A recent release from London Fire Brigade, in response to Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, highlights the construction industry’s “once in a generation opportunity to make buildings safer”.
Quality control of construction processes cover a whole range of issues and there are few requirements more important than appropriate inspection of life-saving fire safety measures, whether they be active or passive precautions.
There is unfortunately sufficient evidence from recent years, both cited in the press and specifically from our own experience, of many buildings - commercial, high-rise and even simple low-rise residential properties, which are built without adequate quality control processes and handed over to the end user with a substantial number of defects. These can range from the critical, right down to being simply frustrating and avoidable, due to a lack of proper consideration of the consequences of such deficiencies.
Of course, not all issues will prove to be as concerning and life-threatening as those associated with fire safety.
In essence, London Fire Brigade asserts the need for “a loophole to be closed that means that some very technical fire safety elements can be designed without the involvement of a competent fire safety professional”. And part of their recommendation is to insist on “a robust independent on-site inspection program that ensures the fire safety elements of a building’s design are translated into the finished construction.”
It is this recommendation that we at GHPC would wholeheartedly reinforce.
In our considerable experience of the construction industry, we know that clients who engage independent quality control inspections as part of their construction process eliminate significantly more defects before they are able to become an issue. And nowhere is this more obvious than when it comes to fire safety measures.
With appropriate procedures put in place as part of the external auditing process which include suitable hold points (where no works can progress until certain high-risk elements have been inspected and signed off), items such as smoke barriers, fire compartmentation, fire doors, smoke vents, pressurisation systems etc. (to name but a few), and their associated certification and test criteria, can be properly assessed, making sure that each element has been installed correctly in accordance with the design and specification. This approach ensures a formal, independent audit trail exists to provide surety to future users and owners of the building that it has been built properly and in compliance with fire safety requirements.
Independent audit processes ensure that those inspecting key elements of the construction process remain outside of any company or contractual politics and commercial pressures, which others working for the contractor or developer may be under when they are charged with balancing cost and timescale with quality.
Independent auditors give the client or company head office the opportunity to have additional oversight and it’s fair to say that the costs of employing an independent quality surveyor are insignificant to the overall costs of a project. Yet the impact on constructing quality, defect-free buildings and, above all, life-saving measures can be considerably beneficial both commercially and from a legal compliance perspective, ensuring company directors are meeting their obligations.
What value do independent quality control surveyors add?
Independent quality control surveyors will:
Monitor, review and provide guidance on, the quality of construction and workmanship on your project
Ensure critical design elements (such as fire safety measures) have been constructed in accordance with the design, specification and in compliance with legal requirements
Provide a comprehensive audit trail of project and quality progress with key hold points clearly inspected and recorded
Assist your project team delivering the highest quality standards, on-time and to budget
Offer advice in developing solutions on-site as soon as problems arise
Be up-to-date with an extensive range of regulations, statutes and directives
Provide peace-of-mind to clients, funders and developers since they are acting independently on your behalf and can ultimately provide surety that construction projects will be as defect-free as possible
Engaging experienced, knowledgeable and impartial personnel who can add real value to a project should be a prerequisite within the construction industry on any project to get it right first time. The routine appointment of independent quality control inspections through an external surveying process is something which more clients and project originators should seriously consider to enhance the quality of construction and improve safety measures in buildings throughout the UK.
A final thought - Operation & Maintenance Manuals
The parties responsible for the management and maintenance of completed buildings should, at the very least, be provided with comprehensive Operation and Maintenance Manuals to inform them (as non-specialists) how to use, inspect and maintain the building once it has been handed over, providing guidance on basic checks and maintenance regimes, as well as when they will need to call in specialists for advice, support and additional certification.
How can GHPC help?
GHPC Group Ltd provides teams of independent quality control surveyors and clerk of works on a national basis to property developers, contractors and clients to assist in the compliance and quality of their buildings under construction. Our knowledge, experience and operational methods will add real value to your projects, giving you the reassurance that critical safety measures are being constructed correctly on your projects and improving the quality of construction generally, to enhance your brand reputation, reduce the cost of post-completion defects and reduce any disruption or discomfort for your customers.
We can also help you to develop Quality Control Systems to formalise a consistent and well-controlled process for controlling quality of construction across your business, co-ordinating internal procedures with external support measures and working with you to identify the key areas of risk in your business.
GHPC can also provide O&M Manual Services for any building under construction as well as for completed buildings.
We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your quality control requirements, whether new projects which have not yet commenced or current projects which need assistance and improvement.
A once in a generation opportunity to make buildings safer
Home > News > November 17 - A once in a generation opportunity to make buildings safer
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About GHPC Group Ltd
GHPC Group Ltd is a multi-disciplinary construction consultancy covering the whole of the UK, which offers an integrated development solution to the construction industry from an experienced team of Chartered Surveyors, Quality Control Experts, Principal Designers, CDM and Health & Safety Experts, Architectural Designers & Planners, Defects Claims Experts and Project Managers.
The company’s extensive professional expertise ensures delivery of a very realistic view of the development process, providing Clients with a value-added, quality service for a flexible & workable price.
GHPC works with a number of FTSE 100 Companies, with Client base ranging from residential and strategic infrastructure, to education, rail, leisure and defence.
For further information, please contact Emma Loftus, Group Head of Brand & Marketing at [email protected] or on 07876 503 702.