Last month, a consultation from the British Board of Agrément revealed intense dissatisfaction amongst building product manufacturers regarding the quality of workmanship within the RMI sector.
A culture of value engineering is revealed, highlighting how top quality, high performance materials are becoming hazardous due to poor or inappropriate engineering. This critique should be a big wake-up call to property owners, investors and landlords alike.
Indicative of a persisting knowledge gap within the repair and maintenance community, around a systems-based approach, this lack of capability creates considerable risk for everyone from architect to occupant. It also leaves the asset owner legally vulnerable, especially against a fast-changing and much stricter regulatory framework.
However, with far greater importance being placed on the value of comprehensive accurate building data, to drive quality and transparency throughout the construction journey, handover and ongoing O&M, we are seeing answers to long-standing problems emerge.
The hope is a ‘Golden Thread of Information’, which requires a full record of digital fingerprints, across the lifespan of a building, will end value engineering and bad installation across the board, improving RMI skills.
The asset owner will become the crucial driver to get to this destination, and they now need to step-up and take the lead towards delivering safer, higher-quality buildings. As the final client, they wield the ultimate power to force improvement and standardisation, across planned starts and existing assets.
They must adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards bad substitution, which can easily be addressed through comprehensive digital information collection, management and storage as well as a more forensic, informed and regular inspection programme. This will help ensure only like-for-like replacements are made.
I cannot stress enough how valuable accurate and complete data is, when taken in the context of a building’s life, its owner and occupants. We urgently need to regard no-risk as a non-negotiable, no-compromise criteria. Regarded in this light, project information possesses an equal value to the bricks and mortar.
Fortunately, the upcoming Fire Safety Act and Building Safety Bill are driving a change in attitude. I would urge asset owners, not already doing so, to take the essential steps to ensure there are no data gaps in existing properties or future developments. These will only encourage and excuse value engineering, when we should be looking to phase it out.
It’s then about taking measures to remediate these ‘white spaces’. Fortunately the tools exist to do so, and powerful digital platforms are available now to help achieve a complete portfolio of building data and information.
These are the first steps towards ensuring your assets not only comply with the new normal, but to delivering safe, comfortable and correctly maintained properties for end users and occupants.
Further, you will be playing your part in ensuring bad building practice becomes a thing of the past.
Tom Boland, Head of Digitalisation, Zutec