What do assessors look for at various stages of a build?
Depending on the scheme that our assessors are working with, we may be involved as part of the process, at a single point, or for the duration of the entire project, as in the case of Warranty Insurance assessments, on behalf of the Federation of Master Builders.
‘Every stage of a building plays a critical role for the building as a whole. That’s why when we are working on behalf of a customer, like the FMB, we need to ensure that what we look for suits the standards expected for every stage of the process’, says Andrew.
To get an idea of the types of things our assessors look for on a project as a whole:
Groundwork – The start of the project lies with the groundwork, mapping out a design and planning for critical functions like pipework, drainage, sewage and power supply where necessary.
Foundation Stage: Typically, the foundation stage of any project sets the tone for the rest of the project, and it’s critical that things are done right – to minimise any future risk of failure with the rest of the project. Inspectors will usually look at the products used, any areas that bulge or lean which may indicate an uneven load on the foundation, any weak spots that may be visible through cracks or damage in concrete, any areas that may hold unusual amounts of water. Where under-ground works are conducted, assessors will inspect structural integrity around the build.
The overall Building Structure: Assuming that all is correctly passed during the foundation stage, the building structure is then assessed for any areas of risk, or anomalies. This may include a review of all products and materials used to create the structure, including mortar & bricks, lintels, windows especially areas where safety glass is required to be fitted and whether they comply to all necessary building regulations, and more.
The Upper Structure: The upper structure of a building prepares the build for the installation of the roof, and during this phase, the inspectors and assessors will usually check to see whether all necessary noggins are fitted, braces have been bolted on, whether internal walls have been correctly fixed to the joists, that wall cavities are installed according to regulations and that the right insulation has been used for the project.
Roof: When the time comes to fit and install the roof, every design is different and, quite often, the variety of roof types mean that assessors assess that roof solution against a clear set of standards and building regulations. Most of the time, assessors are checking that trusses have been fitted correctly, with the correct roofing membranes, battens and tiles, and that the fall on the roof is appropriate for the material use. It’s also at this stage that ventilation and drainage will also be checked.
Finishes – Once the structure of the building is intact and watertight, the assessors may also check the finishes of a building, before completion or handover to the customer. This may include the way it has been decorated, whether the building is sealed and watertight, that electricity sockets have been fitted correctly and are working, that the kitchen and bathroom have the correct fittings, and that the ceilings and floors are finished to a good standard, that would enable the end customer to move in safely.
Landscaping – On occasion, there may be requirements to assess landscaping work, which may include driveway and access, land terrace and support (especially when building on a slope) and other critical areas outside of the main building itself.
‘As Technical Assessors, customers trust us to perform a very important function in their long-term product lifecycle. They see us as a critical quality mark against their investment, and it is our responsibility to ensure that we deliver on our agreement, remaining reassuringly impartial – and providing data that enables them to improve and grow their own businesses,’ says Andrew.