October 2018 – Cladding Special
As this issue of The Construction Index went to press, Dame Judith Hackitt, author of the government's new Building Regulations review, stood in front of an audience of building engineers and called for an end to 'value engineering'.
"It is anything but value; it is cutting costs and quality," she declared.
A generation ago, value engineering was at the heart of a new way of thinking about construction. It was all about cutting waste – wasted materials, wasted time, wasted cost.
And it was about challenging entrenched views and going back to first principles to find better, more appropriate ways of building. Why not, for example, spend a little more on insulation and save a packet by down-speccing the heating system?
Value engineering was never meant to be an end in itself. For enlightened clients, it was part of a whole new approach in pursuit of better project delivery.
But that was a long time ago. A worldwide recession and the industry's in-build tendency to favour the lowest bid turned 'value engineering' into a euphemism for slashing costs.
Dame Judith isn't the first to call time on 'value engineering'. On page 37 of this issue Ben Jayes, boss at cladding supplier Vivalda, tells us that he is "asked all the time" to reduce the cladding spec. The good news, he tells us, is that attitudes have changed, post-Grenfell, and cladding specifications are now treated with a lot more respect. Shame, though, that it took a disaster to make that happen.