27th July 2020
How to manage quality from start to finish in Build to Rent projects

Paul Belfield, Director at Rund discusses the importance of maintaining quality throughout a Build to Rent (BTR) project and how this can be achieved through use of Due Diligence and Clerk of Works services.

“The BTR sector has been the fastest-growing part of the rental market in recent years, with over 157,000 BTR schemes currently in the UK either complete, under construction or in planning. With demand showing no signs of waning, delivering high standards of quality in construction in BTR developments is now more essential than ever.

Why is quality so key for BTR schemes?

“As more BTR schemes emerge across the country to meet demand for private rented accommodation, expectations among prospective renters will be high, with quality a key item on the agenda when seeking a place to live. Many BTR schemes are often large in scale and complex in layout, promising tenants a bespoke, personal service that suits their needs. An example of an extensive BTR scheme is Grainger plc’s first investment in Nottingham – a £55.5m development comprising 348 homes, next to Nottingham train station. The city has been highlighted by CBRE as one of the top 20 future rental hotspots, so Grainger plc highlighted the area as a key target city for their BTR portfolio.

How can quality be achieved in BTR schemes?

“Achieving quality in a BTR scheme requires input from a number of consultancy roles, to ensure it is consistent throughout the works from start to finish. The Technical Due Diligence and Clerk of Work roles are essential, with both working most effectively in tandem throughout the project to successfully deliver client objectives and expectations of renters.

What is the Technical Due Diligence role?

“The Technical Due Diligence role involves thorough research and analysis into the physical characteristics of a development, to ensure a project meets technical and operational needs, taking into consideration regulations and best practice.

“The Technical Due Diligence process involves gaining an understanding of the technical condition and design of a development through an intricate examination of all available construction documents – from a project’s initial design and contractual stages, right through to its completion. By doing so, a number of elements and potential risks can be identified, including opportunities for improvement/enhancement, any future cost implications, whether the site or surrounding area will have an adverse effect on the building’s technical aspects, and whether the development is suitable for the client’s intended use.

“Often, the role involves creating a range of strategies to help fulfil project objectives. Considering intricate details is essential for ensuring quality is sustained throughout the project.

“While all types of construction projects require an element of the Technical Due Diligence role, a key difference with BTR schemes is that a BTR company will maintain assets in the long-term rather than passing them over to another party, so they need to be assured of product durability and robustness. This is where Technical Due Diligence becomes vital for ensuring all products are fitting for these needs.

What is the Clerk of Works role?

“The Clerk of Works role is involved in monitoring the quality, specification compliance and progression of the works against programme on a construction project. They are frequently on site as the “eyes and ears” for the client, ensuring first-hand that correct building specifications are being delivered to the highest quality in respect of design, safety, workmanship, and installation.

“At Rund, we always recommend Clerk of Works are brought onto a project in its planning stages, to work alongside the Due Diligence role. This allows them to review specifications and check the buildability of the project to identify any defects ahead of time, suggesting alternatives where necessary.

“One of the key benefits of a Clerk of Works is that often, they come from a trade background so have first-hand experience in specific elements of a project. For example, at Rund, we employ in-house expertise in specialist areas including Fire Stopping and Mechanical & Electrical.

“Given the scale of BTR schemes, Clerk of Works are incredibly useful for ensuring high standards of quality in construction are met for both housing and additional amenities. In addition, when it comes to assurance of product durability and robustness in BTR schemes, Clerk of Works can help advise on any products and any foreseen issues. In addition, using in-house expertise, Clerk of Works can review the design of active and passive fire systems, as well as design solutions to mitigate the risk of overheating in residential developments.

A combined service to deliver high-quality standards

“With BTR set to continue growing as a sector, it is important to recognise the value in investing in services which focus on delivering high standards of quality in construction. Both the Due Diligence and Clerk of Works roles are there to leave no stone unturned, so clients can have peace of mind that they will create a high-quality development which will benefit many residents for years to come.”

For further information about how Rund could assist in your BTR scheme, please contact Director Paul Belfield at [email protected].

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