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CPA Code and Building Safety Bill – the winds of change?

 

Two significant new initiatives to tighten oversight of the construction industry. Do they present real opportunities for improvement? Mandeep Bansal, Technical Advocacy Director gives his view.

 

No-one who saw pictures of the Grenfell Tower burning and has listened to the inquiry exposing a catalogue of errors could feel pride in the construction industry.

 

Those of us who passionately believe that buildings should make a positive contribution to our lives recognise the need for change and will support any credible initiative that offers a route to improvement.

 

It is in this spirit that we at Knauf are welcoming the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI), now going through final revisions prior to launch.

 

The objectives of this Code are straightforward. To ensure that construction product manufacturers present their product information in a way that is reliable, clear and accessible. Adherence to the Code will also require independent audit and assessment to ensure compliance.

 

Knauf has always been committed to providing accurate and accessible product information. Even with this entrenched culture, however, we are continually looking to develop further and will look to support and engage with the Code once launched.

 

In doing so we absolutely recognise that manufacturers have a role to play in improving standards in the supply chain. We also recognise that for the Code to meet its ultimate objective of improving the safety of the built environment, every stakeholder within a project chain needs to take on ownership and responsibility.

 

Our contribution to this new Code is only one part of the process and it is good to see, with the publication of the Building Safety Bill, legislation is starting to tackle the overriding issues for our industry – competence and responsibility.

 

Headline news around the publication of the Bill focuses largely on the accountability of developers to homeowners. Important though this is, the wider issues of training and competence are probably more significant for the industry as a whole.

 

There is little point in manufacturers investing in the quality of technical product information if the people who specify and install the products do not have the training and expertise to make informed choices.

 

The Building Safety Bill starts to address this issue with a focus on identifying what responsibilities lie with which professionals in the construction process. It goes on to outline a robust qualification framework to make sure each one can demonstrate their competence to fulfil their role competently.

 

It is disquieting that we have reached the stage where government intervention is needed to ensure skilled people are tasked to do the right thing but given where are, it is also reassuring.

 

I see this as the start of a revolution in the construction sector.  For too long we have denigrated the skills required to manage the complex process of design and construction. We have mutely accepted a mantra of “cost is king” and accepted as inevitable that designs are downgraded, product specifications changed and shortcuts taken.

 

I hope that the winds of change are indeed blowing and welcome both the CCPI and the Building Safety Bill as positive first steps.


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