It may sound obvious, but in practice it is anything but: buildings are designed for the end user. We look at how better communication between facilities managers and construction teams can lead to a better, most cost-effective build
Given that deadlines and budgets are two, if not the most important, aspects of every project, the need for building services and maintenance to work more closely together is vital.
This partnership is key in delivering high-performing, efficient buildings. In new builds, BIM plays an invaluable part in demonstrating how the mechanical and electrical (M&E) services will look, sometimes enabling facilities managers to consider and highlight improvements.
Designing schemes that offer ease of access to services and appliances is paramount.
Facilities managers can identify efficiency savings, which products are best suited and formulate a sustainable maintenance strategy. It means the building can perform better while returning financial savings to the end user and achieving a far higher level of client satisfaction.
The role of facilities managers in delivering compliance is another crucial part of the M&E process. Involving facilities managers from design to installation means compliance with the relevant legislation is guaranteed, with no surprises or delays.
Facilities managers that work well with building services are invaluable for the builder and the end user, which is why our two divisions liaise so closely together.
As with all projects, commissioning and final handover should be a smooth process – but you only genuinely reach this stage in M&E schemes when facilities managers have been involved throughout the entire process.
It is communication, however, that is arguably the most important single issue that is overlooked or not given enough respect.
It is the biggest friend for building services, facilities managers, builders and, crucially, end users, yet is seldom used efficiently, with the designers complying with the specification but ignoring the end users’ particular requirements.
At the outset, clear talks should be held with the end user as well as the builder. More thought needs to be given to who the building is for and how it is going to be used so the best M&E systems can be fitted the first time.
New builds are often designed and equipped for category A only for the end user to realise it is not fit for purpose, leading to elements having to be stripped out to facilitate a category B to better suit the occupants’ requirements. If you were to overlay category A with category B designs, the differences would be stark.
A big difference in plant spatial requirement (and savings) can be made by designing systems to meet specific client needs. The more detail that can be given before the building is designed and built, the better.
When the building is going to be used, the number of people who will be in it, what it will be used for and what is important to the end user are important basics.
If the building is going to be used by hundreds of people a day but only in groups of 30 at any one time, then large, powerful, permanent systems are not always needed; better to have flexibility so heating and ventilation can easily be reduced when not in use, for example.
It seems obvious, but the building is for the end user, not the main contractor – so building services must be given the opportunity to speak to them.
David Davis is the pre-construction director at G&H Group