Last edited 29 Jun 2016

Initial aftercare for completed construction works

The soft landings framework is a joint initiative between BSRIA (Building Services Research and Information Association) and UBT (Usable Buildings Trust). It is an open-source framework that is intended to ‘…smooth the transition into use and to address problems that post-occupancy evaluations (POEs) show to be widespread’ (ref Useable Buildings Trust).

The government considers that soft landings sits alongside Building Information Modelling (BIM), as BIM feeds facility management systems and helps enable future alterations to completed buildings. As a result, it is thought that in parallel to the roll out of BIM, the government may mandate a Government Soft Landings (GSL) handover protocol for central government projects by 2016.

Soft landings includes provisions for initial aftercare and extended aftercare services for three years after the completed development has been handed over for occupation. A decision to require this aftercare should be made early during the development of the project so that the necessary services can be included in tender documents and appointment agreements.

The initial aftercare period is intended to deal with immediate problems, help the occupants understand the development, and help facilities managers learn to operate it. This is a period of intensive aftercare that will typically last 4 to 6 weeks, but may be longer for complex buildings such as hospitals and shorter for simple buildings such as shops. After this, the aftercare on site will reduce, although periodic reviews will continue.

A visible and accessible soft landings team, including members of the design and construction team, should be stationed on site to receive feedback, fine tune systems and ensure proper operation of the completed development. The architect will often be the main point of contact for occupants during this period, although queries most commonly relate to the operation of building services systems, and so the they will need good access to other members of the project team.

Aftercare meetings may be held with building users to explain how the building operates, answer questions and obtain feedback. The aftercare team may also disseminate information about problems that have been encountered, and progress that has been made, perhaps by issuing fortnightly newsletters.

There may be regular ‘walkabouts’ to assess operational performance and obtain data, and there will be specific meetings with facilities managers to explain systems operation in detail and obtain feedback.

This process also provides the opportunity for the project team to learn about problems that have been encountered, assess what steps might be taken to rectify them and consider how to avoid them on future projects.

The initial aftercare period will be followed by extended aftercare during years 1-3, when outstanding issues are resolved and post occupancy evaluations are fed-back for future projects. In year 1, problems are identified, training provided and systems fine-tuned, with regular reviews. In years 2 and 3, performance is reviewed, and post occupancy surveys carried out, but with reviews becoming less frequent.

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