minimum level of competence to do it. If you’re a fire engineer, architect, MEP consultant you’d be surrounded by the likes of us you’d get there pretty quickly, we’ve run it on a couple of jobs and it works quite well.

These flows do the whole thing from the damper, the wall system to the builders work scheduling at the end, but it’s not in isolation of itself. Somebody has to make the judgement call about how the whole system approach works, you’re never going to get away from that. One of the hardest flows to do will be a 1364 symmetrical system.

GEORGE The data that’s behind that, it’s relatively straightforward to capture that information as long as we can identify what it is. But you literally can’t do it simply by putting it as dumb metadata in a model because you need to be able to provide to each of the different people, the information that they need for their purpose, otherwise it’s just overwhelming. But the technology (that’s what we’ve developed the Templater to do) is available to do it. It’s straightforward to do as long as we can identify what the data is.

What you (Paul) have done here, if we could do that same methodology for the different asset types then we’re starting to be able to know what questions need answering. It’s not a matter of deskilling anything, quite the opposite, standard operation procedures are a way of working that through. And when something does go wrong you can actually simulate what the decision process was to see whether the products that have actually been picked have actually been tested against this.

Coming back to what Iain was saying earlier, you can start with at a high level you need a compartment and then what goes to make up the compartment are these asset types and then what information do we need to know about that door. You then need to be able to drill down to the next level of detail (after 60 minute capability) and see what the hinges are. That’s all very simple and doable in the information management world, but what we’ve got to do is to create the data libraries in a way that then helps that.

IAIN You might not need to drill down to that level of detail because if someone has taken responsibility for the door set and you’ve gone through process to identify the interface and that it’s worked within the wall system, you don’t need to know about the hinges because that’s covered by the door set information.

PAUL You are right, Iain, but it’s the whole change process as well. If someone wants to change a hinge later on because there is a problem with it, you’ve still got to be able record where that was, you can’t ignore it. Dampers and smoke control aren’t like doors, we had to go through all the key components of a smoke control damper before we got to the wall interface, we even had to draw out simple frame types for the dampers.

GEORGE The manufacturer’s IP is obviously an issue, but we’ve also got to recognise what is it that is actually needed to do to be practical. So, maintenance people will need to know what type of hinges/door closures/locks etc were actually used to get that accreditation.

MARTIN When we started you (George) were saying it would be beneficial to start with the asset information register to feed the model, that the industry needed to look more to the right, the end game. What you’ve detailed there, Paul, is much more a shift to the left - like Mark was saying, before you get to site make sure it’s right. Do the doomsday scenario and what could possibly go wrong modelling before going on-site. Most Tier 1s are adopting that model and putting more resources into re-construction and design.

Most people in the industry supported the major findings of the Act, to get your act together before land on site. The bit in the middle becomes the less sexy part whereas it’s always been where all the focus is and where everybody’s talked about, where everything goes wrong, it need not necessarily be the case if you’re going to focus on how you are going to manage the building, how you are going to design it, so shift to the right and shift to the left.

PAUL The big thing is you get jobs built that have no management operation plan at the start, it’s a key fundamental. Things like student blocks, how you manage people. All we tried to do with these, all these classifications affect how you run a building as well. Nothing’s infallible and it all comes down to how they want to operate it and you’re absolutely spot on.

GEORGE I think you’re right, Martin. When we started basically we were looking at the end and saying what is it that the asset managers need to be able to run this building effectively and safely and then let’s identify what those attributes are. We simply put them into the AIR at the beginning and procure it - now what’s wrong with that? But what we’ve actually found is that the design and delivery process is actually much more complex than that, and that’s the whole reason for the golden thread because…especially when you get value engineering you get a completed break up of that process.

We’re trying to address how can we make it easy for those decision point to be taken, because the FMs aren’t going to want to go through this because they are not redesigning the building, but this is a way of ending up knowing what type of door closure was used.

MARTIN The golden thread consultation document does start indicating that the agenda, the golden thread framework, should be set by the people who are going to manage the building. Regarding setting up language or software, it should be something that is applicable to those who manage the building.

GEORGE That’s absolutely right, but what we need to recognise is that the supply chain that is managing the building is as complex as the construction site. Let’s say, for example, you talk to…your old Balfour Beatty workplace, there’s different people in that organisation doing very different things. And also there’s life cycle replacement, planned maintenance, compliance, and all of them have different objectives and they need different information.

PAUL sharing the same document on screen again. If you’re doing a prescriptive replacement you just go back to what you were originally on, you’re digital record or asset information. If you’re doing something that changes the spatial…category then you are going right back to the start.

MARTIN My thinking on this so far has been along the RIBA stages which basically say switch off once you’ve handed it over, and we can’t, we’ve got to go beyond that in terms of thinking. PAUL That’s the reason why we’ve worked our way from the end backwards.

For your next report upstream, George, to Mr. Furlong, you need to say we have some interesting discussions on this group, but there is no output still. In terms of outputs of this contractual workstream, what’s your view George?

GEORGE We carry on. One of the things I really want to try and do is see how we can engage the procurement people in this process because although that’s what we talked about doing a while ago and I know that you’ve tried to do that. The procurement people who work for the Tier 1s. For example, moving the detailed design into work stage 4 (or the contractor design portion). That’s a matter of getting the procurement community to buy into that approach. MARTIN I don’t think that would be a problem, they’d be up for it.

MARK if you are talking client side I would say that would be a problem because that means spending more money. In a lot of cases we step aside from the development side of the business in a position where we can start procuring CDP elements.

GEORGE I appreciate that, what I’m trying to do is try to eat this elephant in bits. Part of it is looking at how from a procurement point of view we can make sure that products and materials are procured and managed and change management process can be managed. Also, we need to go back to the development side, to the client end, and help them understand why that’s important.

MARTIN We need to educate the clients that, basically, they are going to need to be spending more money up front. That’s the ultimate output of this group, isn’t it.

PAUL If you’re going to do fire dampers as a CDP, this bit is not CDP, it’s descriptive, it’s got to come from the original consultant, and actually most of this here is descriptive, it’s still; got to come from the original consultant. Hence the reason why you’ve got a global process and then you’ve got sub-processes because architects don’t understand walls, MEP consultants don’t understand dampers and the fire engineer doesn’t understand the products - a perfect toxic combination. I keep trying to sue that wording, descriptive and prescriptive, get that right and then you can specify anything that you want.



Iain Mcilwee 

A New In Occupation Regime

Consultation is also taking place on concerning the in-occupation regime for
occupied higher-risk buildings, whilst most of this is not on the surface directly
relevant to the construction process and FIS members, it does include some
important information related to O&M Manuals and the requirements of the Golden

Circulated summary

Manufacturing is typically prototype, type test and then optimise repeatability and efficiency of process and remove scope for error (i.e. human choice).

Martin Adie

They have AVCPs where we have ITPs - never the twain shall meet! Language.

Iain Mcilwee 

Manufacturers IP is a consideration!

Some of this ties into the fabricator comes in. The FM company need to go back to the fabricator of the element for information about replacement parts and maintenance


Contractual Workstream Session 4-20220725_Meeting


GEORGE begins by saying that Active Plan have just recently finished a big project with Laing O’Rourke. They’ve created tools for creating information requirements in machine readable form which can then be mapped against manufactured products. Therefore you can test to make sure that the information that you require for safety/environmental reasons is actually contained in the product data. Then it can be brought together with the modelling tools to create the digital twin.

That’s a new way of working, but if you have a Traditional or design & Build project we come at it from another angle to say what information do we need at the end. We bring together stuff into an asset information model which is made up of BIM data or spread sheets. We then use that to populate various different applications. Our technology also allows us to bring together the 3-D models so that all becomes fully federated. We’re often working in a heavily contractual environment (which is PFIs Hospitals) so where e.g. you have a special purpose vehicle that tries to transfer all of the risk onto the FM Contractor, unless they can provide evidence of the work that they’ve done they will incur significant penalties. We’ve been able to sort out the variation orders and the information so they can eliminate that risk. At the end of the day what we are really doing is recording asset information, so where the doors are/ collected info about those doors/which ones are acting as fired doors. You can then add to that asset information and add embodied carbon.

The major driver is we’ve now got the Building safety Act and one of the challenges is knowing whether a project is being covered. We have a new project: it’s secured planning approval, the design has reached RIBA stage 4 but it’s only at the beginning from an M&E perspective…is it in scope? Will it be exempt from Gateway 2 and 3 reviews? There are differing opinions of lawyers and project managers. The Act says the information is the prescribed information, the government is not telling us what information is needed.

The Golden Thread Initiative group (chaired by George) has been trying to identify what information subject matter experts think is needed. We’ve produced a survey tool to initially pull together, at least for a safety case perspective, what documents and information is needed. Also a 360 visual records and also (critically from a tier 1 perspective) is can we define what information is needed at the end of work stage 4/Gateway 2. The regulator is going to need to sign off that the building will be safe (with an adequate design) otherwise they will be able to stop it. This is already in place for gateway 1 (planning) and 50% of projects that have gone through this process have been held up.

As an industry we need to be able to define what information is needed. That’s what we’ve been doing with Bim4housing which has various different working groups who are producing workstreams on data, fire safety etc. Numerous subject matter experts have been involved. Also, duty holders (accountable persons) have been involved. The key questions we’ve been asking are what risk does that asset mitigate? What do people do to that asset/ e.g. blocking a fire door, What information is needed? What tasks and methods are needed? What levels of competency? How should product changes be recorded?

We are trying to standardise…we have created detailed data for all of these asset types. We are trying to produce a Playbook (guidance) detailing what information is required, what can be provided as documents, what information should be machine readable, which asset types should it be focused on, which systems, how to organise models, what should we expect from manufacturers, and how do we protect the manufacturer’s IP. And then how do we record all of that and how do we manage change.

We’re trying to make it so that as much as the information as possible is machine readable. Also dealing with the fact that the data is coming from lots of different data dictionaries e.g. Bim data, classification information, Sibsey, NRM etc - they all cover different information sets. This complexity of information needs to be simplified. The Bim4housing manufacturers group has been doing this for cavity barriers etc. The Templater software tool allows us to tap into all of these data dictionaries and produce reusable templates. We can then organise information by function/ classification but also to be able to say what information do we need for a particular purpose. We filter out information to cater to the specific needs of asset managers, installers, manufacturers etc and also to provide them with the information they need at specific stages.

The objective is to get to a situation where we can pull together data in a form that we can then standardise. The information that is needed for an asset as properties which we can then add structure to so that we can classify, put units of measure in. We can then bring together people who have got real detailed knowledge of what information you need to know to stop smoke from going through ad door and then make that into a reusable library - that’s our direction of travel.

We used a project of Paul Mcsolley as an example: an in-scope building, a fire breaks out, do we have the right information about the asset types to be confident that the design is going to be able to protect the tenants so they can get out. The HSE has steered us to say look at the risk, look at the treatments, then look at the asset types that go to make up those treatments and what properties do you need about them. We’re trying to protect against the spread of smoke. Compartmentation is one of the treatments/mitigations. Via the roundtable workshops we look at it from the perspective of different sectors to identify what information is needed to protect against a specific risk.

Paul Mcsolley has been working on a document. We’ve been focused on 12 major asset types and looking at the information that is needed for each of those. Paul Mcsolley has gone through and looked at fire damper rating/time period/type of wall etc and we’ve broken these down into individual questions that can therefore have a defined answer against them.

We’ve also looked at what of that information should be in a geometric model, what can be in the asset model, and what of this information could be a document. Then, Paul’s been going through and relating this to the various different interfaces that that fire damper needs to be considered in that context so that we can then start to use this to engage with experts. He’s then put in the detail.

In response to George’s question ‘is that helpful?’ PETER replies it explains what he is trying to do in a general purpose but also he’d like to take some time to catch up on reading about the matter. ‘You are trying to create your threads - for want of a better description’. PETER says we are being left to ourselves having been give no information, which is typical of the government, the way legislation is written. You have to show due diligence in this process.

GEORGE says this group is trying to come up with a reasonable solution to collectively say this is what we think will answer the exam question and then there is a degree of consistency in terms of what everybody is going to be assessed against. The Health & safety legislation is similar to CDM, you actually get caught out when an incident happens. You’ve then got to have adequate records to prove you did carry out all reasonable measures.

The HSE has no real knowledge of building/fire safety and are consequently bringing in new people from oil and gas. Now we have a regulator the construction industry is now a regulated industry and therefore they need people with an expertise of working in a regulated industry (oil and gas). They won’t have experience of how the construction industry actually works.

PETER briefly worked in oil and gas so knows it is a very different industry - the paperwork is immense for a start. We could end up burying ourselves in so much regulation that we become obsolete. MARTIN said that oil and gas industry people are turning down the opportunity to work as building regulators as they are being paid more in their industry. GEORGE says they are also taking over control of building control. Steve Coppin says the HSE does have a lot of challenges in terms of recruiting people. he’s worried that because people responsible for building control and building safety regulations are in different teams so there may not be an alignment.

MARTIN thinks, to be fair, that the structural side of building safety was very well catered for - you don’t hear of buildings falling down, generally speaking. We all know that fire safety wasn’t. It’s a quasi-regulated industry as of the end of April. Playing around with regulating the industry is currently where we are at. GEORGE says what we should be doing is doing it as properly as we sensibly can anyway.

Yes, says MARTIN, that’s assuming you’ve got work - we get approached by customers who are looking for the cheapest possible price and will try everything to get the price down, including the very people who are setting out these regulations. he’s even heard those who set the regulations say we’re exempt form building regulations because of where we are and therefore we don’t necessarily have to apply all the stuff you’re saying we need to do to improve the quality. It’s crown immunity, says George. All you will need is a disaster in one of those buildings…

That’s probably why we do need a really robust change management process and ways of evidencing decisions that were taken so that you can be protected. We’re working with some of the big CDE companies so that we can build in the documentation and simply assign against each of the asset types jut that documents that that particular asset type needs.

GEORGE wants to try and create quality assured reusable data sets which can then be issued to specialist subcontractors. A Tier 1 like Balfour Beatty is incredibly exposed because you are responsible for collecting information but you don't author it (in most cases). Therefore if we can make it more standardised the level of exposure is reduced. Therefore, you can then evidence that back to insurers.

MARTIN would like to drop out of this 5 things that we as a contractual work stream need to set as objectives. He’s fully on board with Mark, a good tier 1, if they are allowed to do it, will be able to do this. It’s just that we get to work with a lot of people who don’t want to pay for that service (he says diplomatically).

GEORGE shares slides made by Paul Mcsolley on screen. This complex graphic illustrates the fact that the statutory requirements oversee everything. The recent case where the courts backed the client against the contractor in terms of the cladding (the contractor is now liable) fell foul of this thing that statutory requirements really do oversee everything. He’s gone through the points of failure as to what can happen e.g wrong procurement route, contractor design portion, what’s needed at different gateways, then looking at things from a fire safety perspective etc.

This is where we are trying to organise things: we set the requirements at the beginning which can then be tested against the manufacturers products so that the products that are actually developed out in design can actually satisfy the information requirements. When the designers then propose products, they may not specify them, but they can pick a product that will actually satisfy the requirements, that then goes into a detailed design perspective and if it gets changed we’ve then got a technical submittal process. We can then record changes that have taken place.

The product that has been agreed then gets procured, and up here we might nave builders merchants as part of that, we then capture the golden thread through the various different stages. This group has been trying to work on is to say how do we move the contractor design portion, which is probably the greatest cause of building failure/fire safety, and refresh it with something where we have products going through that process there. We actually bring that into work stage 4 so the product selection is done earlier.

PETER says we should be engaging with suppliers earlier as well and to include them as part of the technical design because if they are going to install it they usually have a lot more information about that specific product than probably a design team. GEORGE thinks that one of the challenges this group has is how to persuade procurement teams that the risk of…the balance as far as procurement is concerned is that you might be saving money in transferring risk but you are increasing risk on the fire safety side of things.

Regarding embodied carbon, the decisions being made on what products are being used is another aspect that’s coming very much into people’s focus. PETER replies that there is a clause on a project of his which states they have to reduce the amount of carbon used as opposed to his original proposal.

PETER says from a project point of view what he wants to do is keep as much information in as few systems as possible. Of 5 different systems we want to take 2 forward to work as a collaborative partner with our customary, so we’ll all work in the same workspace. It’s a challenge because people are more used to information being more widely spread about. Handover becomes a nightmare because you have to try and bring it all together. By systems, PETER means CDEs (to an extent). They will see into every system and they’ll be monitoring every system and working in every system.

The more locations of storage of information that they have the more complex it becomes and people will put things in the wrong places. He wants to start trying to train some of the internal people as to why he wants to change stuff - people are very set in their ways. GEORGE works on ways of structuring data so it can be more easily accessible then applications can act on that data.

They can be delivered as APIs and incorporated into other software applications. We’re making it possible that the data isn’t being managed in Revit, it’s managed in databases which can be anywhere. If you need those in a secure environment then that’s no issue because the data itself is then delivered and connected via APIs into whatever application is needed.

PETER says another thing is he’s thinking about people’s ways of working at the moment, because one of the problems he’s got is people and approvals and revues and (particularly) traceability. It’s the traceability of the review processes and decision making. Someone had a sit cabin built before construction release documents have been put out. When you go back and talk to people you can find out very valid reasons why that has happened, but to find a piece of paper that explains why it was theoretically ‘out of process’, it doesn’t exist. You need to record the facts at the time you made that decision.

PAUL MCSOLLEY returns to the meeting and shares documents on his screen. The issue is…architects and building services engineers won’t select stuff they don’t understand. When you go back to clients (back to the procurement piece) they want 11th hour contract appointments, they want poorly designed specifications, they don’t want any engagement from the supply chain and they want a contract that prioritises everything at the lowest cost possible because they don’t want anyone selecting anything.

So, in the BIM world you are pretty much hampered from day 1 because product libraries either come up here (which is the death of all contractors). If you get a good client you might get it in spatial coordination - you can bring the libraries back and you’ve got input to select products accordingly. He sent something to George recently about dampers and the key things you have to understand before you select them. He’s put them into ‘category’.

PAUL, responding to Peter’s recap of what he said earlier about making changes to the way people work, says that change is all about education, technical and process. As an industry, despite the intention of not having a race to the bottom, we have just accelerated it. Everyone’s employing more legal people, more commercial staff to manage the fallout at the end. No one wants to educate the beginning part and do it right because you would never win the job.

RICHARD joins and says that MARTIN had stated earlier in the meeting that he wanted to do a reset/refocus…MARTIN proceeds with that. What we want to try and do with this group is come up with a set of requirements we can use to advise our customers about the various gateways and what we can and cannot do at the various gateways, which leads us onto what they need to do at the various gateways.

We can then go into the weeds and say the reasons behind those sort of statements (what we can and can’t do at the gateways). Or we need the information and it needs to be sourced, read, stored, compared, contrasted and proved to work. The consequential knock-ons to that are probably going to take more time and certainly going to cost more money. A useful document that says loudly and clearly that the industry wants the people who procure their services to understand that in order to not break the law and work within the requirements and legislation, life has to be like this.

GEORGE absolutely agrees and thinks the idea of having a simple set of what we can do at each workstage/gateway is exactly what we should be doing. Subject matter experts, when asked what do we need to no about an e.g. fire damper, would reply ‘it depends’. Therefore, prescriptively saying what information we are going to need at a certain point in time is unreasonable because you can’t define what information you are going to need until you know the context in which that is going to be used. We need to be able to say this needs to be done progressively and collaboratively. We shouldn’t be looking at asking for additional information as being automatically a variation. Contractually, people have made their money from change, whereas now we’re in this semi-regulated environment it’s not in anybody’s interest collectively to be delivering something that isn’t right.

Therefore, we need more flexibility to say if we’re asking for commissioning information on certain things to be delivered (and maybe not put that into the original brief as we don’t know what things need commissioning) - because you don’t know that you need commissioning information on certain assets until you know what system it is going to be part of. If we can say we need a level of flexibility in terms of asking for that information it’s a progressive way of doing it. As long as it’s not actually costing anymore money to collect that information that should be a reasonable thing for a Tier 1 to ask from their supply chain.

MARTIN replies that is downstream and he was thinking upstream, in terms of contractual arrangements. Maybe it’s a 2-way thing: what Martin described previously for requirements for procurers but also are requirements for the people we procure. People need to know where we are at in terms of being the principal contractor.

PAUL MCSOLLEY says the issue is ever so simple: you’ve got the up the line bit and the down the line bit and we are kind of straddled in the middle as the principal contractors. The sub-contractors who work for Tier 1s, they just want a builder’s work schedule that works. We just want them to do their job and make it work, when you look at it from the clients point of view, they just want the cheapest price. It’s a toxic combination. You look at it from the consultant’s point of view, they just don’t want to get scorched when it all goes wrong, they’re nervous about selecting anything. You cannot avoid a level of weeds.

The problem is that we all want to be the big ones doing the design & build contracts and thinking we’re taking all this risk on to make loads of money but we don’t want to do anything - we want to throw it all down the line as well so we are just as bad as them. You can say to clients it’s really simple, if you are going to do a generic design someone will sign up to it but you will never deliver what you wanted.

PAUL thinks, having read the website, that building control and the regulator will do a staged approach and you’ll be in just the same shit as you were before because you will never see the nuance of the interface. There’s no way the HSE are going to know how to do any of this. MARTIN thinks the regulator will end up as a facilitator between building control and the construction industry.

MARTIN wants to capture the bullet points in terms of requirements upstream and downstream, some sort of framework around that and then we can start putting some words to it. It will come from that collaborative procurement document and common sense. He wants the group to try and capture what’s needed upstream and downstream…especially downstream to the supply chain, to elaborate on what you think that means. George says he will do that and suggests Martin should do upstream, then they can compare notes.


Contractual Workstream - Session 3-20220620


PAUL McSOLEY says, looking at the government website, that even though the regulator will not look at certain types of buildings if you don’t follow the same process and it goes wrong then they will look at it - this means the rules, in reality, apply to everything. GEORGE agrees. PAUL says if you haven’t got a management strategy at gateway 1 you will get into trouble. Re the staged plans approach, you can’t submit everything at a point in time, it has to be in stages due to the complications of projects.

The big risks is that if you do it in traditional format the regulator may come back with some questions. If you put stuff in in staged approaches and all the products are not fully known you’ll have to go through the same thing twice at gateway 2. The big things we’re judged by is discrepancy is trumped by adequacy which is trumped by statutory matters.

MARTIN believes that both the Building Safety Act and the Golden Thread will apply to all buildings. But just buildings: there are still unregulated sectors in the industry which are not buildings. It will be a big change, which is a hell of a thing - in an organisation of 25,000 people we are changing the management system. GEORGE asks if he’s made any progress talking to his procurement colleagues. MARTIN replies yes, but he’s starting from ground zero with it. Getting quality onto the agenda with procurement colleagues is the first step.

MARTIN thinks that information bought by main contractors as a prequel service from companies who have checked through supply chains accounts are rubbish and don’t ask the right question, especially about quality. GEORGE replies that such companies are intermediaries who collect information that probably doesn’t need an intermediary to collect if you’ve got properly structured data. What we should be doing is using more standardised data so that type of interrogation can be done in a standardised way.

The intermediary can never collect all the information that you actually need to make the right assessments. Currently, there is so much data and so many different standards that its overwhelming - no body can possibly be on top of it all. What everybody wants is a simple answer which means the questions have to be simplified to achieve this.

PAUL MCSOLEY says you have to break it down to into all the different bits (doors, flues, ducts etc) and say what is the input value you want for all of these. System thinking is important and 90% of people in Construction don’t know how to do it - they just want to know ‘is it compliant?’…compliant against what? You have to ask, using BIM, at the beginning, what values do you want? MARK thinks the vast majority of the industry does not get the complexity of the situation and its possible things will be the same in 18 months time.

MARK says that this didn’t start with the Buildings Safety Act, there is nothing new here. He thinks one of the most significant risks is compliance timings with the building safety regulator and falling over, but in terms of the information it should be stuff that we are doing anyway. Something he is struggling with on a current project is pulling the right information out of the supply chain because its all coming out in different forms and different parameters - consequently he struggles to validate his number back top the client to say this is how much he believes it will cost, theres a lot of risk.

IAN is closer to getting the procurement research out which is helpful as some data and information is needed to support the conversations taking place. Re the Building Safeties Act, everyone comes to the same conclusion about what it means but what’s a struggle is how to get there. Which order of things? Lack of standardisation is critical. Re-reading the Latham rReport, he realises if they could do everything within it we could pretty much fix construction. ‘Specialist Industry Contractors’ mentioned in the report never happened. Engineers are needed back in construction. The design-responsibility matrix is key: who is responsible for what in this process. He agrees with Paul about the systems based approach, but he still doesn’t know what the systems are.

PAUL says there has been nothing different since the Latham report. You have to go back to basics - what’s an architects primary function? Often on projects when someone says they are a Designer they are actually a co-ordinator of the design of others, whether its structural, internals etc….The Lead Consultant is not an architect, it’s the person in charge of the contract. Whoever is paying the fees of the architect they become the lead consultant. How is it their fault if I’m designing and building a job and I’ve bought a product that doesn't work with another product? On a CM job the lead consultant would be the client because they are paying for the consultant, on a design & build its him - this is one of the biggest faults of the industry.

GEORGE has been looking at the systems based approach over the last few months. It’s difficult to define in regards to the fabric: what is the groupings that we should be considering there? Compartmentation should be considered to be a system, but where would doors fit? The term ‘system’ is mixed up with work packages. What are the systems that go to make up the building? MARK says would you not considering the building as the system and then everything else is a sub-system. A system for George is a group of items that are performing a function.

IAN thinks it’s almost impossible to argue the case for a door being a system because a door has to work within a wall. Structure is the most important system as that is what holds the building up, the interior system and faced are there to protect the structure and then to form the compartments inside. M&E is the hearts and lungs that have to cut through the buildings. Everything after the five main systems is a sub-system. In the interior system the lynch-pin of the system is the wall. The door is a sub-system of the wall system. GEORGE says a door is part of the compartment (for fire purposes) but it's also security.

PAUL says that the lynch-pin in a University halls of residence is around sleeping risk. You have to look at hierarchy. generally how he describes buildings is FATW - Fire, Acoustics, Thermal, Water. Using purpose group, if you’ve got a flat then you start breaking it out from that purpose group, how do you hierarchy it down. MARTIN says it’s the usage of a building that defines most of what they are talking about.

PAUL shows a diagram of a fire fighting shaft on screen.Regarding the fire shaft, the whole systems approach can cause issues as there are quite a few variables that come down to choice. Dry wall is often being used when it is not fit for purpose. If it’s done as a smoke control shaft you have to input the right data: temperature, pressure, etc. People are often selecting the wrong materials. GEORGE says there may be other contractors who do hot have Paul’s knowledge and therefore they would not be able to spot that particular issue. Is there a way of turning that scenario into questions that could then inform somebody how to check something.

PAUL says that there is. looking at systems, a room is the right way to look at it: a fire fighting shaft, it’s a room; an office floor that connects to it, that’s a room. You can ask the questions but you can’t escape the fact you need a slight working knowledge of how these things work. IAN says that this conversation should theoretically happen earlier rather than later. He considers that the point of the Gateways is that you will get thrown back to the prior gateway, you won’t be allowed to start work until that issue has been resolved.

PAUL thinks you have to be careful of the staged plans approach. If its structurally fire safe and it’s all been described correctly they’ll say crack on, what they are not saying crack on is that everything else works with it…If they go through a staged approach, no one says a word until they get on-site, put the drawings to work and find that nothing is co-ordinated. MARTIN says the Regulator will not spot all these problems. PAUL reiterates again that you have to break it into rooms: you can look at the purpose group of the building, then look at the type of rooms that you’ve got in it.

PAUL agrees with GEORGE that they could be called ‘spaces’ rather than ‘rooms’. Spaces is more generic. IAN says that if we talk about system-led build, how do we define the system? As a system breakdown and how to prioritise against that as we move back out. PAUL says about gateway 2, because they are going to do staged approaches, it’s never going to end at the end of stage 4, it’s going to go right to the end of stage 5 because there will always be change going through in this process. GEORGE thinks progressive assurance should be applied to re-submit back top the gateway (go through a loop) as the design develops. MARTIN sys this idea contradicts many industry conversations about having to have the gateways all ready before the next stage.

IAN says that, generally, the industry needs to be better at selecting the right material for the right job. he doesn’t think any dry liner would care if there was more stuff with block if the drylining bit was easier to manage.

GEORGE talks about the fire breaking out scenario that they worked through at Digital Construction Week. They looked at how the various different systems would perform to mitigate the spread of smoke and to enable evacuation. The groups had to look at it from their specific group point of view (construction, operations etc). They had to check whether the tables contained the right information and also look at RACI: who was responsible and accountable. They then turned what was in the description into questions. In the follow session of the construction group there were breakout groups where they were asked who they could expect that information from.

The goal, says GEORGE, is to add this to a task information delivery plan to say who are the people that could provide that information. He thinks that probably the next task is to go through what is in the description column and really determine whether which is the most important information, That will vary according to the context and the people who want the information. Here, the technology comes in as we can collect and curate information that’s needed by different people for different purposes. In response to IAN’s question as to what will be the output from this, George replies ‘we’re putting it into data templates which can be used in applications e.g. particular questions could be transformed into a data set which could be used within Revit, or a procurement package etc.

PAUL says the key thing that needs to be known about a damper in a wall is what category it is. The manufacturer is often blamed for that, but they are not the one who is in charge of the strategy of the building. GEORGE says they want to get to a point of saying what is the base material: if there are six different types of material there would be a drop down. PAUL says you may have to look at not just what the material is but also what classification do you want? People have to be guided as there are endless possibilities if you have limited knowledge on the subject. MARK says sometimes you will have to move outside of the set of standard answers, then you need another work flow. He thinks it links in with the competence discussion as you cannot have an individual who is competent across all activities of the construction industry.

Regarding procurement, PAUL says that people actually have 50 more options available than they have in their own head, that’s part of the problem. MARTIN thinks it’s heading towards ‘can we capture sufficient questions and drop-down answers to do some standard technical solutions’. It’s binary: yes or no answers. But due to the degree of complexity that will take a long time. Once you’ve got there another element is the non-bespoke, the ‘what-ifs’. People will inevitably come up with alternatives to the standard technical solution because they will want to play with it. Unless we try and simplify it, it won’t be available in a workable form.

GEORGE shares the ‘what properties do we need?’ document on screen. he has downloaded a door that has 210 properties against it, the only one was?…fire rating. NBS and Firey use different terminology, they are different ways of getting to the same answer. He’s not suggesting to limit them, but they are different questions. If you are using revit you’’ probably create a door family and an architect will create shared parameters for the properties they want to hold - fire rating etc. There’s a plethora of different standards to use to do that. The biggest challenge is that if someone uses another door they are also potentially using Revit and they’ll create their own shared parameters so we don’t have anything that is properly interoperable.

The new standards are brought in with a range of different properties. To be able to output this and comply with the S 8644 somebody will have to put this into all of their families and they have to make sure they spell it right because it’s not coming from a shared resource. We can solve this: if we can agree what these properties can be it can go into our software and we’ve got API connections into revit. The data can be managed in the database. It’s still part of the BIM models but you have it in a proper machine readable form. We can use the technology to simplify the way it is presented.

PAUL says the trouble with the devisers of 8644 is that they don’t want to get into the weeds of this but it cannot be avoided. GEORGE quotes IAN via chat: its data with the expertise.It needs to be put into reusable data libraries that have that context in which to use it. GEORGE says they all seem to agree that they nedd to add structure to the data to make it more addressable and also run more workshops to capture that. The scenarios are really important, we need to work out what they can be.


Contractual Workstream - Session 2-20220523


PAUL MCSOLLEY talks about a meeting he had with ANNA (digital director of Scott Brownrigg).

MARTIN thinks that, ‘in terms of upstream, contractual relationships and requirements, we can’t go legalistic to say these are the standard conditions you must work to. What we can do is use our knowledge and reflect it upline and align it to what the government’s act and publications are saying. The backbone of this should be the collaborative procurement document put out by the government in January. Martin shares on screen the document he’s talking about. He reads out something significant from the document :’Fire instruction safety issues can be exacerbated by poor procurement including poorly designed tender specifications, 11th hour contractual appointments, lack of appropriate engagement with the supply chain, contract forms….the basis if what we’ve been talking about’.

PAUL MCSOLLEY breaks down what that text means: ‘lack of appropriate engagement with the supply chain means we’re not basing it on product because we are arguing about the money, contract forms which prioritise…costs is the design and build’. He shows a document on screen with ‘the energy stuff’. He says to make a ‘one pager’ and that a lot of it is going to be in the procurement document that Martin spoke about.

GEORGE says that there is now a great deal of government standards/guidance that is not very well joined up. People need to be able to absorb whatever the contractual workstream produces - to break it down in small elements so people can confirm they have understood it.

GEORGE shows on screen a Bim4housing document giving guidance for the 12 principal asset types. The focus is on the many things that people have shared that they think is important for different purposes. last week, that info was taken and put into a format - a master list of all of the information requirements and then asked people to say ‘Who needs that information? who would you get that information from?’. The idea is if we know that then we can say e.g. who, principally, will tell us what the material of the facings are etc. There are 88 different properties (that’s probably too many for some items).

MARTIN says this is a quality assurance type model, he’s uncertain if it’s the right model to use for collaborative working…because you are talking about accountability and responsibility. GEORGE thinks he may be right, but it depends how it’s used - ‘we’re not trying to use it to transfer blame’. RICHARD says that it depends how you define it. MARTIN points out that the residents are missing from the parties involved. GEORGE says there is a lot of interest from the Tier1 group.

MARTIN says he wants to concentrate today on upstream, contractual stipulations, downstream to the supply chain (he’s not sure how to deal with that one), but if it’s correct upstream it reflects through downstream. He doesn’t sense a degree of urgency or understanding from the design community compared to the supply chain and other Tier1s. PAUL MCSOLLEY doesn’t expect architects to know about every detail of construction and materials, but he does expect the fire strategy people/engineers to be prescriptive about the standards used (low volume level/microphone cutting out).

RICHARD says that with the other groups the recording/high points/minutes documents is put on their section of the Bim4hosuing website. He asks them if it’s OK to do that with this contractual group. They are OK with that. He’s conscious that they may be wary of collusion issues, but with this that shouldn’t be the case if it’s made transparent.

PAUL MCSOLLEY shows a document on screen. Part 3, penetration seals. Looking at the rule sets, it’s all dependent on whether it’s combustible or non-combustible. Is the consultant choosing that material? No, because everyone’s going for best value for the employer and they’re changing pipe work material. (low volume level/microphone cutting out)… does a consultant know what’s being bought? They don’t know what the contractor is going to choose. They need to know if it’s Integrity, Information, Low leakage. If there are so many things to consider the consultants can’t work it out??? The issue with the service providers like dampers, ducts, walls is they don’t know what the other people have to do in their test. You put a wall to a damper, not a damper to a wall.

PAUL MCSOLLY considers that the the David Moseley document (as brought up earlier by MARTIN) is significant. he makes changes to the document displayed on screen. He writes as a heading ‘Fire Safety Case and Golden Thread overview’. He re-arranges other parts of the document.

PAUL MCSOLLEY: ‘We all know something’s wrong, but we don’t know how to fix it’. (low volume level/microphone cutting out). MARTIN says ‘the more we talk, the more I don’t know what the answer is’. He lists the numerous reason other parties can’t do it and thinks the answer must lie with themselves (the contractors). You can’t expect the designers to have the answer as they are not sufficiently engaged. The individual supply chain suppliers and installers are just too varied and diverse - it’s going to have to come back to us. PAUL agrees - ‘we need to get better, we have to stop passing the risk down the line. We’ve got to tell the client ‘if you want me to sign this contract, this is what we need to do to get to that point…are you willing to do that?’. If they say no you have to say ‘I can’t build your job’ - no one want to do it’.

MARTIN thinks it will lead to more pre-construction service agreements. We need to be offering keys to the Gateways. PAUL is going to send the document to MARTIN.



Iain McIlwee 

I think based on what I heard today I think we need to consider a standard clause to cover those delays.  Right now, we simply don't know so think we need a standard term to say in the event if a delay related to regulatory procedures yet to be fully described...


Really appreciate you taking the time to do this.

Makes sense. Aligns very much with my thoughts that that in many cases we need to get better at doing something we should already be doing.  Aside from the functional requirements of the BR, for me that is proving competence, reviewing and verifying design, robust change control, validating what we actually built is what we designed, being able to prove this every step of the way and providing this information in a form the end user can fulfill their duties going forward.

All of this could potentially fall under the ‘reasonably foreseeable’ category.

The tricky element will be whether design and delivery programmes need to account for a Gateway approval period (not to mention the BSR falling over in achieving a 12 week response period as the new regime gets up to speed). Could get very interesting in financially closing PCSA’s in the coming months!  …and so the journey goes on 🙂 


Hope well.  I was at an event today with the HSE (Martin was there too, so please feel free to contradict if you took a different view).  I took the opportunity to ask directly about timings of the Gateways and whether it would be staged i.e. Gateway 2 coming in first and then Gateway 3.  What I took from her response was that this is detail to be determined, but the expectation is that we know what the functional requirements of the Building Regs are, regardless of Gateways we can be held to account for these in the future through the Act so the rest is admin, basically we should be compliant now and better at proving it by October 23.  So I think you are safest to assume your initial assertion is correct, despite any clever argument a lawyer can make. 

MARC Bradfield

Apologies for not being in attendance yesterday. 

Something I would be interested on your opinions……

Previously I was of the view that no matter what the date for Gateway 2 and 3 to come into play, the transitional arrangements would limit carrying on ‘business as usual’ So even if you had commenced prior to the trigger date you would still be required to pass through Gateway 3 (pre-occupation) should completion fall beyond this point.

A recent article by Pinsent Masons (attached) indicates that is not likely to be the case.  They also are of the view that the trigger date is October 2023 i.e schemes commenced before that date continue under the ‘current regulatory regime’.

As a further point of interest in an interview at the start of May with Peter Baker, head of the new Building Safety Regulator he said “From October 2023, building owners will assume responsibility for fire and safety risks, and we, as the BSR, will be able to flex our muscles as a regulator in ensuring that building owners actually deliver their responsibilities. The building gateway system will follow, with the industry on notice to produce their certificate applications and safety cases, starting around April 2024.” – so differing from the Pinsent Masons view above and meaning it is difficult to figure out exactly what the trigger date is for the Gateways!


Apologies I will be tied up for this one too.  If it could be moved to early pm I’ll be there boots and all.


Please feel free to invite other interested parties




MARCUS of BALFOUR BEATTY is introduced to the workstream participants.

PAUL and SPEAKER 2 (MARTIN) had communicated via email to try and link up the thinking that’s contained within the M&E version of REBA, exploring the BG6 document and exploring how to use stage 4 to govern better.

GEORGE talks about the roundtable workshops they have been asked to organise by the UK Bim alliance at Digital Construction Week. There are 5 tables with 10 people at each, dedicated to the different working groups: development, design, construction, operations, manufacturing. The different stake holder groups will be involved. A particular risk will be looked at: the spread of smoke. To look at how a fire door can mitigate that risk. The objective of the discussion is to end up with an example of the challenges of the industry and the golden thread.

SPEAKER 2 (MARTIN) asks George if it will be done in a way that illustrates what happens when different groups do not communicate with each other e.g. an example of how to fail. ‘Is it a roundtable exercise? Or a roundtable discussion?’.

GEORGE says it will be a discussion – there is only 45 minutes allocated (and no whiteboards).

Regarding the letters that have gone between Michael Gove and the CPA, George thinks Gove is taking a very hard line. The CPA’s response to Gove was good and coherent, but did not give Gove the answer he needed. The work in the information quality group is extremely important, otherwise we’ll be run ragged by lawyers.

PAUL shows his slides. GEORGE’S view from an information management perspective is that all of this is in different documents that are not related properly to each other and the only way of relating them is by a human looking at them and making an interpretation: if you’ve got three people looking at them, you’ll get three different answers. This needs to be distilled down into something simpler.

GEORGE: ‘we need to arrive at something known in the manufacturing industry as progressive fixity, or mass standardisation. If you have a project that it using standardisation throughout (including documentation) when you vary from that then the risk is higher.’

SPEAKER 2 (MARTIN) says standardised contracts already exist...but they get amended. PAUL says it wouldn’t matter how they get amended if the design was alright in the first place.

44 mins 37 secs

IAN (SPEAKER 7) ‘I think we’ve got to specifically go at one package, and I think dry line is the obvious one for us, and say it’s crystal clear at Gateway two that unless we’ve got this information it is completely unreasonable to ask anyone to start work.’

IAN (Speaker 7) mentions the connection between the design and construction of a building and its potential to be insured: at what stage should it be insured? Should it be insured if it’s not built the way the insurance company would think is right?

PAUL shows more slides. He talks about the common phenomenon of people delaying the procurement process because that way they get a better price.

IAN (Speaker 7) thinks it’s all about what the system is and who owns it...the owner of the system isn’t necessarily aligned to the way that we control the packages. We have to get to a system-based approach, it’s a different way of thinking about it. PAUL agrees and talks about an example of how you need to know every single detail about a wall (symmetrical/asymmetrical/what’s within the wall?/dampers/duct work) ‘then you can systemize that design, but it has to be taken back to the start of stage 4 once you’ve got the specialist information involved’.

GEORGE agrees with the importance of a systems-based approach. He then shows a graphic that looks at the process that his company Active Plan are following to look at an individual component e.g. a door, re asset information requirement. The properties of the door are described and also there is a unique identifier/ a digital key called a GUID which gets passed to the product. It can be tested at any stage against a manufactured product. This ensures what you are requiring can actually be provided in the market. This info is given to the designer (modelled in work stage 4), there are types tied back to the original requirement. This info can go to the contractors, if changes have to take place there can be a more robust technical submission process. Once it’s been approved it can be purchased.’ GEORGE is working with Travis Perkins on this.

GEORGE thinks the technical deviation process is a critical area.

SPEAKER 5 thinks that specifying products (perhaps) too early in the design process can potentially be a commercial difficulty...when it comes to the procurement stage suddenly things may change in terms of the number.

The team debates whether equal and approved products (to install assets) is a good way to go.

PAUL thinks everyone has the same 2 problems: 1) there is a schedule, but what’s on it? Is it right, wrong, or indifferent? 2) there is no schedule. Even if you do have a schedule (there are all kinds of problems)

GEORGE discusses the risk involved in installing the initially design-included assets with equal and approved products, especially after the process has moved on to the next stage.

In general, the group disagrees with George’s suggestion of potentially bringing in the M&E co-ordination engineers before the installation contractors are procured. ‘I’m not seeing the benefit of bringing another party into the process’...

GEORGE thinks the group agrees that the early selection of products and materials is going to be important. ‘If we can make it seamless and easy to sway out one product for another’ (that would be good). To replace with ‘not just a generic product, but a manufactured product designed according to the requirements’...then we’ve got a digital object we can actually work with’.

GEORGE: If we try and conflate the legacy with the future I think we’ll get nowhere because it’s just too big a job.’

SPEAKER 2 (MARTIN) has written a number of points that have come out of today’s meeting: 1) early selection of products 2) System-based approach/system owner 3) better understanding of the design/ earlier design/ why are we progressing without proper designs in place 4) the rules we need to post upstream and downstream that people need to abide by 5) Ian’s point to be mindful of the legacy issues as we push ahead 6) digitising things...

SPEAKER 2 (MARTIN) will invite Ian Abli to the next meeting.


Contractual Workstream - 'What good looks like' brainstorm-20220321


George: The incompleteness of the M&E design is significant, from a coordination perspective, largely because of the procurement process which actually adds a lot of unnecessary penetrations.

It would be excellent if by the time we get to gateway two design was complete ready for stage 4 design and there is still the correct amount of design time at the front end.

George: re the change management process, they are putting off the selection of products and materials for later, because they perceive that it is transferring risk onto the supply chain. If products are selected earlier, we can simplify (and consequently) de-risk the process. Compartmentation is one of the biggest issues, but we’re probably only looking at 50 or 60 types of assets. We should concentrate on those and have the right parametric information so that when a product is changed later on the impact of the penetration is more limited.


SCHEDULE ONE Design submission procedure.

Paul: It’s important the manufacturer foresees any kind of problems that will come later on in the process and to register it.

George: It’s important that we try and address the process of identifying what is actually causing the risk and therefore being able to evidence the fact it’s being dealt with. The Housing Association property mutual process potentially has a method of addressing this. It looks at things that go wrong and it’s either the materials, the workmanship or the design. What the building performance group did was focus on doing those so that there was far more clarity in terms of that work. By having rigorous plant of work inspections, it meant that the incidence of failure reduced hugely and that’s why the property mutual worked.

The pre-construction process is crucially important. The latest trend is to shift it to the left, which means that focus has shifted away from what we are doing on site to what we are doing before we get to the site.

George: What we can do about the red lines?/red list idea? Is to take that back to the duty holder group, people who have currently got that responsibility, and get them to feed that back into their development colleagues, because at the moment the development colleagues are going to be driven by the normal sort of commercial things that are causing the problem. They can come back at it through the health & safety and liability side of things rather than the commercial.

There ae more and more questions about embedded carbon.

The interrelationship between different assets is important, you know what goes to make up a compartment and also the standards that they need to adhere to.

George’s strategy: 3 or 4 years ago started talking to People in development teams – those who are interested are outnumbered by those who are not interested. Through them I started meeting asset managers and property managers, eventually focusing on the duty holders because they are the ones who will be legally carrying the can; therefore, they are sensible people looking at it from a practical/self-preservation perspective.

The duty holders should be able to say to the development people that this is the quality of information/evidence/digital records that I need before I’m willing to sign that off now.

Regarding the HSE and treatments, for those treatments to work we need eg this type of asset to be installed to this level of quality with this information.

George has been talking to the constructors and manufacturers in BIM4housing and they’ve told me about essential characteristics. These are built into the product standards that most factories comply with to provide their information to sell their products. But getting to what those essential characteristics are is difficult because they are locked up in standards. There are declarations of performance and something called EAD which is for products that don’t have a declaration of performance. We’ve looked at what are the values in the declaration of performance – remarkably there is no master library of what these characteristics are.

Paul talks about the compatibility of different parts of an asset eg fire curtain, and how there are nuances regarding the compatibility.

What we haven’t done very well with BIM is map the information requirements for the end users.

Richard: we need a proper marketing strategy to get this stuff out there...where are those messages going and how are they going to get there?

George: we could feed it back through the supply chain sustainability school.

Martin: should use caution about marketing and getting the message out re tier 1s and possible not make a set of demands, as if holding hostage.

WHAT TO DO NEXT? Martin: We’re thinking about a downstream set of conditions, advice guidance eg this is what you're going to need before you get ready to engage. This is the digital journey. This is what you need before you can get to gateway two. If you take standard and fair contracts and try and offset this risk it isn’t going to go down well with the agency or the insurance industry because it’s limited...

Then, we can do a piece of work re this is what we’re going to need from the supply chain downstream in terms of the digital journey and the information that’s going to needed to fed into getting through gateway 2.

George: We have to look at the process of products and materials they submitted and how is design agreed with the client and get the client to recognise that for us to be able to deliver the quality that they are expecting. Then some changes need to be taken earlier in the in the process. We need to address those things and modify contracts to these standard contracts is not the way of doing that...we have to be more collaborative in the process.

Martin: offsetting risks through modifications to contracts is no substitute for engagement and resolving the risks and identifying them.

The Building safety bill is about profound change and what we haven’t got is a roadmap. We’ve got a picture of the future. What we need to do is work out how we've changed the procurement process and to evolve the procurement process to support a better construction sector.