National Apprenticeship Week 2024

National Apprenticeship Week 2024

It’s the last day of National Apprenticeship Week 2024 where the focus has been ‘Skills for Life’. Apprenticeships are designed by employers to help apprentices gain the skills and knowledge needed in the workplace. Apprenticeships can support your business to grow talent and develop a skilled workforce.

FIS members have been actively demonstrating their support and dedication this week by investing in training the next generation through apprenticeship programs. Here are some highlights:

  • CG Reynolds established a specialised Trade Academy last year and brought in Trainee Fixers, leading to notable successes for both the company and the apprentices.
  • Alby Gumble and Aaron McElligott, Assistant Site Managers at Pexhurst Services Limited, and Tom Kasoulis, Assistant Contracts/Commercial Manager, shared their positive experiences with the apprenticeship scheme and discussed their future career goals.
  • British Gypsum proudly supports over 1,200 apprentices across 51 Thistle Partnership Colleges in the UK. They spoke with plastering apprentice Ryan to learn more about his motivation for joining the apprenticeship program.
  • Errigal featured apprentice Nicole, who aspires to become a project manager, and highlighted the valuable support she has received.
  • Domino Commercial Interiors hosted an open event to engage with the community and showcase their diverse range of services.

Offering an apprenticeship can:

  • introduce fresh talent and ideas to your business by recruiting new staff and upskilling existing members
  • align training to your business needs
  • boost staff loyalty and motivation

Apprenticeships available for Finishes and Interiors are:

  • Level 2 Interior Systems Installer – pathways are:
    • Ceilings and Partitions
    • Drylining

This apprenticeship includes learning about Installing, repairing and maintaining various elements of the internal structure of a building.

In addition, the government will fund up to a maximum amount of £14,000 for this apprenticeship training.

  • Level 2 Plastering

Plastering includes preparing walls and ceilings for decoration and finishing.

In addition to supporting NAW 2024 and following the theme of ‘Skills for Life’, FIS have produced and launched a competency framework to demonstrate routes to baseline installer competence for Drylining. The framework can be found here: Competence Framework for Dry Liners – FIS (thefis.org)

This framework aims to support members to identify Drylining routes to competence and SKEB Statements, which will help to understand what training, qualification and competence does and should look like for this area, and help identify potential training gaps and how they can be addressed.

DBT seeks input from SMEs to develop regulation data platform

DBT seeks input from SMEs to develop regulation data platform

The Smarter Regulation Directorate in the Department for Business and Trade is currently developing an online platform that hopes to publish UK regulation data in one place and in a machine-readable format. We hope that this will help support regulatory compliance in the construction sector by making that data easier to find, search through and for innovative companies to create new compliance solutions to help businesses. Please find attached a brochure for further detail.

They are looking for any UK companies working within the construction sector, of any size, to participate in a study. They are particularly keen to hear from SMEs.

As part of this product development, they are keen to understand more about the companies in the construction sector including asking:

1.      More about your organisation and what you do

2.      How you access and comply with UK regulation

3.      Whether you would use their platform or third party compliance solutions (theirs will provide a brief demonstration)

The team are hoping to conduct 5-10 virtual user research interviews over the course of 1 hour in February and March.

Alternatively, if you wish to do a written survey, you can access and complete it here: https://forms.office.com/e/k8cbu5eyEf

Please be assured that the session will be recorded solely for research purposes. All personal and commercial information, including your identity, will be anonymised and will remain confidential.

If you are interested, please reach out to them on OpenRegulation@businessandtrade.gov.uk.

Here is a YouTube video, demoing the product: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DedKWKc_B_Y, and in addition, attached is a pdf of a brochure, for further info.

2024 Embodied Carbon Data for Timber Products

2024 Embodied Carbon Data for Timber Products

TDUK has recently completed a project on Embodied Carbon Data for Timber Products, the paper is now available on the TDUK website under “2024 Embodied Carbon Data for Timber Products: Timber Development UK.” To access the document, you will need to log in to the TDUK website. If you don’t have an account yet, you can easily create one as either a member or non-member to download the paper.

FIS Sustainability champion, Flavie Lores had this to say:

As the need to design and build more net zero carbon buildings increases, there is growing pressure for the manufacturers to provide better quality data on the carbon footprint of their products through EPD. However, having access to generic data is useful to better understand the impact of various products in the early stages of design . I am very pleased to see the work that TDUK has carried out to review over 80 EPD to provide A1-A4 data for 10 timber products, thereby providing a great pool of data to enable better embodied carbon calculations.

This comprehensive paper, which has been in the works for several months, presents the weighted average A1-A3 embodied carbon data for various timber products used in the UK, including UK-specific A4 transport data. It’s recommended that using this data for all Whole Life Cycle assessments in the UK. The paper outlines the methodology used, data confidence levels, and includes a PDF dataset with links to EPDs, product densities, and a verification report by Jane Anderson at Construction LCA, confirming compliance with CEN/TR 15941:2010 standards. All these documents are accessible for download on the TDUK website.

This resource will be invaluable for future discussions on WLC assessments within Ska. Please helped spread the word by sharing this paper within your networks, as it reveals significant differences compared to the ICE database, especially for softwood, CLT, Glulam, OSB, and MDF. The paper is open to all interested parties, but they must create a free account on the TDUK website to access and download the data.

CITB increase grants to support end of CSCS Grandfather Rights

CITB increase grants to support end of CSCS Grandfather Rights

The Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) deadline of 31 December 2024 for all Industry Accreditation (IA) cardholders (also known as ‘Grandfather Rights’) is fast approaching.  After this date IA cards will no longer be accepted on site.  CSCS advises that:

  • All IA cards issued from 1 January 2020 will expire on 31 December 2024 and cannot be replaced using industry accreditation.
  • This is to meet industry requirements, which state that all construction industry card schemes must operate with nationally recognised qualifications in place for all occupations.
  • Tailored guidance has been developed to help cardholders replace their IA cards, depending on their occupations and qualifications, while a list of FAQs is also available.
  • Those requiring a qualification do not need to attend college and enhanced CITB grants are available to support CITB-registered employers achieve recognised qualifications.

To support construction workers in obtaining the required qualification to transition from an IA card to an appropriate CSCS card, CITB has increased the grants for specific supervision and management NVQs/SVQs.​

The CITB increased grants are as follows:

  • Specific Supervision NVQ Diplomas/SVQs now £1,250
  • Specific Management NVQ Diplomas/SVQs now £1,500

Supervision – CITB Registered Members who are up to date with their Levy can claim on Completion of the Qualification: £1,250

Level3/SCQF Level 6 in Built Environment Design

Level3/SCQF Level 6 in Construction Contracting Operations (any subcategory)

Level3/SCQF Level 6 in Occupational work Supervision (Construction)

Level3/SCQF Level 6 in Site Inspection

Level 3 in Surveying, Property and Maintenance

Level 4/SCQF Level 7 in Construction Site Supervision

Management – CITB Registered Members who are up to date with their Levy can claim on Completion of the Qualification: £1,500

Level 6/SCQF Level 10 in Construction Site Management

Level 6/SCQF Level 9 in Built Environment Design Management

Level 6/SCQF Level 9 in Construction Contracting Operations Management (any subcategory)

Level 6 in Senior Site Inspection

Level 7/SCQF Level 11 in Construction Senior Management

FIS works with a number of training providers to help deliver NVQs/SVQs, which can be found in the FIS Membership Directory here. If you have any questions or need assistance please contact marieflinter@thefis.org

FIS supports National Apprenticeship Week to promote skill development

FIS supports National Apprenticeship Week to promote skill development

The FIS is proud to show its support for National Apprenticeship Week, a campaign that highlights the boundless possibilities that can stem from apprenticeships. We are committed to promoting the week and assisting all FIS members in their efforts to do the same. This year’s theme, “Skills for Life,” is a perfect opportunity to showcase the exceptional work done by our sector in training the next generation in Fit Out, Finishes and Interiors. Additionally, we will be conducting surveys on our social media handles to identify areas where we, as a community, can improve and provide our members with the necessary support.

Apprenticeships present a unique opportunity for individuals to learn new skills, gain valuable experience, and jumpstart their careers. By participating in National Apprenticeship Week, FIS hopes to encourage more people to consider apprenticeships as a viable option for their future. The “Skills for Life” theme emphasises the importance of developing skills that will last a lifetime, and the FIS is proud to be at the forefront of this effort. We believe that our sector has a crucial role to play in training the next generation, and we are committed to providing our members with the support they need to succeed. Through our social media surveys, we hope to identify areas where we can improve and continue to promote the benefits of apprenticeships for all.

New Competence Framework for Project Managers in the Built Environment

New Competence Framework for Project Managers in the Built Environment

The competence framework for project managers is now available for use.

The new competence framework for project managers in the built environment is a fantastic resource for those looking to develop their skills and knowledge in the field. The framework is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of the competencies required to excel as a project manager, with a particular focus on the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the built environment.

To learn more about the framework and its benefits, you can visit here. Additionally, if you’re interested in attending a joint webinar hosted by APM, RICS, and CIOB, you can register for by clicking here. This is a great opportunity to gain further insight into the framework and to connect with other professionals in the field.

To see more about the FIS competency framework for dryliners, click here

CLC Spring Budget 2024 Representation

CLC Spring Budget 2024 Representation

A letter addressed to the Chancellor highlights the importance of the construction industry in growing the UK economy. The industry contributes 9% of the UK’s GDP and employs over 2.63 million people. The letter emphasises the need for stability across the sector’s projects, identifies challenges in housing delivery, and suggests solutions such as unlocking small sites for SME house builders and incentivising private finance for affordable housing.

It also calls for consistency in implementing the Construction Playbook and flexibility in infrastructure investment, along with a national retrofit strategy to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050. The letter concludes by urging the government to work with the industry to address these challenges and promote economic growth.

Read the full letter here

TradePoint: the ultimate solution for all your project needs

TradePoint: the ultimate solution for all your project needs

TradePoint is offering exceptional benefits to FIS members, including a great deal on hiring tools, with free delivery and collection service. You can hire the tools you need for a week or even just for the weekend, so there’s no need to worry about the duration of your project.

Their range of tools and equipment are fully tested and come with accessories included, ensuring you have everything you need to complete your project with ease. With dedicated customer support, you can rest assured that you’ll have access to professional assistance if you have any questions or concerns.

The best part? No deposit is required, which means you can get started on your project right away without any financial burden. Whether you’re working on a DIY project or a professional construction job, TradePoint is the perfect solution to all your project needs.

Are you an FIS member? Access your TradePoint card here

Empowering the Responsible NO

Empowering the Responsible NO

FIS CEO, Iain McIlwee explores the importance of the word “No” in construction.

The procurement research FIS published in February 2023 coined the expression the “Responsible No”

“No” is a tiny word, one syllable, but at times, the hardest to say.  If we say “No” to a clause in a contract, there always seems to be another firm willing to say “Yes”. If we raise too many issues, or qualify too much in our tender response, we may well lose the job. It is easy to talk about “No”, but in a tight, price-sensitive market, with mouths to feed…

The problem is that if we don’t exercise the option of “No”, if we don’t clarify, qualify and draw the line we take responsibility for issues outside of our control, assume responsibility for compliance and sign up to damages and delays that we can’t cover. Even if we avoid the worst of the financial hit, how often do we find ourselves staring at a detail on a construction site, scratching our heads and working it out on the fly – “the site fix”?

Regulation is driving change, common sense demands it

Changes to The Building Act 1984 carried through as part of the Building Safety Act changes, mean that we are liable for that detail for 10 years from a Building Control enforcement perspective and if it impacts fire or structural safety, it could be a 15-year plus liability (with prison sentences if it can be proved we were negligent).

As a sector we pride ourselves on our ability to get the job done, to adapt the design and make it work, but duties in the Building Regulations are now clearer and more onerous. The regulatory environment has changed, a heart full of hope and a tube of mastic isn’t enough.

On higher risk projects we’ve got major and notifiable changes – strict change control processes that should be in place. On all jobs, the building control officer is under greater pressure to ensure evidence is provided – they want to see (or photos of) as-built details backed by evidence of performance and competence.

The principal designer needs to start signing the job off on completion too, it is all about evidence, quality control and information management. If the principal designer won’t support or Building Control won’t sign-off, works stops and with it the flow of monies, I refer you back to the cost of delays mentioned above.

The old days of “Bob the Builder, can we fix it?” and a rousing chorus of “Yes… we can” is changing. The retort now needs to be more like: “Not necessarily Bob, certainly not until Sarah the supervisor has checked with Alan the architect who has reviewed against the design, clarified with Edna the engineer and Mike the M&E designer, and ensured Quinn the quantity surveyor is aware. We also need to consider if we need to advise Barry the building control officer and he may need to liaise to Bertha the building safety regulator before … We can!”

This is a cultural change that we need to filter through our supervision protocols, into our Tool Box talks, and embed in our daily processes. But it isn’t just a site thing. Len Bunton always reminds me that dispute resolution begins and most problems could be solved before we sign the contract. There is always risk in construction, but with new potential for delays and new liabilities, we must understand these risks and cap them appropriately.

Yes, but…

This need for risk awareness is the reason that we have introduced an FIS Contract Review Service. We know that 41% of our members never seek legal advice (scarily only 17% never start on site without a contract in hand!). This subsidised service is about helping members understand the risks and how to push back. It is also about FIS isolating unreasonable requests and pushing back as a collective. Getting your contracts reviewed routinely would be a good New Year’s Resolution. The “Responsible No” is a big ask, but maybe we can make 2024 the year of the Confident Reasonable “Yes, but…”

To read the full research with the University of Reading on Procurement Practices in the Fit-out Sector CLICK HERE

To find out more about the FIS Contract Review Service CLICK HERE

This article was published originally in SpecFinish January 2024.  Articles include Digitalisation of Construction, How Employee Owned Trusts are helping to change the sector, Changes in Competency Requirements, unique challenges with the specification of operable walls and insights into the significance of incorporating Approved Document B (ADB) into the design and construction of pods.  You can read the full magazine here.

An Overview of the Modification to Payment Practices and Performance Regulations of 2024

An Overview of the Modification to Payment Practices and Performance Regulations of 2024

The CLC has released a statement on Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance (Amendment) Regulations 2024

On Wednesday 10 January the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) laid the Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance (Amendment) Regulations 2024.

These Regulations amend existing regulations, which impose a requirement on large companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) to publish certain information twice per financial year about their practices, policies and performance in relation to paying suppliers. These Regulations extend the Principal Regulations and the LLP Regulations beyond their current sunset date of 6 April 2024 to 6 April 2031 and require additional information to be reported by qualifying companies and LLPs. This includes requirements for qualifying companies to publish information on the value of payments made within a qualifying period and information on payments that were not paid under qualifying contracts. The Regulations can be found here.

The Government response to the public consultation on the amendments to the Payment Practices and Performances Regulations 2017 was published alongside the Autumn Statement 2023, and confirmed the introduction of a requirement for qualifying businesses that are parties to construction contracts to report on their retention payment policy and key statistics in relation to retentions.

Legislation for the new retention reporting requirements is expected to be laid before Parliament in 2024. It is anticipated that qualifying business will commence data collation and include in their payment practices and performance reports during 2025.

FIS CEO Iain McIlwee added:

“It is great to see the changes that were announced in the Autumn are being carried into law, but a bit disappointing that we have to wait until 2025 before we start to see the benefit.  This is an area where FIS has long been calling for reform and has repeatedly highlighted the limitations with current reporting requirements that mask some serious underlying problems.  The new requirements will provide a more realistic measure of late payment of construction invoices and highlight problems related to retention and disputed invoices.This is a positive step, but better measurement is not in itself change.  As we head to the next General Election we will continue to lobby for reform of payment certification and retentions in construction and I am hopeful that the data that will start to come through will support our calls for change.  New Zealand recently legislated for retentions to be held in trust and the EU are bringing forward far tougher late payment regulations.  In the UK we are way behind on this and the supply chain is, as a consequence, getting even harder hit by the current levels of insolvency.”

Updates on the R&D Tax Credit Scheme for Construction Innovation

Updates on the R&D Tax Credit Scheme for Construction Innovation

The new R&D tax credit scheme, slated for launch in April 2024, has been closely followed by investors in construction innovation. The government has increased the tax credit from 1 April 2023 to 20% of qualifying expenditure, which is an excellent incentive to boost construction productivity. However, there were initial concerns that the text implied a restriction in claiming the tax credit in cases where the R&D stemmed from sub-contracting, which would have been disastrous for many SMEs and large businesses in the construction sector.

Following close engagement with the government, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) is pleased to report that specific positive references to subcontracting and the construction industry have been included in the Autumn Statement, with the aim of preserving current eligibility for the tax credit. The CLC, however, had valid concerns regarding the draft wording of the legislation released in the Draft Finance Bill 2023-24, which could still pose problems for the construction industry, where R&D activities had been “contemplated” further up the chain. The CLC is committed to ensuring that the R&D tax credit remains available to all firms in the construction supply chain that initiate their own R&D activities. HMT and HMRC have confirmed their willingness to work with the CLC and other industry professionals to ensure that the guidance is clear and that the final legislation reflects the position in the Autumn Statement. Real-world examples and case studies, including those from the construction industry, will be included in the guidance note, which should be available by early 2025.

Miranda Chamberlain, Group Head of Tax at Mace Group, shared these important updates.

Changes to Working Time Regulations: guidance for employers

Changes to Working Time Regulations: guidance for employers

On January 1, 2024, the UK government implemented amendments to the Working Time Regulations, which are outlined in this document. Please note that this guidance cannot provide definitive answers to all individual queries or be used in place of personalised legal advice. Employers must negotiate the changes in terms and conditions with their workers or representatives.

The main focus of this guidance is on the minimum entitlement of 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday. However, workers may have contractual entitlements to additional paid leave beyond this statutory minimum. Therefore, employers should first review individual contracts and consult independent legal advice if necessary.

It is important to note that all illustrative holiday pay calculations in this guidance are based on gross pay data (before any taxes or deductions).

Additionally, this guidance refers to ‘workers’ as individuals whose employment status is either as a ‘worker’ or an ’employee’, entitling them to paid leave.

See the guidance here

 

Join Citation on Wednesday, January 10th at 11am for an informative webinar on changes in employment law. Our discussion will focus on a range of topics including new regulations around carers’ leave, flexible working, and holiday entitlement and pay for irregular hours/part-year workers.

Be one step ahead this year by attending this webinar.

FIS Digital Construction Working Group Report

FIS Digital Construction Working Group Report

The meeting was chaired by Diane Tocco, Director of Diane Butterworth Limited, a longstanding FIS Member that specialises in digital solutions, initial office planning, visualisation and Revit Families.

Diane opened by reminding the attendees of the whole group objectives –

  • Establish best practices and encourage the sharing of knowledge.
  • Help appraise membership and support digital tools as they emerge in the sector.
  • Support the implementation of digitisation within organisations by influencing and educating key decision-makers and providers.
  • Simplify the understanding of emerging tools and interoperability between them.
  • Ensure engagement is active within the sector to the wider conversation of digital construction.

And the specific focussed Objectives of the day:

  • Support compliance with the more onerous Information Management requirements in the revised Building Regulations (the Golden Thread)
  • Integration of digital tools and the impact on the Golden Thread.
  • Evaluate the application of BIM to drive improvements in the delivery of training and safeguarding health.

To set the scene for the meeting Iain McIlwee revisited the progress of the Group from BIM4Fit-out to the Digital Construction Working Group and the tools and support that has been developed including:

  • BIM Toolkit
  • Key Product Data Templates
  • FIS guidance on Pre-Qualification BIM Questions
  • And the Digital Spine

This year the substantive piece of work was the development of the FIS White Paper:  Introduction to the Golden Thread and Digital Information Plans published in October.

Legislation: What is the Golden Thread?
George Stevenson, Chairman www.bim4housing.com  and Managing Director at ActivePlan Consulting Ltd

George Stevenson of ActivePlan Limited and Chair of the BIM4Housing Group update on work that FIS has supported in developing Asset Modelling that is aligned to and supporting the delivery of the Golden Thread.

Overview new FIS Guide:  Introduction to the Golden Thread and Digital Information Plans
Iain McIlwee, CEO, Finishes and Interiors  Sector

Iain then ran through the key sections and learnings from producing  the White Paper and into details of the research that FIS has conducted in 2023 to understand digital readiness within the sector.

Key findings from FIS research are that 28% of Suppliers and 72% of contractors do not currently have a Digital Information Plan in place.  Concerns we raised about information available, particularly time taken to hunt down evidence of performance, missing interface and fixing details and confusion in terms of performance scope.  Again in tender packs the lack of critical details related to product and performance were highlighted.

Open Discussion on Key trends:  Digitalisation and challenges in the finishes and interiors sector.

The discussion moved to real life examples of how the Golden Thread needs to be more clearly established at the start and more work needs to be done to define requirements upstream to ensure FIS Members are not being overloaded, overwhelmed and set up to fail.  Linking this to wider technical work (and considering digital implications of technical work) was emphasised as the biggest priority for the group.

The scale of the challenge was discussed.  Fundamentally Golden Thread is information that we have, simplistically it needs to be structured better to share it.  Concerns remain that clients don’t know what they want so aren’t providing proportionate and structured requests for information.

It was noted that every building will have its own golden thread. The contents of it will depend on and is the responsibility of the dutyholders for that project: principal designer, principal contractor and client.

The question was posed, “What defines the piece of unambiguous information used to define the beginning of the Golden Thread?”.  This is difficult to define and comes back to questions.   Simplistically this was identified as a requirement, that needs to move from performance to a prescriptive requirement, which is then satisfied by a product (and supporting evidence).  Then the Golden Thread is a digital connection between that and what was installed (check the right product was installed correctly).

The importance of System based thinking was discussed, because the next level is the context of a product within a system and ultimately the building.

Looking at the complexity of the current situation is frightening and debilitating, so it is important to remember the fundamentals. Manufacturers must start from where they are. All the data required already exists in their systems. The challenge is to put it into structured form, so that it can be mapped against the information requirements of their clients. They won’t provide it until it is asked for – it requires a client request. That client request needs to be proportionate to their requirements for data. The data requirement should be provided in a structured form too!”

To search for the simple answer it was proposed that The Golden Thread starts with reasonable questions.  Alignment and talking in the same language is a challenge, this is about clarification.  One of the problems is we have all been dumping unstructured information on each other that can’t be used.  Needs to be a client pull.   The client has to structure requests to support structured response – legislation should start to help.  Noted clients need to confirm that they have received adequate information, which encourages better interrogation and ultimately articulation of requirements.

Key questions that need to be answered clearly through the process were clarity around:

  • What was specified?
  • What was installed?
  • What was its performance?
  • Who installed it?
  • Who inspected it?
  • Who maintained it?
  • What replaced it?
  • What risks do we anticipate?

A tender, considered to be a full NBS spec, which pushed all of the design work onto the specialist contractor, all complex performance requirements (judged on pre-installation testing) and no detail.  This makes a mockery of the Golden Thread as sufficient time is not allowed and information is still being dumped.  Upgrading the way tenders are coming out, 300 drawings showing sections, but not the finite detail.  BIM is not forcing out the detail, it is still being avoided.

Noted that it is very unusual for the partition to be modelled because there is too much detail and the problem is that who is going to do it.  Partition walls are typically modelled by the architect using generic models .  If using Revit there are tools to support the make-up, normally get the model and then work with the manufacturer and detail not added til stage 4, which is too late when overlapping  with Stage 5 means contractors are being put in difficult predicaments and seen as the “bad guys” asking questions too late.  M&E Programming was also discussed as adding to the complexity.

Cut and paste specifications with several different elements being badly and inconsistently presented was highlighted as another common problem that means effective output is difficult when the right information is not received in the first place.

Ultimately the conclusion was that the Golden Thread will fail in intent unless vital design and procurement details are managed. The Golden Thread is not a plaster and  in wake of increased complexity, misaligned and badly managed tolerances, we need to emphasise the importance of the “Responsible No” and “Early Supply Chain Involvement” and standardised information requirements.

Levers for change, Golden Thread, Building Safety Act, Insurance all need to be used to accelerate the change and limit the pain in implementation of new regulations.

Swe now that we need to provide information in a more structured and efficient way.  Who is responsible is still a concern and we need to look at better understanding.  Key action to return to Product Data Templates and ensure we are capturing all the information that we need at the start and identifying scenarios where our information requirements are not being met.

As in all aspects of our activity the FIS focus of this group is observation (understanding the challenges and opportunities), standardisation (encouraging consistency), normalisation (collective action) and representation (ensuring external barriers are understood and removed).

Copies of presentations given at the meeting are available below.

FIS Guide to the Golden Thread and State of Play for Digitalisation 2023

FIS ActivePlan – Building Safety Act and Digitalisation 12-12-23

FIS BIM4H Case Study Doorsets Dec 2023

The FIS is hosting a session on Digitalisation of Fit-out:  Transformation through information at the Workspace Design Show in February and also hosting the Digital Innovation Award at the exhibition.  More details here.

To access the FIS Digital Toolkit Click here

FIS is actively seeking case studies of positive Digital Information Management to form the basis of webinars, case studies and articles in 2024.  To nominate a case study, email iainmcilwee@thefis.org.

Expanding England’s tree coverage and encouraging the safe usage of timber in construction

Expanding England’s tree coverage and encouraging the safe usage of timber in construction

The government is committed to increasing England’s tree canopy and woodland cover to 16.5% by 2050, as per the statutory tree and woodland cover target. However, planting trees alone is not enough. To make the most out of the materials they provide, the government has also pledged to enhance the safe use of timber in construction (TiC) as part of the Net Zero Strategy, the England Trees Action Plan, and the 2023 Environmental Improvement Plan. This will help reduce embodied carbon in the built environment, promote tree planting and forest management, create new green jobs and industries, and build domestic supply chains.

It’s important to prioritize safe, high-performing, and best-practice timber construction to achieve the net-zero pathway. Alongside resource efficiency measures and other low-carbon products, the use of timber will provide the most significant benefits.

See the roadmap here

Re-use, net zero, sustainability and FIS efforts

Re-use, net zero, sustainability and FIS efforts

Wednesday marked the last formal FIS Working Group meeting for 2023 with the FIS Sustainability Leadership Group descending on Clerkenwell, kindly hosted by Troldtekt in their showroom.  As host Steve Mansell kindly acted as Guest Chair (this Chair for this group rotates between the members).   

Action:  If you are interested are a contractor and interested in sustainability and haven’t could you please complete our survey here (it is helping to inform our work). 

The meeting was a chance to reflect on key work programmes associated with supporting sustainable transformation and a net zero approach within the finishes and interiors sector.   

As in all aspects of our activity the FIS focus of this group is observation (understanding the challenges and opportunities), standardisation (encouraging consistency), normalisation (collective action) and representation (ensuring external barriers are understood and removed).   

Led ably by FIS Sustainability Champion Flavie Lowres, the Leadership Group reviewed progress against the plan.  This is an important area of focus and it is becoming increasingly so as clients start to interrogate in more detail the impact work.   

The meeting zoned in on the area of re-use with the first live demo of the pre-refurbishment audit tool that FIS has been working to develop with the University of Hertfordshire (built around the standard Audit protocols FIS has developed and is currently working with NBS to turn into a specification standard).   We also discussed the re-use initiative, our plans to set up a pilot collective re-use hub on the outskirts of London.   

At the heart of all FIS does is collaboration and we have and are doubling down on our partnership with the Supply Chain Sustainability School in 2024 with a number of targeted training interventions: 

Upcoming sessions   Dates 
Introduction to Modern Slavery webinar     16th January at 10 – 11am  
Using Lean for Continuous Improvement and Problem Solving workshop     23rd January at 10am – 12pm 
Net Zero , SBTs & Carbon Offsetting webinar    1st February at 10 – 11am  
Introduction to Circular Economy webinar    15th February at 12 – 1pm 
Embedding Sustainable Procurement workshop    21st February at 9:30 – 11:30am 
Business Case for FIR workshop     12th March at 10am – 1pm 
Building Level Assessments webinar   21st March at 12 – 1pm 
EPD webinar  Date TBC 

The plan is also to work with the School to help benchmark activity within the sector based on a framework that has been developed (in consultation with FIS).  More on this in the New Year. 

We had brief updates on the ongoing work around establishing a more consistent approach to information exchange and how we can better embrace social value in the work (the fourth discussion this week about the failure of Section 106 clauses to deliver positive outcomes and something we do intend to take on in 2024 – initially with the work we are doing with the City of London and the Skills for a Sustainable Skyline Taskforce).  

We also had an update from Iain McIlwee, FIS CEO on why FIS is supporting Ska Rating as a mechanism to support the measurement of project impact within the sector.  Iain has recently joined the Ska Board to help encourage uptake of and support investment in the next stage of development for what is already a fantastic process for measuring impact of refurbishment projects in retail, office and higher education.  

We’d like to thank all members who have supported the Sustainability Leadership Group and provided inspiration, imagination, expertise and time to help shift the dial and we look forward to working with you all to deliver on your ambition in 2024. 

The FIS sustainability group has grown since I started at FIS 2 years ago. It is very interesting forum where participants can share and collaborate on the topic of sustainability. The strength of the group is that it includes all the stakeholders from the fitout industry and all different levels of knowledge of sustainability.  

If you are interested in getting involved in the FIS Sustainability Leadership Group in 2024 or just want to find out more about our activities, email flavielowres@thefis.org.   

Action:  If you are interested are a contractor and interested in sustainability and haven’t could you please complete our survey here (it is helping to inform our work). 

Activity Map and update 2023 – FIS Sustainability Leadership Group. 

Visit the FIS Sustainability Hub here 

The 12 pays of Christmas

The 12 pays of Christmas

With cashflow continuing to be a thorny issue across the industry, it’s never been more important to ensure your payment preparations are in good health. Here, our expert elf delivers a dozen festive financial pointers to help prepare your business balance sheet for the New Year and beyond…

Unfortunately we’re still seeing significant contractor and sub-contractor business failures across the UK, resulting in a trail of devastation for the supply chain.

I’ve recently dealt with payment and cashflow issues for a number of SMEs and the level of difficulties currently being experienced is extraordinary.

After 40 years in the industry I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much chaos and it’s desperately sad to see so many businesses going into administration and good people being made redundant.

It’s essential that FIS Members minimise risk in 2024, so with apologies to the classic tune <<The 12 Days of Christmas>>, I’ve wrapped up a dozen of my own top payment tips to ensure you don’t lose sleep over payments and can enjoy a silent night…

1. Use Mr (or Mrs) Clause – use an experienced professional to analyse any contracts you’re bidding for and highlight any high-risk clauses. This will allow you to discuss the issue in advance and request that the clauses are removed or mitigated. There’s no use doing this after your tender has been accepted!

2. Make a list and check it twice – ensure you have a payment schedule in your contract, setting out the dates when you’ll make an application for payment, what you need to provide, the due and final dates for payment and when a pay less notice will be issued. Stick religiously to these dates – your commercial manager should have them in their calendar.

3. Stay another day – beware your payment schedule running out. If a job runs past the last date in the schedule, make sure it’s extended until you reach practical completion.

4. Talk turkey – payment applications are often rejected or reduced because you haven’t provided the relevant information. Too much detail is better than not enough, so ensure your commercial manager follows up each application with a call to the contractor to establish they have everything they need. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of the month, only to find your application has been shredded!

5. Follow the star – make sure you do what the contract says about submitting notices. So if it says they must be sent by email and registered post, do that. If it says they have to go to individuals and an organisation, do that instead.

6. Wrap it up – a sub-contractor told me recently that if his money isn’t received by the final date for payment, he issues a notice to suspend the performance of his obligations on site the next day. You’re perfectly entitled to do this and I find it’s a good wake-up call to both contractors and employers.

7. Do you hear what I hear? – you’ll often get an early indicator if there are trading difficulties, so keep your eyes and ears open. If the contractor or employer isn’t paying on time or reducing payments, share intelligence and compare notes with other sub-contractors.

8. Avoid a ding-dong – if you’re delayed, tell the contractor or employer why ASAP and give early notification of an extension of time. Some clients say they don’t want to ruffle feathers, but your priority is your <<OWN>> business. A standard contract allows extensions of time and payment of loss and expense, so take advantage.

9. Head for quality street – quality is still a major issue in the industry, with clients being charged for failing to rectify defective workmanship, remove rubbish and comply with health and safety regulations. The Construction Quality Improvement Collaborative is a major step forward – it’s worth signing up at www.cqic.org.uk to demonstrate your credentials and commitment to doing things right.

10. Jingle all the way – I recently issued a notice of adjudication to a defaulting party who quickly paid up. The Low Value Dispute Adjudication offers a fixed fee for an adjudicator to run such a dispute so you should take advantage – find out more at www.rics.org

11. Goodwill to all men – SELECT is among the many bodies to sign up to the Conflict Avoidance Process (CAP), which you can use as an early intervention to prevent issues escalating and allow you to keep working (and earning). Check it out at www.rics.org/capledge

12. Stuff those turkeys – finally, if you’re working with an organisation that’s repeatedly giving you the runaround, have the courage to tell them their goose is cooked and give them the boot.

In addition to these pointers, please read the CICV’s Best Practice Guide – available to download for free from www.cicvforum.co.uk – to improve your commercial management.

There’s no doubt we’re in for another tough 12 months across the industry but those firms that prepare properly will manage to weather the snowstorms to come.

Changes to Skilled Worker Visas

Changes to Skilled Worker Visas

The Government has announced a number of changes to the Points‐Based Immigration System (PBIS) designed to reduce overall net migration. From next spring, the Government will increase the earning threshold for the Skilled Worker visa from £26,200 to £38,700, as well as raise the Immigration Health Surcharge from £624 to £1,035. The Shortage Occupations List will also be replaced with a new ‘Immigration Salary List’, which will retain a general salary discount but include fewer occupations.

Under the PBIS, most workers from outside the UK in construction are ‘skilled workers’ and require a Skilled Worker visa to work in an eligible occupation. Build UK’s flowchart provides an overview of the process of employing a worker from outside the UK, with detailed guidance on How to Get a Sponsor Licence and How to Get a Skilled Worker Visa.

Building Safety Regulator Strategic Plan

Building Safety Regulator Strategic Plan

The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) has published its first strategic plan, setting out how it will carry out its building safety functions through to March 2026. With a vision to “create a built environment where everyone is competent and takes responsibility to ensure buildings are of high quality and are safe”, the plan includes an ambitious roadmap outlining a wide‐ranging programme of activity for the next three years:

  • Year one (April 2023 ‐ March 2024) ‐ Implementation of the new regime, including ensuring dutyholders are aware of their responsibilities and publishing a register of Higher‐Risk Buildings (HRBs)
  • Year two (April 2024 ‐ March 2025) ‐ Consolidation of the regime, including establishing the regulated building control profession and assessing 20% of occupied HRBs, prioritising those with un‐remediated ACM cladding
  • Year three (April 2025 ‐ March 2026) ‐ Operation of the regime on a ‘steady state’ basis, whilst reviewing the effectiveness of the BSR and setting its strategy for the next three years.

The BSR has also published its Enforcement Policy setting out where it will take action in the event of non‐compliance. Philip White, the HSE’s Director of Building Safety, has been appointed to lead the BSR on a permanent basis, which will include performing the duties of the Chief Inspector of Buildings.

Revisions to GAI DHF Code of Practice for Hardware for Fire and Escape Doors

Revisions to GAI DHF Code of Practice for Hardware for Fire and Escape Doors

The GAI DHF Code of Practice is a significant document that is often cited in Approved Documents and equivalent regulations throughout the UK and Ireland.

Recently, the code underwent a revision process, and it is now open for public comment by industry experts. If you’re interested in providing feedback, please use the commenting template provided via the link below.

Please send your completed forms to technical@gai.org.uk by Friday 15 December.

FIS CEO joins new SKARating Board

FIS CEO joins new SKARating Board

Getting ready for Net Zero: SKA announces new Board and governance

  • SKArating is announcing an exciting change in leadership and new plans to scale up to support the growing need to reshape sustainability in the fit-out world.
  • SKArating has, over the last 15 years, helped over 12,000 fit-out projects improve sustainability and provided a framework for countless more to make better, responsible, sustainable decisions.

This month SKArating is announcing an exciting change in its leadership and governance, as well as new plans to scale up to support the growing need to reshape sustainability in the fit-out world.

Developed in 2008 to help landlords and tenants systemise sustainability and assess fit-out projects against a practical sustainability rating system, SKA is unique in that it is driven exclusively to make a positive impact.  At the heart of SKA is a toolkit and assessment criteria that is free to use – costs are covered via training and certification.  The scheme has now supported more than 12,000 fit-out projects to make responsible decisions.

SKArating was initially developed by a group of industry professionals led by Skansen and supported by RICS and AECOM to focus on sustainability in fit-out, primarily in the commercial office, higher education and retail space.  The underlying philosophy of SKArating has always been to encourage all in the supply chain to make small changes in a practical way today.

To establish SKArating in the market, RICS provided a platform to incubate the scheme, host information and support the rating and certification process.  The changes announced this week will see SkArating trade as an independent “not-for-profit” business.

The new board is formed from people with a long-standing association with the scheme.  Elina Grigoriou has chaired the SKArating Technical Committee since the scheme was first launched in 2008, and served on the SKArating Development Board as well as delivering the training of SKArating assessors.  She is joined by Joe Croft, Charlie Law and Dave Wakelin who have been members of the Technical Committee for many years, and Iain McIlwee who has joined the board, cementing the Finishes and Interiors Sector’s strong association with the scheme.  The Board has supported SKArating through its incubation with RICS and provides continuity as the scheme takes its next steps.

SKA provides:

  • A framework to help understand good practice in fit-out and how to implement it.
  • An informal self-assessment tool for analysing environmental performance of a fit-out project
  • An opportunity to benchmark the performance of fit-outs
  • Quality-assured assessments from an accredited SKA assessor
  • A measure to help landlords and owners to demonstrate the sustainable credentials of commercial space

The way SKArating operates will not be affected.  Assessments will continue to be certified as they were under RICS’s stewardship.  Assessors will continue to receive the same technical support that they have previously enjoyed through RICS, with updated processes for assessor accreditation and CPD.

However, the board has plans to update the SKArating schemes to respond to an increasingly climate-aware fit-out industry, and to expand the sectors that SKArating can be used in.  The board will be reaching out to industry experts, SKArating users, assessors and clients to help develop the next iteration of the tool and the various schemes.

Chairperson of the new SKA Board Elina Grigoriou stated:

“This is an exciting time in the evolution of SKA. After 15 years developing the product and building awareness, we are now ready to step out on our own and work with our amazing community to take this scheme to the next level. With SKA now firmly established, it is time to take the next step and RICS has supported the leadership group to establish SKA as an independent social value business.

“All of us on the new Board and our Technical advisors are passionate and committed to remaining true to the SKA values for its future direction. SKA will remain owned by the industry and run as a “not-for-profit” ensuring it is always acting in the best interest of the market.”

Commenting on the changes, Janine Cole, Sustainability & Social Impact Director at Great Portland Estates plc stated:

“GPE have used SKArating for several years and has supported the business in improving the sustainability performance of our smaller refurbishment projects. The flexible nature of the scheme makes it ideal for this type of project, as a result, it was recently included within “Our Brief for Creating Sustainable Spaces” as a requirement for our on floor fit out schemes. We look forward to working with the SKArating Board as they develop the scheme.”

Ben Stubbs, Head of Sustainability (Built Environment) at UCL added:

“At UCL, all our project teams are accountable for their impacts across a broad range of sustainability indicators. We recognise Ska’s potential to help us further reduce our impacts as we continue to update our institutional targets.”

More details on the SKArating is available here: www.skarating.org