Bim4housing Contractual Workstream 11-09-2023
MARTIN ADIE Let’s touch base on a go around the table basis, has the last couple of months changed your view or are you still of the same fixed opinion or are you better informed or more concerned and worried. I saw an article this morning, I think it’s the building safety regulator himself saying everything is tickety-boo and on track. I think he’s the only one in the industry who thinks that. (Martin shares the article on screen). Absolutely on track to meet agreed timescales. He’s director of building safety, I think he works for the regulator. From next month it will all come together. And on top of everything else, George, you had some specifics.
GEORGE Yeah, I don’t think it’s as straightforward as Mr White thinks and in fact one of the things that I’m coming across, the minute you go beyond the surface into any level of detail it’s clear that…there’s a lack of clarity. As Active Plan we were asked, a contractor we work with picked up a scheme that was already in construction, but the company that was building it went bust. So they’ve inherited it and it’s got four blocks. One of the blocks is going to a social housing provider and the other three blocks are private. We were asked to put together what they would need and when we did that I was told that we only needed to do it for the social housing block. That surprised me because I thought they are all the same. They were told their advice was that the three other blocks didn’t need to follow the golden thread or go through the Regulator.
I then asked a number of subject matter experts as to whether this particular scheme which I described in some detail, of the four people I asked two came back and said that it would need to go through gateway 3 and two said it wouldn’t. As I’ve drilled down a little bit further I’ve found that the two that said it didn’t need to go through gateway 3 are actually correct, but it does need to go through building control. And building control, under the new regime, some of the building control organisations are going to be designated as the Regulator, they’ll have the regulatory authority. So, from what I can see it’s as bloody clear as mud. One of the big challenges that the industry’s got is therefore if it’s not clear people will just say, oh, we don’t need to do it then, and we’re going to go down the lowest common denominator until something goes wrong.
I’m thinking there’s something that we perhaps might be able to do…it’s because of interim measures, that’s one of the other aspects. But there’s a lot of new legislation that’s come out over the last four weeks which impacts on things. There’s quite a lot of uncertainty that collectively I think we’ve probably got the answers to, but it’s a matter of how we can effectively help.
MARTIN ADIE We got involved in a consultation with PA Consulting. They were asking questions on mandatory and voluntary occurrence reporting, they were asking industry what they’d like to see, how they see it and understand it. They’d been commissioned by DLUHC, but they interviewed the MD for regional build, and Mace as well at some stage. I was talking to the MD last week about where they’re at and what their thinking was and he was not surprised but he was relaying how PA Consulting, although they’d been commissioned, hadn’t really done the research, they were asking some fairly naive questions. He didn’t know whether that’s because they didn’t know or because they people that they’re reporting to don’t know either.
PAUL McSOLEY was this the code for construction product safety, is that the consultation you’re talking about?
MARTIN ADIE No, this was for mandatory occurrence reporting. They started off talking about high rise buildings and the MD said, well, I think it’s high risk, you’re a bit behind the curve there. All of the questions were naive.
PAUL McSOLEY These guys are asking people, and I don’t mean this disrespectfully, that have been in the industry for 40-50 years and they’ve always done it, they’ve always cut the bread the same way. They’re asking them how are you going to cut the bread now and they’re going I’m going to cut it this way still. It’s really difficult because this is such a different mindset change where you go, you know what Mr/Mrs Tier 1, you’re now running the projects, you’ve got to make sure what you’re building is safe. No different to regulatory reform 2005 and the like. ‘But I want to palm the risk off’. You can’t, it’s gonna sit on your lap.
GEORGE Can I just build on that. I was in a meeting on a project that we’ve been working on for a couple of years and the client said that for the safety case report and the information that they need all they need is what went into building control. I’ve heard this a lot recently that as long as it has passed building control then everything is fine. If building control don’t pick up the fact that there’s no door schedules or that the inspection certificates haven’t been provided then that’s also fine because building control is the gatekeeper.
PAUL McSOLEY Just to build on that as well in the same context I've just printed off the three bits this morning which is the high risk building regulations and the improved inspectors because they always used to have it you can't be an interested party means no financial interest to design interest. So what they're saying is basically if they get it wrong, we're just going to put them in prison for 10 years. So the fact is then it's going to ask for everything. It's a bit like when we have building control come round sites we've been giving people a lot of education externally by different groups. They go, they don't actually know what's in the whole, they just say tell me interesting information how that's compliant. People can’t process it, and that’s what’s going to happen is it’s going to grind to a halt. So it doesn’t surprise me them saying if building control get it wrong we don’t care because they’re gonna go after them. They’re passing the liability around, aren’t they?
GEORGE Can they pass that liability? That’s the question.
PAUL McSOLEY I don’t think ti would remove the fact that what you’ve supplied is inadequate because that’s Regulation 7, you’ll still be in the shit anyway. But they could go after the building control guys and say you’ve messed up, you’ve approved something which is incorrect, you’re now in trouble. They could do that. It doesn’t make it right still, does it?
GEORGE The updated Regulation 38 that requires the client to verify that they have received everything that they need. That’s interesting because it sounds as though somebody has recognised that particular gap in the process. Is that new Regulation 38 update significant, Martin?
MARTIN ADIE Yeah, it’s all significant. You’ve got to take it all on board, you can’t take some of it on board.
PAUL McSOLEY The bit I don’t understand is that all of this is coming in because no one actually knows how to choose something which is appropriate to the circumstances. Most of the stuff we see coming out is because it’s not that there is anything wrong with the kit, it’s just not appropriate for where it has been put, the wrong classification or something else that goes with it.
GEORGE I’m looking at things and trying to simplify it because, as Martin just said, it’s all important, and that can be a bit overwhelming. The role of the principal designer and the principal contractor seems to now be becoming critical. I went to a seminar in Leeds a few weeks ago where there was a building control company called Assent, and they were explaining what they’re doing in terms of the Building Safety Act. They’re going to be applying to become one of these approved golden thread regulators, is that what you call it?
MARTIN Yeah, there’s different titles. They work for the BSR as part of their MD team, the Multi Disciplinary team.
GEORGE Somebody else was asking about principal designer and I can’t remember whether Assent said they were also going to become principal designers.
PAUL McSOLEY Can I ask a question, it’s probably one for you, Phil. You’ve got the code of construction product information that you’re obviously working on. One of the biggest things I’ve come across is some of the work we’ve done in this group, it might be worth sharing some stuff with you around the change control process and the rest of it because looking at what’s come out in that legislation, we hit the nail on the head two years ago with it. The whole change control process about how things go through, all the stuff around making sure how you get to the appropriate product, we were miles in front of it because you’ve got all the experts together on how you get to appropriate materials, functional dynamic systems and passive and active, transient systems for fire protection. I know you’re doing this CCPI, what’s involved with it? Is it just a tag hat goes on the products?
PHIL THOMPSON The CCPI, to make sure my position, I’m a freelance verifier for them so I’m providing my services to them. They allocate the work and there’s a team of verifiers who go through the information. Really the code, and it’s a voluntary code they’re asking manufacturers to sign up for, that information is validated and meets the 11 clauses of the code. So it’s to make sure that it’s up to date, it’s transparent, it’s not ambiguous. And manufacturers subscribe a data set, a number of their items, typically the ones that are the high risk. We go through a process of validating that information against the clauses. There’s also a leadership and culture element as well and there’s a management systems review as well.
All of that together is combined and then we as a verification team submit the information back and there is a panel that goes through and decides whether they’ve passed the code or not and at that point, should they be successful, the CCPI then…it’s like a kitemark, I suppose, a stamp against a range of products to say that the information against these items meets the code. It’s all about trying to remove that marketing ambiguity in a lot of cases and make sure they’re making claims that are true and can be substantiated. But it’s important to stress it is a voluntary code that they’re asking manufacturers to sign up to.
PAUL McSOLEY The reason I was asking is I did one recently on the code for products safety standards with the government and it ended up being a three hour session. There’s not many products I don’t know the ins and outs of, manufactured, tested, bolted together, factory controlled - I get involved in all of this stuff (not that I want to, I’ve had to). The interesting thing was when Mr Morell said there’s a problem with the manufacturers, in my experience I’m not seeing that, I’m seeing the reverse. I’m seeing that the manufacturers have a product, getting cladding aside because everyone has got the cladding thing in their head…generally most manufacturers have a product where it will meet the circumstances of your product if you can identify what your circumstances are. I’ve seen that because we can’t identify, a good example would be the standard for smoke control dampers which have a limitation on pressure of about 1500 pascals. So if you're doing things like train tunnels and carbon? 18mins 50secs tunnels which are 10-20,000 pascals you won’t be using one of those.
But they are CE marked, they’ve got quality standard structure control, but they’re not appropriate for high pressure atmosphere or corrosive atmospheres, they’ll blow the bloody doors off. And this is what I’ve seen, we’re actually selecting components because we’re going is it CE marked. One of the things that would be good for you to see from us is when we generated things like the fire dampers and smoke control we generated all the ontologies for all the things that are important to that product. In a bit of fire resistant duct there’s about 100 things you need to understand before you can basically install or select it. It’s not just integrity, insulation and low leakage for smoke, there’s 100 different things that come into it: substrate, anchors, rod sizes, seal material, depths. It’s mental.
Your diagram originally, George, with the golden keys on it, I saw that come up the other day in somebody else’s lecture because it’s getting around now which is really good for you. It’s inherently complex to select the right product and actually the manufacturers, I don’t think they’re trying to be unambiguous, it’s that some of the things that come into it aren’t for the manufacturer to declare because they don’t know. You’ve got to know your hand before you go there because DOPs, Declamations of Performance, it’s only speaking a certain language and a good designer, and this isn’t an architect or building services, god knows who it is at the moment because we’re in a bit of trouble with the competency gap, can select something to meet a condition based upon all the facts whether it’s pressure air, volume, rates of smoke exhaust, whatever you’re doing that will depend on the system, even down to fire doors are complex because you’ve got to get the security right and the DVA right before you consider the fire element of it.
That’s why I was asking about how the CCPI works, it’ll be good to got to get some information on it because what I’ve seen is actually the products aren’t really the problem, it’s the selectors that are at fault, if that makes sense.
PHIL THOMPSON Yeah, you’re right. The CCPI doesn’t claim to be a panacea but it’s a tool to try and drive the changes in the industry. And it’s about cleansing and clarifying the information that manufacturers provide in their catalogues and websites so that when selections are made based on the criteria you’ve just gone through there you can be assured that what you’re reading has been validated and verified as being the truth.
PAUL McSOLEY I think I actually commented on this for CIBSE originally when it came out. There’s loads of things I need to transpose to people in the business and say these are the tools in your arsenal.
PHIL THOMPSON The CCPI are doing webinars where manufacturers etc can sign up and get an understanding of what they’re offering. They’re mainly targeting the manufacturers because they’re looking to bring them onboard. I suppose time will tell how effective it is, but cleansing the information and making sure that the ambiguity from the information is removed is no bad thing. It’s just there are all those elements you’ve explained there which may impact on it.
GEORGE The other thing is, Phil and I have discussed this in the past, the standardisation of the way the attributes of certain types of products are described and Iain, I know you’ve been looking at this as well. We’ve hit a bit of a barrier with that because quite a few manufacturers are resistant to providing their information in that standardised format. We’ve got the technology now to do it, but it’s a matter of getting that to be agreed, so the CCPI isn’t going to be addressing that bit. One of the things I thought we might be able to do, we had a workshop that Iain participated in in June on fire doors. It was a deep dive into the guidance we produced for BRAC eighteen months ago, so we’re reviewing it on the basis of our current understanding of what was needed. Listening back to it ,we were in the conversation and there’s things like declarations of performance and there’s also certificates of conformity. I don’t really understand what the differences are between those.
PAUL McSOLEY I’ll tell you, George. What you’ve got is when you put a product through a test and it gets classified in order for you to sell it you have to have a certificate of continuous performance. They come round to the factory control procedures, check nothing has changed, then that gets updated and you can reissue the DOP. That’s a declaration of what you’ve got in your continuous performance as well, it’s a QA check on how the people do stuff. So if you look at the BRE thing recently there was some tests they did and the BRE would go and inspect their factory, the fact is they’ve already got a process under the European test for checking the factory anyway, so it’s a check on a check. That’s how it kind of works, which is if you’re going to sell something you’ve got to be able to prove that it’s continually performing. They come round and they should have gone, hold on a minute, what’s this thing you’ve put in there? No one picked up on it. There’s a few layers of failure there that’s gone on.
GEORGE Is that the certificate of conformity?
PAUL McSOLEY No, it’s a certificate of performance.
GEORGE No, this is called a certificate of conformity. Anyway, the other thing is that what the housing association on the call was asking for was a data sheet from the door manufacturer to say what had been installed, including the door closer that had been used and also the ironmongery. Because she explained that they needed that so that if they needed to replace it they wanted to be able to replace it with a door closer that was of the same type. We’d got a couple of door manufacturers on the call and they were willing to provide the information, but when we then drilled into it in a bit more detail there was elements of it that they couldn’t or wouldn’t provide. I thought at the time that they were being difficult, but actually when I listened to it again it is more complex and it’s adequately complex that people would give up.
What she was asking was a reasonable question in terms of I need to replace the door closer, can you tell me what door closer I could use that isn’t going to breach the test certification. They said we can’t do that, you can go onto this website where you can find out that information, but you can’t download it. I’m saying that for the golden thread to work we need that information to be available in a form that is sustainable and will be around for 20-30 years and we can’t be reliant on one website actually being up. I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, the number of door manufacturers that have disappeared.
IAIN McILWEE You can’t just ride roughshod over IP in the process. Manufacturers have IP information that they’ve developed through tests and they’re not necessarily going to want to disclose that in a way that their competitors can download it and learn from it. And that’s why there has to be an element of trust in the process and we need to structure information so that product data sheets are accumulative of those parts and manufacturers release at what level of information they’re prepared to release. If you can’t get information about a closer and a hinge it might be that you have to replace the product. But in the same way the Colonel is under no specific responsibility to release his ingredients for his special recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken manufacturers can’t be expected to release their recipes. It’s not commercially practical for them.
GEORGE So if a £100 door closer breaks you might need to replace a £3000 fire door.
IAIN McILWEE Possibly. You should be able to go back to the manufacturer who can then then supply you with information about how to replace that closer.
PAUL McSOLEY This is when you need Douglas, isn’t it? Just to go back a bit, a certificate of constancy of performance is what I was talking about, George. I’m not too sure what you’re asking for actually exists. You might have stuff like that around EPDs or other things when you conform, but I’m not sure how it works. You’ve got DOPs and consistency of performance, basically. Getting back to your point, Iain, one of the big things with this is that all of those individual products have CE markings as well, that’s what makes it even harder. So if you change a door closer you’ve got to say what was the door closer for. Was it to make it easier for people to push the door open, or is it to make sure that it shuts in fire, because that’s two different functions.
MARTIN ADIE Doing a replacement is no easier than doing the original design. if you can’t replace like for like then you’re back to square one and you’ve got to get it approved or tested because invariably the information is not there, either because of IP or it’s not there, it’s too difficult or too hard.
IAIN McILWEE They are different problems. It’s not there is a historic thing, the lack of information shouldn’t be the issue moving forward, it’s what people are prepared…again, as a commercial design you’re going to make depend on who you buy from.
MARTIN Yeah, but if it’s related to structural fire safety you’ve got to get it tested now, or you’ve got to get sign off from somebody who says it will be Ok to replace it with not like for like.
IAIN McILWEE If you look at the certificated products normally they will provide you with scope and instruction…I know the certifier scheme the best, normally if you look at the scope for a door, which should be easily accessible through the manufacturer and the certification company, you’d get a statement within that to say what range of closers it has been tested with. If it’s available for a certificated product you would get a scope statement which would cover this. That’s downloadable from your supplier and from the certification company, normally.
GEORGE So therefore it shouldn’t be up to the client to have to go and search out who the certification company was, that ought to be something that is provided as part of the O&M.
IAIN McILWEE Yeah, it would be, wouldn’t it?
GEORGE Well, the fact is that it isn’t, Iain.
IAIN McILWEE It wasn’t, but it will be.
GEORGE It still isn’t. It should be, I agree, but because nobody is checking and nobody is clear about what it is that they need to ask for. We’re doing a review at the moment of two blocks that have just been handed over to a social landlord client and there’s no door schedules, there’s no information on any of the internal doors that have been provided, there’s no record of who actually installed them. And yet it’s been through building control.
PAUL McSOLEY Just to back this up, Phil, this is about getting your knowledge and what you’ve done and how you see things. If I just show you this quickly, because you mentioned schedules, George. (shares screen). When you start putting things through walls, and doors is a thing you put in a wall or through it, it’s just like a damper, a vertically installed static component with a transient function for movement, you’ve still got to know what all the function of all of those components are put on the door for. Security might be a mortice redlock and it’s got a failsafe secure function from one side but a free exit from the other. All these things have got to be recorded in such a way that anyone who wants to change it in the future knows exactly why it was put there, the risk of the space. You look at door schedules, they don’t exist without information anymore, we’ve lost that niche of doing it properly.
So you can see all the things that are involved just in pipes, and it’s no different for doors. I spoke to Douglas a while ago about getting something similar put together on a basis of what a door schedule should look like. We did the ontology for dampers, ducts etc and it was crazy and probably for you, Philip, if you’ve not seen where we’ve got to with that. (shares BIM coordination sheet on screen). You can see all the data around the function of why the kit should be there, the function of the wall is next because you’ve got to know what function of the wall depending on the orientation. You’ve got to record that as well because this is about future change and maintenance and doing work. There’s all the different wall substates that you can have it in, it has a big effect. I did comment on the CCPI about 2 years ago when it came out at consultation, I’m sure it’s the same thing.
GEORGE The question I’ve got is how would this in practice be checked…these are all obviously critical things that need to be considered, but what mechanism is there for that to be done or checked? I was speaking with Scott Sanderson last week from PRP, the reason for that was that this role of principal designer or contractor seems to be going to be a pivotal role because they’re the ones who’ve apparently got to sign off that building regs have been followed. That’s carrying with it a substantial amount of liability because, as Scott said, PRP can look at things from an architectural point of view but they don’t have the expertise to do structure or building services. So as principal designer they’re looking at the methodology that they’ll have to follow to cover their PI cover to be able to do that verification.
PAUL McSOLEY All they’ll do is say give me the data, give me the data. So it’s all going to come down to the PCs, and I think the PCs are fooling themselves at the moment thinking they’re going to put this onto a supply chain or even a consultant and they’re going to get caught out. Speaking to other people I think they’ve all got the same view, if we sit there and do nothing and don’t schedule stuff out there properly we’re going to get caught out. When you look at these…major changes you sit there and you go the change of any construction product of all element used on a proposed high risk building that is a replacement of a lower classification under the reactions with the meaning of Regulation 2. Other things that are in here about hole sizes, it’s all in here and they’ve picked it up pretty well. if you don't get it right first of all, which is one headache, and you put it in and building control don’t pick it up because they’re not competent to because it’s actually quite technical, and suddenly you realise later on that it’s wrong, the bit you’ve got to be careful of, which is where the entrapment really comes into this legislation.
It's about what your liability is in relation to going to prison and stuff like that and fines. It says if you provide false or misleading information it’s a criminal offence triable as an either way offence. A limited one year imprisonment, unlimited fine, two years imprisonment for Crown Court. And if you do a contravention you can still get fined as well, but you might get served a compliance notice t sort it out. The big thing is if you provide false or misleading information. So someone sits there and goes I’ve given you information on how this smoke control system works, but actually it’s false, it’s not based upon the right input parameters and actually you inadvertently mislead building control/ the Regulator, you can get yourself into trouble. This is a bit like all this stuff about in scope and out of scope, the bottom line is if someone is going to complain about something you’ve done they’re going to go to the HSE anyway. So don’t mislead and if you don’t know don’t say a word. Basically only act within the limitations of what you know, don’t give stuff over which you believe to be false and misleading.
It’s really strong how they put it all together, that’s why this guy is saying be thinks it’s going pretty well, I’m thinking I tend to agree with him. We’re not too sure about what’s in scope and what’s not, that’s a slightly different question, but the bottom line is that they’re going to regulate you against what you should have been doing properly for the last 20 years. How you get to appropriate stuff is the hardest thing.
GEORGE One of the challenges therefore is at the moment we’re in an industry where it’s endemic that risk is transferred down to probably the people that are least competent to take on that responsibility. From what I understand the new legislation removes that opportunity and I think clients now aren’t able to pass the risk onto Balfour Beatty or Mace, and you’re not able to pass it onto other people. Everybody is a collective liability.
PAUL McSOLEY You’re talking about behaviour, I’ve seen a client recently we’re looking to work with and the same old stuff come out, you’re took risk averse. To risk averse? And this is a residential high end, we were telling you we were gonna stop you getting sued because you clearly don’t understand this. No, not interested, mate, they just want to carry on as normal. They want to carry on like this stuff is somehow going to fix itself, and it’s not. There’s such a limited amount of competence in the industry to do this, because the fact is it’s all about systems now. You cant have someone just design a piece of facade and go that’s job done, and you go what about all the stuff above it and they go that’s someone else, and you go no, you can’t do that anymore.
MARTIN ADIE Just going back, George, to your contacts who were mapping out what they needed to do to be principal designer, what was the outcome? Which road did they go down?
GEORGE Scott is a member of a group and there’s 8 large architects who are involved in housing. He said a year ago that we were the only ones that were going to go down the principal designer route. He said my rationale for doing that was if we didn’t do it we wouldn’t get any work. He said now all 8 have now decided that they’re going to offer principal designer services, for the same reason, therefore it’s clearly getting traction. I’m now trying to talk to those people to find out how they’re interpreting it because they’re thinking of it, principal designer, most people think about it as being CDM, but it’s quite different. I try and distill things down into a simple yes or no side of things, is to basically say OK, what information is clearly and obviously required and how do we ensure that that can be provided.
As Iain’s saying, I’m not in any way trying to undermine the IP side of it from the manufacturers point of view because I understand the criticality of that, but it’s also a matter of making sure that everybody is getting the information that they require. If that means that there needs to be some sort of secure way of that information being shared so that competitors can’t just pick it up and use it, then let’s recognised that. That’s something that’s easily done, it’s just a matter of understanding what level of information we need to avoid.
Coming back to your question, Martin, I think we need to have much clearer information about what’s required because the other aspect of it, in this conversation I’m having on the housing association project where things clearly aren’t complying with building regs, sorry…what is listed in Regulation 38 has definitely not been provided, but my own internal team is saying, well, did the client ask for it? I said I don’t think that’s relevant, if it’s needed for building regs. Yet it is relevant because if the client didn’t ask for door schedules why would the supply chain provide them? Maybe that’s too simple an example, but I think that is something that we need to be encouraging clients to get engaged in, because at the moment they don’t get adequately engaged. Employers information requirements and asset information requirements and organisation information requirements that are part of the BIM process are so surface level.
I was talking to a client and they were quoting BS8536 as being something that was needed, and I said have you actually read it? They’d put this into their contract. I’ve read it and it’s 100 pages and it’s very good, very detailed, but it covers a whole range of different things about sustainability and decarbonisation etc, all stuff that’s really worth doing, but this had just been put in as being a clause and having worked with contractors I doubt whether anybody would have actually studied it. the quoted 2 things, they said it needs to comply with ISO19650, but that is so high level because what you’re defining there is just processes, not levels of detail. And then 8536 does go down more into the level of detail. I think the client needs to take more responsibility for determining what it is that they’re going to be procuring in terms of information and then checking against that.
MARTIN ADIE Yeah. Who does your average customer or client turn to when they need help with this sort of thing? That’s where it starts to go wrong because invariably they go to PQSs or PMs who tend to worry about the contractural side of life rather than what you’re actually going to need to run this building for the next 50 years. Generally speaking customers and clients could do with better advice, early doors, because it’s not something you get taught at school somebody has to point you in the right direction. Intelligent customers know their way around this stuff, but most of the ones we get to deal with don’t know some of the basics. You’re not obliged to give them stuff, but they really should be asking for.
PAUL McSOLEY I have battles where you go the client needs to have all of this as well. People go don’t overload them, don’t tell them, don’t do this, don’t give them that…oh, the price might go up.
MARTIN ADIE That happens up the chain, from the customer to the principal contractor, all the way through the chain that happens.
PAUL McSOLEY Do you want it to go up now, or do you want it to go up at the end? When you’re firmly involved and you can’t get out, because that rug is a bit bouncy at the moment. When you come back to Iain’s points about what’s going on in the industry about the supply chain, it doesn’t marry up and if you cant get the cost back it goes down the line.
MARTIN ADIE I thin customers could do with better advice. I was surprised though, George, that you’ve got the principal designers queuing up to be principal designers, we’re seeing the opposite.
GEORGE Yeah, I’m not sure they’re queuing up, I think they’re just learning at the moment what’s coming down the line. Speaking to Scott…one of the things I was concerned about was if they’re building control and building control start to offer that service of principal designer, I can’t see how somebody who hasn’t been involved in the design to some extent would be able to make the assessment. How can a third party that’s got no designer expertise be a principal designer? I know that they’re not doing design work.
IAIN McILWEE Back to Martin’s point, did you say you're getting people resistant to being principal designers? Have you got a situation where you’ve got projects where nobody’s prepared to be the principal designer?
MARTIN ADIE Yeah. What we’re seeing is more drive towards the siloed approach, ask me anything you’d like to on architecture and I’ll give you an answer, but beyond that not interested.
IAIN McILWEE So there’s a real danger that if you’ve got a project that could start on 10th October, say, and you don’t have a principal designer in place ergo the project can’t start?
MARTIN ADIE It’s convincing people or getting people to step and say we’ll do that, we’ll take that responsibility on, because a lot of people are just looking at all fo the stuff that gets aligned with the principal designer role and the BSA and think that’s not for me, even if I do get an extra 1/2 % fee. We’re seeing a reluctance.
FIONN O’BRIEN I’ve been listening intently on that one, but all I can offer is that I’ll go and talk to Mark who would be directly involved in high level appointment discussions with our architects. But I can imagine we’re having the same type of conversation because it’s hard enough to get someone to sign up to be a lead designer, so right now in the world that we’re living in with Bouygues it’s hard enough to get a lead designer in to do what they ought to do as a lead designer and we’ve been offloading the principal designer element to a specialist.
IAIN McILWEE …we need to bring out at a strategic level because some of the stuff we’ve talked about this morning is very detailed, each project is going to be slightly different because there isn’t a stock process at the moment, I’m sure it will standardise as we move forward over time. The first rule of gateway 2 is to demonstrate to the building safety regulator that it complies. Whether you can or can’t change the closure in the future won’t necessarily come into the conversation at this stage. And it may or may not come into the conversation at gateway 3. I think gateway 3 will be more about inspection protocols and making sure that that’s handed over. It’s a problem, but it’s not necessarily a problem with getting us through the gateways. if the issue is that we cannot get people to stand up and be principal designer, that’s a deal breaker because none of the rest of this matters because the project cannot go on until you’ve got a principal designer.
FIONN O’BRIEN Is it likely that a main contractor is going to have to step in and say that we’ll have to take that then? In lieu of being able to offload it onto another party, we’ve got to absorb that.
MARTIN ADIE Paul’s shaking his head, and we’re not keen either, but I can see a lot of pressure coming particularly from the public sector for no one else will do it, you can do it Mr Contractor.
PAUL McSOLEY I don’t think anyone that runs these construction companies actually knows what a principal designer does, that’s the problem. It’s a bit like the unicorn, you rad about ti in books, it’s got a great big horn, children love them but you never see one in practice. The bottom line with this is they’re all going that principal designer person, and nobody knows what they’re doing because they’re not doing anything apart from passing information, no disrespect because they can’t be experts on everything, like building control can’t be. Yeah, we’ll just put it into their camp, see how they got on with that. We can see what’s going on, most of the architects are going we can’t do this. There’s been some rumbling that some of the former building control guys are setting up companies to be that function. You know like in every process there’s one bit that becomes the bit that’s flawed, that will end up that's in that box. Put it in there. Designers, they’ve got to deal with it.
All they can do is just give me the information, I don’t understand that, can you tell me again, can you show it to me differently. if you know how to tell the shape and form and the risk category of your building and what’s in there and you can schedule things out like the good old days, door schedules, dampers, ducts, pipework, you can go through things properly, actually you shouldn’t have a really big problem. The problem will come if you start declaring your hand at gateway 2 and you start saying to clients have a quick look at this, by the way all your walls are wrong, nothing fits and I can’t actually install it anyway and access it for the future. That’s the bit that’s got to come out on the table early and everyone’s got to be on the same hymn sheet to say that’s the reality, your geometry is too small. The rack? 1hr 3secs thing is another eye opener, let’s talk about rack. You’ve got building safety Acts coming in and basically all the schools that should be in the high risk building categories have all got a failing straight away under the Act, well the racks no good.
IAIN McILWEE That statement about principal designers is not one I can just leave alone because that feels like that’s…in a way, going back to that original article you shared, Martin, by hook or by crook we will get things through the gateways in the next couple of months and there will be a few issues that get kicked back and things that get missed and spotted, processes will start to form and then it will be easier to digitalise. Until it starts to standardise it’s nigh-on impossible to visualise the golden thread, but it will be sort of a golden thread for each project until a more standard approach. But if we genuinely can’t get principal designers, I know through the construction industry councils professional indemnity insurance group that there’s still issues around…insurance to cover it. I don’t know who to tell what to take it forward to, but at some point we’ve got to raise this at the Construction Industry Council level on a serious point because it’s all for the birds, everything else we’re talking about is for the birds if we don’t get principal designers.
GEORGE I think one of the keys to that is what Paul was saying earlier. You need to determine what it is that a principal designer under the Building Safety Act is actually doing.
IAIN McILWEE But that is defined in the regulation, the responsibility is set down in the secondary regs. It’s set down at a regulatory point so it will be nuanced at a project level, but fundamentally the responsibilities are laid out. We’re not going to learn anymore from the Regulator and we know what it is from a CDM perspective and whilst it’s different the principles apply, it’s the outputs that’s different, not the inputs really. I’ll pick this up as an action, but I don’t know what the action is because there sin’t a construction leadership group that we can take this forward to.
GEORGE Iain, would you mind sending me where that is defined?
IAIN McILWEE Yes, it’s somewhere in the secondary regs. And it’s also written down at a gateway point what they expect to see in terms…secondary regs lays down exactly what they’re going to want to see as part of the compliance documentation. So it’s there now and this is all we’re going to get, we might get a bit more golden thread, but the rest of it is there. This is it. I’ll try and pick up at CLC level, would it be OK for me to cite this meeting to say that there are several main contractors on it and there was concern about people stepping up as principal designer and is this something we should be investigating in more detail because everything else is for the birds if we don’t get it sorted.
MARTIN ADIE Yeah, no names, no pack drill, but yeah.
FIONN O’BRIEN I can’t see any issue with doing that, being honest here if nothing else appointments will need to be looked at very rapidly.
IAIN McILWEE If I raise it with Build UK maybe it’s something they, because they have their call every few weeks and there’s one coming up. They can do a survey of the main contractors to see is that’s a problem that others are experiencing.
GEORGE Yeah, so if we can get some sort of clarity on who’s got to do what on which projects I think we’ll have moved something forward from today.
PAUL McSOLEY (highlights text on screen). There it is George…there will probably be some more, there’s quite a few references to it. We’ll dig something out for it.
MARTIN ADIE You captured it earlier, you said they’re pivotal and that’s exactly right. Before work starts on site they are the people that make it happen, to get through those gateways is going to be a tough ask and a lot of people must be thinking we haven’t got it. A large international multidisp organisation might have it, but whether they’ve got the appetite or not we’d have to ask them. I’m not seeing people rushing at it.
GEORGE What I’m thinking at the moment is if we can systemise some of the processes here it’s gong to make it a lot easier for people to provide them with the information that they need and it’s going to make it easier for them to check, so therefore it becomes more manageable.
MARTIN ADIE I think it goes back to what Paul was saying about design and replacements of not like for like, no matter how systemised and how accurate the lists are there is still an element of design interpretation required in order to…interpretation makes it more prone to error.
GEORGE The approach that we as Active Plan are taking on Regulation 38 is that we’ve looked at what’s in the clause and it actually details exactly what information is required. (shares screen). This is our interpretation of it and it does appear that the majority of it at the moment is only required as a document, but you’ve got here as-built plans and locations of all those different elements. And in particular these are the ones that I’ve focused on because these are all asset types. What we’re thinking is if the client within their information requirements specifies that they do want to know where all the emergency lighting is, for example, then that’s something that you either have or haven’t provided, so that’s quite binary.
The question then is is it fit for purpose because we’ve come across things where the fire stopping information, you can’t read it. We’ve just done one where BB7, who are a good fire engineering company, they’ve done something using Bolster or something like that and whoever it is that’s produced the O&M have zoomed out, so all of the fire stopping information just completely overlaps each other and all you’ve got is a PDF image of it, so actually it’s useless. But in terms of the tick in the box of had you had a document, the answer is yes. Is the document fit for purpose, that’s where the principal designer should be steered towards is the document there or not and then the validation of that document is something that is then their judgment. Scott thought that was a good methodology.
And then also the information that comes through on the product information: does the product information carry the product data sheets? Does it actually include the information that the principal designer would think is needed? So that’s a judgement call again, but at least if they’ve then confirmed that they’ve looked at it, they’ve not just looked at 10% which seems to be a lot of the industry now, then which ones have they checked so that the client, if they want to, can do their own check. Because if they’ve now got to confirm that they’ve had it they’re going to want to be more rigorous.
MARTIN ADIE I think that’s the intent, to force everybody to do it properly.
GEORGE How are you doing it Martin? With regard to O&M information, for example, what’s the method that BB would use to verify that? Are you just reliant on N Systems or people like that to have done it?
MARTIN ADIE Generally it’s done with the end user, the customer. So it’s planned for from as early as possible and it grows during the course of the contract, it’s not a document transfer at the end of the job and there you go, it’s part and parcel of the contractural set up. But then these are really really large projects so they wouldn’t be typical projects. We’re finishing off some resi, but again they’re large.
PHIL THOMPSON Some of the things I’m picking up on, some observations. In the screen grabs that Paul was showing in the matrix…with the tick boxes, there’s a reference to the information supporting the golden thread and I was interested to know how does that work in real terms? Because it’s one of the things there that I’ve been focusing on.
PAUL McSOLEY I’ll give you a quick explanation of where we went to with this. We’re only as good as summation of all the people that we meet and all the experiences that we get, and they way that we’ve tried to do it…it’s so important to get some things complex and make it simpler, we’re all barking at the manufacturers, I can categorically tell you it’s not a manufacturer issue, thus you’re not selecting stuff appropriately. We’re not very good at it and actually to the point we’re going you architects, you should know this…come on, this is malleability of materials and pipework systems and installation, protect against thermal to protect against thermal bridging or the corrosion risk in a space…So you’ve got to put things into perspective and this is how the construction industry sees things, because they treat big buildings to a degree like it’s a back garden extension.
(shares screen). This is PFKG but it’s the same principle. It’s probably best to give an example. When I first spoke to George three years ago…we got a lot more educated a s a group about, no disrespect to things like 8644 or 19650, it’s all too high level. It’s so high level in fact that it ain’t going to help us, it’s going to make things probably a bit worse because people follow something thinking we’re measuring ourselves on a KPI against it, but it doesn’t go to the right level of detail, you’re actually measuring nothing. We said you’ve got to have a mechanism to get to pa product that’s appropriate to a circumstance. We had a big conversation around space risk and what it amalgamated into is this.
Every building has got a purpose group and inside that purpose group you’ve got fire purposes, safety cases from the left of the room to the right of the room. A good example…is that if you had a bandage store in a hospital which is under HDMs and HBMs, a bandage store and a commercial office, the difference in classification of the space risk is that the hospital may require you to have a door revision panel in it which is fully resistant to smoke leakage as well as the door being insulated, but in the commercial office it would just be an E-panel door. And the resistance periods could be different because the risk is treated differently in the hospital because you’ve got people that are infirm and can’t get out. So building purpose group has a direct link to actually space risk being higher in certain terms and lower in others, depending on the people risk of the building.
Then we looked at things in relation to that space and said some systems are static, some are transient, some are dynamic, so if you take things like a fire door it’s static, but actually it’s transient - you can actually walk through it. It can be two leafs, one leaf, half a leaf, it can be powered or non-powered, all these things that come into the function of that door before you look at the resistance period of fire, you want a vision panel in it as well so people can see where they’re going. This is the point I was making earlier, those components that go on there are just summation of DDA and security before you get to the function of the door. When you take things like dire dampers and pipes, they’re static, they’re in a wall, they don’t move they just sit there. When you get into things like smoke control its dynamic, you’re performing a function, you’re taking something away, with sprinklers you’re putting something in. So this has an effect about how things operate have an affect on all the different parameters that you’re looking at smoke control involves high pressures, sprinklers involves water. So you have to have a consideration of what it’s doing in fires and what you’re putting in there doesn’t cause a secondary issue like you're putting water into a switch room, it’s full of electricity, it’s not a good idea. So you’ve got to look at how it operates. Once you know all of that then you can actually put a classification number to meet that space risk in the purpose group and how you want it to kind of function. And this is what the manufacturers give you in the DOP. What we’ve then saying is that isn’t the end of it, that’s just saying you’ve got something that meets the space risk and the functional requirement for that building. Then you’ve got t find something that works in a wall which is the culmination of all the other products within it. and you’ve got to be able to install access and maintain it for the future.
And this is where the work comes from on a system approach because the wall has got its own requirements to be fire resistant in EI terms but there might be pressures involved some walls might be blocked because your in labs and you’ve got high pressure atmosphere, so the same conundrum exists. But then you’ve got a door and you might have pipes, flue, chimney, smoke dampers, fire dampers, you might have kitchen extract smoke control. You look at this here and go actually, everything works with this but one, like the flue, needs that, all of this has got to work with that. You cannot change the flue you’ve got to change everything else.
So unless you know how these things are all functionally working and the type of substrate…it’s about thickness, density, even the density of the concrete, rack is listed in at that standard, it’s aerated concrete, 650 miligrams a metre cubed, solid concrete is 2,200, so if you’re testing aerated which most people do you can apply it to the thicker densities of concrete.
So you need to look at how the thing has been tested because all the substrates need to be compatible, not forgetting you can’t just do the Emmental cheese and whack loads of holes in and expect it to stand up, the walls still got to be fire safe. So we did a couple of things around fire dampers, that’s one damper in one wall, that’s how bloody complicated it is. So when you got to a manufacturer they’re giving you a classification of something that sits basically about here, the rest of it is a combination of where you want to stick it. We got all this to work, this is what I’ve done with PFKG, within the same framework of the five selections because once you’ve got that nailed into a bit more of a graphical approach.
If you look on FIS we did an instruction video for this recently and how you select one damper and purpose group location…A visual to say that’s the purpose groups at the top, shape and form, space risks…Insulation specific to risk of space is not required at national level, but it can be required in certain instances. It’s a bit like fire doors that need to be insulated less than more than 25% of the wall, there’s rules around it because you can’t lean stuff up against a fire door, but you can lean stuff up against a wall.
We just did it all graphically…that’s what it looks like in classification terms, the manufacturer the code that they need. You come down and that’s all the frame types, this is all reflected in NAT22? 1hr 23mins 15secs and it will be reflected in 145? eventually. But it gives people a visual of actually how certain things exist and how they work. Some things work with both, some things only work with dry wall or brick & block.
PHIL THOMPSON It’s a good graphical representation of how complicated it is because sometimes people don’t appreciate the complexity, but my observation here is that these here are all like subsets of the golden thread, they’re all elements that you would do…imagine the golden thread was a washing line because the thread is linear, to goes from end to end. All of these elements here that you’re discussing, you’d hang those on the thread like as working practices or selection criteria or some other certification requirements. But ultimately it comes back to what piece of information, imagine the golden thread is a needle that you’re going to thread through…the end of the golden thread is a needle to thread through all of this here. What is that needle?
PAUL McSOLEY For that particular subject that’s your needle (referring to graphic displayed on screen). All of this.
PHIL THOMPSON Yeah, the classification though doesn’t…in my world I want to take all that information and pass that onto procurement or supply chain, and what piece of information do I give them that also aids the golden thread?
PAUL McSOLEY That’s what you give them. That’s it.
PHIL THOMPSON Is that what you would put on a purchase order?
PAUL McSOLEY You have to, yeah. If you go to a manufacturer and you do anything different you’ll get the wrong product.
PHIL THOMPSON What about the manufacturers own information?
PAUL McSOLEY That will line up with the manufacturers…what you probably don’t know, Phil, is that I’ve rewritten DW145 which is fire dampers, I’ve done NAT22, with Paul White we do the legal authority on fire dampers. So we’ve been through all the manufacturers and this is how we’ve come to this conclusion, including TG6 and ASFP, that’s the code that you need. It’s not about the product, because the product is actually just this, it’s about Part L. So when you buy a damper the first thing is does it work for your Part L, and if it doesn’t choose a different type of blade. You have to go through all of those bits before you get back to the level where you go, OK, now what do I need for fire safety.
GEORGE And can the manufacturer tell you whether it will meet Part L?
PAUL McSOLEY No, you need to understand it’s appropriate, that’s appropriate, that’s the orientation that you want, that’s the type of wall that it works in and that’s the infill of the seal that you want. You also need to satisfy yourself you can bloody install it, which all of this comes out of national code and regulation which is breakaway joints and distances for digital records for taking your photographs at the end, and that’s your number. If you took fire resistant ducts as an example you’ve got different subsets. We haven’t got onto smoke control yet, but the fact is that this easier because there’s only two types, there’s either rigid or flexible, but the difference is you’re now in a system which is not just static at a wall, it’s transient-dynamic, it’s going through many different compartments. You’ve got anchors to consider. All of these other things you’ve got to take into account before you do your selection of the kit that you want.
GEORGE One of the challenges, Phil, is that in an increasing number of cases, because of competency and liability, the manufacturer is probably the one that is best placed to know about what is appropriate for certain circumstance. In my experience with fire doors, they know a lot more about regulations than the architects do. So therefore what tends to happen is that the architects will send them the NBS specification and information about the design and they’ll say come back to us with which products are going to be suited to that. I don’t know how that works with the building services side of things, but is it also the case, Paul, that a designer might send to a manufacturer I need dampers that are going to satisfy this particular specification and this particular design?
PAUL McSOLEY When you look at building regulations this is particularly well covered, that’s particularly well covered, so is that, actually so is that. So really anything outside that comes specific to a safety case. if you look at a hospital and you’ve got a theatre which could be ITU or ITC, you’ll have a slightly different thing where…you’ll have a pressurisation system to keep the patients safe while you evacuate people out. You can’t cover something like that in this, but what you can do is say actually because it’s clinical and it’s sleeping the same thing kicks in that you still want to have fire and smoke protection of those people.
This is pipework, by the way, and pipework is bloody mega complex because you’ve got to protect against the atmosphere, you might be protecting the atmosphere against a pipe, you’ve got to look at the bore thicknesses reaction to fire because you can’t out things like HDP pipework through a building if it’s going through spaces that are protected because it burns like hell. So you might want to use cat iron throughout the building which gives a secondary set of issues because you need to insulate the cast iron, or you go with the plastic because it’s a crush device.
I’m saying there’s a specific product that suits every safety case in a building, the problem is the manufacturers can’t help you with it because they don’t know the safety case of your individual spaces. We’ve got to the conclusion you’ve got to go that side to that side, what does that do, what does that do and can this do both protection. And if it’s a dynamic system going through the building you can’t just take a bit of pipework out like HDP and go I’ll put steel through it because you’ve put an open pipe in.
PHIL THOMPSON I see what you’re saying and I’d like to explore it more, but my view of all of this, it all comes down to selection and performance, it doesn’t necessarily support a simplified golden thread because you haven’t still got down to a single piece of information that you can translate from cradle to grave. if you look at some of the other processes that are perhaps not covered here, because these are all focusing on design and selection criteria. What about the information on a goods received note? What about the information on an invoice? How would you put in an RFID tag into the building?
PAUL McSOLEY This is what I’m saying to you, Hackitt said it very well, not only have we got a golden thread, we’ve got bloody hundreds of them. She’s absolutely right because if you look at things from a raw engineering perspective…there is a thread of how you got to that piece of kit initially. Then you go onto the second bit, which if you look in CPI points of view it’s factory control procedure, certificate of constant performance and DOP and how you track that piece of kit against the number that you sent from cradle to grave, that’s a different problem. It’s still a thread, but don’t track something which is inherently wrong for the circumstances because all you’ll do is have a record of it getting installed and it will be wrong. Does that make sense?
PHIL THOMPSON It does, and obviously we wouldn’t want to do that, but as I said I still see this information as kind of hanging vertically on a horizontal thread because you don’t necessarily pull the thread through all of this information, all of that you’ve explained there links back to a single piece of information - a code, a reference, a unique identifier that you then move along to the next person. Because it may well be that it goes through a supply chain or distributor for that matter.
PAUL McSOLEY The problem, Phil, is it can’t work that way because this is what’s going wrong. To give you a good example, the amount of stuff I tear out of buildings isn’t because there is anything wrong with the fire damper, it would be perfectly good in a different building, it’s just not appropriate for that one. And that stuff is tagged, it’s in a BIM model, it’s barcoded, it’s just inherently wrong. So this is the bit to try and get away from to make sure that we stop procuring the wrong kit because…when we do the lectures on this externally you’ve got to remember that a fire engineer has no knowledge of construction products. They don’t understand anything about the classification requirements for any of these products, they just say 300 degrees C, one hour, two hours, they do not know the products.
Fire engineering, if you don’t know, it’s about fire brigade operations, malleability of materials and chemical analysis, so they don’t really know. When you look at an architect, they might be able to say I’ve got a shaft, I’ll put a shaft wall in everywhere, they don’t know everything that goes within that wall, it’s all done in insular. Even the building services guys, they don’t know how these products operate, they’re going to go to CDP someone else can deal with that. But you can’t get a product unless you know…If you look at specialist trade, they may install this, or someone may install that, but they don’t understand how it’s got to that because that’s a summation of the building type, the space, how it operates, what’s in the compartment, what it’s protecting against.
Then you’ve got the product suppliers who can give you a product if you give them a classification number, they can tell you how you install it in substrate, but they can’t tell you that classification number is right depending on the space risk because they’re not engineers in space risk. So the way the information is being transmitted is wrong, and this is all the quality assurance, once you’ve got that then you can look at how you install it, how you measure quality, how you benchmark it and you can record digitally that you’ve got the right product in the right location. Then you can do the information for future change management. And you’re right, there is a piece on it how you track a product in like serial numbers from cradle to grave inside a factory to where it gets there, there is that piece as well.
GEORGE That’s one golden thread.
PAUL McSOLEY That is, that is one individual golden thread, how you delivered it and how you got it there, how you’ve got to the right product is the hardest one and that’s why no ones tackled it. So you can’t buy anything unless you know everything works. Unless you know how the thing works as a system with the wall and it’s actually performed for the space risk left to right or dynamically doing what it’s got to do, you can’t procure it and that’s where those numbers come into it. We’ve done all the inspection sheets for 145 about how you inspect this kit as well, we’re doing it for a few others, you’ve got to be able to have a process on how you select stuff from the manufacturer, that’s how you do fire dampers…When you look at how you get to appropriate products which is Regulation 7 we’re really getting it wrong, badly. I’m saying that because I deal with all the legal fallout. We track stuff, we’ve got serial numbers, we’ve got delivery notes - all great, but it’s just the wrong kit.