The new building control regime introduced under the Building Safety Act does not begin and end with Higher Risk Buildings (HRBs), with some fundamental changes applying more broadly, the Thermal Insulation Contractors Association (TICA) has warned.
October 1st marked a key milestone in the implementation of the Act with the Building Safety Regulator commencing its role as the new building control authority for HRBs, which include high-rise residential buildings, hospitals and care homes.
However, TICA says the Act’s effect has a much wider impact and includes evidencing that individuals and organisations appointed to undertake work are competent to do, regardless of building type.
Competence is already a major talking point among many specialist trades, and it is not uncommon to find them bypassed in the search for greater profit – with TICA having already highlighted examples of pre-insulated pipework systems being used with inadequate fire safety and thermal properties.
It says there is an inherent understanding that Tier 1 and Tier 2 contractors cannot be experts in every specialist trade required on a construction site. However, Tier 1 and Tier 2 contractors will need to evidence that they understand specialist trade competence and specification compliance, and that they are therefore competent to award contracts to specialist trade contractors.
In many cases the expectations placed upon specialist contractors by the Building Safety Act does not reflect the situation on the ground and the reality facing many TICA members is that they either lose out to a non-spec compliant bid or are encouraged to alter the specification to remain in the race.
TICA is the sole trade association for thermal insulation in the UK and ensuring its members are well equipped to meet their own requirements for evidencing competence is a key priority. It is also working with other industry leaders to ensure that junctions between trades are managed correctly.
So, what should Tier 1 or Tier 2 contractors consider when appointing a thermal insulation contractor?
- Compliance with specification (for example, thickness and type of insulation)
- Correctly Carded Workforce (TICA CSCS Thermal Insulator Card)
- Evidence of additional training where required, such as a heat network awareness certification for heat network projects
Build UK chief executive Suzannah Nichol MBE recently emphasised the importance of co-operation, trust and teamwork throughout the supply chain and offered the following analogy: “Just like in a relay race, the baton for building safety needs to be held by someone at all times and properly handed over; if dropped at any point, the team is disqualified. To make it round the track, the team needs to work together, rely on each other, and fine-tune the handover points.”
This elegantly highlights the importance of ensuring a correct handover at every stage in a construction project. However, we must not forget that specialist trades are also part of the team.
TICA CEO Marion Marsland said “The Building Safety Act will generate a huge amount of secondary legislation that specialist contractors must understand. TICA continues to work hard, ensuring our members have the relevant information and knowledge to comply. Our role in specialist ‘Super Sector ‘ defining our sector competency continues, and we hope to complete this work by the end of 2024.”
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