Since the Grenfell Tower disaster we’ve seen plenty of change and commotion in the construction industry.

Alongside the obvious requirement to remove dangerous cladding the intrusive surveys carried out on buildings have identified a number of concerns over the quality of construction in recent times.

On a building I am involved in there are many missing or inadequate fire breaks in the brick façade. Just pause a moment and consider; missing fire breaks, inadequate fire breaks. How can that happen?

Quality control is the immediate answer but my thoughts go a little deeper. Risk for funders and insurers lies at the bottom of this.

The Design & Build Contract has a simple benefit of financial certainty as far as the funder is concerned. Unknowns and problems fall at the door of the contractor. Pricing a contract with sufficient contingency, overhead and profit to make it worthwhile, whilst remaining competitive, is an art. Contracts are relatively long and during their time many things can change to alter costs. Contractors needed to push for lower sub contracts, faster construction times, less supervision and so on to save money.

I don’t believe anyone set out to compromise safety. They were just trying to run their business profitably.

Insurers have become ever more risk averse. They ask enormous amounts of information to asses risk. Ask any professional seeking PI cover. This has the unintended consequence of making everyone risk averse; requiring ever more checks and specialists to keep liability to a minimum.

The cladding crisis initial response was for every professional providing an opinion to state the worst-case scenario to avoid future risk. Who can blame them?

The Government didn’t help. Their knee jerk reaction to Grenfell was to ban all flammable materials from building facades. That includes paint. I’m sure they didn’t intend that but it is the consequence of their legislation. So, as a result of Grenfell you cannot paint your flat block.

The Government response was also political rather then practical. Something needed to be done, was done quickly, and then people began to point out the problems. Here we are years later and still there is a lack of clarity on how everything will work.

In amongst all the noise there was an announcement that the time scale for action on defects in buildings is going to move from a 12-year maximum to a 30-year period. That is massive for contractors, insurers and funders.

Yet is it a bad thing? Already the Tier 1 contractors are planning for reform of the way they build. In a recent contract discussion, one described how fire breaks would be recorded photographically at every stage. Huge comfort to the client and great defence for future comeback.

There’s also been a massive increase in using Clerk of Works services. Remember that role? It almost disappeared under the D&B contract regime. I’d be delighted to see the role return on sites.

Quality for too long has been linked to finishes. If it looks okay it must be okay. Clients for too long have relied on regulatory approval of plans as a guarantee of quality. Finishes are the easy part to remedy later – making sure the building will be around for years to come is where the emphasis should be.

There’s still a long way to go. To solve both the cladding debacle and to improve the industry. Yet there is hope that it can once again become a profession where the longevity of the product is a matter of pride. Remember Pride in the Job? Perhaps its’ time has come.