Contractual Workstream - Session 3-20220620

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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