Building Safer Futures: Insights from the November Roundtable Event

In a collaborative effort to enhance the efficiency of building remediation processes and contribute to overall safety, we recently held a Roundtable event to discuss how we can unite industry expertise to foster a holistic approach for residential fire remediation. This open forum brought together minds from Client-Side Support, Managing Agents, Freeholders, Project Quantity Surveyors, Client Administrators, and Fire Engineering. 

The event served as an exceptional platform for participants to openly discuss challenges and share experiences. Attendees had the opportunity to explore common hurdles and gain insights into successful navigation and resolution of similar obstacles. The collaborative atmosphere emphasized the shared commitment to making buildings safer and more secure. Here, we’ll dive into the key takeaways from the Envoy Roundtable event and explore the insights shared by industry experts. 

1. Streamlining BSR Responses and Pre-site Assessments 

Participants emphasized the potential challenges associated with obtaining timely responses from the BSR on building safety cases. There was a collective recognition of the importance of assessing buildings before they reach the site to enhance remediation efficiency. 

2. Funding, Insurance, and Life Safety Perspectives 

The discussion highlighted the multifaceted considerations in building safety, with an emphasis on funding not being the sole concern. Insights were shared on the crucial role of insurance and the necessity of adopting a life safety perspective, as often perceived by insurers from an asset-oriented standpoint. 

3. Defining Ideal Safety Cases and Collaborative Standards 

David Baker discussed the challenge of defining an ideal safety case and the collaborative efforts to establish standards. As well as acknowledging the uncertainty in the industry. 

The discussion extended to the realization that the safety case is not the end of the journey, with concerns raised about varying interpretations of PAS reports. This highlighted the need for clarity and consistency in understanding and implementing safety measures. 

A participant expressed concerns about lending issues for leaseholders, underscoring the importance of safety cases in the context of building lending. This perspective emphasized the broader financial implications tied to safety considerations. 

4. Challenges for Managing Agents and Addressing Risk Aversion 

Abigail Blumzon shared insights on the challenges posed to managing agents by legislation changes and the establishment of a BSR. She mentioned that they have set up a working group with varied in-house experts from across their multi-disciplinary teams, working to review legislation, guidance and information, and to act as an advisory group to help mitigate risks and keep projects running smoothly. 

5.Thorough Building Investigations and Design Trade-offs 

A prominent concern echoed by many at the roundtable was the the need for thorough building investigations to avoid issues. Discussed the potential safety trade-offs between introducing design at the second stage and traditional approaches. Is the introduction of the BSR process moving the market to a 2 stage PCSA tender process? 

6.Improving Communication with DLUHC 

The need for enhanced communication between DLUHC and the industry was explored, with suggestions including industry calls, regular updates, and the establishment of a market expert panel. This emphasized the importance of cohesive and transparent communication channels within the industry.   

Attendee Takeaways: 

Martyn Francis acknowledged the uniqueness of each project and the need for bespoke solutions, particularly regarding the wide-reaching implications of the BSR. 

Danny Carty encouraged perseverance in the ever-changing building industry environment. 

David Baker recognized obstacles in the industry-wide remediation of High-Rise Buildings (HRBs) and the need to resolve funding process issues. 

Chris Peters emphasized the strong skill set within the sector and acknowledged the industry-wide obstacles. 

Darren Wilkes-Brough highlighted the collaborative nature of the sector and proposed a review of the delivery method, suggesting a Risk/Contingency allocation for all projects. 

In conclusion, the Envoy Roundtable Event provided a valuable space for industry professionals to collaboratively address challenges, share insights, and pave the way for safer and more efficient building processes. The key takeaways underscored the need for ongoing collaboration, adaptability, and proactive solutions in the ever-evolving landscape of building safety. 

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Navigating Construction Challenges: Insights from the Envoy Roundtable Event

In a dynamic and ever-changing construction industry, staying ahead of the curve is essential for success. Recently, at the Envoy Roundtable Event, industry leaders came together to discuss the topic and question around the pressing concerns and challenges they face daily and how we can unite industry expertise to foster a holistic approach for residential fire remediation. This event creates a platform for collaboration, learning, and networking to better support freeholders and developers in delivering safe and secure living environments for residents. From labour shortages to compliance issues and the need for standardized information, the event shed light on the complex landscape of construction and remediation. Here, we’ll dive into the key takeaways from the Envoy Roundtable event and explore the insights shared by industry experts.

Labour Shortage and Its Impact

A prominent concern echoed by many at the roundtable was the shortage of skilled labour in the construction sector. Following Brexit and COVID, a significant number of workers returned to Europe and the Baltic States, adding additional pressure, as a good number of the skilled workforce originally came from these regions. The scarcity of skilled workers poses challenges in meeting project deadlines and budgets.

David Baker highlighted the struggles of obtaining good contractors within a reasonable timeframe. He emphasized the sluggish bureaucratic processes involved in government applications, taking up to two years to secure funding approval. The backlog of processing and registering buildings further exacerbates the issue.

The Challenge of Compliance and Environmental Credibility

Contractors and developers face a growing need for compliance with environmental regulations. This includes ensuring the competence and credibility of contractors and maintaining environmental standards.

One of the participants underscored importance of selecting contractors based on capacity, compliance, competence, and lead times rather than solely focusing on cost. He also highlighted the trend of individuals breaking away from subcontractors to establish their own companies, further straining the labour pool.

Procurement Routes

The conversation around preferred contractors vs. competitive tenders was raised by attendees. It’s clear that the industry is inclined to move towards a new approach.

Standardized Information and Building Knowledge

One common frustration among industry experts was the lack of readily available building information. Property managers often lacked critical knowledge about the buildings they oversee. The absence of ‘as-built’ information can lead to complications and delays when issues arise.

To address this issue, participants stressed the importance of the new standardised “golden thread” of information for each building. This would provide essential data for contractors and property managers, reducing uncertainty and risks associated with remediation and construction projects.

Fire Engineers and Façade Understanding

The role of fire engineers in the remediation process was another significant topic of discussion. It is a challenge for fire engineers to work through the process of reporting on a building with very little ‘as-built’ information, and the reports can only be based on select areas of opening up. This limits the ability of fire engineers to deliver a detailed guaranteed report of the complete wall build-up, making the reports somewhat subjective.

Material Innovation and Skill Development

The need for investing in training and facilities was emphasised to address the skill shortage in the industry. Pay increases may be necessary to attract and retain skilled workers, especially when safety is at stake.

The Debate Over PAS and Peer Review

One of the participants expressed reservations about the current PAS (Publicly Available Specification) route and advocated for a more holistic approach to external wall assessments. He stressed the importance of building upon existing frameworks to ensure stability in the industry.

In conclusion, the Envoy Roundtable event brought to light several critical challenges facing the construction and remediation industry. From labour shortages to compliance issues, standardized information, and the role of fire engineers, the discussions underscored the need for collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to training and safety. By addressing these challenges collectively, the industry can navigate its way towards more efficient and sustainable construction practices.

“It was a very beneficial morning sharing experiences, solutions, and ideas on how to navigate through an ever-changing regime of Building Safety. I look forward to attending future events. Envoy, thank you for the invite and for being great hosts.” – Robert McMillan

Due to the high demand and requests from the industry to hold another one as soon as possible, we are planning another Roundtable event in November. Make sure you don’t miss out on our upcoming roundtable event in November by subscribing to our newsletter.

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