NHF members team up for digital project to boost building safety

Members of the National Housing Federation have teamed up with industry specialists to encourage housing associations to introduce digital systems which will help make buildings safer.

The project, launched jointly with UK BIM Alliance, aims to encourage associations to embrace building information modelling (BIM), a form of digital asset management which will help housing providers better create, hand over and retain vital building and fire safety information.

The team has launched an introductory brochure for the project, BIM 4 Housing Associations: Asset Management in the 21st Century.

The project emerges amidst a wider drive to improve building safety in the context of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the government’s recent launch of its draft Building Safety Bill.

Amy Simmons, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, said, “This project represents a practical effort to help our members meet their requirements with regard to building safety, but also to become more efficient in their asset management processes. The documents will be free to use to all.”

The project brings together organisations from across the housing sector and industry, with support from those working in the field including architects, engineers, consultants and contractors.

It is being led by Jack Ostrofsky, head of quality and design at Southern Housing Group, and is being funded by members of G15, the group of London’s largest housing associations.

Those behind the project say that while housing associations are well placed to benefit from integrating BIM processes into their asset management strategies, many of them do not hold enough information about their projects, especially in digital form.

The project is therefore developing a set of documents to give associations a ‘quick-start guide’ to implementing digital processes. Areas the documents will cover include the business case for BIM for housing associations, the benefits of applying BIM processes to existing buildings, and advice on the procurement process.

The project has been endorsed by the NHF and the UK BIM Alliance, a cross-industry dedicated to the practical implementation of digital processes in construction and infrastructure.

Project chair Jack Ostrofsky said: “Getting the right information out of the development process is challenging, and construction professionals only have an outside view of what housing associations need. This client-led project aims to bring people from every discipline together to create a toolbox to enable BIM for residential.”

Sarah Davidson, implementation co-lead at the UK BIM Alliance, added, “Client-led requirements for digital information management are an essential part of the process for implementing BIM across industry, and not just in the housing sector.

“The Alliance is pleased to support this project. We hope that its outcomes will support and influence all those working in digitising our industry.”

The project has been underway since 2019. It aims to publish its suite of documents towards the end of this year.

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