Seeing the wood from the trees25 February 2020
With the increasing focus on construction products and building regulations it will be those manufacturers who provide strong performance and certification information who will benefit says Lee Jones, head of manufacturer services, NBS
There’s no doubt the new government has construction high on its agenda and there is good reason to be optimistic. However, until the budget is announced in March, a degree of uncertainty exists as to how funds will be allocated. From the government’s agenda we know billions will be earmarked for schools, hospitals, infrastructure and new homes. This will provide welcome opportunities for building materials manufacturers, particularly the timber trade as sustainable construction methods become more popular.
Far-reaching plans to improve building safety with the Health & Safety Executive to run the new building regulator, coupled with the government’s increased focus on both projects and products are to be welcomed by manufacturers of construction timber. Fundamentally the regulator looks set to ensure rigid compliance with safety regulations from built environment professionals.
Across the UK all products will be expected to meet high performance standards. This will be supported by a stronger, clearer framework providing national oversight and scrutiny. The enhanced regulation will impact on construction timber manufacturers and there will be some anxieties in the industry around increased bureaucracy and red tape. Here are three ways to get ahead:
- Understanding the specifier: According to a recent CPA report, access to technical information (87%), relevant certification (79%) and application information (79%) are core priorities for this audience. Similarly, they are keen to know about fi re performance, maintenance and sustainability. Worryingly, only 11% of those using construction products think the information they get is always accurate. Few believe it’s always up-to-date.
- Third party testing and performance: Ensure all your testing is up-to-date and regularly audited. Make your performance information easy for specifiers to find.
- High-def digital: Most specifiers turn to Google (81%) to search for product information, yet only 70% of manufacturers present data in a user-friendly way. Make it easier for specifiers and architects to choose your products by providing detailed technical information on your websites and professional digital platforms. Having BIM models to drop in could help facilitate the process.
The Building a Safer Future governmental consultation from summer 2019 made it explicit: “This should include duty holders providing detailed specifications of building works in respect of fire and structural safety as a minimum (alongside the necessary specification in all other aspects of the Building Regulations).”
‘Specification’, a term that has been used so liberally in ‘Building a Safer Future’, provides a likely roadmap of upcoming regulation. Building projects will be required to be explicit about the systems and materials used and recording of products installed will be rigorously enforced alongside clear rationales on how these meet design requirements. Furthermore, the record would verify and track work against the original specifications. Importantly it will help to provide essential transparency and accountability.
The focus on construction products and building regulations will continue to increase. This means manufacturers need to think with a digital first approach when interacting with specifiers. Ultimately, it will see the responsible manufacturers that provide strong performance and certifi cation information benefit.