First Featured In: Electrical Contracting News (ECN) November 23
Building compliance requirements are changing rapidly and technology will ensure mechanical and electrical (M&E) contractors keep up with the pace. Dave Carr from Propeller Powered explains.
Ever-changing legislation combined with the need to improve energy efficiency is making building compliance more complex and time consuming.
The Building Safety Act is introducing a raft of new rules, including more stringent requirements for fire safety and a need for all those in the supply chain to prove competence. For the public sector, the new Social Housing Regulation Act will shine an even brighter spotlight on housing safety compliance, requiring more stringent inspections and transparency.
A growing number of social landlords are also choosing to conduct electrical safety checks at least once every five years ahead of possible new legislation, which will align with legal requirements already in force for privately owned properties.
At the same time, the government’s net zero targets are seeing some building owners prioritise measures which will help to minimise environmental impact and costs. This means that equipment such as solar panels, and air and ground source heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular in both commercial and residential buildings.
A Single Source
For M&E contractors responsible for building compliance services, these changes are creating a raft of extra tasks which means more reporting, administration, and potential costs.
To address these challenges, new cloud-based software has been designed and developed, eliminating the need for manual, paper-based processes. The technology ensures the building owner or manager complies with the latest regulations while driving time and cost efficiencies for small-to-medium sized contractors.
All compliance areas can be managed through a single platform containing all the relevant legislative certificates for gas and electrical equipment, including renewables. These certificates are created digitally on a mobile App and can be validated on site, saving time, improving service levels, and minimising the risk of non compliance for the building owner or manager.
All information recorded during the checks is fed into a dashboard providing a real-time view of compliance for the building’s landlord.
To improve efficiency, engineers can be managed remotely and in real time using the same software with job data provided instantly. All documentation can be completed electronically and is then stored for each property along with photographs, materials and costing information. Intelligent scheduling is also available enabling contractors to automatically allocate work by priority, availability, location, and skills.
Identifying appliances such as renewable energy equipment is another task which can swallow extra times and costs. This process can be managed with the same software using QR codes which are applied to each piece of equipment giving it a unique asset tag. As well as allowing contractors to build an accurate database, the QR codes can be scanned to reveal a detailed job history enabling service plans to be set up, including schedules that meet the SFG20 standard maintenance specification.
To overcome the long-standing issue of access, automation is a critical element in the technology. Tenants can be automatically reminded of appointments using a variety of tools including text messages, email and WhatsApp depending on individual preferences. For those unable to be at home for the appointment, there is also the potential for them to respond so a new time can be arranged.
Adapting to Change
As the legal landscape continues to evolve, some M&E contractors are being called upon to deliver additional services. For example, we have been contacted by several M&E contractors which have been tasked to carry out fire door checks following the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, which were enforced in January 2023.
This legislation sets new legal duties forthose who own or manage multi-occupied residential buildings over 11m high. These include an obligation for the ‘responsible person’ to conduct quarterly checks on communal doors that lead onto common areas like hallways, and annual inspections on flat entrance doors. Evidence of the steps taken to comply with the regulations must also be recorded.
For engineers who have been asked to assist with this challenging task, there is specialist cloud-based software available for this too. This allows fire door maintenance and inspection programmes to be managed digitally. Fire doors, including time-stamped images, can be digitally recorded into a database along with a history of inspections for auditing purposes.
All other areas of compliance including gas, electrical, and legionella can be incorporated into the same system bringing key data into one place, eliminating the need for multiple systems.
The Future is Now
With the task of maintaining building compliance becoming more challenging for landlords across both the public and private sectors, M&E contractors have a key role to play. By adopting new technology, all compliance areas can be brought under one system, generating time and cost efficiencies and ensuring building owners comply with the latest legislation.