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.
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.