Last updateThu, 08 Feb 2024 10am

New RIBA contracts for small projects

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has launched two innovative building contracts designed to be used in conjunction with RIBA's Architect's Appointment Agreements for Small Projects. The new contracts are fully aligned with the RIBA Plan of Work 2013 and have been designed in response to feedback from RIBA members calling for improvement and innovation within the building contracts currently available.

The RIBA Domestic Building Contract provides a simple, comprehensive and legally appropriate contract solution for all types of non-commercial work, including renovations, extensions, maintenance and new buildings. The contract is endorsed by the HomeOwners Alliance.

Expert surveyors get new guidance

New guidance came into effect in July for surveyors who provide expert evidence to be relied upon in civil proceedings before a wide range of tribunals.

The document, published by the RICS and available for use by its members, explains the need for clear instructions and terms of engagement and outlines the format of a written report. It also clarifies the differences between the roles of expert and advocate, gives guidance on what to do in situations of conflict of interest and helps remove pressure upon experts to support their clients' cases irrespective of their honest professional opinion.

Announcing the publication of the guide, RICS said: 'This practice statement is also published in the form of an accompanying client guide, a copy of which can be supplied by the expert witness to the prospective client.

CDM regulations set for reform

Picture of building site for Your Expert Witness storyPlans to revise UK laws on construction safety are likely to be published by the government at the beginning of April with the intention that they come into force in April 2015, according to a health and safety law expert at a leading law firm.

The Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations 2007, which govern the safety of construction sites, apportion responsibility for safety to individuals on site, have been up for reform for some time, with a consultation widely expected this year. Now Sean Elson of Pinsent Masons has said he expects the plans to be published next month.

“Our understanding is that a 12-week consultation will begin at the start of April and that new guidance on what the laws will mean for industry will be published between then and April 2015, when it is hoped that the regulations will come into force,” said Elson.

According to a report in the firm’s newsletter Out-Law.com, the revisions to the 2007 regulations will still ensure that burdens are placed not just on construction contractors, but also on those that hire them, such as the retailers, property developers and infrastructure developers on whose behalf work is carried out.

“Construction is widely defined, so even minor works within a building can be regarded as construction and fall within the regulations. That has always been the case and will not change with the revision,” said Elson. “With these changes the HSE will stress again the importance of the client role in the effective planning of construction works.”

It is believed that the revised regulations will propose doing away with a stand-alone CDM co-ordinator and will instead reassign the responsibility for co-ordination within the team planning and delivering a project. The requirement to co-ordinate construction planning will apply across all projects and not just those that are ‘notifiable’ under the regulations.

“What had originally begun as a process of evaluation and tweaking of the regulations appears to have become a substantial revision that, if adopted, will create challenges and opportunities for 'client' organisations, designers and contractors,” Sean Elson concluded.

Asbestos events will focus on land contamination

Picture of asbestos contamination in the Spodden ValleyA series of one-day events will be taking place around the UK on the issue of asbestos in soil – an issue that is of crucial important to the construction industry and one which gives rise to a growing amount of litigation and even criminal cases.

The events begin at Belfast City Council’s Cecil Ward Building on 24 June with Good practice – Assessment of Asbestos Risk from the Ground, a training day by the Local Authority Contaminated Land Network. It will provide an introduction to asbestos in soil, reviewing the types of asbestos and the toxicology associated with asbestos.

The event is of special interest to local authorities, clients, housebuilders, consultants and contractors.

January sees continued growth reported in construction sector

Picture of a JCB on a building site for Your Expert Witness storyThe UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for January has reported the sharpest rise in construction output since August 2007, with strong output growth recorded in all three sub-categories of construction, housing activity increasing at its sharpest pace for over 10 years and a strong rate of job creation being maintained.

The index, jointly maintained by market research experts Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, indicated that UK construction companies started the year with an acceleration of output growth at their units, boosted by sharp rises in incoming new work. Stronger demand resulted in a marked increase in employment numbers across the construction sector as well as improved confidence about the business outlook for the next 12 months.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, the PMI registered 64.6 in January, up from 62.1 in December and above the neutral 50.0 value for the ninth successive month.