Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building

Opinion

It has been difficult for main contractors to do the right thing

2 September 2020 | By Readers' comments

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CM 01/07: A good read

I’ve just finished reading the July/August issue of Construction Manager and, rather than just thinking it, I wanted to congratulate everyone concerned on a first class piece of work. 

The range of articles, their attractiveness and the depth of content are hugely impressive – as are the ways in which the magazine supports and reflects the work of CIOB members and showcases that work to others.  

Professor John Bale

Grenfell: Rydon director denies ‘offloading’ contractual obligations (CM, 30 July)

As a member of the timber frame sector, which may potentially pay a price for this debacle if the 11m height ban comes into force, I can’t help but wonder how a failure to discharge the most basic duties under CDM regs managed to permeate through every level of this project. 

At the heart of the Grenfell disaster appears to be a wholesale abdication of responsibility for the dissemination of design information and risk criteria and how specification changes were then managed through the contractor chain. 

I understand the need for an inquiry, but the CDM regs are pretty clear about how things should work and who has to do what and when. It will be interesting to see what comes out the back of this inquiry and whether we will get lumbered with additional legislation or if the CDM regs will stay as they are. 

John Groom

CM Coronavirus survey results (CM, 22 May)

I couldn’t help notice the comment in the article from a specialist contractor that read: “We have been disappointed with a number of main contractors enforcing contract law to try to get workers to site.”

It has been very difficult for main contractors trying to do the right thing and keep business and in turn livelihoods afloat. We in turn have had equal pressure from some of our clients and this has disappointingly been passed down the line in some cases. Some clients, however, have been very supportive. 

You don’t appear to have acknowledged this and it has been, and continues to be, a huge challenge for us all.

Tim Chell

Construction’s return quicker than expected, but uncertainty remains (CM, 4 August)

Some good news across the board, but the commercial fit out sector will take time to recover whilst clients embrace the new normal. 

The style and nature of central London office space will be questioned over the coming months while clients determine what works for them with homeworking, further covid restrictions.

Businesses will need to determine how this impacts their ability to be productive as well find balance with the day to day lives of their staff who have cope with, health concerns, children and commuting in uncertain times.

Paul Fitzpatrick

Government to publish draft Building Safety Bill (CM, 20 July)

Three years after the Grenfell fire and major concerns have been expressed about both external cladding and the fire safety management systems. Furthermore we have major concerns over buildings with floors under 18m as highlighted in the Bolton students’ accommodation fire. 

We as an industry need to re-examine the management and control systems at design, construction and FM stage – as well as how fire risk assessment is carried out and implemented. 

I’ve been in building control and construction in both the private and public sectors for 40 years and real lives matter – you cannot bring people back from the dead and the physical and mental effects of the Grenfell and other fires need redressing by a safer built environment. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also needs to get its house in order as it is under-resourced and its enforcement leaves a lot to be desired.

Peter Hyde

Green Homes Grant addresses ‘cowboy’ fears (CM, 4 August)

The scheme only runs for five months! Plenty of time for the cowboys to get in and fill their boots and cease trading before TrustMark’s annual audit comes around.

Wayne Francis

The ‘weed out the cowboys’ is a bit of a ruse. The real problem is weeding out the council staff and the so-called inspectors and assessors who do not want to check the work, who do not understand what’s involved, and within weeks we will have the situation of firms not being paid and payment taking months. 

Are we excited about this scheme? No we are not. 

R Wilson

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