With Michael Gove back in the Cabinet and again heading up the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC), he is now pressing for the 48 housebuilders who signed the original cladding pledge to commit to remediate life critical fire safety works in buildings over 11 metres, to sign a contract that will ensure critical work is undertaken promptly.
In a letter to developers back in January, the government set out the following six commitments that it asked companies to sign up to:
- A commitment to prompt remediation of historical defects that are already identified or are discovered in future in buildings where the developer or persons associated with it has had a role in the development.
- Regular reporting on pace and transparency of work.
- Compliance with agreed controls and frameworks on the proportionality of the work to be undertaken.
- Contribution to an 11 to 18-metre remediation fund for those buildings where direct remediation has not occurred or cannot occur.
- Evidence of senior officers and managers being fit and proper persons to undertake major scale development with lasting social and economic impact.
- Suitable processes to audit, assure, and review membership, including consequences of joining and conditions of admission for new entrants.
With many buildings across England still requiring remediation work to be done, by adopting a digital approach to existing and incoming data on these buildings, some of the commitments above can be reached and guidelines met via transparent, clear and traceable information that can determine what work is needed, and how it can be tracked and completed in a compliant way.
Digitisation can introduce quicker, simpler and better processes and tools to use data in the right way to make the right decisions.
By digitising data including legacy information – and leveraging the power of a Construction SaaS platform – housebuilders and developers can move toward meeting the demands that cladding remediation asks – and apply technology to transform this and other projects in an efficient and effective way.
To get there though, we must examine – and overcome – those obstacles that housebuilders and developers face to implement cladding remediation.
Time and resources
With project calendars already crammed, how do housebuilders squeeze more time to allow for cladding remediation? And when the time comes to begin this vital work – where do the extra resources come from? That extra cog in the delivery chain, usually means a bigger team to tackle the work?
Instead of just looking to add extra resources, housebuilders can get a step ahead by digitising data and streamlining processes, to make every project quicker and clearer. With a better understanding of what is at stake, projects can take less time, making space available to take on more work. With a digital platform or tool, every subcontractor involved in a project can get access to the tool so they can be on the same page, meaning more efficiencies can be made. By providing access to correct data in a digital tool and making legacy detail available, it can avoid members of the team chasing up missing or incorrect data before a project starts.
To demonstrate the importance of digitisation to a business, according to research from McKinsey, the top ten percent of companies with the largest digital revenue account for up to 80 percent of digital revenue generated in their sector.
While digitisation changes the dynamics of the business and support revenue generation, it also supports decisions that leads to effective building work and safer housing.
The research also indicates that larger-scale businesses have committed large resources to digitisation both in terms of investment and developing a digital workforce. And the investment has paid off. It means the cost saved via digitising processes can be allocated to completing the critical cladding remediation and eliminating the danger to thousands of lives.
Data and legacy issues
Due to the slower nature at which the construction industry began to pick up on digitisation, there are years of data either in hard copy form, gathering dust – or stored insecurely in Excel sheets, as an example. Worse still, companies who have used a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to software can mean data can be misconstrued, unclear, unstandardised or data has to be painstakingly altered to fit the software – as opposed to a platform that is custom built for a sector.
To successfully complete cladding remediation of buildings of 11 metres and above, data must be present to allow for prompt, traceable work to take place. Without the right data to hand for example, the EWS1 Form which is required for property valuation purposes and ultimately project sign off, will take far longer to complete. The same can be said for digital handover and quality management. All legacy data must be legible, easily located and accessible, and above all, sharable.
A cloud-based SaaS platform can be the answer, not only for storing legacy data but also capturing new data even when there is zero data connection, so work can continue. Data and information can be easily input in the field and stored without a data connection, which means there are no need for trips to the office to use the computer. All data will be safely uploaded and visible in the cloud from the moment a connection is reinstated.
Upskilling your team
Not everyone is a whizz with a computer or tablet. Ensuring your people have the necessary skills to hand to optimise a digital approach is fundamental to the potential benefits. Without the correct training, the correct conventions and data handling will fall by the wayside and errors can occur, risking the data itself and placing a tangible danger to the project in terms of work done, regulation alignment and the practical completion date.
It makes choosing the right platform for your needs even more pivotal. Extra features may well come in handy, but if the interface isn’t intuitive and clarity cannot be added to workflows and documentation, there’s little point in having those features.
Choose wisely. Simplicity and how quickly the platform can be picked up are questions that need to be answered. If the tools aren’t a good fit – then this can just waste time. If your team levels up their knowledge via helpful, always available training and by using a system that displays data clearly and facilitates ways of working and sharing information, your digitisation programme will reap the benefits – as well as your projects.
Unifying all moving parts
With any construction project, the number of subcontractors and members of the supply chain can be dizzying. Keeping track of daily operations is quite the challenge – and with every link in the chain, for every stakeholder involved, data and documentation are at the heart of progress. One company can’t sign off their job until a form or evidence is validated. A supplier may move onto the next job and leave the site without complete documentation – leaving you to chase up the missing info. Ensuring you always have the right data to offer reassurance to all parties is the holy grail.
And to do so, having all data that is aligned and presented with clarity is a necessity. The FEF (Fire Emergency File) depends on clear, immediately locatable data. With a click of a button, a contractor can grab the documentation they are looking for and photographic evidence can be checked and reviewed to proceed with compliance checks. Projects can be more efficient as everyone will have access to all the tools and data they require to work effectively. And Site Managers can trace what is complete and what needs to be done, so there will be no more lost hours frantically trying to contact parts of your supply chain to find data that may be missing. Everything can be on one screen.
On one, simple platform.
All the data, all the time
Digitising all data for a dwelling means cladding remediation can be made less of a laborious process and building can be made safer sooner. With one tool, all information can be made easily accessible for assessors so building work can be signed off—a huge benefit that has a huge impact on a project and time to completion. A platform like this can also be used in other aspects of a project, such as Quality Management, Part L alignment and Digital Handover, to name a few. These vital processes and tasks hinge on collaboration between teams, data being visible, simple to disseminate and a place where users can extrapolate the facts, so regulations can be kept in sight and assessors, managers and those on site can be aligned.
Instead of exorbitant costs in widening your teams to allow for the extra work, a digital approach can optimise all processes, increase productivity and cut costs – so more people can live in a safer environment in less time.
It’s the ultimate solution with zero drawbacks.
What’s stopping you?
To get more info on how a configurable platform can have positive impact on all your projects, click here to watch our cladding webinar.
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