Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building


Are we not capable of keeping up build quality standards?

28 September 2020

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Permitted development rights (CM, September 2020 issue)

Having started in the building industry 62 years ago, I am cognisant of the deadening effect of planning regulations on the progress of developments. 

I am amazed at suggestions that the extension of Permitted Development Rights could lead to a decline in construction quality (p7, CM September 2020). Are we, as members of the Chartered Institute of Building, not capable of keeping up build quality standards?

We do not set space standards, create regulations or control design criteria. That is for others. All we must do is build whatever is funded to the highest possible standards. 

Any proposal that frees industry from the stranglehold of planning bureaucracy should be welcomed. 

Grahame Wiggin

Laing O’Rourke targets 90% factory-built by 2025 (CM, 1 September)

I wonder in the future if Ray O’Rourke will be seen, on a par with Brunel and the likes, as a visionary who leads on, drives and commits to more modern, productive construction practices.

David Hall

Precast has been around for 200 years.

David Chisholm

I have design experience on DfMA for two major projects for Laing O’Rourke when I was in WSP. Nobody is considering it. Only some big players are taking all the work.

Rahul Aggarwal

Factory-built products are not new – it’s just that the British building industry hates change. They prefer to block it with meaningless red tape and so-called ‘experts’ (both trade and media) pontificating on products and systems they know nothing about. Even India is some 11 years ahead of the UK in this area!


Crossrail bill spirals to £19bn (CM, 24 August)

London, London. There are other parts of the UK who would just love to have some of these billions being spent on them. Why has the cost spiralled due to covid-19? Nobody has been working – material prices must have stayed the same. Disappointed north-westerner.

Graham Skeer

This is an extremely challenging project by any standards and to try at this stage hold people accountable for cost over-runs can only be described as premature judgement. You have to fully understand the complexity of this project before you pass any judgement whatsoever.

Hugh Kidd

Insurer calls for school sprinklers (CM, 7 September)

What this article shows is that you can make a case for anything by selective use of statistics. It does not make a case for sprinklers in schools; that would require something rather more robust. Risk to life is very low, not least because most fires occur out of school hours. 

Owen Jordan

I see many reports of this type from insurers. While the underlying message is sound and morally correct, this is essentially driven by insurers wanting to control their own exposure to risk, i.e. avoidance of claims. 

Possibly if they included information regarding how adopting better measures would reduce the premiums and by what average amount, it would help schools to secure the required funding.


In doing fire risk assessment (FRA) in schools in Yorkshire, the common theme is fire doors. The current legislation will not allow an old door to be a fire door. Fire doors generally need replacing on common areas but school repair budgets will not allow.

Steve Jervis

It’s great that this subject is being discussed but disappointing that it has to be, because this has been covered before, many years ago. 

Back in 2007 the report The Impact of School Fires: A study of the wider economic and social impacts on schools and the local community was published by the LGA educational research programme. 

Zurich is quoted in the report, raising similar issues, but did anyone listen?

Paul Bray

I recently undertook a fire risk assessment of a primary school when it was closed. There were contractors installing fire doors in the school at the time of the audit. 

One problem noted was that they had removed all the old doors before installing the new doors – this of course left the school without any fire compartmentation.

Phillip Leeder