Following the findings of the Dame Judith Hackitt report and subsequent release of the Building Safety Act 2022, real estate investors have incurred enormous costs for updating their facades.

Dale Middleton

Dale Middleton

Among others, Crest Nicholson recently reported that its profits had taken a hit of more than 60% due to the cost of retrofitting combustible materials – a total of £105m.

Many developers and housing associations are viewing these cases with increasing anxiety. Not only might there already be defects with the facades of current properties, but there is the question of how developments can be future-proofed against further changes to regulations and kept safe throughout their lifecycle.

The answer: involving facade consultants at every stage of the planning and construction processes for developments and at the beginning of any recladding projects.

A facade consultant can ensure all materials’ specifications follow regulations. When the project goes into tender, the detailed design provides a robust set of specifications for subcontractors to quote, ensuring all parties are pricing the same.

This effort can remove some of the risks within the tendering process as all materials and specifications are clearly defined, which can form tighter margins with no grey, like-for-like areas.

Clear documentation is also essential during construction to meet fire safety regulations. The Building Safety Act states a requirement for competence in design and maintaining a ‘golden thread’ of information regarding facades. The facade consultant can assist through detailed planning and design processes.

Collaborating with architects to ensure the safety of original plans is also a crucial aspect of this role, along with co-ordination between facade consultant, architect and structural engineer.

In the future, as fire safety regulations improve further, more developers will be caught out and forced to pay millions to retrofit their developments. A facade expert can be a pivotal player in future-proofing not only the building itself but also the developers’ reputation and commercial interests.

Dale Middleton is senior project manager at DeSimone Consulting Engineering