In this white paper, we will look at what we know so far about the golden thread and offer advice on what organisations can be doing now to prepare themselves for the changes ahead.
What you will learn from this white paper:
- What is the Golden Thread and who is affected by it
- What clients, consultants and contractors need to do to get ready
- How building owners will be impacted
- Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations and the Building Safety Bill
To this day, I vividly remember how as a Computer Science graduate working with Arup all those years ago I was genuinely shocked to learn that there is a big difference between as designed; as-built; and as is representation of a construction project.
A common reason for the discrepancies between the design and the status quo is “value engineering”. If I was to explain this to a layperson with a bit of a hyperbole, I would say they shall imagine a famous architect specifying their brand new building with a gold plated facade, only for the contractor to render the exterior in yellow paint, claiming the end result is more or less the same – albeit significantly cheaper! Such a deviation from the original design – the gold plating having a symbolic meaning here – is often celebrated as a great cost saving service that is provided for the benefit of the client. However, we can all imagine a few
problems this can lead to. For one, you would not need to treat a gold plated facade every year, unlike say a painted surface.
These types of design and cost-led changes can be annoying and somewhat damaging to the reputation of the industry, but the real issues come when these changes directly impact the health and wellbeing of the people who build, maintain and use the assets we create.
Digital handover and transparency in decision-making might seem like a sure enough answer to all such problems. Yet, even with the best intentions, those can be badly executed. A case in point would be the new build I moved into a few years back. There, each flat came with a set of manuals both in printed form as well as on a USB stick. All in all, an eclectic mix of countless files that were badly named, impossible to search and I am pretty sure a few were missing, too.
In this white paper, we therefore set out to explain these deeply rooted issues and offer several ways of managing proper data flow, to not only offer post-build auditability and accountability, but also greater collaboration during the process to avoid the issues altogether. Hopefully, you will realise, as we have, that there is more than one way to skin the proverbial golden cat.
Dr Jozef Doboš CEng
Founder and CEO, 3D Repo
There are many reasons for changes to be made to elements of a building’s design during its construction. At tender stage, there can be different interpretations of the design and performance specifications, and during construction, changes can occur due to the client changing scope, logistics or supply problems, detailing or interfaces that don’t quite work, ‘value engineering’ or insolvency.
The problem comes when these changes – and the reason for them – are not properly recorded and approved. The building owner can be left with gaps in the information about their asset which will make maintenance and replacement more challenging. And, as the Grenfell Tower fire illustrated, changes that adversely affect the structural or fire safety of a building can be catastrophic.
This is why we need the golden thread of information, a concept introduced by Dame Judith Hackitt in her report that followed on from the Grenfell Tower fire: a clear way to digitally record, store and hand over all the information needed to allow a building to be safely used and operated in the future. Visit 3drepo.com to read white paper: Digitising Health and Safety.
Few people would argue with Hackitt. However, as we wait for secondary legislation, following on from the Building Safety Bill, uncertainties how the industry will deliver its golden threads remain.
A survey¹ of 906 professionals from the built environment about digital construction, published in October 2021 by the NBS, found that 49% of those surveyed were not clear on how they would manage information to play their part in delivering the golden thread. However, there was a strong recognition that digital tools were vital: 78% agreed that they needed to be working digitally to deliver the golden thread and 70% agreed that it was necessary to adopt BIM.
Aside from uncertainty about detail, there are hurdles to overcome, not least the contractual environment in which projects are procured. In a survey² of 156 professionals by i3PT Certification and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), published in December 2020, 75% of respondents identified culture as the biggest blocker to implementing the golden thread.
What is certain is that the golden thread is coming – and that it won’t always be limited to highrise residential buildings. In this white paper, we will look at what we know so far about the golden thread and offer advice on what organisations can be doing now to prepare themselves for the changes ahead.