Createmaster and Zutec, leaders in construction management software solutions across the building lifecycle, have launched their new building safety, maintenance and information-focused paper: Building Safety in the Digital Age — Embracing Technology for Enhanced Building Information.
Published ahead of the next provisions of the Building Safety Act 2022 coming into force in October 2023, it explores how the UK building industry has changed over the past 5 years, and the progress asset owners and building operators have made to manage information and address regulatory requirements. Focusing on the UK residential and rental market and supported by two national sample surveys with non-freehold tenants, the report gets under the skin of current resident attitudes towards building safety, information provision and service quality.
The key findings of the report include a marked improvement in resident access to key building information, but also highlights how poor standards and service still persist, especially addressing maintenance requests, posing potential safety risks.
As more insurance brands invest in social housing projects to build asset portfolios that also tick the ESG box, it’s important to look at long term safety regulations, total lifecycle impact and how well the building is maintained in terms of repairs.
Making significant strides
Building Safety in the Digital Age shows asset owners have made significant strides in terms of quality and consistency of communication. Supporting this view, there was a 22% leap in resident satisfaction with asset owner communication in the 18 months between the two polls. In 2023, almost half those polled had a greater knowledge of crucial documentation, especially fire certificates (44%) and the party responsible for them (90%). This suggests more robust protocols around building information provision to residents within the 18-month period.
Turning words into action
However, whilst engagement has improved, and is to be encouraged, converting this to actively addressing arising defects and damage appears a greater challenge. Consistent across both data sets, two thirds do not feel their maintenance requests are promptly resolved, with half reporting unaddressed issues. This dissatisfaction extends to the quality of maintenance provided. In fact, the report goes on to indicate residents are now three times more likely to live in poorly maintained homes, so it’s little wonder service satisfaction declined 10% over the 18 months between the two polls.
One solution is to use tech to make fault reporting and repairs a trackable, digital process, with stakeholders like insurers aware of the repair backlog or schedule.
Summing up, Zutec COO, Emily Hopson-Hill says,
“Asset owners should take heart in these findings, using them to accelerate efforts to eliminate any risk in their properties. Whilst there were significant improvements in information provision and communication, maintenance response times remain a frustration for tenants. We need to achieve an environment where residents feel 100% safe and satisfied in their homes and asset owners and facilities managers can make informed decisions quickly by easily accessing the right information when they need to.
Digitising property information is one key, easy-to-achieve component, particularly as asset owners work to achieve compliance. As Building Safety in the Digital Age makes clear, with easy-to-access, affordable tools and platforms to achieve complete, up-to-date building data, there can now be no excuse not to invest in this crucial, legal requirement.”