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01 Mar 2023 < Back

Are we falling back into bad habits?

Things were never perfect, but I felt the direction of travel for the construction industry had been heading the right way. However, is the current economic climate resulting in us focusing too much on price, and is the ‘great race to the bottom’ as rife as it has ever been?

Let me be clear, I’m not referring to PCA members here, but of a much wider construction industry issue. Whilst my opinion is somewhat loaded, I have often written in the past about the success of members of the Association; how they have always continued to raise standards, which has allowed us to not only push the boundaries of underground structures, but to ensure these projects are successful and drastically reduce the cost of claims to warranty providers. I genuinely believe that there are few, if any, outside of the Association that hold the same passion for structural waterproofing as we do.

Structural Waterproofing is a specialised subject

There is an inherent extra complexity when considering underground structures and how you keep ground water from entering them. Structural Waterproofing is a specialist subject and it requires those that practice in this field, whether it be designers or installers, to be suitably experienced and have a full understanding of the waterproofing system being utilized. Not only this, but their input should be sought from the earliest stages. This has been enshrined in the British Standard since 2009, but unfortunately it still seems this guidance is not always followed.

Delivery of a successful structural waterproofing project is about getting the right people, at the right time. The race to the bottom should always be avoided. Dependence on generic guidance and detailing is rarely advisable and can result in the loss of time and money. However a number of recent conversations have made me acutely aware that many are far too willing to run the risk of compromising the success of their project, to go to the cheaper alternative, avoiding specialist guidance and relying on generic details available online.

Waterproofing is often tied into larger projects which, perhaps in an effort to keep costs down, is often attempted by those who have little, or no experience of these specialist works. Inevitably it goes wrong. The cost and practicalities of remediation when waterproofing in underground structures fails can be very expensive and time consuming. We all understand the pressures of ensuring a project is delivered on budget, but there really is no substitute to getting it right first time.

Why take the risk? Use a PCA member - they're the industry experts

Why take the risk and use waterproofing specialists that you cannot be sure are suitably skilled and experienced in underground waterproofing? Members of the PCA who specialise in structural waterproofing are proficient in a number of techniques that can be utilised to prevent water ingress in new and existing underground ground structures. Technical competence has always been one of the core values of the Association and it is expected that its members who trade in this sector, must be able to demonstrate their competence by obtaining the CSSW qualification.

The PCA’s nationwide list of contractor members are carefully vetted before being awarded membership and are then subjected to rigorous ongoing auditing procedures once a member of the Association, offering Insurance Backed Guarantees for much of the structural work they undertake.

The construction industry must remove itself from this great race to the bottom, even as the economic environment over the next few years is forecast to be difficult, we must still look to embrace the positive culture that was highlighted by Dame Judith Hackett.



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