Building Standards Futures Board minutes: May 2019

Minutes from the first meeting of the Building Standards Futures Board, held on 14 May 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Aubrey Fawcett (Chair), SOLACE
  • Dave Aitken (DA) , Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS)
  • Nicola Barclay (NB), Homes for Scotland
  • Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland
  • Robert Nicol (RN), COSLA
  • Peter Reekie (PR), Scottish Futures Trust
  • Eddie Tuttle (ET), 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)
  • Stephen Garvin (SGa), Scottish Government
  • Jess McPherson (JMc), Scottish Government
  • Colette Templeton , Scottish Government


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

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Introductions

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for agreeing to join the Board.  Everyone introduced themselves.

2. Context and Background

SGa explained that the Board had been set up to oversee the programme of work being taking forward to support the findings from the Expert Review Panels on Compliance and Enforcement (John Cole) and Fire Safety (Paul Stollard). The Board will provide expert advice and guidance to BSD on each work stream. To help support the work with industry and with those delivering on the ground.

The Panel’s recommendations provide the framework for a review of the building standards system. There will be some immediate changes in the coming year on the Fire Standards in regard to requirements on trigger height for non-combustible cladding reduced from 18m to 11m; the introduction of evacuation systems for all high rise flats more than 18m high and introduction of two escape stairs in all new build high rise flats more than 18m high.  Longer term the Members Bill now being taken forward by the Scottish Government will require sprinklers in all new social housing from 2021. In addition, all flats and some HMOs will also require sprinklers.  A ‘National Hub’ of expertise is being explored.

John Cole’s report on Compliance and Enforcement focused on defects found in the failing buildings with safety critical items the dominant factor. Nineteen areas for consideration have been identified covering the need to review and update practices as well as verifier workforce development. The nineteen areas have been organised into five work streams.  

The immediate changes happening this year to strengthen compliance and enforcement, are:

  • changes to guidance and forms used for Temporary occupation and amendment to warrant 
  • guidance will be reviewed and strengthened on procedural requirements as well as roles and responsibilities

This work is being taken forward in partnership with Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS). 

Longer term work falls into the five work streams:

  • development of a Compliance Plan for higher risk and complex buildings
  • development of a building standards workforce strategy, aimed at ensuring the supply of appropriately qualified and trained staff into the profession
  • digital transformation in the building standards system, work to investigate the use of digital technologies in the construction process and how these can be utilised by verifiers
  • development of a certification strategy - work is required to promote and encourage use of the schemes as well as looking at the potential for new schemes
  • development of a technical strategy to inform the approach to future changes and how standards and guidance are used by verifiers and applicants

RIAS provided a paper to the Board (distributed at the meeting) raising concerns on the proposals for compliance and enforcement.  The meeting recognised that there are issues which potentially need to be worked through. The paper and issues would be considered during the life of the Board.

It was agreed that there was a need to identify the direction of travel as well as establishing and defining an end point. A clear path of work will assist the Board when agreeing that the right programmes of work and work streams have been identified. Timescales have been provided against each and in many work is already ongoing. It is anticipated that dates are back stops and take into account the need for any legislative requirements. 

The Chair reiterated that the recommendations identified in each Review Panel’s report were in response to building failures. There is a recognition that compliance on the ground is currently not fit for purpose, however not all issues are safety critical.

3. Remit, Roles and Responsibilities 


Discussed in context and background.

Roles and responsibilities

The purpose of the Futures Board is to provide strategic direction and governance, to set direction and provide assurance to Ministers on the plan and the pace of change. 
It was acknowledged that not all professional/industry groups are represented on the Board and the meeting recognised that there may be the need for wider engagement. This would provide the opportunity for short life working groups or the chance to access the expertise of others as work progresses.  Work streams will be developed in conjunction with stakeholders.

RF  advised that many industry bodies have compliance groups and this would be a mechanism to keep the wider community informed.  

Meeting papers will be issued at least 1 week prior to each meeting.  A schedule of meeting dates will be prepared with the proposal to hold the 2nd Board meeting in around 4 to 6 weeks, if possible, followed by quarterly meetings. Moving forward more detailed plans, work programme actions and milestones will be provided.  

Clarification was requested on the Roles and Responsibilities paper in relation to a new verification standard and new delivery model. The meeting was told that work on compliance has the potential to lead to new working practices. This is currently an unknown, but it was felt important to identify at an early stage as it may influence future decisions and investment requirements.  

Verifier performance is currently measured using operational and performance frameworks. Future requirements may mean there is a need to look at how stages are defined and performance is measured.  This will be the subject of future Board discussions. 

The Roles and Responsibility of the Board were agreed.

4. Position Papers

Verifier Workforce Strategy

Paper recommends the development of a Building Standards Workforce Development Strategy and Action Plan.

Meeting agreed the need to identify the role of each player in the system as a starting point. This could be used to ensure that the right staff with the right skills and competencies are available.

Delivery of the Workforce Strategy has begun with BSD working with LABSS to develop a competency matrix based on the current skills requirement and looking forward to what may be required in the future.  This work links closely with the Compliance Plan and discussions on verifiers roles and responsibilities.

ET  advised that the Chartered Institute of Building was working with Local Authority Building Control (LABC) on an initiative to address roles and qualifications within the building system. 

GM raised RIAS concerns on inspection and the role of verifiers and architects within the warrant system. The meeting acknowledged the competing demands on resources within local authorities recognising that in some investment in building standards has fallen.  Funding mechanisms and investment in building standards to deliver digital solutions as well as attracting good quality staff to the profession would be considered by the Board.   

Working with LABSS a competency matrix is being developed for verifiers. This will be a living document used to identify resources, skills and qualifications required within the building standards service. The meeting heard that at a joint LABSS/Federation of Master Builder (FMB) event at the end of 2017 education and skills were identified as an ongoing issue. This was not just within the verification service but extended to the wider construction industry.  As a result LABSS has been working with the Further Education sector to identify education opportunities now and for the future. The FMB has a three tier approach. The bottom layer consists of companies including procurement with responsibility to ensure continual improvement, the sharing of good practice and on site compliance. Tier two covers 3rd parties, clients, architects, engineers and inspectors etc. with a compliance role as well as the experience to ensure buildings are built as designed.  Tier three consists of verifiers and those responsible for carrying out a final compliance check.   

While this work stream is verifier focused it is recognised that similar issues are being addressed by Policy colleagues elsewhere in Scottish Government. It is important that the work of the Board is shared more widely as well as the Board being kept up to date with work in other areas.   

For the next meeting a more detailed paper on the Workforce strategy is required. This should include key actions, tasks, milestones with detail on competency and training as well as identifying the ongoing and future work with stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement and communication plans should be provided detailing who/what/why.

The meeting agreed the importance of using the existing network of industry and SG groups to keep everyone informed and up to date. 

Compliance Plan Approach

This work stream will take forward the development of a compliance plan approach for complex and high value public buildings. Work is underway in partnership with Scottish Futures Trust on a Quality in Construction Initiative consisting of four live public sector construction projects. Working with local authorities and four of the large building companies a quality collaborative had been established on each site. Projects are at different stages of construction and will be used as ‘live’ case studies to inform the development of a compliance plan. The Board asked for definitions of terms i.e. high value / public buildings.

Each improvement collaborative will identify and document good practice, issues and failures that will be shared with the wider construction profession. Engagement is likely to be via 3 or 4 events over the course of the coming year. GM asked for contact details for architects working on the projects to allow RIAS to seek feedback.  

Certification Strategy

Certification began in 2004 but has not developed as anticipated with no new schemes since 2009. The current Certification Scheme is being reviewed in partnership with scheme providers and other relevant stakeholders.  A strategy will be developed to identify priorities as well as a range of short, medium and longer term actions.

The FMB have a task force in place looking at the potential for the future licencing of contractors which may be of interest.

The link between certification and the other work streams was discussed.  

Digital Transformation

This work stream will develop a digital strategy to support building standards services in Scotland.  As a first step a scoping and pre-discovery phase will provide an appraisal of approaches and benefits, identify the overlaps and synergies with the digital planning programme being led by SG officials. An outline of costings will also be developed.   

The meeting discussed the importance of digital transformation to enable building standards to keep pace with industry. There was recognition that this could also be delivered using some lower tech options.

5. Next Steps and Future Meetings

Proposed that the 2nd meeting be arranged for around 4 – 6 weeks, where possible. Schedule of quarterly meetings will then be established.   Future papers will provide detailed plans, work programme actions and milestones.  

6. AOB

For future meetings AOB will be requested in advance and tabled.

Action Points

  1. Arrange 2nd meeting and put in place schedule of future dates.
  2. To notify Workforce Planning work stream of work between Chartered Institute of Building and (LABC) on roles and qualifications within the building system.
  3. To provide updates to SG Policy colleagues on the work of the Board and to receive information on policy development.
  4. Detailed Workforce strategy paper for next meeting. Include key actions, tasks, milestones, detail on competency and training as well as identifying the ongoing and future work with stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement and communication plans should be provided detailing who/what/why.
  5. To provide RIAS contact details of architects from the multi-disciplinary teams where agreement is given.
  6. Provide definitions of high value, public buildings and similar terms.
  7. Contact details for GN to be provided to head of Certification to discuss the FMB task force.
  8. AOB as a substantive item at future meetings.
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