Embracing Change for Safer, Efficient Facilities

OmTrak - Embracing Change for Safe Efficient Facilities

Building Manuals: Embracing Change for Safer, Efficient Facilities

The Building Confidence Report (BCR)

In 2018, the Building Confidence Report (BCR) was tabled by State and Territory Building Ministers in response to concerns regarding building defects and cladding fires. One of its key recommendations was the need for comprehensive Building Manuals for commercial buildings. These manuals should be provided to building owners and made accessible to successive purchasers of the building.

To address this need, WebFM, in collaboration with Engineers Australia (EA) and Strata Communities Australia (SCA), developed the Australian Building Manuals Guideline (ABMG). Leveraging our extensive experience with OmTrak digital manuals on over 3500 projects globally, we provided a practical approach to creating high-quality Building Manuals.

Model Guidance for Building Manuals

In December 2021, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) published its Model Guidance for Building Manuals, emphasising transparency, accountability, and the transfer of knowledge regarding design solutions and key safety and maintenance obligations to new owners.

Legislation and the Role of Facility Managers

The Victorian Government took a significant step by legislating that Building Manuals are a pre-condition to issuing an Occupancy Certificate for new facilities. This legislation has implications not only for Victoria but also for all State and Territory Building Ministers committed to implementing the BCR recommendations.

Now, let’s delve into what Building Manuals should contain and how to differentiate between a good one and a bad one.

What Should Building Manuals Contain?

According to the BCR, all ‘commercial’ buildings classes 2-9 should have a suitable Building Manual. This includes multi-storey residential buildings, public/private buildings, aged care facilities, hospitals, childcare centres, and more. The Manuals should encompass:

1. As-built documentation
2. Fire safety and design solutions
3. Limitations
4. Product information
5. Certificates
And more

However, it’s important to note that the contents of these manuals are not solely determined by one piece of legislation. Multiple government regulations add complexity, and each creates silos for specific information provision. For instance, the Work Health Safety Act requires information to be provided to workers and users on safe use of facilities, while other regulations might demand asset registers, certificates, and manufacturer instructions.

A Structured Approach to Building Manuals

To address these challenges, WebFM’s ABMG proposes a structured approach, divided into three main sub-manuals:

1. Development Sub-Manual:

Compiled by the development team, this section includes essential documents like Development Details, Approvals/Consents, Occupancy Certificates, Environmental and Utilities Agreements, Ownership/Strata information, and Land Title, among others.

2. Design Sub-Manuals:

Created by the designers, this part contains details of all design practitioners involved, copies of their insurances, Safety in Design Reports, Fire Safety Assessments, final design drawings, certificates, design limitations, essential services, and more.

3. Operations and Maintenance Sub-Manuals:

This section contains information provided by builders and contractors for each key trade. It includes a short scope of the works, schedule of equipment, maintenance procedures, commissioning details, certifications, warranties, spare parts, help/contact information, as-built drawings, and more.

Embracing Change

Building Manuals are a point-in-time document. They serve as evidence of compliance, accountability, and the owners’ responsibility. Updates should not interfere with the original Manuals, and it’s essential to remember that they are not logbooks or maintenance records.

As Facility Managers, you should be aware that governments will develop regulations for the content and quality of Building Manuals. Therefore, it’s crucial to start engaging with your project delivery teams well before Handover to ensure all risks are addressed properly. Moving forward, you’ll need to ensure your Manuals remain accurate and can demonstrate ongoing compliance.

For more information on this topic, check out the following resources:

1. Building Confidence Report
2. Australian Building Manual Guideline
3. ABCB Model Guidance
4. OmTrak O&M Manuals

Building Manuals have become more critical than ever, and as Facility Managers, it’s time to start embracing change. With the right approach and adherence to the proposed guidelines, you can ensure your Building Manuals are comprehensive, compliant, and contribute to safer and more efficiently managed buildings.

Stay informed, stay prepared – contact us to request your personalised demo of OmTrak!