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Vortex Design Solutions / Building Compliance  / When Building Compliance Goes Wrong (Part 1)

When Building Compliance Goes Wrong (Part 1)

The necessity for a building compliance regulation has a real-time impact for both landlords and tenants who occupy the space. A recent project with existing installations had a requirement of minor refurbishment and the addition of desks. To complete, we needed to move a few walls, install new furniture and erect new building signage. In relation to compliance, this particular building had existing smoke detection, air conditioners, electrical and data which for the most part required relocation.

We fitted out the space accordingly and proceeded to completion of the project with a handover after final testing prior to the building inspector arriving on site. A four-star building with a prominent landlord meant all building services were maintained on a monthly basis. However, the smoke detection installer took for granted that all existing items were in order and during our final testing the newly updated services would seamlessly integrate with the old services which received regular maintenance. Three days prior to the building inspector’s site visit we did a fire drill and all personnel on-site got locked inside the premises.

The realisation that a job we considered complete one moment would have resulted in a catastrophic situation and in a real-life fire have devastating consequences.

The actual cause was a tiny item, often overlooked in buildings at the access control points of front doors, known as the fire relay had not been connected and the door did not release to let us out. As the door did not open automatically, in a real-life fire situation, anyone at the door who did not have an access tag at hand would have been stuck. This would result in a bottleneck due to lost time and may have resulted in deaths due to smoke inhalation. Building compliance exists to safeguard from real-life situations that can cause injury and death. Vortex Design Solutions understands the importance of compliance therefore we prioritize this along with traffic flow, agile workspaces and brand compatibility.

Within a commercial property responsibility to be compliant lies with the tenant. As it is the space which they inhabit and in accordance with the Government Occupational Health and Safety Act, it is up to the employer to ensure the safety of the premises for their workers at all times. However, ensuring the space is compliant to municipal regulations does not mean the current state of the space cannot be negotiated with the landlord. Simply stated this means tenants need to ensure that the deal brokered with the landlord ensures the working environment is compliant.

Some examples of cost and compliance differences lie in the types of industries and quantities of people in the space for example:

  1. Electrical: A tenant with 20 people, an under-counter geyser, a hydro boil and a separate server room will house more items inside their electrical DB board as opposed to a tenant with 20 people, a cold water basin, and a cloud server.
  2. Aircon: A tenant with 20 people, 2 x 4 seater meeting rooms, 1 canteen, a server room will require more Aircon and more fresh air capacity than a tenant with 20 people in an open plan area with 1 receptionist.

Lack of compliance or being up to code has untold ramifications. Ranging from a workspace that is either too hot or too cold with minor inconvenience such as staff complaining about the temperature fluctuation. To an extreme situation where a poorly designed fire plan and safety measures result in people dying due to a lack of fire exits or means of escape from a burning building. In the past few years alone several cases of this nature have occurred hence more stringent measures in place relating to fire plans and safety. While the initial financial outlay upfront to make your workspace compliant in comparison to aesthetic decorations may seem unnecessary. Should the worst-case scenario unfold your investment will be negligible in hindsight. A practical solution is far more viable in the long run.

If you require our services to get your building or space compliant and up to code, simply click on the button below to contact us!

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