As the construction industry in Scotland continues its increasingly proactive return to work, influential bodies across the sector have welcomed a ministerial intervention in support of vital certification schemes.
Kevin Stewart, MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, has written to Scotland’s 32 local authorities to highlight the potential for certification by approved scheme providers to facilitate early approval of building warrants as well as their positive impact on verification capacity.
His letter has received the backing of major industry scheme providers including SELECT, the influential trade body for the electrical industry in Scotland; Structural Engineers Registration; certification body BRE Global; RIAS Services; Certsure, trading as NICEIC; and SNIPEF, the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation.
Stewart said in his letter to local authority chief executives: “Although certification is an optional method for compliance, certificates of design support the earliest approval of warrants by removing the need for verifiers to check compliance in these areas.
“The use of certificates of construction would also have significant value at this time where there is a need and requirement to actively manage the number of people on site to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
“As electrical, drainage, heating and plumbing work can be certified by qualified building professionals, their increased use will reduce the need for building standards inspection visits.”
Dave Forrester, Director of Technical Services at SELECT, adds, “As we begin the construction restart process, it’s vital that we work together as an industry to provide support to firms looking to complete projects as efficiently as possible, while ensuring we all continue to protect the health and safety of those people involved.
“I welcome this statement from the Minister and hope it helps to raise awareness of the benefits certification provide towards achieving those objectives.”
Fiona Hodgson, Chief Executive of SNIPEF, also voiced her opinion on the matter. “In a phased return, there is a need to keep the number of people on site to a minimum. As certifiers would likely be on site anyway, this would reduce the need for inspection, and also travel to and from site,” she notes.
“As sites will not be working to full capacity it will be essential that as much work can be done as is possible on site without having to delay progress by, for example, waiting for a building inspector. Certification helps this issue and increases productivity.”
Richard Atkins, of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, furthers, “By using Approved Certifiers of Construction and Design, the building owner has an insurance-backed guarantee that the electrical, drainage, heating and plumbing systems and the structural and energy performance designs are compliant.”
Building standards verification services are key to ensuring that construction can return in Scotland and be able efficiently to deliver new buildings and improved facilities across different sectors.
SELECT has joined with other certification scheme providers to work with the Scottish Government’s Building Standards Division Resilience Group to address short, medium and long-term issues created by the coronavirus outbreak.
It is also currently working on an animation which focuses on the benefits of certification that will help guide firms through the easing of lockdown process.