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Construction National blog: 03/05/2012

Construction National blog logoThe Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has been busy over the past few weeks. On 24 it published new quantity surveying and construction standards – the Black Book – together with New Rules of Measurement. The institution described it as: "One of the most significant launches by RICS in the past 30 years."

The new standards reflect the way the industry is changing and has changed over the past decade. A construction site is not – and doesn't look – the same place as it did a decade or so ago. Gone are the huddles of men pouring over flapping pieces of paper, their cigarettes glowing in the biting wind.

Now the men – and women – in charge on site all have separate access to documentation via tablet or smartphone (even a laptop is passé) and the entire site is a no-smoking area. BIM is the new way of integrated working.

Paul Morrell, the Government's chief construction advisor pointed out: "There will always, however, be a need for standards, and for the disciplines of measurement. The launch of the RICS Black Book of practice standards is a timely contribution to both needs, and coupled with the New Rules of Measurement they will help to equip the profession with the means to maintain a high quality of service and advice to its clients through this time of transformation."

Earlier, the RICS had issued a warning to potential home sellers of the potential dangers of 'free' solar panels. The panels are provided free by the installer in exchange for a 25-year lease of the roof space to sell the excess electricity generated. All very helpful for the homeowner, who may not have the readies available; but when the time comes to sell, the buyer may be refused a mortgage because of the lease. The RICS recommends building in a buy-back option. If the installer refuses to sell the deal may fail.

Talking of such issues, a similar problem is being experienced by sellers with Japanese knotweed on or near their premises. Apparently the Olympic site cost millions to clear, so advice from RICS, published on 27 March, to ensure the issue is properly addressed, was timely. I, however, was preening myself on the fact the dreaded weed had been banished from land adjacent to my home.

Too soon: within a fortnight the tell-tale green shoots were back! However, in over 20 years they have never crossed the divide. You see, my wife and I are deadly to any green living thing – we even managed to kill off an ivy plant. We can't help it, and the knotweed must know that.

Chris Stokes