Hackitt calls on construction industry to ditch “value engineering”

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“Value engineering” should be driven out of the construction industry as part of the root-and-branch reform of the sector following the Grenfell disaster, Dame Judith Hackitt has said

In her keynote address the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE) conference, the author of the government-commissioned review of Building Regulations and fire safety said value engineering is a phrase she would be “happy to never hear again”.

“It is anything but value – it is cutting costs and quality,” Dame Judith added.

She told the conference there can be no quick fixes after Grenfell. Instead, the tragedy must be a “turning point” leading to wholesale change in both the culture and practices of construction.

“The structure of the industry has to change to make it more effective,” she said.

“We need to put a focus on the way in which buildings are procured. If we have a process that makes people bid at a cost they can’t afford to deliver at, we set ourselves up to fail.”

Dame Judith pointed to the huge strides made in improving health and safety standards over the past 15 years as evidence that industry-wide change is possible.

Indeed, safety can help to drive wider change in terms of how buildings are designed and built, and the legacy they leave behind, she added.

“Currently, construction safety is focused on the workforce but we need to also consider residents and the public,” Dame Judith said.

“We need to think about buildings not as jigsaw puzzles that magically come together, they need to be treated as a complex system – a change in one small thing can have massive changes and impact integrity of the buildings.”

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