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September 16, 2022

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Construction

Why construction SaaS is a cladding remediation game-changer

Cladding remediation is pressing housebuilders and developers to begin an introspective examination of not only their buildings but their construction processes, explains Mike White, CTO at Zutec.

So far, 49 housebuilders in England have pledged to action the critical remediation of dangerous cladding. Contracts have now been sent out to ensure commitment.

It means that work has already begun across the country to remedy the situation that puts tens of thousands of lives at risk. Time is of the essence. The combined cost is expected to be around the £8 billion mark – which may prove to be the biggest hurdle in resolving the cladding crisis.

Clearly, a more efficient approach embracing digital processes can construction technology can help to mitigate unnecessary costs and time.

ConstructionSoftwareCloud-MaximKazmin-AlamyStock22

Credit: Maxim Kazmin/Alamy

 

An insular industry

The construction industry is notorious for sticking to tried and trusted methods. So much so, that the sector is second only to agriculture as the least digitised sector in the world. Excel sheets, pdfs and paper copies still form the backbone of many construction sites and maintained buildings. Important documentation can reside in dusty boxes and fade with time. Documents are lost, damaged and prone to error, meaning intrusive tests may be required on cladding inspections due to a lack of credible building information. Clearly, a better process is required.

These documents and records are constantly referred to during all phases of the building lifecycle – and the cladding remediation process requires a better method.

Photographic evidence may also be required to prove compliance and that the correct materials have been used to release the all-important EWS1 forms. This is unchartered territory for many involved in the process. Housebuilders and developers new build pipelines must be maintained to ensure balance sheets remain in the black. How will cladding remediation fit in around their packed itineraries? And how will resources be stretched as more work gets underway?

Duty holders, contractors and inspectors will need to embrace digitisation to bring efficiency to the process, especially for photo-based evidence.

 

EWS1 Form – a breakdown

The EWS1 form is not currently a legal requirement, but if the building is defined as ‘higher risk’ under the Building Safety Act – i.e., over 18m or seven stories tall – it’s highly likely one will be requested if the property is bought, sold or mortgaged. EWS1 forms may not be mandatory, but ensuring they are present for the future is a wise course of action. But what exactly does it entail?

The EWS1 form is a way for a building owner to prove that an external wall system [EWS] on residential buildings containing flats has been assessed for safety by a suitable expert, in line with government guidance. The external wall system comprises the outside wall of a residential building and includes the cladding, insulation, fire-stops and fire barriers as well as attachments such as balconies. Safety is measured by the fire resistance of the external walls.

Digitised data to drive forward cladding remediation

Guaranteeing properties are fire-safe in the most efficient way – this is at the heart of cladding remediation.

An archaic system for data collection and storage is not the most efficient path to obtain and maintain the safety of legacy buildings. Data must be quickly available, legible, clear and instantly sharable between contractors and assessors. Records, plans, blueprints – they need to be readily available whenever the need arises to refer to them.

To ensure cladding remediation can be completed quickly, a centralised solution to assess, track and record all work, which can be shared to all relevant stakeholders, is something all housebuilders and developers should consider before work commences.

Without this, a contravention of regulations, alongside missing deadlines and increased costs are all distinct possibilities.

Clarity and compliance

The remediation of cladding requires inspection, extensive rework, assessment and approval to release the all-important EWS1 form as each stage demands robust records and painstaking attention to detail.

A quality management SaaS solution should therefore be quick to implement, configurable to individual business needs and intuitive and user friendly in the field. The right platform should optimise on-site hours and guarantee that the right materials are being used in the right place – so when the time comes to submit to assessors – the chance of sign off is quicker and costly re-assessment is dramatically reduced.

It should also encompass photographic evidence which can be compiled, stored and geo-tagged.

In short, with so much data to be collated, shared, evidenced and assessed – a single platform to successfully achieve this for each in scope building would not only speed up processes and control costs which had previously been manual tasks – but would be a driver to a higher rate of success.

With the EWS1 Form being valid for five years before reassessment, storing them in a central, cloud-based location also has obvious benefits.

All bases covered for building safety

Using one out the box platform for all these activities ensures compliance by following systematic, digital processes to make fire safety and building risk management simple and painless.

Zutec’s cladding remediation solution ensures clients not only provide evidence of cladding work remediated but that the data is authentic and auditable, which can be used for other quality management and assurance purposes further down the lifecycle of the building. Embracing construction tech to take the next step will ensure remediation work is not only done – but done correctly.


Find out more about Zutec’s remediation solution.

Zutec, is part of the BuildData Group, alongside Createmaster and Bond Bryan Digital. A suite of companies that help property developers, asset owners, contractors and facility management teams derive meaningful value from data throughout the entire building lifecycle.

 

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