“The pursuit of cost at the expense of quality is another example of the ‘race to the bottom’. Surely the starting point should be in ensuring what we are building is right in the first place.”
That’s according to Paul Nash, former president of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), who was speaking at the annual Futurebuild conference yesterday (7th March) alongside other senior figures in the housing and construction sectors.
Nash went on to call for improved industry-wide reporting, saying: “There needs to be an accurate recording of what has been built.
“For some, there’s concern about how and even if the recordings are updated when changes are made during the lifespan of buildings.
“When we get it wrong the impact on people’s lives can be catastrophic.”
National Housebuilding Council (NHBC) CEO Neil Jefferson agreed with Nash’s calls for improved quality control, saying: “There’s much more to do to make sure standards are adopted by all.
“More needs to be done to improve quality assurance, and that requires a cultural shift.”
However, Jefferson was also keen to point out that there has been “some scenes of success”, citing improved diversity and inclusion, as well as a shift to focusing on the consumer and client satisfaction, as positive developments in the industry over the past couple of years.
“The Grenfell fire has made everyone in the industry quite profoundly wonder what we were doing,” he said.
The speakers’ calls for improved quality control echoed the conclusions drawn in Dame Judith Hackitt’s Interim Report, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.
In the report, she said: “Change control and quality assurance are poor throughout the process. What is initially designed is not what is being built, and quality assurance of materials and people is seriously lacking.”
Government has been keen to address the issues around building quality and safety.
In December last year, government issued its Building a Safer Future: An Implementation Plan report, outlining a commitment to a programme of reform following the Building Safety review.