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Call for building control 'culture change' post Grenfell

4 May 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

A culture change in building control is needed in order to avoid disasters like Grenfell Tower in the future.

That's according to a director of Local Authority Building Control (LABC), which represents all local authority building control teams in England and Wales.

The call came from the not-for-profit organisation's commercial director Martin Taylor at a recent fire safety seminar.

Taylor said: “Dame Judith Hackitt has challenged the industry to change following the dreadful Grenfell Tower fire. 

"Our view is all parts must come together to change the culture now and not wait for any changes to the regulations and guidance.

"For too long there has been a race to the bottom where building clients have been looking for the least interference at the least cost. 

"And we all know where that race ended up. 

"A more cooperative outlook with competition over quality and competencies rather than just price will benefit the industry as a whole and lead to better, safer and more compliant building projects."

His view was echoed by Diane Marshall, NHBC head of technical services, who said: "There are currently two parallel systems of Building Control delivery in place, with a lack of overarching common requirements and guidance for all Building Control Bodies (BCBs).

"NHBC strongly believes that a single overarching licencing body should be provided to create consistency for the Building Control industry. This would address the concerns over differences in competence and competition by setting one set of standards and regulations. To achieve this, the current regulatory system must be simplified."

Taylor sits on two working groups as part of the Hackitt Review into the Grenfell Tower fire - the design, construction and refurbishment group, and the 'Golden Thread' group.

The Golden Thread group focussed on ways of preserving the original design intent throughout complex and high risk building projects and making sure any changes go through a formal review process.

 

Diane Marshall, NHBC Head of Technical Services said: "There are currently two parallel systems of Building Control delivery in place, with a lack of overarching common requirements and guidance for all Building Control Bodies (BCBs).
"NHBC strongly believes that a single overarching licencing body should be provided to create consistency for the Building Control industry. This would address the concerns over differences in competence and competition by setting one set of standards and regulations. To achieve this, the current regulatory system must be simplified."
She added: "NHBC recognises and supports the need for a cultural shift in the way that the regulatory framework is delivered. In particular, we have identified the following areas as requiring attention:
 
·         Design approval prior to construction – This could have a positive impact on the construction industry ensuring that fire safety measures are agreed before work commences and providing a secure base for the golden thread running through the life of the building
 
·         Appointed persons - A designated person or persons throughout the design and construction phases could take responsibility for co-ordinating Building Regulations compliance is met. At design and construction stages this function would work as a link between the person carrying out the work and the independent third party building control function
 
·         Regulation 9 – To ensure that there are no conflicts, all BCBs should strictly adhere to compliance with the principles of Regulation 9 of The Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2010 regarding independence and impartiality.

 

Commenting further on how what areas of building control needed attention, Marshall added: "NHBC recognises and supports the need for a cultural shift in the way that the regulatory framework is delivered. In particular, we have identified the following areas as requiring attention:

 "Design approval prior to construction – This could have a positive impact on the construction industry ensuring that fire safety measures are agreed before work commences and providing a secure base for the golden thread running through the life of the building
 
"Appointed persons - A designated person or persons throughout the design and construction phases could take responsibility for co-ordinating Building Regulations compliance is met. At design and construction stages this function would work as a link between the person carrying out the work and the independent third party building control function
 
"Regulation 9 – To ensure that there are no conflicts, all BCBs should strictly adhere to compliance with the principles of Regulation 9 of The Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2010 regarding independence and impartiality."

Comments

Murphy v Brentwood removes a Local Authority Building Control responsibility for economic loss, which has for twenty or so years allowed Local Authorities to starve their Building Control of resources, both technical and financial. This with the diminished role of Site Engineers and Clerks of Works has removed the on site checks and balances. The last disaster that made central government concern, was Ronan Point fifty years ago,(killing four people); will the current Government now provide the necessary resources and statutory controls to enable the Building Control professionals to fully protect the public in an environment that is becoming more densely populated.

Eur Ing Robert Jones CEng FIStructE, 8 May 2018

BC officers need more training. Just have to look at them reviewing door blower test results! Also it would help if they surveyed every house not just a sample. If significant problems arise they should take the knock on their insurance?

Tim Fenn , 9 May 2018

It's not just building control that needs a shake up Health and Safety regulators need to wake up. Every week fatalities occur in the construction industry, sometimes more than one.

Sheila, 10 May 2018

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