Building Standards Futures Board – Update on the Seven Workstreams
The Building Standards Futures Board (FB) was established in May 2019 by the then Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart MSP, to provide guidance and direction on making transformative changes to the building standards system. The Board is chaired by Craig Hatton, Chief Executive of North Ayrshire Council and the 10th meeting was held on 4 October 2021.
The notes of each meeting are published and can be accessed here.
This post provides an update on the seven workstreams that are underway to implement improvements across the system.
The first year of the workforce strategy for the building standards verification service has been completed. A Professional Competency Framework for Verifiers was published to support the new Competency Assessment System from June this year.
The team are now taking forward proposals to extend training and development opportunities to strengthen the profession. This will include a new Construction Technical Modern Apprenticeship (MA) pathway from August 2022. The MA utilises the existing Architectural Technology course which will be tailored to meet the needs of building standards. The MA will be implemented in collaboration with ESP and Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS).
Compliance Plan Approach
A consultation will shortly be published on Building regulations – compliance and enforcement. The consultation will seek views on the development of a new Compliance Plan Manger (CPM) role within the building standards system which will apply to all ‘in scope’ high risk building types, the definition of high risk buildings, and the level of fines where work is not carried out in accordance with the regulations. It is proposed that the CPM will be appointed by the building owner at the design stage, provide a single point of contact for the verifier, develop and manage the Compliance Plan, ensure all inspections are facilitated and the Compliance Plan is fully discharged to support the competent submission of the Completion Certificate submission to the verifier.
The Certification Strategy workstream is taking forward a number of recommendations following the re-appointment of the Certification Scheme Providers for a further 6 years in 2020. These include liaising with industry on the feasibility of new schemes for certification of design and certification of construction. Research has been commissioned to understand the value of certification within the building standards system and this research will be used to take the strategy forward and to promote the benefits of certification on building projects.
The Technical Strategy team have established a Technical Section Author Group in BSD with responsibility for reviewing and updating guidance in the Technical Handbooks. This Group will also be responsible for updating the process for carrying out research. A separate Working Group will consider the provision of guidance on Modern Methods of Construction for verifiers and certifiers. The second phase of this workstream will involve working closely with the Digital Transformation team to improve the communication and digital delivery of technical guidance.
Building Standards has been included in the scope of the Scottish Government’s Digital Planning Programme. This is a 5-year programme which will work to design and deliver new systems, services and ways of working in Scotland. Partnership working with LABSS will explore how a digital hub will become the vehicle for digitally transforming how verifiers work, sharing practice, creating guidance and driving change.
Work to update the Verification Performance and Operating Frameworks was completed earlier this year. The 2020-2021 National Customer Satisfaction Survey for Local Authority Building Standards is ongoing and reports will be made available to local authority verifiers by the end of 2021.
Verification Delivery Model
A Working Group involving BSD, LABSS and other stakeholders will explore how a Building Standards Hub (BSH) could support local authorities and improve the delivery of the building standards system. The BSH will strengthen the current national local authority delivery model by providing a central resource with a stronger focus on regional partnerships and the sharing of specialist skills, such as fire engineering for complex buildings. Work will also look at formalising the sharing of workloads between verifiers, for example, in times of staff shortages or an unexpected surge in building warrant applications.
A pilot BSH will be established for a period of up to 18 months. The pilot will focus on developing and improving the coordination of existing LABSS activities, enhancing workload sharing mechanisms between verifiers and exploring the potential for a ‘centre of expertise’ for services such as specialist fire engineering.