CIAT response to Grenfell inquiry
On 18th October 2017, the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) submitted its response to the government’s independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety following the Grenfell Tower disaster earlier in 2017.
This article is a summary of CIAT’s recommendations.
 The overarching legal requirements
- The Regulations need to be well understood by all.
- There is a need for a holistic approach to any review of the Regulations.
- Take an overview of existing work which could feed in and add value with common themes being considered, in particular, Edinburgh Schools – Cole Report.
- Ensure that a review is comprehensive and looks at broader issues; for example, sustainability, heritage, conservation, environment.
 Roles and responsibilities
- Clarity on timings of inspections needs to be given.
- Proportional measures in line with the complexity of projects need to be determined, rather than a one-size-fits-all attitude, to establish levels of expertise needed.
- To encourage effective inspecting, a ‘team’ approach should be encouraged.
- Effective compliance and enforcement will assist.
- More effective two-way communication from design to site operatives.
 Competencies of key players
- There does not appear to be an effective system in place.
- There are methods of assessing competence in particular areas but not all in one place.
- An identifiable accreditation system needs to be set up.
- It is essential that competencies are underpinned by appropriate science, engineering and technology.
 Training and accreditation
- Pre-emptive and proactive intervention should be encouraged rather than action after the fact.
- It is essential there are correct procedures to be followed to prevent complacency in approach. That processes are not driven by cost and time.
- There should be a mandatory public Register of information of buildings logging specifications, methods of build and including health & safety risk assessment/construction phase plan/fire risk assessment/any other certification which is publicly available.
- More robust informing and education to building users to ensure that buildings are being used effectively, safely and with the intentions of the design.
- Mechanisms must be introduced to provide tenants, other residents and users the opportunity to complain without fear.
- A robust Complaints Procedure is necessary, together with a whistleblowing scheme.
- An Ombudsman Service.
 Quality assurance and testing of materials
- Transparent information and warnings should be mandatory.
- More information on composite panels clearly accessible and available.
- Validate which tests are acceptable.
- A system to protect against fraudulent documentation, e.g. use of fake Kitemarks.
 Differentiation within the current regulatory system
- Would be a big advantage and would be easier to apply proportional approach.
- Ensure information targeted at the various users would be more workable.
- All should be complementary and coherent to those different types of users.
- Easy to understand robust detailing.
- Encourage compliance in a reasonable and proportional way and not impossible to either adhere to or enforce.
- Care not to make any process/scheme overly bureaucratic; it must be proportional.
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