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Home > UK REiiF 2024: Q&A with our Leaders

As some of our team spend time at UKREiiF 2024, we took the opportunity to get insight and opinions from attendees Daniel Leech and Matt Goold, on their thoughts around some of construction’s key topics right now.

Our CEO Dan, is an advocate for change within industry, always looking to develop solutions that really solve the challenges we all face. Matt, one of our Associate Directors leads project delivery for large-scale residential schemes. Finally, whilst he can’t be with them in Leeds, our Chief Commercial Officer Jon Lock, brings his 35+ years of experience to the table.

In this article, they share their opinions on Sustainability, the Building Safety Act, and what really needs to happen to keep UK constructive progressive.

Daniel Leech

CEO

Matt Goold Managing Director D4S

Matt Goold

Associate Director - Residential

Jon Lock

Chief Commercial Officer

Sustainability is rightly the leading theme at UK REiiF this year. As engineering consultants, how can we play a role in more sustainable outcomes on schemes and developments?

 

Matt – It all comes down to early design intervention. There are emerging technologies underway and available to industry that do enable us to build in a more sustainable way, however these solutions all need to be explored in the pre-tender stages of a scheme, as naturally they carry different specifications that may affect planning. So, the key for contractors, is to be in a position where all options are considered and explored, through early concept design – we’ve already successfully supported a number of clients in this way, it’s generally a much more efficient way to work, considering not only sustainability, but the entire construction workflow.

Dan – Sustainability is a hugely broad topic and can be lots of different things. We need to ensure that terms such as a ‘Circular Economy’ are more than just a buzzword.  For me it’s about approaching every single project with logic and systematic thinking. We need to question everything. For example, why reuse steel, when reengineering might be a smarter move? It absolutely comes back to Matt’s comment about early design intervention, so that multiple solutions can be explored from the outset, with the key sustainability objectives in mind, to find the most viable solution.

Jon – Absolutely, it has to start with manufacture and buildability in mind. Early engagement between the principal engineer and principal contractor is key, considering all elements of the build at the very start. By working in this way and taking on more responsibility during the design stage, you can effectively de-risk the project delivery. Taking it one step further, as we do at D4S, incorporating the stage 4 and 5 detailing and fabrication information during the design phase, means you can inform other contractor requirements within the supply chain. It’s an approach that enables us all to overcome issues associated with procurement, timescales and cost, which of-course, have a knock-on effect towards sustainable outcomes.

The Building Safety Act (BSA) is huge on the agenda at present. How is D4S supporting Principal Contractors and Principal Designers with compliance, whilst ensuring schemes keep moving?

 

Dan Well, honestly, we’ve already been doing it for the past 5 years! Our approach to taking responsibility and accountability for projects from RIBA 0-5, means we are well placed as a business to support architects, contractors and developers, in optimising their schemes, through fully coordinating all of the design elements early on. We also know, there’s a huge shortfall of personnel that are required to administrate the new legislative changes the BSA brings, so its key that when schemes are submitted at Gateway 2 for example, doing as much as we can to ensure they meet requirements is going to be critical to keep the industry moving in the best way we can, and that is where we add immense value.

Short-term, there is a risk of course, that projects will face huge delays, but the industry is fragile, it needs reform. Long-term, perhaps the BSA could be this catalyst for change.

What should the future of UK construction look like? How can we collectively, as an industry, be working to ensure we are more progressive and efficient in our delivery?

 

Matt – BIM is a huge factor. We still get projects where people don’t want to utilise BIM, which ultimately comes down to cost in my opinion. There is so much more value in putting in that extra effort (and budget) at the front end, to set up a Revit model for example, to reap the benefits further down the line – less clashes on site, less remedial details. Costs will decrease and the programme will ultimately run smoother on site. We need a little more foresight in the overall approach.

Jon – Totally agree. If we were to deliver in a true collaborative 3D environment, whether we call it BIM or digital engineering, and everyone works to it, there are huge benefits and as Matt says, it will cost less overall. I sometimes think we are in an industry that is going backwards, we’ve deskilled it with so many specialist roles, that responsibility and blame is constantly apportioned elsewhere, with a risk averse culture. It’s the core reason we established Design4Structures, to take on that responsibility and overall risk, focusing on the model of a cross-sector, cross-discipline design team, with detailing capabilities.

Dan – In essence, we need to ditch the fragmented, risk-averse mindset. Integrated Project Insurance, could go a long way in changing the way we work on larger schemes, rather than independent PI policies. We all talk about collaboration, but in reality, how much do we truly collaborate? Not a great deal in my opinion. The risk profile we all carry, along with programme deadlines and costs, doesn’t lend well to collaboration.

I should also add, that real innovation requires time and investment. The perception of value needs to shift from cheap and quick, to smart and sustainable. It’s not about working drastically slower, it’s about a smarter approach all round.

If you would like to learn more about some of the approaches we discuss in this article or find out how early engagement with structural engineers can really make a difference to your next build or scheme, please get in touch.

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