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The Week That Was (6th November 2020)

Published on 06 November 2020

Welcome to The Week That Was, a round-up of key events in the construction sector over the last seven days.

Fire Safety Standards

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, in July 2018 an alliance of more than 80 organisations, including professionals specialising in architecture, construction and fire safety, agreed to create a set of fire safety standards that should apply to buildings anywhere in the world.  That alliance, known as the International Fire Safely Standards Coalition, has now prepared a set of Common Principles which it presented to the UN last month.  If adopted, the principles will be recommended to the organisation's 193 member states.  The intention is that the principles will: help to reduce the likelihood of a fire starting in the first place; prevent fires from spreading quickly; and allow occupiers to plan effective escape routes.  

You can read more about the Common Principles here.

Technologies that are driving modular building into the 21st Century

A new generation of modular buildings is disrupting the construction sector.  The current affordable housing crisis, paired with a growing population, requires a fast and effective construction solution.  However, unlike the pre-fabs of the 1940s, modern construction technologies offer a more permanent fix.

The development of building information modelling (BIM) has changed how companies interact with data.  BIM can help modular construction workers by providing the insight and tools to efficiently plan out their design.  This means that, because visualisation happens before construction commences, any re-work due to misunderstandings can be significantly reduced.  In addition to this, during the modular planning process, architects, designers, builders, engineers and project managers can simply use an augmented reality device to project a model of a physical space and discuss details with remarkable accuracy.  

There can, however, be difficulties in the repeated use of a modular design.  We have seen a number of claims where an error in the initial design has resulted in a systemic problem across a number of properties.  

For more information, see here

Kew Holdings Ltd v Donald Insall Associates Ltd [2020] 10 WLUK 314

The claimant had a long leasehold interest in a London property and had retained the defendant to provide architectural services in connection with its refurbishment.  In 2018, following a dispute about unpaid fees, the defendant obtained an adjudication decision in the sum of £202,509 against the claimant.  The claimant failed to pay the sum awarded and the defendant began enforcement proceedings, obtaining summary judgement in February 2019 for £208,287.  When the claimant again failed to pay, the defendant obtained a charging order over the property and sought an order for sale.  The claimant then began proceedings for damages for professional negligence, which were stayed pending payment of the outstanding judgement debt.  The judge ordered the claimant to pay £600,000 into court as security for the defendant's costs, and £45,000 for the defendant's costs.  However the claimant again failed to pay, arguing that it had been seeking the funding to comply with the outstanding orders and judgement debt but had encountered difficulties, particularly as a result of COVID-19.  The court decided that, although some efforts had been made to raise the money, it was too little too late and made an order that unless the claimant paid into court £600,000 as security by 30 November, its claim would be struck out.

CLC's Brexit working group publishes guidance on construction products and movement of people and goods

The Construction Leadership Council's (CLC) Brexit working group has published guidance to help the construction industry maintain business continuity at the end of the UK-EU transition period on 31 December 2020.  

Guidance on the following matters has been made available:

  • Conformity Marking of Construction Products for placing on markets in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU between 1 January 2021 and 1 January 2022, and also for after 1 January 2022. 
  • Movement of People.
  • Movement of Goods and Materials into and between GB and NI, including an overview of the new customs regime.

For more information, see here, here and here

Fusion21 announces £1.1bn Workplace and Facilities Framework

The procurement organisation and social enterprise, Fusion21, has announced the launch of its national Workplace and Facilities Framework, which is due to commence in February 2021.  The whole framework will be worth £1.1bn over a four-year period, and is closely aligned with market requirements, having been designed to meet the facilities management needs of a wide range of public sector organisations in the blue light, central government, education, health, housing and local authority sectors.

The full lot structure includes:

  • Lot 1 – FM Principal Contractor
  • Lot 2 – FM Managing Agent
  • Lot 3 – Cleaning & Washroom Services
  • Lot 4 – Security Services
  • Lot 5 – Waste Management
  • Lot 6 – Building Engineering Services (M&E)

Interested suppliers are being invited to bid before the deadline for submissions on Wednesday 9th December 2020 at 12 noon. 

For more information, see here