Construction is renowned for its reports. We have had Latham, Egan, Vision 2025 and more recently the Farmer report. These are all great reports with lots of great ideas for the future.
We have seen some change in the industry over the years. New ways of working have come and gone, for example partnering, it was adopted for a few years and then fizzled out. The industry has seen incremental change, but more needs to be done to modernise the industry.
More recently The Farmer report has built momentum with offsite manufacture to address the unprecedented skills gap that has developed over the years; resulting in the government favouring offsite manufacturing on all publicly funded construction projects from 2019.
Change is happening, but we need to address the fundamentals of our industry to move forward in a sustainable way.
In short, we are in a high-risk sector with low margins with little money to invest in innovation or skills, we end up being cost driven whilst pushing risk as far down the chain as possible.
However, the report to trump all reports will be published in the next couple of months that will see the industry sit up and take action to modernise our processes and procedures.
Following the disaster at Grenfell Tower, Dame Judith Hackett was asked to carry out an independent review into fire regulations in the UK.
In her interim report in December she said she couldn’t address the regulatory issues without considering the broader cultural issues and identified broad scope of the areas where she will be focusing her research. Dame Judith Hackett is considering a wider range of aspects including roles and responsibilities, quality, compliance, enforcement and much more.
There is nothing at all in the report which will surprise any of us. The only surprise is it has taken so long for someone to acknowledge and formalise complexities of the sector. It’s a shame that people have had lose their lives to bring about this change. In her report she demonstrated that regulatory change generally happens after a disaster, a reactive response to a preventable tragedy.
Whilst not a surprise to us, I get the impression it is a surprise to Dame Judith. She is an engineer in the oil and gas sector and has chaired the HSE. Reading between the lines you get the impression she is shocked by the culture in the sector.
I believe that the commitment the sector and government has made to digital design will go a long way to addressing some of the challenges quickly. I believe the term “BIM” will be mentioned many times within the recommendations of her report.
As well as all the usual things we would expect, the report does focus on how buildings are managed in use and how change is managed. Only with digital models can this be managed efficiently, a collaborative approach to estate management.
I think this is the report the industry will remember, it’s just a shame people had to lose their lives to evoke change.
If you haven’t read the preliminary report, it’s worth a read. It might give you a view into the future of our industry.