The Building Quality Assurance Act, Wet Kwaliteitsborging voor het Bouwen, is set to be introduced in mid 2023 and will radically change the building system regulations for the Dutch built environment. The new legislation will impact many stakeholders from construction businesses and municipalities to building owners and consumers.
The objective of the act is to produce better quality buildings with fewer issues – especially when it comes to delivering much needed housing supply in the Netherlands. It also aims to put Dutch consumers in a much clearer position and unite the building supply chain to deliver better outcomes on construction projects.
We’ve developed a white paper to help organisations understand the impact of the Building Quality Assurance Act – and propose how to prepare today.
Changes to licensing and enforcement of building permits and liabilities are the main drivers of the act. For Dutch contractors, they will experience the biggest impact as they will now hold greater responsibility for meeting regulatory requirements.
For the Dutch government, enforcing better standards when it comes to construction will not only help to deliver better quality buildings, but it will also support fire safety measures and support sustainability ambitions to help create more energy efficient buildings.
But the new changes will go further than quality and safety alone. These regulations will transform the way construction is approached – with a requirement for a shared thread of information to be captured from planning right through to execution.
The act will be introduced in gradual phases – allowing the industry to adjust to the new ways of working. Until 2025, the changes will only apply to simple structures. These are for example, single-family homes and smaller business premises.
Owners: Whether an individual or a large entity, knowing your responsibilities when it comes to obtaining environmental permits is important.
It’s critical to check if the building falls under the consequence class 1, and engage an independent quality assurance officer if this is the case before building commences. They will also supply an assurance plan based on the risk assessment carried out. The responsibility lies with the project owner to supply this document to the municipality.
Main contractors: Many main contractors have been looking to improve the quality and depth of information they provide to owners for some time. But the new regulations will require an even greater level of transparency and information sharing. These changes will help contractors to build right first time – ultimately reducing delays, costly rework and waste, as well as improving on-site safety. It is the responsibility of main contractors to understand the risks and measures needed for the successful compliance to the new system on any given project.
Subcontractors and supply chain partners: Contractors will pass on these extra responsibilities, and increased liability to their subcontractors. This may drive changes in how new contracts are drawn up. All supply chain partners will be expected to improve their internal quality controls to meet the additional requirements. All subcontractors will need to provide good evidence that their workforce is properly skilled to deliver on a project, and that all work is completed and compliant. Capturing information digitally means key project data will become more accessible for the first time which could bring a number of benefits.
Technology will be critical for all construction stakeholders. It can play a key role in enabling construction companies to meet the Wet Kwaliteitsborging voor het Bouwen requirements, whilst improving how teams work. There are some capabilities that will be central for companies to comply with, and others that will enhance workflows and add value.
Positively, there are tried and tested workflows and tools that can help firms of every size to prepare – and firms that are just starting on their digital journeys can learn from those that have been there before.
Common data environments (CDEs) can provide a secure, accessible place to store all project data, plans, photos, forms and certificates. A strong CDE solution will include approval controls and offer an audit trail to support sign off procedures of documents and certificates.
Construction management software can help to prove compliance during the build phase, and connect the design and build phases more seamlessly.
Importantly, technology can not only enable businesses to demonstrate their compliance with the new legislation, but also gives firms the data needed to improve outcomes like productivity and sustainability.
It is also possible to continue to add high value capabilities, like design coordination tools or digital twins, so organisations can keep improving their performance and be ready for future developments.
By requiring a far greater level of information-sharing and transparency across the industry, the Dutch government is paving the way for better outcomes for all. By establishing best practices now, companies can not only meet the needs of the Wet Kwaliteitsborging voor het Bouwen, but also prepare themselves for additional future trends. By introducing more efficient and productive ways of working, there is no doubt we’ll build a safer and stronger industry for all.
It's critical that every construction stakeholder understands the changes ahead and gets prepared. While the legislation will initially apply to simple structures, it will be extended to all structures by 2025 – and the changes will impact everyone in the industry in some way.
It’s also important to embrace the positives that the legislation offers. We have a chance to evaluate how we work and establish best practice in construction, creating an industry we’re all proud to work in and deliver better outcomes for society in the Netherlands overall.