Report on the 7th buildeng South West Conference and Exhibition

Report on the 7th buildeng South West Conference and Exhibition Image

An Exhibition for Constructional Professionals in the South West - Chairman's Report

On 25th April 2018 the South West region presented its 7th regional conference and exhibition for construction professionals. I’m glad to be able to report that the event was yet again very well attended with over 170 delegates present at the event. Moreover, the presenters and presentations were well received and the framework of the day aimed and succeeded in delivering conference content that was relevant to the delegates and relevant to the climate and changes taking place in the construction industry at this time.

As Regional Chairman I must thank the buildeng team for their tireless work; those who give their own time regionally to assist in the arrangements and Sarah, Kirri and the rest of the team at Lutyens House. I would also like to thank our sponsors for the day, Bilco and Actis. Both Carl Sutterby of Bilco and Dan Anson-Hart of Actis Insulation gave excellent presentations at the start of the morning and afternoon sessions; Carl speaking about safe access onto roofs and the design of smoke venting and Dan presenting on the Hybris and Boost ranges of multifoil insulation and the many different applications where their insulation can be used to provide efficient thermal elements and reduce cold bridging.

South West 18I would also like to thank our CABE President, David Taylor for chairing the event and our brand new CABE Technical Director Richard Harral for giving us the first presentation he has given in his new role since moving from DCLG. We were also pleased to be able to host our current Chief Executive John Hooper and our incoming CEO Gavin Dunn who gave a short presentation on the future plans for the CABE and its role in a changing construction industry both nationally and globally. He challenged the status quo and asked the membership ‘what does good look like?’

As the South West Regional Chairman I am extremely proud that we are able to attract such prominent members from the CABE Board and presidential team to our event; to me it demonstrates that the CABE is engaged with its membership from grass roots to board members and the Chief Executive. I am also continually surprised and pleased that the South West buildeng team is able to attract a great calibre of speaker from leading areas of the construction industry.

South West 18 pic 2Throughout the event this year there was a thread throughout the day which indicated from varying viewpoints that the construction industry should brace itself for big changes to structure and responsibility in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy and the Hackett Review. This is likely to affect Regulatory frameworks and will cast a spot light on competence, accountability and professionalism of both organisations and individuals. The message I took from the day was that the whole of the industry will be affected by the review in the medium to long term. Richard Harral’s presentation touched on all of these key factors and hypothesised on possible legislative and framework changes that may be favoured based on changes that have occurred in other areas of the construction industry. He also predicted, with some degree of certainty that there would be changes to the Building Regulations and allied guidance and legislation.

Picture caption: Paul Bray from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue delivering a case study talk on the Royal Clarence Hotel Fire.

The seriousness of fire in building was reiterated further with a paper from Paul Bray GIFireE, Business Safety Manger for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. He presented on the Royal Clarence Hotel fire which destroyed the hotel in Exeter. His presentation showed the complexity of dealing with a fire in historic buildings and in built up areas. He showed through video, diagrammatic and drone footage the difficulties encountered with this live case study. The main issues being avoiding fire spread between buildings and firefighting fires in concealed cavities. Paul was happy to report that there were no fatalities in this case but the devastation of the building was clear to see and the building needed to be demolished.

South West 18 pic 3Our afternoon opened with Claire Curtis-Thomas PhD(Hon)C.Eng FIMechE FIET, Chief Executive of the British Board of Agrement. She presented on Catastrophic Failures and Poor Insulation Practices on externally clad buildings. She highlighted, again providing excellent visual evidence, the failures that have occurred mainly with retrospectively fitted insulation and cladding systems. This has involved large areas of render and other claddings falling from medium and high rise buildings. It was clear from the evidence provided that the failures could have been catastrophic in terms of injury or loss of life. She iterated the importance of using cladding systems that have been tested by an accredited third party and the importance of using all parts of a tested system and not substituting fixings, insulation, meshes renders or claddings for cheaper or inferior products.

Picture caption: CABE Vice President Jayne Hall on the LABC stand.

The substrate of the original building is obviously important and the importance of a full structural design was also discussed and that in some situations this is not always forthcoming. She highlighted the problems that Councils in particular have had as a result of needing to upgrade existing high rise housing stock with limited grants and funds to do so; and how costs are magnified when systems have to be removed as a result of failure and the need to promote public safety. This can leave housing providers with fitting and removal costs returning the building to being not fit for purpose.

South West 18 pic 4Claire’s presentation led seamlessly on to Clive Everett’s presentation on Fire Compliant Facades (18.0m+) – The Background, Updates and the Future. Clive is the Facades Technical Standards Director at MDIS and he started by running through the applicable Building Regulations and the allied guidance that can be used to show compliance with the Building Regulations. He discussed the importance of good detailing and reiterated Claire in the need to use materials and systems in accordance with their test data and third party certification and taking into account the existing substrate of the building and the existing building design. He again expressed the importance of using materials that are proven to work together and explained the importance and difference between cavity closers and fire barriers.

Picture caption: Claire Curtis-Thomas, CEO of the British Board of Agrément spoke on Catastrophic Failures and Poor Insulation Practices

Our final speaker of the day brought us back to some of the great footage we had seen throughout the day. He was Tim Wright, Head of Sales and Marketing at Ocuair. Ocuair use drones and other systems to gather data and information to survey, plot and identify defects in buildings or over land. Tim ran through the legal standing of drones and licences and training that is required to fly one. He went through what happens if a drone loses contact with it controller and how security in terms of terrorism is now a major consideration in public areas; he pointed out that pretty much anything can be attached to a drone. He showed how buildings could be surveyed in terms of BIM and GIS applications to provide accurate 3 dimensional models. He demonstrated how the use of a drone can be used to find defects such as cracked or slipped slates where scaffolds would need to be erected in order to survey historic roofs.

South West 18 pic 5It was clear to see that in terms of dangerous structurers that the increased use of drones could be an effective tool. The level of detail available from the drone in terms of accuracy and definition was made clear by Tim’s presentation. Tim finished by showing what can be achieved by using thermal surveying cameras on a drone. He gave several case studies of where roof leaks, cladding failures and thermal bridges had been identified. Tim really highlighted how modern technology is being used to assist building designers, surveyors and maintenance surveyors.

David Taylor closed proceedings but not without thanking John Hooper our outgoing Chief Executive for the excellent work he has done in his tenure. Thanks to his experience and efforts the CABE gained its Charter in this period and has enjoyed growth and success in this time. John has been to every Buildeng that the South West has put on and we wish him all the best for the future.

We now start arrangements for next year’s event but please remember to check the website to see what else we are putting on locally. buildeng SW next year will be slightly later because of the Easter break and will be on the 1st May 19. We look forward to seeing you there!

Robert Gary - South West Regional Chiarman

Graduate Member's Report

It has been a great experience attending the CABE annual buildeng South West 2018 conference as graduate member. A wide range of useful and informative CPD-accredited topics were presented throughout the day from speakers who are experts within their respective fields in the construction industry; from insulation suppliers to the Chief Executive of the British Board of Agrément, the talks were very varied. Topical items such as the Fire Compliant Façades were of particular relevance and gave a speculative insight into what changes may be likely to occur within the industry.

The conference is an ideal platform for a graduate member to network with members and non-members within the construction industry and gain some relevant CPD to aid their professional development and knowledge, whilst keeping up to date with the short and long term goals of the Association. I was made to feel very welcome on entry by the regional chairman Robert Gary and fellow professionals throughout the day. It has definitely encouraged me to attend the regional CPD events and the next buildeng event.

See you next year.

C DAVIS (Graduate Member)

Interested in attending a CABE buildeng conference?

We already have a extensive programme of 5-8 hour CPD conferences across the UK and Ireland for 2018, and are working on increasing the number for 2019. Visit to find one in your region, or email for more information. 

14 May 2018

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