Earlier this month, CABE and CIBSE joined forces for a free, two-day technical symposium and exhibition at London’s ExCel.
CABE President Richard Smith welcomed delegates, noting that despite the significant changes happening in the industry, CABE was there to support and advise its members to meet the challenges.
To prove the point, the first session was a keynote address from the Building Safety Regulator (BSR), provided by Tim Galloway, Deputy Director of the HSE Building Safety Programme. Galloway began by reminding everyone of the horrors of the Grenfell Tower fire and spoke about a broad package of reforms, of which the BSR is part, that will drive improvement. “The fact that you’re here shows you want to uphold standards,” he said.
He advised delegates to “assure yourselves and then assure the regulator. We [the BSR] are not there to look for errors and catch them – instead you now have to demonstrate that there are no errors.”
Galloway was joined by Sandra Ashcroft, Competence Workstream Lead, Building Safety Programme, and Andrew Moore, Head of Operations, Planning and Building Control, for a lively Q&A session. The panel answered everything they could in the time available and invited delegates to contact them personally with further questions.
Building, fire safety and regulation
Head of Training and Development at Quadrant and Vice President of CABE Zoe Cox introduced the session discussing the changes that she was seeing in her sector.
Chair of the Industry Competence Committee Jon Vanstone discussed the Building Safety Act 2022 and its approach to managing risk in England. “The most competent individual can behave incompetently if they aren’t given the right time or tools,” he said. He advised individuals: “Don’t take on more than you are skilled to deliver. Look to upskill, keep competence records and stay informed.”
CABE’s Technical Director Richard Harral spoke about the need for change. “The issues are hardwired into the way our industry operates and what is designed is not what is built,” he said.
As shown by numerous reports, the industry is “wasteful, ineffective, adversarial [and] fragmented, with misaligned aims and capacity issues. This has meant time, cost and outcome are all unpredictable.”
He noted that the new safety regime promised “robust competence frameworks, effi cient systems of assessment and ongoing competence revalidation. You now have to demonstrate you are doing the right thing.”
New build housing quality and surveying
Leon Livermore, CEO of the New Homes Quality Board, had three pleas for developers: keep promises, build to best of their ability and put right what is wrong. He said every customer has the capacity to be vulnerable as they don’t have enough knowledge of the sector. He questioned that if it cost £9bn a year to deal with complaints, wouldn’t it just be more cost effective to get it right in the first place?
Hilary Grayson, Director of Surveying at Sava, echoed this with examples of poor developer practice, and said the customer shouldn’t have to be a surveyor to be able to challenge and win fair treatment.
Sam Piplica, Senior Specialist in Buildings at RICS, discussed the importance of building inspection by a professional before occupancy with an astonishing set of slides showing obvious defects in buildings handed over at completion. The day concluded with Charles Devenish, Managing Director at Adexon Fire & Smoke Curtains, giving a comprehensive talk on improvements, certification and regulations.