Last edited 01 Nov 2020

Extended 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 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 to the occupants. 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. It is a period of intensive aftercare that will typically last 4 to 6 weeks.

After this, the aftercare on site will reduce over a period of 3 years. During this extended aftercare, review meetings will continue to be held, newsletters issued, and walkabouts undertaken but they will become less frequent as time progresses.

In year 1, outstanding problems are identified and resolved, continued training provided and systems fine-tuned, with regular reviews of performance, and comparisons with design predictions.

In years 2 and 3, performance is reviewed less frequently.

Post occupancy surveys should be carried out during year 2, ideally by independent organisations. These do not happen sooner, as the building will not yet have gone through a full year of operation, and so surveys could not properly account for different seasons or patterns of usage. In addition, if they were carried out sooner, surveys might be pre-occupied with teething problems rather than the underlying performance of the development. A second survey may be undertaken in year 3 to obtain additional feedback about the long-term performance of the development.

During this period, the facilities management team should log energy usage, and prepare regular written reviews of performance. Any fine tuning or other changes should also be recorded. Data and other evidence obtained during this period can help inform decisions about future alterations to the development.

A lessons learned report might be prepared at end of year 3.

This process of extended aftercare not only helps to inform users and facilities managers, it 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.

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