BIM4Housing Operations Working Group

BIM4Housing Operations Working Group

ALEX Welcome to this 3rd meeting in 2023 of this Operations working group. I've got some discussion points just to formulate our thinking today and sort of advertising some upcoming activities that we've got going on. So, starting with the tradition that I introduced at the last meeting. I’m going to give you a quick update on where things are from our shared world, but from my perspective, which I know is a bit unique for this group. I’m hoping Richard, George or Jiss can provide us with an update from DCW, which I wasn't actually able to make digital construction week, but we had a round table there. I want to use the opportunity to advertise the upcoming fire around tables. So this is the main activity we've got going on this summer is that we're going to be revising our guidance notes on fire safety.

These are the PDFs that you can access to publications through the BIM4Housing website and we've got a series of roundtables happening through June and into July which are going to be updating those documents. If you've got the opportunity to participate in one of those groups and contribute let's make sure we're signed up for those and then opening up for everybody to have a discussion about any successes, failures, problems, opportunities you've spotted regarding the activities that you're getting involved with at the moment and really any other business at that point.

From my world, I’m interested in the actual delivery of social housing and how that's actually going on. So the first thing that we're noticing is that some of the developers that we need to partner with in order to deliver new properties are starting to struggle a little bit because of economic situations. And potentially we've got problems with inflation and people being locked into priced contracts and those sorts of things which are definitely causing stress on the development side of things. So tolerant went needs up in February and that impacted on carbon homes delivery capability. It's not clear if they've actually got back online at the moment and Lane End is a smaller developer but used by L&Q and Onward homes. It looks like Lane End is undergoing some rescue at the moment, so we'll see how that actually pans out, but that stopped some development activities that those people have planned. I guess some of us might be on the sharp end of that as well actually being involved directly in the delivery of programmes of work and new build and so we need to be mindful of the fact that some people are struggling at the moment in these things.

The other thing that's happening, which I thought was particularly interesting, was Guinness announcing that they’re going to be merging with Shepherds Bush Housing Group to create a group of approximately 70,000 assets. This is a bit of an emerging trend. The driver for that seems to have been that Shepherds Bush Housing Association have received a G3V2 rating back in June, which obviously means that they need to look for new ways of managing that business. And there is a general trend that I'm noticing, which is that the regulator is coming along and is providing these more forceful guidance and ratings for governance and viability, that’s what those rating systems are for, and that's causing some, especially the smaller housing associations, to seek mergers through it.

Now, that's not the only reason that's driving mergers, but it does seem to be a major way of expanding housing stock at the moment is through acquisition of underperforming smaller housing associations. So, again, this is part of the way that our organisations, our world, is coalescing a little bit. I think it’s interesting to watch the regulator’s findings. There's been some pretty shocking changes due to self-reporting on some of these regulations as well in recent months where, for example, there's an organisation that was given a G1V1 back in November, but self-reported a problem and has had a dramatic downgrade in March. So the regulator is getting a bit more teeth and I think this is causing a lot of change in the business.

The other main activity that’s happening is getting your buildings up and ready for the register for October. I know we talked about this extensively at the last meeting, but I'd be interested to know what's happened between March and now in terms of progress towards the October deadline for registration of these high risk residential buildings with the new regulator. So that's gonna be keeping people very busy for the summer. The other thing was tenant satisfaction measures. So housing associations and local authorities were asked to baseline tenant satisfaction back in April and the mean customer satisfaction dropped from 69 to 60% across the London boroughs. The article I was reading was just about London, 26 of the London boroughs reported, according to Housemark, satisfaction between 35 and 45%.

There was some suggestion that that very low score was potentially due to the way that the survey had been conducted. It had been conducted online and they think they could possibly have scored up to 15% more by conducting telephone-based surveys. So, it’s interesting to see that the method of collection on tenant satisfaction is causing change. This is something that’s come out of the social housing white paper from a couple of years ago, this is becoming a key performance indicator for lots of organisations on the ongoing delivery of services to housing residents.

The last thing is to shout out for an activity I’m involved in later this month which is the CIH Conference in Manchester 27th-29th. If you’re going to be going I’m going to be on my stand and I’m thinking about doing a BIM4housing meet-up, so if you’re interested in that get in touch and we’ll arrange an evening. Does anybody want to comment or come back on any of those points?

PAUL BRAY About the building register for applications that needs to be in ready for October, I think there’s a lot of confusion in the industry around what’s actually wanted from the housing providers and people with the high-rise buildings and when the safety cases and safety case reports have to be completed by. Because some people are getting mixed up between what is prescribed information, is that part of the safety case or is it the safety case? And I think the regulator is confused themselves or they’re not giving clear signals, it would be helpful to understand that. And also I read recently that it’s been difficult to register even if you wanted to register early. My organisation is not looking to register until about the 28th September, we want to get all of our ducks in a row and all our ducks are scattered around the pond at the moment.

GEORGE I think what Paul said there is really important and I do think there's confusion around what the the deadlines are and what we've got to achieve. I'm also finding it with the construction companies as well because they're not clear in terms of whether something is going to be reviewed by the regulator or not. Does anybody have any clearer ideas on that?

SIMON COLLERY I think with regard to registration, it was up and down a bit for technical reasons and I think that's the same for the key building information. But don't really have any direct information about those matters. With regard to the distinction between the building safety case and the building safety case reports, that is now less of a mystery. What the building safety case needs to include, what the limits are of what hackitt refers to as all the data and documentation that relates to the safety of a building, that’s potentially vast. The safety case will be quite a large body of information whereas the report will be something based on that and readable for the building safety regulator only, the audience will be just the building safety regulator.

GEORGE Yes, one of the things I’d like to do on that. Simon, your roundtable at DCW had Adelard on it as well, so I think that would be useful to review the notes that you made on that. Alex has asked us to cover what the other tables did as well, so we’ve got the information that Paul White and the design team did.

PAUL BRAY Something else I want to say about the safety case, there’s no set template to use. I know George is working on that, but there’s a fear, I think, of failure, that you could put forward a safety case to the regulator and because the regulator is not telling you what they want it could fail, it could be classed as not sufficient. Because there is not enough information out there about what they really want, whether your safety case will be satisfactory for their purposes because people I’ve been talking with feel that the regulator doesn’t even know themselves. So, it would be helpful to get some really clear steer on that and to know what a finished safety case looks like. I think we won’t find out until sometime after April next year, really.

SIMON COLLERY I think, Paul, the building safety regulator has explicitly said on several occasions they’re not going to give a set of requirements, they’re not going to provide a specific template. Because, it sounds like a bit of a cop out, they don’t want it to become a mere compliance exercise so you can tick all the boxes. But people who have been involved in creating building safety cases have used the list of 10 or 12 items that are listed on the HSE website about the building safety case. That doesn’t sound very helpful, but it is pretty much 100% the same as the list of items that are in the consultation documents about the Building Safety Act, in other words, it’s things like as-built drawings, mandatory occurrence reporting, information management. It is a list of 10 or so items and it includes things that are also on the key building information.

So, although the HSE hasn’t really said enough about what the building safety case is, the consultation documents, in a way, said too much, pretty much every piece of data and information that relates to a building is going to be in the golden thread. In a way that just sounds more confusing, but there is something there to work with, so I would have used those original 10 or 12 items to start off with.

PAUL BRAY Yeah, I get that and I know there’s guides to follow, but I’ll use the example of when the Fire Safety Order first came out in 2006 the Fire & Rescue services, when they were doing checks for fire certificates, were going around carrying out what they classed as fire safety audits at properties, premises, and there was no set template. So, all the Fire & Rescue services wee doing fire risk assessment audits based on a template that they each developed, and at that time there was probably 46 Fire & Rescue services, so you had 46 different versions of firer risk assessment templates. Then by about 2009 they realised, no, we need to have a standard template to follow in order to carry out an audit. An audit is quite a comprehensive review of the buildings so it’s not just a checklist, so then they developed what was called the Hampshire Forum fire safety audit which is a form used by all fire and rescue services. That’s where i think the area we’re heading into is.

I absolutely accept that the information that’s required is in the guidance, but it’s about how you interpret that, how you apply it and how much information you put in. I think what’ll happen after April next year and in the years afterwards is they will identify what’s classed as a standard template, that you’ve got your PAS 79 risk assessment form, there will need to be. And it seems a shame that you’ve got to wait until people realise 2 or 3 years later when you could have had that assistance, but this is the way that the government or the Home Office, or whoever is in charge, work. They never want to tell you what to do because they don’t want to be held accountable for doing it wrong. They’re afraid of getting it wrong or afraid of being accused that, oh, you said this and now you’re doing that. I fully accept what you’re saying, Simon, but from what I’m hearing from a colleague that works on a national level around lots of different housing providers, they’re going to really struggle getting it…they’ve got a fear of getting it wrong when they’ve tried their best to get it right because there is a lack of real information out there. It’s just one of those conversation pieces that will go on and on and we’ll look back and go it could have been done differently.

SIMON COLLERY I absolutely agree with you, Paul. Adelard and people who've worked with them and similar consultancies know that that a safety case is a specific framework that is very well understood in the industries where it's been used and so you the bulk of your building safety case is going to be about your safety management system and your individual claims arguments and evidence for each aspect of the safety of the building. I don’t think it’s possible for the building safety regulator to say this is not a building safety case if you’ve actually structured it around a safety case framework.

PAUL BRAY Yeah, time will tell and it will be interesting what happens in the next few months, because there’s going to be a lot of scrambling around, I reckon.

ALEX OLDMAN I wonder if as a group if we think that even sharing actually working documents would be helpful. We’ve got to be mindful of group think but also clearly we’re engaging with consultants and we’re doing good work internally, but we’re looking for developing best practice. Just thinking in practical terms, Paul and others, with the problems that you’ve got, would it be helpful to be able to see somebody else’s safety case to compare those. Obviously there might be some politics around that.

SIMON COLLERY Yeah, there are people who are wary of giving away what they’re also trying to sell. Like myself. I joined this group to find out and share information, but I work for people who expect a fairly high degree of decorum when it comes to sharing things that are actually…

ALEX OLDMAN Yeah, intellectual property. I’m in the same situation, I think we’re all commercial people, but the point about this group really is to develop and share best practice, to come forward with that guidance, lots of people having lots of different opinions. It’s about providing a north star direction that we can all go in and correct the course if we need to, without necessarily giving away trade secrets. The other way of looking at it is this is an opportunity to identify smart people that you want to work with and then pick up the phone and have that call with them and go, actually, you’re talking the right thing. I know that those conversations have happened and commercial work comes out of this as well, so ti works both ways really. But you get out what you put in.

SIMON COLLERY Yeah, I’m not a salesman, I’m not a business development manager and unfortunately I just need to…I’ve shared too much, apparently, but this is BIM4Housing and they’ve shared a lot of very useful information that we haven’t been able to get from anywhere else, so I think we do owe it to the group. I think BIM4housing is a lot more housing association people that local authority people and i don’t really understand why local authority people are being more secretive than anybody, as far as I can see. They had the early adopters group, but the building safety regulator says they don’t really want to talk to consultancies, they’ll only talk to the early adopters group. But I work for one of the authorities that’s in the early adopters group and I don’t know what they’ve discovered either, I haven’t had access to it. I’ve seen some of their sample building safety cases but they’re all 3 or 4 years old.

GEORGE I think one of the challenges, I personally have given away a lot of Active Plan IP, not so much BIM4Housing IP, because I’m very committed to try and get other people to contribute because if we can get that then we’ve got a chance. Nobody can do it on their won, it’s such a massive task that we’ve got on therefore I think collaboration is the only way of achieving that. The workshops that we’ve got coming up, I think it’s probably worth taking a moment, I was talking with another software firm yesterday, Riskbase, they do fire risk assessment technology. They’ve seen what we’ve been doing in terms of the data sheets for each of the asset types and that’s the exercise, Alex, that we’re going to be looking at over the next month or so.

That resulted from the fact that when we were working with HACT the housing association group and we were producing the housing association data dictionary, what we discovered was that there was a number of us that were technology people who could produce really good data schemas and data sets for all the different asset types so that we could define what the different asset information requirements were, but in the group we didn’t have people like Elliot who is an expert in fire doors, or Stephen who is an expert in fire dampers. And therefore what we were finding was that lack of knowledge base meant we were just ending up with generic COBie data: manufacturing, model number, things like that, without actually identifying what the key information might be.

So, that’s why we embarked on the whole golden thread initiative project which has given us some really good data sheets on all the different product types, but we know need to turn that into proper machine-readable information. So, the next stage in the exercise, from a data point of view if we’re interested in having machine-readable information that can be therefore reused and audited there’s an exercise to do, maybe with HACT, to revisit that. The fact is if we can identify what information is important to know about a cavity barrier then that should be generic to anybody.

One of the things I’d like to see if people are interested in is moving that forward. But we can’t do it on our own, Richard and Jiss are very good at coordinating the events so that we can bring together people that have got the knowledge and are willing to share some information, but actually some of the work is just digging down and spending a couple of hours going and sharing your knowledge. Then we can get some data people to turn that into something that is reusable. I think what we should be doing, Alex, is probably when we’re running the workshops to identify as we go through them, Richard is going to be coordinating most of these, to actually identify people that are willing to give up a couple of hours of their time to actually just help bring together the right properties. Maybe we look at that at the end of the session, Alex. WE can pull up fire doors or dampers and we can get some really informed thinking on that to say how can we turn this into something that’s useable. Would that interest you, Elliott?

ELLIOTT DAWSON Absolutely. Just to go back to Simon’s point, I do fully appreciate as a consultancy you have IP and you’re potentially giving away something that you would normally charge for. But George, when i go back to our initial conversations a year and a half ago, there’s nobody more secretive than fire door companies since Grenfell about test data and the way of doing things. However, I see it as a social and moral responsibility for us to, as Alex said, be that north star that tries to lead people in the right direction and you hope that similar people on this group with the same moral compass will not only take the information that you’ve given but then maybe take up your services as a result of seeing the information that you’ve given. That’s where I stand. Ultimately, anybody can take something down, deconstruct it, look at how it’s made and then put it back together. What they can’t do is,

I’m a great believer in people buy people and if you are prepared to give your time up in these scenarios time and time again then that should count for something when commercial opportunities come along. And one does sometimes lead to the other, sometimes it doesn’t. Personally, we’ve not had any business out of these modules yet, but we’re at the start of a very long fire journey. You only have to look at Linkedin last night, there was another massive fire in London, on the balconies, fortunately no fatalities. But the profile is just going to be continuous. I’ll get off my soapbox now, but I appreciate every side of the argument, especially Simon’s point, but the reason we are here/I am here is we were heavily involved in Grenfell and we have a massive social responsibility to right the wrongs of yesteryear that fell at everybody’s feet, not just the doors, not just the dampers, the windows, it was a total catastrophe and we all want to move forward.

SIMON COLLERY Elliott, I am certainly willing to put time into BIM4housing without any caveats. My background is knowledge management, information management, data management, using things like taxonomies, controlled vocabularies, ontologies, relationships and high level descriptions of how data and documentation and things break down. I’m happy to use those skills with the work of BIM4housing. But I think one of the biggest barriers that I’ve had is that BIM is, no matter what they say and no matter how they paint it and re-describe it, BIM is for the construction industry, it is not for housing.

So, I appreciate that this is called BIm4housing, but everything to do with the golden thread with the clients I talk to so far is geared towards buildings: the Building Safety Act, the building safety regulator, as if the safety of the building guarantees the safety of the residents. But it doesn’t take into account the fact that at handover when the building goes from the construction phase to the occupation phase, the building also transforms into housing, and ecosystem for people, and BIM is not taking that into account. Neither are building safety cases, neither are any of the IT systems and Digital Construction Week was a prime example. It was all aimed at the money, construction, not at housing providers.

GEORGE Well, yeah, OK, I accept that is a prominent view that BIM is about…well, in fact it’s worse than that actually, Simon, people think BIM is about 3D modelling. It really isn’t, it is about better information management. And the UK BIM Alliance has been rebranded as Nima, not that I particularly think that’s a great idea, but I understand the premise behind it because we’re trying to move away from thinking about information just around the 3D model. What I’m very keen to do is to look at using the technology, spatial models for example, to be able to investigate what risks are how you can then, in a live way, demonstrate that the people can be kept safe if everything works together. Now, I also agree with you, the whole ecosystem side of things in terms of how developments are done and how people live etc, that’s also important.

I wonder if I can just explain what we’re trying to do with the up-and-coming workshops. (shares screen). We collaborated with HACT (the Housing Association Charitable Trust) to produce a standard set of asset information requirements. This was work that was done, we were involved, BRE were involved and several consultancies and quite a few of the housing associations were involved as well. We came up with a master list of asset types, there’s 250 asset types there, and we also went through and started adding synonyms to them as well because sometimes you end up with far more names than you actually need simply because people call things differently. We also have put them into the classification system Uniclass and we’ve also got IFC classification against things and also a description. Let me just show you what we as Active Plan did with that information. We then put it into our asset information requirements tool, this is a master list that we used.

So, against the door we then hold in a database the information we want or we don’t want. So, in our particular application we can switch off all of the attributes that aren’t really required. They may be required from a design point of view but they’re not required from an asset management point of view, perhaps. You might argue that you want finish, but you perhaps don’t need material or features. So, these are all terms that have been defined using the international standard for data exchange called COBie. You can see we’ve got a lot of data here, and you can also add in here what documents you need as well. This is used to produce a data template that then people can fill in. Everything that’s there at the moment is exactly the same whether it’s a fire door, a pump, a smoke damper, because really what it is it’s just basically saying manufacturer, model number and reference. So there is nothing that makes this specific to a door.

The thing that makes it specific to a door are what are called attributes. These attributes here are the standard attributes that come from BIM, so looking at infiltration, for example, or security rating. There’s 25 different attributes that a subject matter expert has decided from the thousands of attributes that are in IFC are relevant to this type of product, like fire rating, for example. Now, what we’ve also got is a connection through to a data Templater which allows us to go into all sorts of different property sets of information. So, again, this is BIMspeak, but this is used to create standardised data templates that you can issue to a supply chain to provide all of their information. This is core data that can then be used for whatever purpose. This can be issued to somebody like Elliott to gather the information about smoke stops and things like this and it can also be put into a product library.

The challenge we’ve got is that for each of these different asset types you need to determine what additional information, like security rating or mechanical load rating, is important and what isn’t. That’s the big challenge and it’s only the subject matter experts that can do that. What we did a couple of years ago, we said for 12 key asset types what information do we need to know. We started off with just an explanation of what a fire door is and the component elements, and we tried to do this with each of the asset types. And we then asked six questions: what risk is something mitigating? We’re doing this so it can relate to the safety case. So, the fire door limits the risk of smoke buildup or heat buildup. We then learned that in many cases people can damage or prevent a fire door from working properly by painting over it or blocking it open, so we drilled into the detail of that.

We then said, and this is the key question, what information you need to know. Now, the challenge with that is that it comes back to my ‘it depends’ question, so it depends on what you want the information for, do you need it when you’re specifying, for example. So, this is the information that the subject matter experts in fire doors say is needed when you’re doing a design, product test reports and things like that. Door closer type and the type of materials and things. This is the sort of information that ideally should be machine-readable, but some of this obviously is going to be in data sheets. If you can imagine my previous example, if we could put these into data templates with drop-downs saying what the materials of the frame are etc, is this information critical or not, I suppose it depends. And then construction information, so gap tolerances and things like that, installation detail.

So you can see how much knowledge and information the working groups pulled together, and this is what we’re going to review over these next few weeks. This to some extent is relatively raw data. So, what tasks or procedures are required. So, this comes back to coming up with standard method statements, standard ways of doing inspections, for example. We’ve been doing a lot of work on that in recent weeks. And then levels of competency. And we’ve got the same for fire dampers and smoke dampers and the like. So, is that the sort of thing from an Operations group - the operations team, for example - is that the sort of thing you’d find useful? Being able to take that and distill it into something that is reusable.

SIMON COLLERY On my side, yes, but I can’t answer for the people who work in facilities management or buildings management.

ELLIOTT DAWSON George, as we’ve said before, and I certainly said this when Stephen and I were sat at the roundtable a couple of weeks ago, it would be great if we could whittle that information down automatically when you type in a previous component part. As a manufacturer we would fill out every answer to that question as to how our product could and would perform according to its testing evidence, but the machine would actually whittle the products down for the relevant either architect, specifier, or building owner to say, right, this is our building, these are the previous elements, component parts of that building, therefore these are the compatible fire doors or dampers or whatever it may be that relate to the previous answers.

ALEX OLDMAN So, do you mean by matching a fire door to a building specification? Can you give an example?

ELLIOTT DAWSON I use the example of if you’re an architect and you start from the ground up, so you literally find a piece of land, you’ll say this is the height of the building therefore these are the footings that are required. This is what the composition of the walls, external and internal, are going to be made of. Therefore at that point instantly you could say, well, the internal walls are going to be made of nofines, therefore that rules out Distinction Doors fire doors straight away, but it might leave another product that you can then use. It might be the same for fire dampers, it might be that we’re using overhead cabling or whatever and then we can’t use X, Y and Z. I get baffled with Paul when he starts talking about all the different regulations, but it would be a case of almost like a process of elimination as you build the component parts of that building these are the products that are left. Whether it be a fire door whether it be a damper, whatever it may be, at least then if the manufacturer has already inserted all the relevant ‘what if’ scenarios to their testing.

Because if you’ve got a specifier or an architect, they ain’t gonna go through all those questions, they’re not gonna run through a 12 page document on fire doors when they’ve probably got to do that for another 100-200 component parts of that building, it will take them forever. Whereas if as George is saying they are machine-readable then that machine can kind of work out what a viable product is to then progress through the building.

GEORGE Yeah, and then the other thing is that at some stage, hopefully, we’re gonna have some way of interpreting the building regulations in a way that is consumable, because thats the big gotcha at the moment.

SIMON COLLERY That’s something I’m doing at the moment, George, at least from a knowledge management point of view. I’m trying to pull out the parts of the Building Safety Act that relate directly to the golden thread, so that includes building safety case, mandatory occurrence reporting, assessment of building safety risks and things like the roles of principal accountable person and the building safety regulator. I’ve been trying to pull together the connections between them, the relationships between them.

GEORGE We’re doing some of that as well, Simon, so it might be worth getting together on that. What I’m really interested in is the outcome. The point I was making was actually slightly different and that is building regulations. So, the building regulations are the things that are…I think that’s statutory, there’s 800 standards referred to in building regs which is completely impossible for any designer or manufacturer to be able to get on top of, and it’s growing all the time. So, I think at some stage somebody’s going to need to, well the industry I guess is the only way of doing it because the government won’t do it, to be able to interpret which of those building regs is important in which context. I find it completely overwhelming, how can we actually do this because if you do have an incident and you get pulled up in front of a barrister where does the liability lie for that?

SIMON COLLERY Yeah, I agree with you, George, and I’m also trying to find out what the association between various different pieces of legislation are with the overall project of the golden thread. You mentioned some obscure piece of legislation (Defective Premises Act) which I had to add into my knowledge base. Some of them are actually very small but they have a massive impact. Somebody was pointing out that the CDM demands that the health and safety files are updated every time anything that represents a change in them occurs in the building, but that doesn’t happen in practice in any of the health and safety files that I’ve been able to look at. In other words, there is no log of changes that have been made in the building that impact on the safety features, for example.

GEORGE No, absolutely. People have to do it, it’s statutory, but if nobody is overseeing it then it doesn’t happen.

SIMON COLLERY Yeah, and who would know. At least in a local authority you’ve got architects working not with housing but only with the development, so it’s out of their hands.

ALEX OLDMAN I think what we’re saying is our forthcoming roundtables will be incredibly useful for people to participate in. (shares screen). These events are all taking place at 11am, apart from fire dampers which is at 1.30pm, over the next couple of weeks, so you can register with those.

The next topic is an update on DCW. I couldn’t make DCW on the day, so apologies there. Is anyone able to give us an update on the working groups, how well attended it was, any conclusions that have been drawn.

GEORGE (shares screen). This was the groups. We had one on product selection, another on how do we get design completed earlier in the process. The one that Simon was in was about the building safety case, whether it’s just a report or whether it’s something ongoing, and that was very clear that it’s ongoing. And we also had one on asset management. This has reminded me that Ben Blackwood from a big developer, he was supposed to be making the notes and I’ve not got the notes from him, so we need to chase that up, Richard.

Just to give you an example, these are the four questions that we asked (each table was covering one of these): How do we prevent the incorrect design or selection of products? Another was how do we ensure the continuity and relationship of asset safety information through the asset life cycle. The purpose of that, it came out of work that we’ve been doing with Barnet Housing where we identified that what people were doing on fire stopping inspections, they were recording the inspection, and that was the thing that was going into the data, rather than the fact that the asset that was being inspected. The reason that’s important is that a fire collar or fire door, for example, may be inspected 20-30 times over its life and therefore what we need to do is make sure that that recording of the inspection is held against that asset.

The third question was how do we ensure that the Building Safety data is live and not just an outdated snapshot in time. And then how do we ensure that incomplete Building Services Design doesn’t impact on construction. That’s really about compartments and things like that. This one was Paul McSoley’s slide just illustrating how we might have a batter way of taking a descriptive specification and then making it prescriptive, selecting a product. So, this is a performance based requirement and then to be able to then, when it gets delivered, then how do you manage change going forward. Here this is something that he’s gone through looking at the selection of products for a particular purpose and then looking at how all the different products can then form part of a particular solution.

And then looking at some form of decision tree to say at what point in time are we actually selecting the product, this is coming back to what Elliott was saying earlier that there is a series of questions that you can go through that get you from the building regs, which is this one right up at the top left, through the process so you end up with a completed solution. And then looking at that from a point of view of various different QA processes that can be used to manage that process through. We then had another group looking at the selection of products. This was led by Paul White and basically competency was a key area and also robust information requirements. These are basically the points that we need to pull into some sort of report. So, that’s a bit of feedback from my side. Are there any questions on the methodology that we’re using?

STEPHEN GORE I was on Paul White’s group, I think you’ve probably done it justice. There was obviously the issue on competency, it’s an ongoing challenge at the minute, and it kind of comes back to what we were talking about in the beginning with sharing knowledge. As a manufacturer there are, I suppose, IP issues, but that’s more related around the performance of a specific product, not about the knowledge that someone needs to understand about selecting the right product. We’re down to what questions do they need to ask because it’s almost the unknown unknowns, whereas I’ve got no problem with sharing and educating people in making them aware of, for example, alternative wall constructions and what they need to consider when they’re using a fire damper, a smoke damper or anything else that’s penetrating a fire compartment. There’s certain things that they need to be aware of and that’s not company IP, but were conscious that sometimes we have the knowledge that other people don’t

So, as Elliott alluded to earlier, I don’t have a problem with sharing that knowledge because the more people that know it the more chances we’ve got of them not being installed in the wrong compartment structure, which is what we’re all trying to achieve out of this.

ALEX OLDMAN Can I ask two really naive questions at this point. The first thing is in the construction process, how does a customer actually select a product? So, if I wanted to fit something to my home I’d go to a preferred supplier and I’d be googling for the thing that I wanted, I’d be using online catalogues. I’m going to assume that there’s similar catalogues from major building providers and that people are searching for criteria that works on that, but there might be another process that you go through. That’s the first part of the question.

STEPHEN GORE I can only speak for us. We have, there might be online selection tools, it’s gonna depend on the product, catalogues, bits and pieces. I suppose that the person generally selecting a fire damper is not a homeowner, so I’m dangerously assuming a certain level of competence with the person that’s doing the selection in the first place. The way our business is structured, we typically go out and deal with a lot of consultants so stuff might be driven by specification. We can’t tell you what classification you need for a particular application, that’s for the designer to decide, we’re not doing the fire strategy for them. But if they come to us and say we need a product that has this classification and this is the supporting construction we’re trying to fit it into, then there’s either selection tools, hole size of guides, and literature already available. And in our case there’s BIM models with some products as well that have some of the data built into that.

ALEX OLDMAN At that point they’ve already selected the supplier, they’re already talking to you. So, it’s within your product catalogue. I guess that’s how I’d work as well as a householder, I’d go to a trusted supplier, somebody I know I fitted in the past and it works well, the warranty is good etc. The followup question, and this picks up on Simon’s earlier point which is obviously 90% + of all buildings already exist. An example, Guinness are getting some Shepherds Bush Housing group assets as part of a merging process. They’ve got some new buildings and they need to know about those buildings, and they are existing (this is what I call retro-BIM), you’ve got to have some detailed knowledge. Some might be housing, let’s imagine there’s some blocks in that, so now they’ve got responsibility for those blocks and they’ve got to now go in and explore and expand.

This loops back to George’s point about defining asset information requirements which is straightforward when you’re doing product selections and manufacturers say fill this in, but when I go to a fire damper or fire door how do I know what make and model it is? I’ve got to go looking for plates and make a guess. I might look at it and go, well, I don’t know, so now I’m gonna rip it out and put something new instead and I’ve got to look at the performance of that in that particular context. That’s a very real problem because most buildings already exist.

STEPHEN GORE Absolutely. The problem you could have is if you’re unsure about your fire door and you decide to rip it out, would you even know what the fire strategy is? What are you gonna replace it with? If you don’t know what it is that you’ve got then you don’t know what the strategy was in the first place when that building was designed. What do you put in its place?

GEORGE Exactly. I think as a layperson in the building industry, although I’ve been in it for donkey’s years, I’m not burdened with the sort of education that people like Stephen have got, so I can look at things from a common sense perspective, and it’s bloody complicated. It’s very complicated when you consider that the product selection needs to relate to what system it’s going into and then what that system is expected to do. So what you've got to do really is come down from the activities that a space is performing. What are people doing in the spaces, because at the end of the day buildings are about people and what people are doing in them, typically, unless it’s a manufacturing plant. So therefore it’s a matter of understanding what spaces you’ve got, what people are doing in them, what the environmental requirement is of those spaces and then what systems are supporting those environmental requirements and then what types of products are needed to make that environment work. And then when you’ve done all that you can then pick your product.

The problem is that people will sometimes come along and say, well, we need another fire damper because the other one has failed, let’s just go and buy the cheapest fire damper we can, or what’s the most available. Therefore they’re not taking account of the context in which it’s being used and that’s really why Paul McSoley has been trying to put together that decision tree process so it can prompt the professionals to actually do the job. If you look at it you’ve got a range of different people that are involved in that decision process. You’ve got, arguably, an asset manager who would understand what the spaces are being used for, you might have somebody like an architect or a surveyor who would say what wall construct it is so you can understand what substrate it’s going into. You then probably need a services engineer to understand what’s the item of kit that’s on either side that’s driving the system. And then it’s only at that point you can actually select the product.

And all that time you’ve got a maintenance person who hasn’t got any of those skills. In fact the people who are probably making the decisions are probably commercial people. So, it becomes a very complex thing, really. But I don’t think we have to give up, we have to figure out a way of doing it, or the industry does. The trouble is us as individuals, you can’t just get buried in it.

ALEX OLDMAN I just wanted to get updates from group members, but we’re now down to only a few members and it might be a relatively short update. I wonder if there is any particular activities that people have been doing over the last couple of months, obviously we’ve had input towards building safety registration already.

STEPHEN GORE Obviously I kind of sit on the periphery of this, but there was something that i came across yesterday that might be of interest to the wider group which is a BS standard for the digital management of fire safety information. It’s BS8644, it looks like it was published the middle of last year. It was something that came up at a presentation yesterday at the ASFP ATM. Alan Sharman was the keynote speaker and he made reference to it because he was talking about the golden thread part 3 and part 4, part 3 being related to new build and part 4 being related to the problem we’ve just been discussing of existing building stock and how do you ascertain what assets you’ve got in your building.

GEORGE When you say part 3 and part 4, does that suggest there’s a publication?

STEPHEN GORE I’ve got no idea, it was the first time I’ve ever heard of it. Whether the ASFP are going to share his presentation or not I don’t know. If they are I’ll see if it’s free to make available to this group and then I can share that. But it was more about I think what information is required where you have a building that’s a new build against an existing building with some more guidance about how you might go about ascertaining what assets are installed in that building. Because that was one of the questions that got asked, have I effectively got to do invasive fire assessments, which I’ve had to support some of the big tier 1s with doing on buildings that are less than 10 years old because they don’t even know what they’ve made their walls out of.

GEORGE And what was the consensus about invasive?

STEPHEN GORE He said it was potentially a good idea but suggested there was going to be some further guidance coming out from the government that’s a bit more prescriptive on what they need to do, so to watch this space was kind of the takeaway I took from it.

PAUL BRAY I put a bit on the chat box, and it relates to what I was talking about with Simon. I realise that I came across this new regulation only on Tuesday and i haven’t had a lot of time to look at it. The government are putting out some new regulations under the Building Safety Act it seems to me by stealth, they don’t really publicise them. This regulation talks about key information, it’s only come out this week or very recently. It’s worth having a look at, there’s a lot of useful stuff in there, especially in the world you're working in, Simon, I think. You need to be aware of this, as far as I understand there are up to 32 statues that may be released by the government in support of the Building Safety Act and they don’t publicise them. The person that identified this to me works with the Home Office writing guidance and he wasn’t even aware of it until he found it by accident by looking somewhere else. So have a look at that if you’re involved in BIMs, it may be useful, it may be already telling you what you’re doing is right.

ALEX OLDMAN You link you’ve sent is in draught so this is draught legislation, so it hasn’t got an act, it’s still a regulation. I think the government is taking a different approach to previous years, they’re trying to put a lot of things into many Acts, so not specifically about the high-risk buildings you’re talking about here, but there is a new act coming out this year called the Regulation of Social Housing Act which they’re trying to incorporate, amongst other things, the new Decent Homes 2 standard into. This is specific to social housing, it’s about making sure that housing is of a particular standard. They’re introducing, it’s part of a bigger, wider building safety issue which isn’t about fire, the focus is on damp and mould, and they’re trying to get in some new damp and mould legislation, following the death of a child in Rochdale. They’re going to put legislation in about the handling and management of damp in properties, because it’s a big problem, in housing generally speaking, but particularly in some social housing in certain areas.

So, it’s just interesting that they’re using the mechanism of Acts that are already, we’ve had the opening of parliament, we’ve had the speech so we know what legislation is coming through and stuff is popping up, they’re trying to drop stuff in the Acts. So it’s a bit different, I’m seeing new things coming in Acts when they’ve been through say three readings already and they’re about to go to the House of Lords and they go, no, hang on, we’re going to revise this and put it up. So, this government is working in a different way to the way we’ve seen governments working perhaps over the last 10 years, they’re a bit more reactive to changes in what is happening in the time.

Interesting, Paul, 6th April, well we’ve got to find the actual legislation behind that then, that link you’ve got is draft.

PAUL BRAY When I first looked at it I found it again and it said draft and I did a search on it again and it came up with the one that was the current one. It comes in under section 74 of the Building Safety Act and some of them have amended the Fire Safety Order as well, there was a section 156, taking out stuff around the number of persons employed so you no longer need fire persons employed to carry out a risk assessment. I don’t think the government are updating it all quickly, if that’s coming on the 6th April that should be archived, it should go straight to the proper link.

ALEX OLDMAN I’ve just given you the link, it’s now UK statutory instrument number 396. That’s the issued version.

PAUL BRAY The Building Safety Act is likely to be introducing 32 statues as part of this Act and there has been two or three that have been brought out already, this is one of those. So, just be aware the Building Safety Act is not the complete article at the moment, there is other bits of legislation that are going to be drip-fed to us over the next months and years, I imagine.

SIMON COLLERY This is secondary legislation so it’s not going to become an Act, it’s going to remain a regulation. The difference between primary and secondary legislation, secondary legislation continues parts of the primary legislation. It’s something about the UK legal system…

RICHARD Primary legislation must be in the party’s election manifesto. Secondary legislation doesn’t need to be, it can be introduced at a later stage. But primary legislation, what will become Acts of parliament, must be in a party’s manifesto.

ALEX OLDMAN Just reflecting on this, this building information one looks like what we need to provide for the register, i think this is the details of exactly what you’re providing…well not exactly, it’s really wooly, it doesn’t say what and how you're’ going to measure it. But it looks to me like the form that you fill in to send to the building safety regulator to register your building on the structure and the makeup of the building. Any final points? Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday the 26th September at 11am. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you for your contributions everybody.



The above link, is to a reasonably new regulation made under the Building Safety act and does provide a lot of information about what the regulator wants. The Higher-Risk Buildings (Key Building Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2023