Laura Mark looks at how post occupancy evaluation is accounted for in the RIBA Plan of Work
Architects are not used to a continuous involvement in projects following completion but, if we are to increase the uptake of post-occupancy evaluation, this has to change. ‘Making post-occupancy evaluation an RIBA stage is important,’ says Architype director Mark Lumley. ‘Having a contingency for improvements within the defect period is necessary. Both architects and clients need to recognise that buildings may need tweaking after completion.’
The RIBA is starting to recognise this increase in monitoring post-practical completion. The new RIBA Plan of Work 2013 has a final stage, entitled ‘In Use’, which takes into account both post-occupancy evaluation and Soft Landings. However, this is an additional service within the Plan of Work. It will be up to individual architects to decide whether they want to engage with it. It has been suggested that this stage could be charged on a time basis, and in fact writing this into the Plan of Work may make this easier for the architect, with clients more favourably accepting it as part of the construction process rather than an add-on once the building has been completed.
As knowledge of what is required post-completion increases, clients, contractors and architects need to be more flexible and ready to adapt contracts. bere:architects’ approach is to adopt Soft Landings from the very beginning, and so this is always accounted for in the initial contract. When the extent of monitoring for the Camden Passivhaus changed as a result of additional funding, the contract had to be revised. For Acharacle Primary School in Argyll, Gaia Architects wrote two years of monitoring into the initial brief for The Highland Council.
With government Soft Landings coming into effect in 2016, two-year monitoring will become obligatory on public projects, with an inevitable ripple effect through industry.