Government Soft Landings [UK]

It is uncommon for anyone in the New Zealand construction industry to have heard of Soft Landings. The phrase is common knowledge in the UK where a prescribed form of Soft Landings are set to become compulsory for all government construction projects from 2016.

Soft landings is a framework that was developed to be used in conjunction with BIM (Building Information Modelling) to ensure a smooth the transition into occupancy and use of a building. It also aims to address problems that are usually discovered after building occupancy has occurred. Soft Landings, in its traditional form, is intended to be a non-binding flexible document that aims to improve dialogue and involvement of all parties with the overall objective of improving the understanding and expectations of all parties to a construction project.

The traditional Soft Landings framework was jointly developed by BSRIA (Building Services, Research and Information Association) and the Useable Buildings Trust; it consists of 5 stages:

  1. Inception and briefing
  2. Design development and review
  3. Pre-handover
  4. Initial aftercare
  5. Extended after care and post occupancy evaluation

The UK Government has developed its own Soft Landings approach as part of its Government Construction Strategy. In adopting this framework they expect to reduce public sector construction costs while focusing on energy efficiency and carbon reduction. In contrast to the traditional Soft Landings approach the Government Soft Landings strategy has a larger focus on measurable targets and incentives to achieve specific outcomes.

It will be interesting to see how effective the Government Soft Landings framework is in practice. It is likely that issues may arise around Soft Landing’s ideology of “review not sue”, especially once a project begins to run over time and financial penalties come into consideration

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