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  • Writer's pictureMark Pratten

Airey Miller Attends CIOB 'Safer Building UK'

Airey Miller Technical Director, Mark Pratten, attended the Chartered Institute of Building Safer Building UK conference on the 26th May 2022. Here are some of his key takeaways from the event.

The conference was well attended, with guest speakers including Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, Dame Judith Hackitt, Peter Baker and Graham Watts, alongside other industry leaders. The conversation was primarily around the Building Safety Act (BSA), with the main focus being that 'change starts now'. The BSA is now enforced and building owners must comply. Secondary legislation is already being published.

Lord Stephen Greenhalgh

Lord Stephen Greenhalgh emphasised the need to address the building safety problem. He noted that there is a government funding package for cladding and emphasised that the industry and developers should be fixing critical fire safety defects and that charges and levies will be imposed to generate further funding to address these defects. The use of Remediation Contribution Orders stood out in Lord Greenhalgh's speech and he noted that government will ensure that the industry pays, not allowing it to hide behind complex company structurers, special purpose vehicles and shell companies.

Dame Judith Hackitt

Dame Judith Hackitt spoke about proportionality and her disappointment with the industry’s lack of uptake and momentum on leading the building safety charge. Dame Hackitt said that over half of Gateway 1 applications were returned by the Building Safety Regulator as they were insufficient. This demonstrates the lack of understanding within the industry.

Peter Baker

Peter Baker who is chief inspector of buildings and leads the BSR. Peter communicated the need for a holistic approach to address structural and fire risks. He ran through the timeline of events and the key dates are:

  • September 2022 – Digital solution

  • April 2023 – Building Register opens

  • April 2024 – Building assessment commences and safety case register

  • October 2023 – Accountable Person will be required under law to manage Fire and Structural Risks

The sessions focused on the Building Safety Act and addressed matters such as competency, culture and best practice, procurement and achieving the right building safety outcomes as well as preparing safety cases.


Anthony Taylor

The built environment competence under BSI Flex 8670 was discussed. The principal Designer and Contractor as well as having to modify 8673 from the BSM to “manage safety in residential buildings” this will enable the AP to deliver the requirements of the act. The introduction of this now sets out who can be a principal contractor and what qualities they need to have to be able to work in the industry. One interesting point that was raised that these requirements are for the industry and not just for buildings of any particular height, although additional competence requirements are identified for Duty Holders to work on HRB. The main aim to instil confidence back into the industry.

A cultural change..........

A cultural change needs to happen and Kier are embracing this and the requirements of the act by putting processes and procedures in place to assess individual projects for fire safety, during this process they worked with the “Building a safer future charter” to enable the framework to be developed. Their supply chain will be brought up to speed by working with them to obtain third party accreditations in their respective fields to provide comfort on the level of competence from their supply chain. A critical product safety list is being devised and is linked to procurement and supply chain to ensure they have better information across the business.

BIM and Information Management…………

Vicki Reynolds

BIM and Information Management and the golden thread was discussed in detail by Vicki Reynolds from i3PT. This is clearly considered to be one of the most important aspects of the BSA in ensuring that proper information is obtained in the industry to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time. The golden thread will be unique to the asset, using digital products to support the process. Information needs to be relevant and appropriate. The BSA will require building owners to implement a safety management system under a “Plan, Do, Check, Act” approach, linked to the safety case. Guidance will be developed by the government following a number of industry steering groups, but this may not be for some time and time is ticking.

Simon Mosey

Procurement was discussed and Simon Mosey could not understand why the BIM process is not being adopted by the industry and clients, it facilitates and delivers the gateway processes under the Act and identifies roles and responsibilities and ensures accountability.

Airey Miller have been an advocate of BIM and Information management and unfortunately too many client believe that this is delivered by the Architect (as they are usually appointed first) and so the narrative is driven by the perception that “BIM level 2” is through the building “revit” 3D model. This is far form the case and the is only a small fraction of what BIM is for. Even the modelling in “BIM” is not the drawing, but the information model that can be linked to the pretty picture.

Procurement .....

Rebeca Rees

Rebeca Rees from Trower’s and Hamlins identified that the price model of quality and cost is not fairly weighted, with quality assessed on a median approach of “we never give a zero and no one ever gets a 10 so we will go in the middle” this then takes the balance of the procurement assessment to the price with is weighted against lowest price and then higher price is awarded the lower points. This does not achieve a “MEAT” outcome, it only gives a tick box process to meet procurement regulations and advocates a race to the bottom.

Mark Pratten agree that if a successful procurement approach is to be obtained, Clients should understand what they want with meaningful outputs clearly defined. Clients should know what the cost for the project is and then benchmark the tender price. The lowest price is not the actual cost of the work, it is just what the market is competing against. Who can put in the lowest bid and risk getting the job and then the contractors invariably “walks up the price” or the contractor simply cannot deliver it. This adds more cost to the clients who will need to spend more money on monitoring of the quality of works, the information coming from the contractor and potentially dealing with regular disputes on costs, which then leads to delays. Benchmarking quality responses should be around the project and not delivering social value (although this is important). Clients should be asking their consultants to define the relevant quality questions are before completing these tender exercises. This then provides a clear framework as to how to accurately award the marks. Airey Miller ensure that our procurement approach adopts this process and we understand the cost and can identify the quality drivers for the scheme, which should have been in place at commencement of the project thorough the Project Execution Plan.

Paul Nash

Paul Nash table his “procuring for building safety” document which complies the latest guidance including the construction play book, construction the gold standard, MHCLG collaborative procurement and Trowers and Hamlins white paper: Price evaluation models for the housing sector. He identifies the 4 C’s of Culture, Compliance, Competence and Control.

At Airey Miller we provide the necessary resources to our colleagues through our quality management systems, regular meetings, CPD, feedback and lessons learnt and importantly a management structure that leads by example and listens to our technical and non-technical staff. Understanding and cultivating the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours of our team ensures that we provide a holistic service to our clients.

The safety Case….

Andrew Bulmer

The final session ended with the safety case and resident engagement. Andrew Bulmer would like to see a nation wide campaign for articulating what resident engagement is in its simplest terms, having complex systems in place is not the answer and sometimes the simple measures of a notice board can be really effective. They have to accommodate different types of people that respond in different ways to communication. Whatever the answer is the response needs to be proportionate and appropriate as leaseholders will be paying for this.

Brent O'Halloran

Brent O’Halloran discussed the approach to safety cases for housing associations with a significant amount of stock. He highlighted the need to approach the safety case regime in a different way, moving from a siloed linear compliance route to fire and structural building risks, to a more holistic building by building approach and to get the information gathered by the relevant technical disciplines and present this in a building by building way and evaluation and responding to the question, given the data gathered “is my building safe?” Brent stated that there is a balance to be struck where resident engagement does not become resident control with the building safety of occupant and other persons moving in and around the building are not restricted to the point of not being able to live their lives, for example BBQ’s on balconies have now been banned, but smoking for instance has not.

Caroline Gumble

Ending the seminar was Caroline Gumble CIOB CEO who gave her key points of more needs to be done with Collaboration and information sharing to deliver better buildings, together with PI Insurance companies to unlock the skills we have in the industry to enable them to address and continue to practice.

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