Publication - Minutes

Building Standards Futures Board minutes: July 2019

Date of meeting: 2 Jul 2019
Location: Denholm House, Livingston

Minutes from the second meeting of the Building Standards Futures Board, held on 2 July 2019.

Building Standards Futures Board minutes: July 2019

Attendees and apologies

Attendees

  • Aubrey Fawcett (Chair), SOLACE
  • Scott McKenzie (SMc), Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS)
  • Nicola Barclay (NB), Homes for Scotland
  • Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland
  • Colin Proctor (CP), Scottish Futures Trust
  • Mike Foy (MF), Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
  • Stephen Good (SGo), Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC)
  • Gordon Nelson (GN), Federation of Master Builders (FMB)
  • Graham Martin (GM) , Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)
  • Cheryl Cox (CC), Certsure
  • Stephen Garvin (SGa), Scottish Government
  • Linda Stewart (LS), Scottish Government
  • Steven Scott (SS), Scottish Government
  • Thomson Dyer (TD), Scottish Government
  • Alan Rodden (AR), Scottish Government (attended for Paper 04)
  • Colette Templeton , Scottish Government

Apologies

  • Hew Edgar, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • Robert Nicol, COSLA

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Apologies

The Chair welcomed everyone to the 2nd meeting and introductions were made.  Mike Foy has replaced Eddie Tuttle for CIOB, Colin Proctor attended in place of Peter Reekie and Cheryl Cox was attending this meeting for the Certification Scheme Providers.

2. Note of Meeting and Action Points (Paper 01)

The note of the meeting held on 14 May was accepted without change.  An update on the Action Points was provided.  GM expressed disappointment that only two architects, from the Construction Quality Initiative pilot sites, had responded to the request to provide RIAS with their contact details.  It was agreed that details of the firms would be passed to RIAS to make further contact.

SGa advised that work is being taken forward in England by Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on the definition of terms such as ‘high risk’. Communication is ongoing with MHCLG and further information will be provided as it becomes available.  It was agreed that while it was important to, where possible, replicate definition of terms across the country the Board doesn’t want to leave it too long before definitions are agreed for Scotland.  The meeting asked that when definitions are agreed that they are included in the Technical Handbook.

The agenda today includes a paper from RIAS.  The Chair advised that he is happy to consider papers from other members and these could be submitted any time, but at least two weeks before the date of the next meeting.

3. Building Standards Futures Board Programme Board Overview (Paper 02)

Paper 02 provides the background and remit of the Board, sets out the work streams, timescales and outputs to be achieved by 31 March 2020.  SGa explained the expectations in relation to work and engagement with the Futures Board.  Work streams are being led by BSD staff within their current jobs.  However, the intention is to bid for additional resources at this year’s spending review to support the work of the Futures Board.

Delivering the work stream will require considerable cross over and working in parallel. Work stream leads are in the process of identifying linkages and establishing close working across BSD teams.  Some elements of the work can be progressed relatively quickly and in some cases, there will be a need for additional development time.

NB asked if measures of success had been determined, as it was important that the Board were able to identify when a work stream was complete and had been successfully delivered.  It was agreed that success metrics would be identified for each work stream.

Local Authorities are appointed as verifiers on the condition that they adhere to the Performance and Operating Frameworks.  Data is collected quarterly to enable performance monitoring.  Where performance is lower than expected BSD will work with the verifier to support and implement improvements.  With the support of the Board, there is the opportunity to ensure the frameworks are fit for purpose.

4. Highlight Report Certification and Digital Transformation (Paper 03)

Certification

Detail on the Certification Schemes is provided with an update on actions taken since the last meeting.  John Cole, in his report, identified the potential growth of Certification schemes within the construction process.  A review of the current Certification scheme is ongoing and a number of administration and legal issues have been identified.  As a result, the membership documentation and appointment process is being reviewed and updated and all scheme providers have been invited to submit applications for re-appointment.  A strategy to support the future development of certification is being developed and a progress report and draft strategy will be available for the September meeting.

A summary of data across each of the certification schemes was requested. 

Digital

A scoping project has been commissioned to identify digital opportunities.  Working with colleagues in the SG Digital team consideration will be given to the potential for the development of a digital prototype for Building Standards Services.  Alongside this, a strategy will be developed to direct and support digital transformation.

On 2 July a Building and Fire Safety Workshop was held in partnership with the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.  The need for digitalisation of services was heavily supported and the need to extend beyond the use of technology for recording and storing of information to include digital tagging of products was highlighted.  GM  asked if thermography would be considered a future technology.  The meeting recognised that there is a wide range of technologies that need to be explored and that the benefits could be wide ranging.  It is important that as well as introducing new technologies there is a need for competent and trained operators.

RF reiterated the potential of digital transformation cautioning that there is a need to consider how data is managed, stored and tracked on projects.  Projects can generate millions of photographs, as part of the compliance process, and there is a need to identify how, and what information is required.  Photographs should record dates, times and be geotagged, where possible. SGo advised that a number of innovation centres specialise in data collection and management who could offer advice.  With the potential for some research and identification of best practice.  A route map on digital transformation to be provided with a progress report for the September meeting.

5. Progress Report – Workforce Strategy (Paper 04)

A presentation on the Workforce Strategy work stream was provided.  The aim of the strategy is to support workforce development and deliver a ‘first class’ verification service.  The building standards service in Scotland is facing a number of challenges in relation to the recruitment, retention, development and deployment of staff.  The aim is to have a strategy that will operate at both a national and local level.

The Building Standards Performance and Operating Frameworks were introduced in 2012 and revised in 2017.  Verifiers are appointed on the condition that they meet the requirements of the Frameworks with a condition of appointment being that they ‘maintain adequate resources with the appropriate level of competency to carry out their verification duty’.

A Workforce Strategy Working Group (WG) is being established to support the delivery of the work stream, which will require data collection, and analysis of the current workforce.  Work will be undertaken to identify training, education and skills development as well as looking at ways to raise the profile of a career in building standards.  The WG consists of representatives from local authorities, secondary and tertiary education sectors, skills development and construction industry professional institutions.  The Board advised that representatives from the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) and Human Resources should be added to the WG.

The objectives are to deliver:

  • Analysis of current workforce – report by January 2020
  • Education and skills through qualification pathways – by mid 2020
  • Attraction, retention and recruitment – report by October 2019
  • Strategy launch – by March 2020

The Board recognised that for many building standards services there has been a lack of funding and investment with resources being diverted to support other council services.   There are also a number of professional organisations within construction and building standards and this sometimes makes the career pathway confusing.  This may need to be considered in the future.

NB noted that the declaration of a skills gap could sometimes be a contentious issue and there is a need to be aware and considerate of those currently working in the system.  In some cases what is required is a review of systems and efficiency of current working practices.  There may be the potential to share resources, revise delivery models or introduce new technologies.  The issue of private verification may also be raised again, particularly if local authorities are unable to resource their services.  The meeting were advised that the issue of private verification is a political decision and at present, there is no indication that the current position will change.  The Board discussed the potential for shared services and the benefit of these. The introduction of eBuilding Standards has allowed easier sharing of files and has already delivered savings from digital efficiencies. eBuilding Standards had impacted on the service however, there is potential for further development to realise further efficiencies and savings.

SGa advised that the work stream on delivery models would become more active towards the end of 2019.  It is anticipated that this work will include a review of fees and funding as well as looking at capacity and resilience in the system.  The Board agreed that there is a need to be aware and recognise the pressures on building standards staff which, in some instances, is sometimes more than in other areas of the council. It was agreed that the impact of digital solutions on future delivery models could be wide ranging and attract younger people into the profession.

The Board agreed that they were content with the direction of travel and timescales for the next step activities and membership of the WG.

6. Progress Report – Compliance Plan (Paper 05)

A presentation on the work being taken forward to support the Compliance Plan Approach work stream was provided.  John Cole identified, in his report, that there is a need for some ‘reshaping to improve aspects of the current system and its implementation, not to fundamentally change the system’.  The aim of the work stream is to put in place a clear compliance plan that embeds collaboration throughout the system to improve compliance with building standards.

The Compliance Plan is proof of a collaboration between Scottish Government and the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), the Construction Quality Initiative. Workshops on Digital Technologies and Compliance Plan have taken place.  A further event at the end of July/early August will be held specifically for the pilot at Perth High School to focus on the development of the compliance plan for the site.  The next steps and timescales for the work stream are set out in the paper.  Output and findings from future workshops will be reported to the Board.

The Board agreed that the pilot sites should be increased to provide projects, which are still at conception/early stages.  Projects with a different procurement method and funding mechanism to those in the SFT Hub should also be considered.  This would provide a different project environment for identification and testing of a Compliance Plan.  Board members were encouraged to make suggestions if appropriate.  The meeting underlined the need to consider the funding mechanisms of projects and the benefit of including projects, which are privately funded.  Clarification was sought on whether the Board were considering compliance in relation to safety critical elements only.  SGa confirmed that compliance of all building standards was being considered and not being limited to only safety critical elements.

The Board agreed with the direction of the work being taken forward.  In relation to reviewing other regulatory systems, it was suggested that the Swedish building regulations should be considered.

7. RIAS Paper No 2 – Futures Board (Paper 06)

GM introduced the paper, which outlined the views of RIAS on the responsibility for site inspections.

The paper was discussed and it was agreed by all that there is a need for a competent person to be responsible for sign-off of stages within a project as well as at completion.  There has been changes in the role of the architect in recent years, which has resulted in other professions and competent people coming forward to fill the role.  There had been changes in the models used to deliver projects and there is a need to identify the roles and responsibilities of professionals and how they fit and can contribute towards the role of competent person.

8. Next Steps and Future Meetings

The 3rd meeting will be held on Monday 23 September at 11am, Denholm House, Livingston.  Meeting 4 to be held on Monday 16 December 11am and will be held at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, Hamilton G72 0AH.

9. AOB

SGa advised the Board that a Futures Board webpage would be created.  There is a need to provide a clear title so that visitors to the page understand the purpose of the Board.  If anyone has any suggestions please let us know.

NB asked about attendance of RICS. A catch up meeting with Hew Edgar has been arranged for 9 September.

Action Points

  1. Architectural firm names involved in the Construction Quality Initiative to be provided to RIAS to make further contact.
  2. Liaise with MHCLG on the definition of terms such as high risk buildings. Update to be provided at the September meeting.
  3. Metrics of success for each work stream will be identified and an update provided at the September meeting.
  4. A progress report on Certification and a draft strategy to be tabled for the September meeting.
  5. Summary of data across each of the certification schemes to be provided. 
  6. A route map on digital transformation to be included in the progress report for the September meeting.
  7. Representatives from the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT)  and Human Resources be added to the Workforce Strategy Working Group. Board to provide contacts with LA Human Resource Departments.
  8. Review the professional organisations within construction and building standards to ensure it is fit for the future.
  9. Board members to provide details of suitable projects, starting/at early stages to be used as a pilot site for compliance plan testing.  A highlight report with detail on work plan and framework of a compliance plan from start to finish with consideration of the ‘Responsible Person’ role to be prepared for the September meeting.