Launch of Property Flood Resilience Code of Practice

The long awaited Property Flood Resilience Code of Practice, developed through CIRIA, is finally now scheduled to be launched at an event in Westminster on the 10th February.

Code of Practice developed by flood professionals

The invitation to the launch event clearly sets out the importance placed on the issue and the important role they see for property flood resilience as we become more vulnerable to the effects of the global changes affecting our weather;

“Climate change is one of the biggest global threats we face and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe. The Property Flood Resilience Code of Practice, developed by industry professionals, will help improve standards of investment in property flood resilience for professionals and communities.”

A lot of hard work put into the new code of practice

This document has been a long time coming. In its full glory, including annexes and advisories, we think it’s well in excess of a hundred pages of text, diagrams and tables. Creating the document has absorbed countless hours of work by the drafting group and involved scores of people and companies (including the Property Care Association) who have given their time attending meetings, reading, commenting on and guiding the text.

So – is it any good? In truth, we have yet to see the final version of the Code however we do know a great deal about its content. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recently included a “short raw” version of the document with information to councils following the recent winter flooding that affected parts of England late in 2019, so we feel reasonably comfortable commenting.

PCA attending the launch on behalf of members

The Property Care Association will be attending the launch on behalf of members, but we are less than comfortable with the prescribed process of procurement set out in the document.

If UK Plc is trying to promote the take up of flood resilience measures, why would a system of procurement be created that has six distinct steps and involves at least three sets of consultant fees that will be in addition to the cost of actually doing the work? The intent of the document is worthy. Quality, reliability and knowing the stuff will perform when deployed are the critical drivers, but this counts for nothing if using the Code as your procurement model proves calamitously expensive.

One important aspect is liability. With so many steps involving separate specialist consultants who are all delivering advice that is based on each other’s findings, it provides a potentially tangled web of responsibility should things go wrong. With the Professional Indemnity market as it is, I just don’t know how those hoping to operate in accordance with the scheme will explain their new exposure and the extent of their liabilities to their underwriters?

Ownership of the Code of Practice is a must

We are struggling to understand who the custodians of the standard will be and how surveyors will be motivated to skill up. At the time of launch on February 10th there will be no mechanism to direct consumers to qualified competent risk assessors, surveyors and designers. Product suppliers and specialist contractors who have been judged to possess the skills needed to fulfil the requirements of the Code can be found on the PCA website, but how do users of the new Code know this?

We worry that without a system where all the links in the chain can work together and the input of an entity that is responsible for the promotion and maintenance of the Code, the commercial motivations for attaining the skills needed to deliver on the Code are absent. Without an organisation to take “ownership” of the Code that is supported by a stream of reliable work, we fear that all this good work will be overlooked and become irrelevant.

We will of course communicate details of how to see the final version of the Code and provide a further evaluation of its content as soon after publication as we possibly can.

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