Construction industry experts, politicians and housing activists will participate in a major online forum to examine building quality issues, including siding, safety, and lease and freehold abuse .
The Building Quality Crisis Forum will take place online, via Zoom and Youtube, on July 23, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and anyone can join in by clicking here.
A panel of experts was assembled, including industry experts, local politicians and Cambridge Labor MP Daniel Zeichner.
Representatives from the London Cladding Action Group, Manchester Cladiators, Ipswich Cladding Action Group and the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership will participate alongside building control experts and fire departments, and the “hook” company HouseScan.
The public, including people from the Southwest, will be able to ask questions during the forum.
The event, which won the support of new housing activist John Gaskell, was hosted by Cambridge city councilor and architect Katie Thornburrow.
She said everyone should be concerned about the quality of buildings, whether it is social housing, private developments, schools, offices or municipal buildings.
She said that since the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017, attention has rightly focused on concerns about hazardous coatings, with serious concerns about the safety of people living in affected properties, the costs of replacement of potentially hazardous materials and who should pay.
But she said there were questions about other aspects of the quality of buildings in the UK, such as poorly fitting insulation leading to thermal bridges and mold issues, poor plumbing and electricity, inadequate installation of fire prevention measures and serious questions regarding abuse of lease and freehold.
Cllr Thornburrow, who has over 30 years of experience as an architect, said open debate is needed so people can be better informed about changes in building regulations, public policies and responsibility for buildings.
She said: “Since the Grenfell disaster, I have watched and listened in horror to the unveiling of evidence on some aspect of the construction industry. The investigation of this one building uncovered a broken industry.
“I have been an architect for over 30 years, focusing on residential projects, and I have them built to the correct standards and in accordance with the drawings and specifications that I have drawn up. I have inspected every site I have been involved with, every week.
“I have worked with many great builders, companies and individuals in the industry. Buildings can be constructed very well. They can look great and provide excellent homes.
“Knowing this, it is heartbreaking to see the level of certain buildings which ruin the lives of those who occupy them. Families are torn apart. Many live in fear, wondering if their buildings are compromised and flammable.
“As an advisor, it’s hard to know that there is little I can do to change the situation or correct these construction flaws. But I can try to be as knowledgeable as possible about the different aspects of building quality failure.
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“I set up the forum to hear from experts and to allow advisers to ask questions. The event will be broadcast live and any questions from the audience will be collected by the experts if time permits, or answered in a report that I will prepare and distribute.
Harry Yates, Managing Director of Housescan, said: “I am really looking forward to sharing my thoughts on where the industry is in terms of quality.
“HouseScan supports thousands of customers per year across the UK and we have unique insight into the varying quality of UK developers’ output region by region.
“With events like this, we are looking to share our experiences and focus on how over the next decade, with the development of technology, the industry will experience big changes that must be managed with the upcoming legislation and regulations set by the government and the upcoming incorporation of the new Home Ombudsman and subsequent code.