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‘Golden thread’ should apply to all buildings – CIOB survey

21 September 2020

Image: Dreamstime

Almost three-quarters of respondents to a CIOB survey on the ‘golden thread’ – the looming requirement for accurate and up-to-date records of project data – said it should apply to all buildings, not just the higher-risk residential buildings as set out in the government’s draft Building Safety Bill.

The research, carried out by the CIOB and software company i3PT Certification, asked industry professionals about their understanding of the golden thread and how it will be delivered in practice.

Initial analysis shows some 74% of respondents felt the draft bill did not go far enough, and that the golden thread should become law for all buildings, while a further 13% said it was ‘relevant’ to other sectors. Many were concerned about healthcare, care homes and schools.

The research indicated that industry culture would be the biggest obstacle to implementing the golden thread. Some 82% of respondents picked this out as a ‘blocker’ to change, followed by commercial investment (52%), lack of repercussions (48%), unclear requirements (43%) and technology (32%).

Furthermore, more than half (54%) agreed with the statement, “the industry understands the need to change but the right culture is not in place to support it”. Only 9% disagreed.

The consensus is it will take construction a long time to implement the changes necessary to deliver a golden thread of information on all high-risk projects. Only 7% of respondents thought it would take less than 12 months, while one in five said it would take between one and two years. Some 41% thought it would require two to five years and 23% said over five years. 

Encouragingly though, 85% of survey respondents said the golden thread will “enable better decision-making and create a clearer chain of accountability across the built environment”.

The ‘golden thread’ was identified by Dame Judith Hackitt in her Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, published after the Grenfell fire. She highlighted the need for “robust record keeping, with a digital ‘golden thread’ of key building information running through all phases of design, construction and occupation”.

The i3PT/CIOB survey gathered responses from 156 built environment professionals and organisations. A full analysis will be published this month.

Join the Building Safety Bill webinar at the Digital Construction Summit 2020 to hear more detail about the survey findings.