POOR WORKMANSHIP and uncontrolled value engineering pose the biggest risks to the built environment – higher even than façade fires.
That’s according to industry responses to the British Board of Agrément’s consultation into driving up construction product safety standards for Higher Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs).
Respondents to the consultation also rejected the idea of a separate ‘Agrément Plus’ certificate for HRRBs.
More than 10,000 responses were collected during the 15-week consultation – Construction Product Assessment Relating to Higher Risk Residential Buildings.
The consultation investigated the role building product certification plays in the safe construction and refurbishment of HRRBs. It also examined the BBA’s proposal of creating an ‘Agrément Plus’ certification scheme to deal specifically with HRRB safety requirements and to explore wider issues.
Surprising Strength of Feeling
BBA Technical Director, Prof Bill Hewlett, said: “Risks from poor workmanship and unchecked value engineering were on our radar to investigate. But the strength of feeling about them came as a surprise and is an important finding.”
The consultation reinforced the very clear message that responsibility for safety in the built environment lies with everyone throughout the supply chain, build process and onwards. This is not new information; it echoes the principles of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Golden Thread.
However, manufacturers, trade associations and user groups the BBA spoke with felt they were shouldering their responsibilities but expressed concerns for the domestic RMI sector, pointing out that on-site control is often not practical to independently verify and that design detailing needs close attention.
“These questions of workmanship control and uncontrolled value engineering warrant industry leadership attention, and clearly a focus on domestic RMI is called for,” added Prof Hewlett.
Key Action Points
Five key action points taken from the consultation are:
Further systemisation of BBA processes Strengthened testing regimes Digitisation of BBA processes and certificates Spotlight on sustainability and ethical sourcing Greater collaboration with industry leadership and certificate users
Data identified that the market has high regard for BBA Agrément Certification and supports its future success; its integrity and fitness-for-purpose attestation are seen as vital and unique.
That said, ideas being discussed (particularly digitisation) could lead to a shift in how the BBA interacts with the market and see permanent changes to all certificates and not just those for HRRBs.
In addition, the overarching view of consultees was that a two-tier ‘Agrément’ and ‘Agrément Plus’ approach was not an appropriate way forward. This regime would have seen products with an Agrément Plus certificate attested as fit for use in HRRBs whereas products with an Agrément certificate would not be.
“The preference was that the format of the Agrément certificates should be developed so that fitness (or lack of it) for use in HRRBs is clearly identified,” added Prof Hewlett. “We feel a modular style of certificate can achieve this.”
The BBA’s next step is to consider forming an industry liaison group of certificate users to move forward key discussion points and formalise ideas.
See an executive summary or full report of Consultation to the Industry: Construction Product Assessment relating to Higher Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs).
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