Contractual Workstream Meeting 12-06-2023
PAUL …it’s been designed in such a way that you can’t actually run anything through the building and it’s on-site and everyone’s starting to realise. It’s a bit of a nightmare when you get to that stage.
GEORGE What’s the implication of that?
PAUL We’re still seeing it, when people design steel frame buildings is they keep putting all the steels again across all the compartment lines running in linear fashion with the walls and suddenly we haven’t realised is actually you can’t go through the beam when you go through the wall you’re actually 300 below the bottom of the beam anyway. When they get through it it’s too late, especially when they’re constructed, you can’t correct it. You end up with doors that are too high, things coming through the wall that have to be too low, it becomes a nightmare to correct, you have to physically move walls.
GEORGE Is that part of what we were just talking about with the fire engineers?
PAUL Yeah, because a structural engineer will design a structure, they’ll go we’ve got all the torsion drift, sheer loads are locked in, brilliant, done, but we’re not doing the passive compartmentation of the beams because we’re not experts. It goes through another bit of rigmarole and people will draw pipes and ducts and things and they’ll show them all going through the wrong place because actually you can’t take them through the beams. By the time someone comes along and says hold on a minute when you’re on-site, you can’t put it through there you go what do we do? You’ve got to remove the beams and if hit’s built you can’t do that, so you’ve got to move the walls, well you can’t. We see it a lot with riser safe system as well, they’re great systems, the problem is that there is an appropriate place to put them and an inappropriate place to put them. If you’ve got loads of stuff running up a riser and you look at the new fire code HSG168, you’re in a situation where if you put the stuff in it’s made of steel and it’s got to be a compartment floor and you’ve not picked up the fact that it should have been a compartment floor, you’re knackered, it has to be torn out. You’re still seeing these things going on, fire engineers don’t pick it up because they’re not experts on products.
GEORGE Who would pick it up?
PAUL Normally, you can get a situation where the architect doesn’t see it, the building services engineer doesn’t see it, the fire engineer doesn’t see it, the principal contractors don’t see it, and it’s not until you come down to supply chain engagement, they don’t always see it because they’re only supplying pipes and you’ve got a riser safe system installed and someone goes, well, how do we seal that. You go, well, you can’t because…what ends up happening is you’ve got big open risers and they go it’s 3 different spaces, we’ll put some steel beams in between so we can put the riser safe in, then you haven’t got the substrate on all 4 sides to put a concrete floor back in. You can get to that really late in the day when everyone goes, hold on, how does that work? By that time it’s all deconstruction not construction because you’re pickled. From Iain’s point of view what happens then is the person who’s put the drywall in gets the blame, which is not right.
GEORGE It’s because people are not looking at things in a holistic way, isn’t it?
MARTIN Yeah, fair point, they’re siloed.
IAIN I was talking to Joe the other day about one where you’ve got overweight doors, doors that weigh more than 60kg that need extra support in the frames, and then if that’s not done properly and at the right time then the wall configuration can’t be built around the door and there’s also a little bit of timber in there and we’re not sure who’s test evidence it covers. The door manufacturer needs a bit of timber for you to fix to, the drywall manufacturer won’t cover that bit of timber in their construction, so you’ve ended up with these situations where…do you remember that little bit of wood we used to talk about on the staircases, Martin? Fixing the timber staircase to the steel, so it’s a little bit of an issue. Again, it’s who’s responsible for that little bit of wood.
PAUL Fire curtains spring to mind with that because you end up with C16 timber inside the wall to fix the anchors into the drywall so you’ve suddenly got a drywall system with a C16 timber and an anchor in it and everyone goes who warrants that? It should be the test of the curtain, but it all gets a bit difficult to determine who’s to take liability for it. Or are we just overthinking it, not sure.
MARTIN I think we got too good at sorting things out on-site and the front end got very easy because sorting it out on-site was the way forward. And then when you get it wrong you get criticised.
GEORGE We’ve got a whole series of workshops that Richard’s organised over the next 2 or 3 weeks and the purpose of those is to revisit the guidance that was produced 18 months ago and just see if it’s still fit-for-purpose and get a lot more subject matter experts engaged in that process. He’s been very successful in getting a lot of people to sign up to it. So, if there are things that we want to float past them as subject matter experts in these different areas then that’s an opportunity.
PAUL it’s good, I’ve accepted a lot of them. I think on the fire damper one Paul White had asked him to move the date of it as he couldn’t do the date that was pertained. The one on the 22nd on smoke control dampers I can’t do it, but as long as Paul’s there I don’t think ti matters too much because he’s the leading guru on that subject.
GEORGE The good news is we seem to have a lot of new people engaged, well over 100.
PAUL That’s good, you need diverse views on all of this because there’s things that you don’t see it until someone says, oh, I’ve had this problem and you go, oh, I’ve never seen that before.
MARTIN It’s encouraging that more and more people are coming to the party.
GEORGE Absolutely. I’m also talking with some people who are doing risk assessments and moving into principal designer roles which I think is also encouraging as well. One particular company called Safer Sphere, they’re CDM coordinators, health and safety specialists and they’re very much gearing up now to offer that principal designer role. My impression is that’s going to be really important function.
MARTIN It is, probably more so that the CDM. The regs require a principal designer to be, the roles and responsibility of a principal designer and a CDM are one thing, but the principal designer…a different set of roles and responsibilities for the Building Safety Act.
GEORGE What’s the difference between a principal designer and a principal contractor?
MARTIN Different role, different responsibilities, different stages.
GEORGE And when you say different stages, does the principal designer still have a role during construction?
MARTIN Yes, very much so.
GEORGE I thought that would be the case, right to handover I guess.
MARTIN And a bit of beyond, as well.
GEORGE And what about principal contractor? What’s different about the role as far as building safety is concerned?
MARTIN I think it’s just a bolt-on in terms of responsibilities to make sure that the engagement has been done with the fire authorities and the handover information to the occupier is carried out and I think there is a legal requirement to do the Section 38 of the Fire Safety Act handover of documentation as well. It’s just more robust.
GEORGE But the principal contractor, the handover of documentation would rest with them/
IAIN Preparation, delivery and handover, that’s the three stages. They’re responsible for the preparation of a workable programme ensuring that that’s delivered incorporating change management and information management and at handover the baton is passed to the…and that’s a legal responsibility, as it is with CDN.
GEORGE So, they would be responsible for making sure that the information that is being handed over is right.
MARTIN Is as-built, yes.
GEORGE And is that a person within…would it be a named person on a project?
IAIN It’s an accountable person so it’s a duty to define duty holders.
PAUL The basic accountable person, it’s an AP essentially. They’ve got 2 names for it.
MARTIN Principal contractor and a named person, Paul?
IAIN The ultimate responsibility for risk rests with the CEO of the principal contractor, they’re ultimately responsible for delivery within the business. But there will be other duty holders defined, but beyond that you get all the different duty holders in the construction and design element. You can be a main contractor and principal designer as well, you can hold multiple hats.
GEORGE What I’m trying to do at the moment is see how we can coordinate the work that’s done by whoever is producing that safety plan and the safety case report and the ongoing safety management system because what’s become clear, and we did this at the Digital Construction Week. Everybody at the moment is focusing on registering their building and producing a safety case report, but what many don’t realise is that that safety case report is a snapshot in time and therefore you have to have something in place that is an ongoing safety management system. So, the landlord has to do that and I guess, I don’t know whether duties hold with the main contractor on that, because obviously things are going to change after handover.
MARTIN Yeah, the building owner or the landlord will have to have their own safety management system, which is an ongoing management system.
GEORGE Of course, that’s clear. But it is the case that at the moment it’s not clear as to how they’re actually going to do that.
PAUL Principal accountable person, then you’ve got accountable persons.
GEORGE Yeah, the principal accountable person, I think on the client side that has been explained to me as being that you’d have an accountable person that is probably responsible for one building and you might then have a principal accountable person where there is more than one accountable person.
PAUL (shares screen). The PDF kind of explains it here what’s supposed to be going on, this is the one from the regulator, it’s out there. You’ve got PAPs and APs that sit underneath it.
MARTIN So the PAP would be an organisation as such?
PAUL Yeah, so you might have…I had a conversation recently, my biggest fear was if you look at the principal designer and you’re gonna give them all of these duties, no disrespect, they don’t have the knowledge of all these different systems so they’re not going to spot it. The fire engineers don’t understand the products, they’re not gonna spot it, building control are not going to spot it. So, there’s still this kind of risk and you’ve got all these people who are now accountable but actually who is actually dealing with the risk? That’s the bit that frightens me because you see the effects on big projects where you get to the end and you go there’s seven tiers of hierarchy that’s not spotted it and now it’s there and then you’ve got to deal with it.
GEORGE We had a good session at DCW that I can give you some feedback on. We’re trying to encourage more knowledge sharing and the best way of doing that is to give people problems and then to come up with the collective solution. What happened was that Jarek Wityk, an electrical specialist, asked the group that attended DCW about a particular problem with the stairwell and he was trying to figure out how to address this. He’s very Knowledgable, he’d done a lot of research but he was not clear as to how to move forward with it. So, he sent me some information, he asked me if we could do something and he put up there what research he’d done and what was the missing gap. Paul responded to him and then Roy Buckingham from Abloy came back on and said he thought it was very useful that this sort of thing was being posed.
So, one of the things that I’m just trying to get my head around is how best can we facilitate that type of dialogue where there is actually a problem. We set up on BIM4housing the Blackbox site and the intention of that was to encourage this type of debate, but I think the problem with any…I had the same problem with Zero which is the zero construct initiative. We were doing all of that through Whatsapp and people became a bit frustrated that Whatsapp a fairly basic technology and there’s better collaboration platforms. So we moved everything over to Disperse which is far cleverer and you can set up different groups and all the rest of it and nobody used it, because Whatsapp is quick and simple. It’s not organised, people are answering questions and you can set up particular groups, which they’ve done very well in Zero, for particular topics, but again it’s just a stream of comments and things. To some extent I think we have to make it easy for people to engage, maybe a way of doing that is just to have this type of thing where you encourage people to put up there a particular topic which we can then circulate and then if somebody’s got some views on it they can share it and we can then potentially take that information and put it into the Blackbox site. What are your thoughts on that?
PAUL That one for the Blackbox was fine, George, that kind of stuff’s good because the conflict in that particular one is that you’ve got a standard that says you can have sanitary combination of a firer fighting shaft but then they’re saying you shouldn’t have services that go through it that ?? 22mins. Having it in there where you can go this is all the facts around it is useful to other people to make their determination of actually what they want to do to design around it. The hard thing is getting to a platform where everyone is consistently feeding in and out because businesses have so many different mediums now for transmission of information, it’s too many.
GEORGE I entirely agree and taking, for example, that e-mail exchange that you did and turning that into something that would be useful would be quite a bit of work for somebody that really would need to understand what the topic was as well.
IAIN What’s the role of Cross group in this? They’re supposed to be dealing with our mandatory duty to report and there is still no real tight definition of what a near miss is. Is a near miss something that nearly happened at design phase. I had an interesting one the other day where a company I knows worked on a number of buildings which are all identical across the country and there was a fire in one of them, not in one of those they’d worked on and they’d like access to the information about the cause and movement of that fire, but they’re not entitled to it. Is that a near, is that not something that Cross should be exposing. if there is a fire in a building hat actually happens to the information about that fire and how much of that is made available to the supply chain in what kind of time frame by whom and when? It’s quite a big open question for me still. But all of these things about how do you ensure that there is a record of a problem that’s made available to people. That’s kind of what Cross are there to do, but I think everyone’s underestimated what big a role that is.
MARTIN It does need proper curating, all of that information, that’s not something that’s solvable from a software perspective, it needs people behind it.
PAUL Generally you find all the fires that are occurring, all the ones that are total building loss and to some degree Grenfell falls into this, it’s all to do with cavities, whether it’s an external cavity or internal cavity. Then it’s the construction material that’s been used and the lack of sealing around those cavities. Take the one on Orkney in Shetland the FPA does lectures on around the EMC agenda where the two buildings burnt down because the fire got in the cavity. Buildings that are made generally of steel and concrete providing it’s not an external cavity, it’s internal, generally I don’t think you read about big fires in that material because they don’t seem to really occur. Or they’re old buildings, historic purposes and basically you’re always going to get a total loss if they go up in flames, the big thing is getting everyone out alive in the first instance. It’s hard because when ti comes down to reporting fires in buildings there is obviously the legal consequence that goes on as well, no one wants to declare what’s happened, do they?
IAIN That’s why there’s Cross because it’s effectively the blackbox, that’s the way I sort of read it. At the start of it Cross was supposed to be the industry-wide blackbox that people can raise their concerns, deposit them so that they’re responsibly dealt with.
GEORGE I know somebody that is one of the cross advisors, Paul Bray, he's from Plymouth, he's quite active in BIM4housing, but he's also one of the consultants that works, I think they're all volunteers in Cross.
PAUL I think they are. I think there’s a couple of people from the ASFP have got onto it as well. Cross started off as Safer Structures but its bridged across many different subjects now. When you look at all of these things that go wrong what I’m seeing recently again is that it’s a culmination of many different system failures to get to the overall consequence that you get to. Whether there is a fire or not, you go and see the building and you can kind of see how they’ve followed each other to that natural conclusion where the materials or the whole compartmentation system of the building is wrong. So, it’s got to be hard for Cross to pick all of that up, that’s probably why they’re asking for experts at the moment.
MARTIN The mandatory occurring that you mentioned, Iain, that just hasn’t landed yet, they’re out for consultation in terms of what are we going to do. They’ve mentioned Cross, they’ve mentioned Riddor, but there’s no way forward been agreed yet in terms of who do we go to.
IAIN As I read it, it was that we were going to use the Cross framework to manage it, that’s about as far as I’ve seen. Say, for example, one of our members was working on a project and the issue that Paul identified earlier was in the pack. Then you’re moving towards a clear and present risk to safety in that building and you’ve allowed for it in your quote and you know somebody else probably hasn’t has won the job. Have you got a duty to report that?
PAUL I think the bottom line is really, not to be facetious but you can sometimes point out the blooming obvious and sometimes the people, the receptors don’t understand what it is. You see things all the time, we’ve had it on jobs and I’ve gone to clients, look, your structural frame is wrong, you can’t compartment everything through the walls. You go back 8 months later and someone else is building it and the client’s in big dramas because that contractor’s now got the issue because they can’t put anything through the frame. Someone is now contractually liable to make it work, it’s horrific, but no one can see it. The amount of times you get told ‘just go and test it’, well, you can’t test everything and actually there’s no procedure to do it. You can’t even test it ad hoc because you’re mixing standards that aren’t compatible.
IAIN This thing is on the higher risk buildings it’s fine, which is where your mandatory duty to report is, you sort of hope that the process will pick it up anyway. So, if it’s not picked up at procurement stage it should be picked up by the building safety regulator. I think it’s just a wider application of the rules and it there is a fire in a building that’s not high-risk and you didn’t report, what’s your liability? There’s so much inferred in the Building Safety Act, inferred in the responsibilities around it. One thing they said at that safety regulators conference is the CDM requirements are the same for all, that bits not different for any part of the Building Safety Act, all buildings are now required to conform to the CDM requirements as made out in the Building Safety Act and subsequent documentation.
PAUL Until the knowledge gets better with it those kind of shenanigans are going to go on where you can say to a client, look, your building shape and form doesn’t really work. But until it kind of manifests itself into that problem they don’t go, ah, I can see what you mean. We have a good habit of going that project was a problem because of this, we don’t go that one was really good because of this. Because it doesn’t manifest itself you can’t say why did it go so well, it’s hard, isn’t it? You’ve got to capture the good…a report years ago called The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, a bit of Eli Wallach, Clint Eastwood. Because some situations were good, some were bad and some were just plain ugly.
MARTIN But as an industry the health and safety and the CDM and the reporting of near misses and accidents is pretty robust, through Riddor it happens, it’s a cultural thing. There’s very few exceptions, it’s embedded now, it’s part of what we do. I think that’s the aspiration. I’m aware they’re still asking the industry what do they think should be the reporting mechanism, be it through Cross or Riddor, how are we going to do this. It’s difficult because you’re going to be whistle blowing, almost, in certain circumstances. You might be saying some of your designers that you work with regularly, you might be reporting them saying this is wrong, they haven’t though about this, this and this. And when do you do that? Do you give them a grace period, sort this out through design development or do you report it straight away.
PAUL And they’ll go we never spotted it because it was all CDP. What do you mean? The walls were all CDP, we din’t know any better, did we? Anything apart from the frame is basically CDP, great, brilliant.
GEORGE I think the point Iain’s made is a really interesting one and that is that if it is the case that you think…clearly you don’t know the detail of someone else’s quote, do you? But, if you anticipate that somebody’s missed something out it’s a problem. You don’t want to raise it before the bid has gone in because that could be your expertise that you’re…
IAIN Weirdly, if you do raise it before the bid goes in you can end up disadvantaging yourself in the tender process. That’s the issue, doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily deliver the right results because you’re then basically providing a qualified price because that’s an issue that needs to be resolved and as a consequence you’re not the fixed price person on the list. There’s a good article in our magazine this month about this, Richard Blackston wrote it. It’s more about issues identified, it doesn’t make the link to…
MARTIN When it does get going it’s going to be a lot of mischief and sour grapes going on.
IAIN Well, how do you separate these things. Is it reasonable to report…this is where subjectivity comes in because is it a near miss because it was in that pack or do you assume that there is a rigorous process that follows and therefore it will be picked up by somebody else and dealt with. So, the assumption that it’s going to be done wrong isn’t necessarily right, but it’s a miss.
MARTIN Could be, potential, and I think you’re right, it’s a subjective assessment and when you’re into that territory dealing with busy people they’re not going to be doing the reporting, are they?
IAIN And also we deal a lot with things like the payment code and we hear all sorts of shenanigans going on. But when you say report it to the small business commissioner there is a process, well, I can’t do that, I don’t get anymore work. It’s an anonymous, yeah, you say that, but…There’s not many people involved and it won’t be hard for them to guess who it is.
GEORGE The other thing is the expectation that the regulator is going to pick something up…
MARTIN With his expert knowledge.
PAUL I did some training with one of the approved inspectors the other day. For me, it’s always reg 7, reg 8, reg 4 for refurbs, it’s always appropriate for the circumstances, that’s always the governing thing, is it reasonable. Then it’s all about is it discrepant, is it adequate and does it comply with statutory matters. It’s all it really is but when you start looking at it on subjectology these guys were just blown away because they did not know, they all had snippets but when you put it into a whole system approach, like the damper I’ve show you before, I’ve done duct work, pipe work, trying to do cables and fire resistant ducts at the moment. You go no one is ever going to pick up on all of these nuances unless you’ve got good robust contracting at the bottom that understands how you record the space risk and what it is and how you put that stuff to work with all the other products. Designers at the top that know the same knowledge of how you classify things correctly at the start and people in the middle who know how to manage the quality of it during the whole build process.
Until you get to that point they’re all kind of like…it’s only contractually when you become aware of it and the thing is you want to become aware of it at the earliest possible point, not suddenly you’re 12 weeks from handover and someone goes by the way, your riser systems and things are all wrong. Because it’s constructed, so, what’s the solution? Tear it out. I don’t want to tear it out! Well, what you want to do and what you don’t want to do is irrelevant because to form those seals it’s got to come out. It’s really hard conversations when you’re at that point, but that’s the world we’re kind of in now, kicking that can down the road is no longer a good idea.
GEORGE Martin this must be a problem you’re encountering all the time, I’m not suggesting you’ve got this problem all the time…
IAIN Thanks for reviewing that document for me.
GEORGE Not at all, I think it’s really good. I’m keen to see the finished version.
IAIN I’ve got a meeting with NBS tomorrow to look at this structured system thing and get some input, Stephen says he’s put some stuff in an email but he’d rather have a chat to me around it. That’s coming to bear on some of the sustainability work we’re doing as well because we’re trying to do work around re-use of products and then categorisation of system product component. We want to use artificial intelligence but artificial intelligence is going to struggle when you haven’t got a clear systemised approach that works in the real world.
GEORGE Yeah, one of the things that we’ve found using Uniclass, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t use Uniclass at all, quite the opposite, but the relationship between the product classification and the system classification, there isn’t one.
IAIN Stephen claims there is, I can’t find one, but he claims it is a logical hierarchy. They can’t work out how it…
GEORGE It’s logical within the products section, but what I wanted to do was to have it so when you pick a system under the system classification you could then see what product types are likely to relate to that.
IAIN If you take product there is a structured approach within the product directory, let’s say, and there is a logic within the system, but the system and the products don’t relate to each other. So, it’s almost like I think you need to take a product to bits because door sets is a product whereas in our level they’d be a system. Door sets is a system, but we call it a product, I think that’s the way around, but you can’t then sort of logically build a directory of products and systems off the back of Uniclass easily.
GEORGE And to some extent, basically Stephen has explained that’s why you need to buy Chorus.
IAIN Chorus is what takes the performance and then searches through, it’s the mechanism for dealing with it, isn’t it? There’s got to be an alternative, there’s got to be a mechanism for us to align them, but I can’t get my head around it.
GEORGE Yeah, the other challenge, and I believe they’ve now changed it, but in the old Uniclass (before NBS took it over) there was something called the materials table which allowed you to hold in there things like steel or copper or whatever. Because there was no materials table, they didn’t implement the materials table when they implemented Uniclass 2015 therefore every product, when it’s classified, it has to say whether it’s steel or whatever, so you end up with a lot more products. Like a boiler, for example, you might have a cast-iron boiler, you might have a stainless steel boiler, or whatever, and all of those are different product classifications whereas actually they’re all boilers.
IAIN Yeah, that’s the bit, we were getting down to the…the structure we’ve been trying to work with in terms of is super system, system, product, component, and actually there is a dimension below that the environmentalists have pointed out which is material and there should be a material passport with the product for sustainability reasons an if you had that logical structure the two could be the same, but because you don’t it’s really hard to manage the two together.
GEORGE I was told recently that NBS have introduced a materials table. I think part of the issue as well is that NBS won the commission to build the Uniclass, and they were paid to do it (over a million, I believe), but they’v spent that money now. They’re now owned by a venture capital company so it’s no longer RIBA. I imagine that people will be asking why are we carrying on managing this.I think it would be a real shot in their own foot if they stop doing it because I think Uniclass is probably a good marketing thing for them.
IAIN The thing is they’d have to reinvent something else, but it might not be fit-for-purpose or the purpose that I need it for.
GEORGE (shares screen). At Digital Construction Week we had some online and offline discussions to answer certain questions. These were the questions: How do we prevent incorrect design, selection and installation of fire safety products? That was the question that I posed and this was the group that contributed to that and this was the output from a combination of what was said at the roundtables, but also we did an online session before hand as well. We’ve got some good examples there, quite how I turn that into something that we can use I’m not quite sure, but I think we’ve got some good information there, 26 bullet points. Then we had another one which was how do we ensure that the asset information is managed through the asset lifetime. I’ll just explain why this particular topic came up.
What I’ve discovered in working through, in particular on the fire safety side of things, is that when people are using inspection software like Bolster or Plan Radar what they’re actually doing is the golden thread, as it were, that they’re recording is the actual inspection rather than it being against an individual asset. So therefore in two-years-time when somebody carries out another inspection, even with the same software, they renumber everything because it’s the inspection that’s being paid for and it’s the inspection that’s being recorded, rather than the asset.
So, if you’ve got something like fire stopping you want to see that it’s lasted for 10 or 15 years and it has or it hasn’t been damaged or repaired, you’re buggered, really. So, what we need to do is to make sure that all of these different records, because we’re finding now we’re getting dozens of different golden threads. Everybody’s got a golden thread, fire doors for example, you’ve got a golden thread that’s being created by the manufacturers, really good stuff going back to where the product came from and even the individual components. And then the people that installed it, they’ve typically got their own applications to record that they’ve installed it and then when people are doing inspections of fire doors, again, and it may or may not relate back to the same asset.
PAUL Everyone’s got to many golden threads, really, at the moment. I’ve had this conversation internally, we’ve got a bit of barking going on at the moment about digital records, as you say, George, having an installed condition doesn’t mean it was appropriate for the space or the risk it was supposed to be protecting against in the first instance, it’s just a record of what’s been installed, not how you got there.
GEORGE These are the results as to how we can overcome that problem which it was great that people recognised that particular issue. We’ve got here some steers from people. I’m not going into this in detail because we’re going to put it into a report. Then, the building safety data, it shouldn’t just be a snapshot in time. This was the group that was involved in that, we had several landlords involved. This was the results of the discussions. And then this is the one that Paul led where, basically, finish the design before you build it, novel idea. I think most of these we’ve not had, Paul, the feedback from the table itself, although Mandeep sent something through this morning. Do you know if anybody was making notes?
PAUL Yeah, I took my notes and sent them through to Jiss.
GEORGE Martin, the key thing about that is what we were trying to do was distill down what information is needed into some things, topics that we then came up with. I think having some fairly simple questions there that people thought were useful.
MARTIN The answer to the last one is the answer to most things, quite frankly. That’s something that we’re doing as an organisation and we’re getting a lot of fightback from some very good customers but we’re saying you’re not ready to a lot of customers at the moment. The days of us jumping in with both feet and starting to dig holes before we’re confident that the services are going to fit, they’re behind us, we’re not doing that anymore. A lot of customers, including the biggest customer of all, who don’t like that when you play that one back at them.
PAUL I sent you back an email, George, and what I said was information flow was obviously a key point, how you hand information to and forth. What do we know when it’s not flowing from the relative response of accountable persons. We underestimate the complexity in providing this information because there’s so much more than just is it RER120? 57mins 05secs. There is too much belief that the value is in the market at the later stages of the project process when the value is in the information, the products at the early stages. And one key point is does anyone in the project process actually know who owns the design? That is a big one.
GEORGE You’d think, as a layperson, that should be the principal designer.
IAIN That’s laid down in the design responsibility matrix, clearly the plan of works tells us that.
PAUL It’s a funny one, it’s a bit like saying…I hear this all the time, in defense of architectural practices it’s a bit like they’re the designer of the wall. And you go, great, so the designer of the wall without any knowledge of how any product is designed and specified to go within it, because it’s all CDP. It’s the irony of it.
IAIN Isn’t that where the designer, so you’ve got the principal designer and the designer, the designer then has to create the next tier, the design responsibility matrix should be a tiered thing. So, if that’s the case you’ve got the principal designer sets down the overarching design responsibility matrix and the people responsible therein have to create their own design…it becomes a cascading document, doesn’t it?
PAUL I think the theory and the practice are slightly different, not taking anything away from what you said because you’re absolutely right. The issue comes down to if you’ve got a principal designer, and my biggest fear is that they don’t understand all of these products and how they bolt together as a system. To be frank it takes 10 to 12 years to become a building control officer and they don’t necessarily understand it all either because it’s just so complex. The crux is that if you’ve got someone that’s responsible for the mechanical design of the ventilation system they’ve got to be responsible for every single component in it. They cant just go the dampers are CDP, let’s face it, the AHU? 59mins 19secs is CDP, the BMS is CDP and you go it’s just fragmented. Then who is bringing it back into one system approach? That’s where it all kind of falls down.
IAIN I could find lawyers that couldn’t even tell you who’s designing what, because of the way the contracts are managing it, it’s very unclear if you look at what people are signing up to, what their contractual responsibility for design is.
PAUL It’s like I said at the start, I’ve seen one recently with a ventilation system which is extracting smoke and when you start looking at all the people that are involved in it it’s not appropriate, possibly, for what it was supposed to have been doing and no one has actually spotted it because it’s fragmented. It’s really hard to get how you can control an industry to bring it all together because no one is actually doing it. And I don’t think the PDs will be able to.
IAIN All the PDs can realistically do is specify the process by which it happens afterwards because they’re not responsible for the build, they’re responsible for setting a framework for the build and then at the end my assumption is they’re responsible for where you’ve got your CDM safety pack in CDM they’ll be responsible for overseeing the building safety pack i.e. the O&M to ensure the information has been effectively handed across, so that the principle of their design is being maintained throughout. That’s the best we can ask them to do, they’re not going to able to get into all of the detail, so that’s when the principal contractor steps up and they are then responsible for making sure that these things are being managed in the process.
PAUL When you look at it there isn’t a process that’s actually out there that tells people how to handle this information between parties, that’s half the battle that’s going wrong because the complexity of it is not actually discussed. Even for doors, the amount of times I see procurement programmes where they’re procuring the doors and you go, well, is the security package let yet? No. Good luck with that one then, next. You look at it and laugh and go has everyone gone through the whole walking route of the building to see what doors are powered or not powered, what security they’ve got on them, because it’s CDM by an MEP contractor and this is a recipe for disaster.
GEORGE Yeah, certainly Abloy would be all over that in terms of how you’re doing your escape process.
IAIN But they’re not in the contract anyway, they’ve got a contract to supply someone at the end of it.
PAUL That’s right. I went out on a job the other day, we’re doing a cause and effect test, I’m walking past doors in certain common areas and they’re all powering open all over the place and I’m like you do know that they shouldn’t be doing anything but sitting in a static state? Really. It’s crazy. If you’ve got doors that are powered, fire doors, you don’t want them powering open in a fire because then the compartmentation is gone. It sounds blooming obvious, but it’s like lighting control, the lights to come back on to full light. If you’ve got a door and you’ve got a security system and you’ve got a fire alarm interface where is the interface. Is it like machine acts where it’s got to be a hardwired input to the device causing it to go open or are you trying to do it over a security system which involves layers and layers of non-life safety critical cabling. It’s that kind of approach that doesn’t always get fully considered because it’s so fragmented by CDP.
IAIN I know this isn’t how the world works, but realistically looking at the way it should work is the principal designer should lay out the process for that to be determined. That’s where the design responsibility matrix comes in and then the design responsibility matrix at principal designer level should identify what’s covered by that and then what additional information and processes need to follow in order to complete that matrix when additional information is pumped in. It’s just a badly managed document from the outset and we’re still not really getting on top of that one, there’s a lot of stuff at the bottom end, but there’s not a lot of pressure at the top end to get that bit from it.
GEORGE From a software point of view, Iain, would it be useful trying to figure out whether you could have a design responsibility matrix by back to the BIM model. So, in other words, you’ve actually got a way of allocating responsibilities at different stages to different people. Would that be useful?
IAIN It would, but that brings you back to the system product component issue, so who’s responsible for what part of that within that…This is why I keep coming back to this system-based approach thing. The actual question is who is the fabricator of that part of the building because it’s the fabricator that pulls all of that together and then under what instruction are they operating. is that fabricator talking any design responsibility or no design responsibility and you’ve just got to work it back that way. But who fabricates is for me always the missing link. I’ve got a half-written paper on it but I just keep getting lost, it’s quite hard to articulate in places. It’s almost every example you think of there’s another one, because nothing is bespoke, nothing is systemised it becomes…door sets are probably the easiest ones to think about. A structured approach to the design responsibility matrix has got to be the answer.
MARTIN Is that not tied up with information exchange?
IAIN Sort of, but BS8644 is the key one.
MARTIN Yeah, if you can get that right at the beginning, who’s going to exchange what information at what stage, that covers off your design responsibility matrix, you’ve nailed it at the beginning.
IAIN It does, but I don’t think 8644 is a standard you can just take off and apply, it’s a process that you’ve got to think about for each job. We had that at the roundtable, George, people saying it’s just recommended, well, stick it in the bloody specification then it’s a rule.
PAUL And that’s why I talk about microbiology and water quality all the time because the guide for that ends up being used as a standard and it’s not, it’s a guide.
IAIN Again if you read all the BIM stuff it sort of does dictate that this stuff’s done, it’s all the various roles in BIM and the processes and the myriad of different standards that come together to make up…Everyone gets lost in the technology rather than the basics of working out who’s doing what, who’s responsible. Again, it’s where the contractual stuff, this is where procurement and contracting, because Paul is right about the contractor design proportions, but what happens is people think about it for a bit, realise they haven’t got time and whack it in a contract and move on. And some of the design clauses we see people signing up to are horrendous, 169 pages of amendments of standard form contracts, these are responsible for everything.
PAUL It’s horrific because they end up singing up back-to-back where they’re responsible for the adequacy of the whole design. Then you’re stuck because you’ve got interdependencies like security for the doors, DDA for the doors. I’ve seen jobs where people have procured fire and smoke curtains only to realise that the curtain they’re procuring doesn’t have an earth rating to it, because actually it doesn’t exist for that size. How has it got to the point where they’ve even ordered it? That’s part of the battle with it, with all these different guides that are out there no one wants to deal with the core issue that the subjectology in its own right, including doors because they’re complicated and all the components have got CE marks as well.
Unless you go for the whole shebang of doing proper scheduling of where this stuff sits and what it’s actually there to protect against and classifying it accordingly, you’re already on a hiding to nothing because you’ve identified all the interdependencies of that package. You know what you said earlier, Iain, someone turns around and says, well, I can’t procure the doors yet, why is that? Because you haven’t got the security and the rest of it, but you’re making me responsible for the adequacy of that door, then I ain’t procuring it, you’d be off the job tomorrow, wouldn’t you? They’d be like this guy is a nonconformist, get rid of him.
GEORGE One of the things I’ve been trying to do, you know my sort of mission to get the product library established. We’ve got reasonable interest from quite a few manufacturers who are willing to put data sheets and things like that on. But the other part of the equation is to try and record also what the specification is that that particular product is satisfying, because that’s an important part of the regulations. I was telling Iain that I was talking with MBS, Steven Hammill, at Digital Construction Week, just to see how we could have…let’s say, we’ve just been talking about doors and doors are probably much easier from MBS Chorus’ perspective. I said to Steve can we get even a reference to the specification, I think they often use the term keynotes that are put in BIM models and things to reference back to the spec. he said the problem is that an MBS specification can be 1500-2000 pages, so how do you identify what, because it’s a specification I guess for the building.
It’s a matter of them pulling out what is the specification of that door in that context and I don’t understand enough about specifications to actually make sense of that. I was telling Iain that Steven was interested and willing to consider it, but whether we could bet maybe even an index on the specification, because to some extent if you’ve got a specification that’s 1500 pages as long as you can reference it properly and pull back that particular specification for that door in that location then that could be acceptable. Does anybody have a view? Because without having the specification, that’s the whole part of the point about the golden thread, isn’t it? having a specification that you can then, what was the intended requirement of that door in that particular context.
IAIN It’s a backwards way of thinking about it though, isn’t it? Because the other way around is what do I need it to do and how do I achieve that.
MARTIN Pure performance spec and details spec, isn’t it?
IAIN And this is where you get the mix of the two becomes more difficult, you initially need a performance specification and then you need to technical design to go through and work out how you achieve that. But again, because it’s not a linear process it’s all just done in microcosm, once you’ve got that original document laid out it’s far too much information, everything ends up cascaded, diluted and conflicting and it’s just a mess.
MARTIN If you start off with a performance spec you have to iterate, don’t you, to a solution and then you lose the track.
PAUL You’ve all seen the stuff I did on dampers, I’ve done it for pipes and a few others. (shares screen). Trying to make complex simpler is the only way to do it. If you take pipework, this is all the things for one pipe through one wall that you actually need to go to someone like Hilti or Rockwool with to get them to give you the seal type that you need. And you go that’s just pipework and it’s things such as the jointing method, where that jointing method is in relation to the wall, whether you need continuously sustained insulation for thermal vapours or whether you can do something locally just for heat transfer or whether you can do it this way. You can’t determine that unless you know actually what the fluid temperatures of the materials and things are, it’s impossible.
Then you’ve got to consider is it n the hole with other stuff or not because the aim is if you can…the way I try to look at it is that if a pipe’s doing drainage, it’s got a builders regulation for how you deal with the drainage in the first instance, that bits got to be right. Because if yo u end up with big risers up buildings that are 30 floors, they’re gonna go we want cast steel with certain types of joints on it to go down the building. Then you go, oh great, they’ve put it in a riser with drywall and full size with a hollow floor, there’s nothing there. You go, well, what are you going to anchor and bear it against? They go, well, you can’t so you can’t use that, you’ve got to use a different system, you might go for a high-pressure plastic like a HDPE. But it actually might be that the wall’s incorrect, you need a wall there that is solid concrete or block on 2 or 3 sides to get your anchoring as you go down the building.
All of these things have got to come into this thing here so you know what type of pipe it was meant to be for its inherent purpose before you then get on to the fire seal of it and the manufacturer can tell you how they’re going to deal with it. You’ve got to do it that way. If you’re gonna deal with a specification for it you’ve got to have this bit first of all to do the net bit. What we’re doing is we’re going it’s combustible or non-combustible and we’re relying on someone like a great fire stopping company like LDD or CLM to go away and determine what type of stuff you want for your pipe. That just doesn’t ring right for me. It’s the same with the dampers, you’ve got to understand the space risk again, you’ve got to understand the space risk for this because there may be occasions where you’re doing lab work or something else where you can’t use certain types of materials like stainless steel and things like that because of the fumigation risks, you might have to go for plastics.
You’ve got to have a method to give people the way of going what should it have been originally and what’s been selected to meet that condition. Until you get to that point, as you said. George with the list you sent before, this is what you’d end up having in the BIM asset model, but the templates don’t exist for it yet. But this is what you have, and that’s the flaw with 8644, it doesn’t do this. That’s the only way I can work it out, I’m still working on fire resistants ducts at the moment. All these subjects are complicated in their own right, even doors, what are you protecting against, you’re protecting against the security risk as well, a functionality risk for people, the user, so some might need, then you can start looking at what the fire risk is with it. We’re trying to look at the fire risk at the moment, not the functionality of it, but the functionality comes back to haunt on the fire risk type of the door. Looking at it in a code, part B is the last bit that you do, do the first bit first and then you choose the appropriate product to meet the part B risk at the end.
IAIN Paul, have you done anything to look at the…because everything is done bespoke every time it’s like every decision has been made every time and that’s part of the issue. If you took this to a manufacturing environment you’d solve these problems once and you’d do it that way repeatedly. That’s the big challenge. The systemised approach to building starts to assume that you start to make consistent decisions as a business, so main contractors would almost have their firm method of build.
PAUL Yeah, I agree. The only issue for me is who’s in the zoo. So, you’ve got people doing these who’ve got their own interests at heart, people building the walls, people doing all these other things, they actually don’t understand how what they’re doing can effect the wall or this can actually effect that via the wall. That door might be tested in gypsum that they think they want to use, but actually I’ve got flues involved and need a blockwork wall and suddenly the door is not good. It’s those inter-relationships that you’ve got to somehow get everyone to the point where before you put that in a wall with all of these components in it you know all of these need to house them and you can choose the right wall and the right component to meet all of it. That’s the jigsaw puzzle.
IAIN But we rebuild that jigsaw puzzle almost every single time.
PAUL We do. And I’m not sure you’ll ever change that, to be honest, because…well, maybe with 10 billion pounds and everyone testing every single variant that can ever be built in the world then maybe you will, but that’s a bit in the long grass at the moment. It’s just getting the same sort of thing for that to apply to the others. I’m still working on the others, the pipework one is horrific because when you start looking at pipework you’re laying it bare. You’ve got different materials, makes it a different connection type which means it’s a different seal type. No one’s really looking at it like that.
GEORGE You might say that the solution to this is MMC, but that doesn’t seem to be working, does it?
PAUL You’d have to consider all this stuff in the prefab before, if this was modules of rooms, then you’ve got joint methods where you’re connecting the next room onto it you end up with this UC connection if you’re not careful, if they’re not like a welded or a solid steel flange connection. If it’s all like push fit then you are possibly in the UC world. If the seal wasn’t tested UC and it’s CC then it’s not appropriate, you might have to retest all of those seals to prove the materiality, it becomes very difficult. As I tried to do there, if you went to Hilti or Rockwool and say actually that’s what I need for that one condition. The if you can build them all up by where it’s located in a wall with all the different ones you’ve got by that indicator where it is and you can schedule it out and go I’ve got all this stuff, all these different materials and properties, in that one wall, then you’ve got almost 100% chance of actually getting the right seal for all of those different materials. I can’t see how else you’re going to do it.
The one from Basa cable types is CCA, BCA, all these different cable resistance ratings that you’ve got for classification of reaction to fire and you’ve got acidity and other stuff to it, I’ve never heard of it, I’ve been going through it all because I’ve got to try and schedule that out next in a similar diagram. It’s really not as simple as everyone is trying to make it, you’ve got to get the complex, then try and break it into a simplistic way for people to understand it. And as you said, Iain. you’ve then got to get them to pass that information around at the right time. It’s a big cultural shock, I think.
MARTIN Not one we’re going to solve by Friday.
PAUL No, it’s not. Friday next year, same time.
GEORGE We were doing something last week on carbon and most carbon information that’s available is on concrete, but most of the things that can actually make a difference to building services. And getting embodied carbon information, for example, on a pump is nigh on impossible because you’ve got a very complex assembly of elements.
PAUL We looked at it about 2 years ago, we went through it with the guys who were doing TM65 which is a good read. It’s about embodied carbon in mechanical electrical. Whatever figures you do get, there’s 2 assess methods you can use on EPD and they’re like rocking horse poo, EPDs for plant and stuff. You can be plus and minus 1000%, 2000% either way, you don’t know where you are with it because where’s the cable been mined, where’s it been refined and milled, how’s it been extruded, how’s it been wrapped. All the supply chain handed before it gets to you is nigh on impossible to put a figure against it.
GEORGE Yeah, people are guessing at the moment.