The Building Safety Forum event was held at the Etihad Stadium on the morning of 30th March 2023 with delegates from across the industry, representing property management, consultants, architects, contractors, and suppliers alike. The event aimed to address the significant challenges faced by property management companies and landlords responsible for the safety of high-rise residential buildings.
Following an opening address by industry veteran, Intelligent FS Executive Director of Operations and joint owner Rob Williams, we heard a video message from Peter Apps, a journalist and deputy editor for Inside Housing magazine and the author of the book “Show Me The Bodies” which deals with the reasons why the Grenfell Tower fire was allowed to happen.
Peter expressed his regret for not being able to attend the event in person and acknowledged the importance of the subject matter to be discussed. Peter reiterated, there are few issues more important than the safety of high-rise residential buildings, and it is vital to get this right for the benefit of the residents. He also highlighted that the new legislation introduced will drive change in the industry, which currently creates obstacles that need to be addressed and overcome.
As someone who has spoken to many residents affected by the planning crisis, Peter Apps stressed the significant impact this issue has on people’s lives. He hoped that the event would provide an opportunity for the attendees to share information, thoughts, and ideas to cope with the enormous challenges faced by the industry. He emphasized that the event would provide a unique opportunity for industry leaders, consultants, and stakeholders to come together to discuss the challenges faced and explore potential solutions and best practices.
|“a very interesting and well-conceived event so thanks to all who organised it, great venue and food too”
– Paul Strong, Praxis Surveying Ltd
Chris McKay, Director of the Façade Consultancy at CBRE then delivered an engaging presentation on the Building Safety Act 2022.
“The Building Safety Act 2022 is the largest change to the regulations and responsibilities that govern the UK construction industry in living memory,” said Chris. “It has taken an unprecedented tragedy to drive the required change.”
Given the reasonably dry subject matter and in Chris’s own words “thank you for joining us on this drab Manchester morning to listen to a scouser talk about the Building Safety Act 2022”, he covered all the key changes, key dates and even stressed the importance of taking our decisions personally, in an engaging and uplifting presentation.
As you would expect, Chris featured the ‘Golden Thread’ over several slides which will feature heavily in the front of property management company’s minds over the coming weeks and months as The Building Register opens. This new register will detail every single in-scope (HRRB) building in England (c.18,500 buildings) and will shine even more limelight on this critical issue.
One of the interesting revelations from Chris’s presentation was that the drive for remediation was beginning to be seen by the freeholders and portfolio owners containing these buildings, who are seeing a reduction in the liquidity of their assets due to the need for remediation. Given this is the primary reason for holding these types of assets, the drive for remediation has increased.
|“thanks for hosting a great event yesterday. Really informative and looking forward to the next one.”
– Guy Crouch, Project Management & Building Consultancy Limited
Following on from Chris and after a short break, Richard Veti, Managing Director, BEFS Ltd gave a totally different and equally informative presentation on Fire Safety. With over 26 years at West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, Richard a fire consultant for nearly a decade and owner of two fire safety companies shared several case studies and real-life accounts of what he is finding when conducting FRAEWs.
Richard expressed his concerns for a significant increase in demand for the relatively few fire engineers with the competence to carry out external wall assessments, and a drastically reduced insurance appetite for those doing this type of work.
The difference between an external wall survey carried out before May 2022 and one written to the PAS 9980 guidance after May 2022 can be substantial highlighted Richard, making the importance of engaging highly trained and experienced fire consultants more important than ever. However, it was clear from the discussions that this was likely to cause delays in the industries ability to meet demand, given the lack of qualified fire engineers with the experience and correct insurances to undertake the work.
The event clearly delivered, providing an opportunity for industry leaders, consultants, and stakeholders to come together, share information, thoughts and ideas, and explore potential solutions and best practices. The discussions and insights shared at the event were invaluable in supporting stakeholders to navigate the new regulatory landscape going forward. There were a lot of new connections made during the networking session over lunch and a signed copy of Peter Apps’ book was a nice addition to the goodie bag the delegates received.
|“Excellent event, covering exceptionally important guidelines and legislation for both mid and high-rise multiple occupancy buildings”
– Craig Winstanley, Taylor Maxwell
Overall, the event highlighted the importance of prioritising building safety, particularly in high-rise residential buildings, which everyone probably knew before they attended. However, the emphasis on the need for collaboration and information sharing to ensure the best outcomes for all was widely accepted and clearly valued, particularly when the legislation is far from fully rolled out and the approach to delivering best practice still varies so widely.
The need for cultural change from property management companies and developers still exists, but there may be signs this is beginning to happen. As Chris said “the time for industry wide change has been and gone, all we can do now is catch up. Our clients, tenants and the country are looking to us for the best advice, guidance, and behaviours. Take your decisions personally.”