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What can architects do to stop another Grenfell? \

Nigel Ostime, our Project Delivery Director, looks at how architects can play a part in building consumer confidence in housing following The Grenfell Tower tragedy, following a new Housing Forum report outlining 14 recommendations to stop building failures including: better briefing, DfMA and new forms of procurement.

The Housing Forum has published Stopping Building Failures, a post-Grenfell report intended to sit alongside Judith Hackitt’s review of the Building Regulations. The report sets out 14 practical recommendations to improve quality in housing, both for new build and maintenance of existing stock. The recommendations run from project inception and briefing through to practical completion and are set out under three broadly chronological headings: ‘Procuring for Quality’; ‘Harnessing Innovation’ and ‘Building Defect-free Homes’.

The third part covers matters such as site supervision and quality assurance. This is important as research by warranty provider BLP identified that 90 per cent of defects are attributed to poor workmanship, though professions must also shoulder some of the blame. Design that is unbuildable and drawings that operatives find difficult to interpret have also been cited as the cause of things going wrong on site, not least by clients featured in the report. There is a role for architects in this area if they want it, but the profession has typically distanced itself from the risky, sharp end of the business.

“Designers are often pressurised into starting the design process without a full analysis of the desired outcomes and this invariably leads to variations and cost-cutting, both as the design develops and on site. The message has to be about giving more weight to value than price.”

Nigel Ostime Project Delivery Director, Hawkins\Brown

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