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Last edited 03 Feb 2021
Users of buildings
In the construction industry, the term ‘user’ or ‘users’ typically refers to any persons, groups or organisations who use property or land as an occupier, owner, tenant, visitor or other stakeholder. For example, members of the public might be users of shops, hospitals, libraries, and so on.
A user can also be referred to as an end-user, which indicates that the ‘end’ is the completion of building, i.e. when it can be used for its designed purpose. A common domestic building end-user is a resident, that is, an individual who uses the building as a residence on a permanent or long-term basis.
The type of users will depend on the use class of a building, i.e. what it is used for. The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order categorises uses of land and buildings. Developments may not be used for purposes that are not within the use class for which they received planning permission.
For example, the users of an office building will include those who use the building as their place of work; the users of school building will include those who attend the school as pupils, those who attend the school as employees (i.e. teachers, support staff), and those who attend the school at open events, such as parents; the users of a hotel building will be those who pay to stay in the hotel as guests and those who work there as staff, and so on.
The users of a building may be very diverse, and may have conflicting needs. It is very important therefore that all user groups are properly represented when developing the brief and design for a new building, or for changes to an existing building.
User panels are specialist groups made up of people who will use a development when it is completed and who can contribute to briefing and design development. User panels might be involved in the development of:
- The strategic brief.
- The project brief.
- The concept design.
- The detailed design.
- Key components of the technical design.
It is common for a non-technical 'building user’s guide' (BUG) to be published on completion of a building, containing information for users about various things such as the principles behind the design of the building and how these affect its operation, the building's standard of performance, energy efficiency measures, access, security and safety systems, and so on. The building user's guide should be written as if the user knows nothing about the systems being described.
It is good practice to obtain feedback from users about the performance of completed developments to help correct defects, fine tune systems and compile lessons learned than may be relevant for future projects. For more information, see Soft landings.
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