13 July, 2022

Five considerations for data and building safety

The housing sector has been tasked with building safer houses. The key is in the data. Creating and maintaining this golden thread of information about a house, from the architect’s drawing board to the moment the keys are handed over to a new resident, is critical. For the data to work, however, it has to be kept in a standardised format, so that housing associations can maintain properties to the safety standards to which they were built for the benefit of the residents who live there, as well as avoiding future expensive litigations. 


Here are five considerations in order to build and maintain safer houses, through the power of data.


1. Be timely 

Although the Building Safety Act has progressed through parliament, many of its provisions will not come into effect for another 12 to 18 months. This means housing associations should be ensuring that data is standardised across the sector. Whether this is for future mergers or to ensure the groundwork has been done, in case future legislation requires requires the standardised data to evolve. Organisations like Peabody and Watford Community Housing have helped housing associations gather data and recognise the business opportunities for more comprehensive data exchange. Ensuring an organisation’s data is standardised now will set you up for the future.  


2. Standardised data  

As construction and design becomes more complex and sophisticated, the data relating to a home can become complicated when different contractors are involved. For example, a new installation has been added, with changed designs. By bringing details back to data, it will simplify the process. By ensuring there is a standard process and lists of data required, there is a seamless digital passport for the home, removing inaccuracies and guess work from one contractor to the next is removed.  


3. Data processes through the development chain  

The development chain includes properties being built and in the process of being handed over. The data exchange when the home is handed over often cannot go back far enough in the process. To have a comprehensive understanding at the point where residents arrive in the property, there needs to be data exchange that grows throughout the process. This should go right back to the beginning from negotiating land, what does it look like, why was it purchased, what can and can’t be done and why. Once the construction is handed to contractors this should involve a comprehensive data exchange which then continues throughout the chain. Due to the competitive nature of purchasing and contracting there is an advantage to not requiring all data available, a solution to this is standardisation. Data is critical to every gateway of the development process. Standardised data will make the transition through each gateway smoother and more efficient. 


4. Asset information management  

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a process for creating and managing digital information throughout the lifetime of an asset. 

BIM provides a record of information about every component of a building in one place, enabling everyone involved to view updated and accurate information at key stages of a project, including when a building is occupied. 

However, asset information is often recorded within non-integrated software or spreadsheets, separate to customer data and therefore only showing one dimension, with a more complex view required to best track activities, compliance and related outcomes. 

Access to better quality, integrated asset information is known to support the construction, handover and management of safer, higher quality buildings.  This helps social housing organisations create greater efficiencies and potentially increased satisfaction among tenants living in them.  


5. Technology 

The technologies that housing associations use, along with the way their systems are cohesively used, will be central to ensuring resident safety.

Understanding what processes can be automated and where technology can best create efficiencies is key. Using disparate and legacy systems as a complete asset management system can create as many challenges as it solves. With the Golden Thread of data set out in the Building Safety Act, your system should be able to make all asset data clear and accessible to everyone across the organisation, while providing a visible and robust audit trail, as per you requisite regulatory obligations.

Reliable digital records make finding information easy. Where any auditing is required,  data analytics can then help identify risk and trends in a proactive rather than reactive manner. It will result in more assurance and less resources employed, far less than a person endlessly pouring over spreadsheets or documents. 


These five considerations are crucial as the Building Safety Act creates new legislation over the next 12- 18 months, but most importantly they will ensure the safety of properties into the future long past their construction.

At HACT, our solution is the UK Housing Data Standards. In 2018 we partnered with OSCRE International to develop the UK Housing Data Standards and improve the quality of housing association data across the sector.

Get in touch with HACT Digital Lead, Michael McLaughlin who can help you get started with the standards and develop a digital action plan so you can incorporate these five considerations into your business.

Let's talk

If you have a question, query or idea, we’d love to hear from you.

Start the conversation by getting in touch with Michael McLaughlin, Digital Lead

contact Michael