Last edited 06 Dec 2019

Compliance in the construction industry

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In very general terms ‘compliance’ is acting according to an order, warrant. specification, rule, standard, term, condition or request. For example, regulatory compliance is the process by which organisations ensure they are operating in accordance with relevant regulations.

In financial terms, compliance involves operating in accordance with external financial rules and internal control systems. For example, making sure financial reports and audits are prepared and tax requirements are met.

Compliance can also be a requirement for manufacturers and suppliers of goods and services who must satisfy the requirements of contracts, specifications, drawings, standards, best practice guidelines and legislation. Construction products and materials are generally subject to rigorous testing to verify that they comply with requirements, and may receive certification (sometimes from third parties) to confirm that they do. For example, they may have kite marks, CE marking, manufacturers' certificates, buildings regulations compliance and so on.

In terms of the tender process itself, bids made by prospective contractors or suppliers will be evaluated first and foremost to determine whether they comply with the client’s requirements. A non-compliant proposal, sometimes referred to as a variant bid, may be submitted if the tenderer believes that an alternative could offer better value for money. However, non-compliant proposals should only be submitted if they have been requested or are explicitly permitted by the client, and they may need to be accompanied by a compliant bid.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the Hackitt Review into the building regulations and fire safety for high-rise residential buildings included an investigation into compliance and enforcement issues. This found that the processes that drive compliance with building safety requirements are weak and complex with poor record keeping and change control. The final report proposed a new regulatory framework to '...address all of these weaknesses if there is to be a stronger focus on creating and maintaining safe buildings. It must strengthen regulatory oversight to create both positive incentives to comply with building safety requirements and to effectively deter noncompliance.'

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