From cradle to grave, there are many variables involved in a façade project. Naturally, this also means that there are a few potential risks involved.
In a nutshell:
• Onsite delays can often occur due to various reasons such as bad weather or the availability of materials.
• Health and safety is vital at all stages of a project but especially onsite when the risk of an incident is often the greatest.
• During the design process, communication is key to avoid wastage.
• Risks post-installation are also present, such as corrosion.
• Replacement parts can prove difficult to find if the company no longer supplies them.
• If Building Regulations are not met, companies risk prosecution.
Delays can be quite common on the construction site given the many variables that need to be accounted for during installation. If one of these factors are delayed, it can then cause a domino effect on the rest of the programme. Bad weather, availability and price rises which force re-specification are all regular contributors. Many of these problems are unavoidable however there are ways to reduce the impact caused, for example maintaining collaboration between all contractors and subcontractors on-site. Also, purchasing and vesting products early mitigates the risk of unavailability.
Health and Safety
Health and safety is a vital concern on construction sites due to the amount of risks present. Many building projects, particularly façades, require installation at a great height where there is the obvious risk of falling or panels dropping. Slips, trips and falls are also a common hazard along with moving objects such as heavy plant machinery and overhead lifting equipment.
We can reduce these hazards through the implementation of risk assessments and the completion of relevant training and qualifications. Risk assessments ensure that the site team know how to complete tasks safely and certifications such as IPAF and PASMA assure that the team have the relevant skills.
Reporting incidents and ‘near misses’ is also paramount when it comes to maintaining a safe working environment as it helps to put preventative measures in place.
As the design process is very intricate and specific, there is potential for miscommunication which could result in wastage. If there is any room for doubt about colour and/or dimensions and this isn’t checked before the materials are mass-produced and delivered, this will result in a huge amount of wastage.
To reduce this possibility, façade specialists will typically carry out numerous checks at every stage of the design process.
Lifespan of the façade
Typically, when designing a façade, architects will specify the desired lifespan and the designer will bring their vision to life according to this specification. Once the façade is completed, there is a ‘latent defect period’ in which designers and contractors can be held accountable for defects for 6-12 years.
Over time, some façades may be subject to corrosion and discolouration due to weather conditions and air pollutants. There are certain coatings that can help delay these effects such as anodising or powder coating.
Every building operation in the UK must adhere to The Building Regulations . They detail every rule that new developments must abide by and cover topics from site preparation and structural integrity to fire safety. Any organisation found not complying by the regulations will risk prosecution. To reduce the risk of this, it is paramount that members of the team familiarise themselves with The Building Regulations.
Many of these risks can be avoided through the ‘right first time’ approach which involves using the right information, the right tools and the right skills to reduce risks.