Learning from experiences of remediation in the building safety crisis

Building safety problems identified in the aftermath of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire have resulted in the need for large-scale remediation of buildings around the UK. In many cases, this means removing external wall systems comprised of cladding and insulation, and retrofitting buildings with alternative materials. In some cases, internal works to communal areas and people’s homes are also required

The purpose of this research is to report the experiences of leaseholders living in buildings which have been undergoing remediation. It also aims to generate learning and key principles in order to improve the experience in the many buildings in which work is yet to commence

This report is based on a survey of 149 leaseholders and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 21 leaseholders in England who have experience of building safety remediation.

Key findings include:

  • In many of the remediation projects, work has proceeded without consideration for the experience of those who are living through the works, and whose homes are impacted.
  • Leaseholders have often not been viewed as having a voice in remediation, and there is little evidence that their interests have been at the heart of decision-making
  • In planning remediation works and choosing different courses of action, there has not been enough focus on the experience of those who would be living in the buildings – maintaining liveable environments should be a core part of decision-making going forward
  • Remediation is associated with negative impacts on mental wellbeing, with noise being a particular stressor. Other impacts include limited natural light and ventilation, loss of privacy, and security concerns
  • Many leaseholders reported that contractors working on site lacked awareness that they were working on occupied buildings and failed to adjust their behaviour to the context around them
  • It is essential to improve communications with leaseholders during remediation works, including providing more frequent and detailed information about the work that is being carried out, on which parts of a building, and when

The research makes a number of recommendations for those responsible for remediation projects, and for contractors working on-site. These are summarised in three stand-alone graphics, 5 communication principles for remediation, 10 steps for contractors in remediation, and 10 planning principles for remediation.

Funding: This research is funded by the Crook Public Service Fellowships at the University of Sheffield, and the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence.

Author: Jenny Preece

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Date: November 4, 2022 9:00 am


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