Nearly half of construction professionals are seeing spec-breaking

A survey by specification and product information platform, NBS, has discovered that one in three specifiers have seen products regularly changed or substituted from original specification plans (68%).

The research revealed widespread reports of ‘specification breaking’ – the practice of substituting products and deviating from original specifications. Over a third of respondents (35%) reported this had become a regular occurrence, whilst nearly half (46%) had seen it happen on occasion.

The main reason cited was cost-cutting measures (68%), with cheaper alternatives taking precedence. This was followed by original products no longer being available within project deadlines (47%) caused by ongoing supply chain issues and the rising costs of energy and building materials. Client requests were also responsible (42%). 

Unclear on Building Safety Act

The finding was among many statistics from recent research by NBS. It also found that half of construction professionals are unclear on laws relating to the Building Safety Act.

43% admitted they were unsure or had no idea on the processes relating to the new legislation. The same number (43%) were unclear on the responsibilities of duty holders regarding the three planning gateways. 

The findings are part of a series of revelations from NBS’s upcoming ‘Product Information Report’ – a study focusing on the use of construction data and its role within specification plans. The full report is set to publish in April 2023.

NBS’s research also found that around a third (31%) of specifiers are unclear on the type of projects that would fall under the new laws. Similarly, when it came to duty holder responsibilities for the gateways, less than a fifth (18%) felt entirely confident on the details.

Low ratings for safety credentials

The results of NBS’s ‘Product Information Report’ did, however, offer a positive picture when it came to third-party safety credentials. 89% considered the use of verified certifications as ‘essential’ to safety-critical products. However, one in 10 respondents (9%) considered them ‘useful’ but not ‘essential’, showing there’s still room for improvement. 

Russell Haworth, CEO of NBS and Byggfakta Group UK, said: “The results of the study have flagged a perceived lack of knowledge around building safety laws. It’s clear that there’s confusion from within the industry – awareness on specifics is patchy. The sector now needs to invest in training and further CPDs to ensure that architects and specifiers are up to speed, across all areas of the legislation.”

The full report will be available on the NBS website in April 2023. To register your interest and view the Product Information Report 2023 Infographic, click here.

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