Following the release of her Interim Report on the Building Regulations review post the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Dame Judith Hackitt today commented to the BBC that she was "shocked" by some of the practices she had heard about and called for a “cultural change” and better enforcement to "hold to account those who try to cut corners".
Sadly this comes as no surprise to many of us in the construction industry, who have seen quality control processes decline significantly over the last two decades.
Dame Judith’s interim findings released today advise that “it has become clear that the whole system of regulation…is not fit for purpose, leaving room for those who want to take shortcuts to do so.”
She adds that “this should not be interpreted as meaning that buildings are unsafe. Major building failures, including large-scale fires, are very rare and there are many construction firms, building owners, landlords and others in the system who do the right thing and recognise their responsibilities.”
The interim report also highlights that “there is plenty of good practice but it is not difficult to see how those who are inclined to take shortcuts can do so. Change control and quality assurance are poor throughout the process. What is initially designed is not what is being built, and quality assurance of materials and people is seriously lacking”.
What is clear from the interim report is the necessity for a good quality control procedure on all construction projects and is something that needs to be reviewed and put in place by clients and contractors as soon as possible, to ensure such failures are not permitted to happen.
Quality Control surveyors have such an important role to play throughout the construction of any building, as does training of personnel. Independent audit processes ensure that those inspecting key elements of the construction process remain outside of any company or contractual politics and commercial pressures, adding real value to the process and providing clients with a really effective second pair of eyes on-site, helping to keep projects on track and ensure that critical design elements have been constructed in accordance with the design, specification and in compliance with legal requirements.
Dame Judith also comments in her interim report that "A cultural and behavioural change of similar magnitude is now required across the whole sector to deliver an effective system that ensures complex buildings are built and maintained so that they are safe for people to live in for many years after the original construction. The mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings to others must stop. Everyone’s focus must be on doing the right things because it is their responsibility as part of a system which provides buildings that are safe and sustainable for those who will live in and use them for many decades.”
In addition to Dame Judith’s remarks, speaking to the BBC, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said that public safety was "paramount", adding: "We are determined to make sure that we learn the lessons from the fire and from the inquiries that are taking place."
At GHPC, we believe this is a real opportunity for the construction industry to significantly improve the quality control processes that have for so long fallen out of favour, and we would recommend that clients, public bodies and industry professionals should read the interim report and consider reviewing their quality control procedures now in order to plan ahead.
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.
Grenfell Tower Fire: Interim Report
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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.
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