Buildoffsite response to article ‘Building a hospital in 10 days – what are the risks?’ by Andy Kane, Portfolio Manager Construction, QBE Europe

The article in question can be found at

In his article, Andy Kane looks at the risks of building a hospital in 10 days following the example in Wuhan, China. He goes on to warn about the implications for risk and insurance.

There is of course a long history and precedent of prefabrication meeting the urgent needs for hospitals during natural and manmade disasters. The Duckers platform-based field hospital of 1886 was an early example.  In the construction of modern hospitals it is common for the wards, complex services and fully operational modular operating theatres to be prefabricated.

As identified in the article the attributes of offsite manufacture and modern methods of construction are becoming widely recognised. This is at a time when there is evidence that in some traditionally built projects, particularly housing, the levels of defects and failures to perform to specification are increasing. This is bringing the reputation of the private house builders and the sector into disrepute.

Early on in the development of modern methods of construction it was recognised by the offsite sector that there was a need to provide confidence to all the clients and stakeholders involved in using offsite manufacturing techniques for new projects, embracing new products and processes.

BOPAS was established and launched in 2010. The Buildoffsite Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS) has been jointly developed by Buildoffsite, The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Lloyds’ Register (LR), Building Life Plans (BLP) and the Principal Lenders. The scheme has proved to be popular and has achieved wide acceptance and uptake. The numbers of companies achieving certification is growing rapidly.

The scope of BOPAS includes design, manufacture, construction and project management using a risk based approach that enables the provider to deliver products and services safely and competently. The intention is to provide projects which consistently meet their client requirements and that are delivered with rigour. Unusually, the scheme brings together different organisations that are recognised as industry experts to provide more than just a warrantee. The scheme provides for both risk based assurance, and insurance plus access to the scheme database. The scheme also requires continuous assessment and improvement from those certified.

Andy Kane rightly identifies the changing risk profile for insurance in the future. Putting more emphasis on a closely managed process as certified by BOPAS will help provide confidence particularly in terms of testing, materials usage, robust construction details, overall assessment and performance.

In the news recently, the inappropriate substitution of materials introduced through the supply chain where performance has been compromised should be avoided by compliance to the scheme.

Yes, there is a changing risk profile for the insurance sector both in the traditional construction market and where modern methods of construction are used. Both construction techniques embrace a considerable variety of methods, materials and skills .Some products and processes are better suited to some solutions than others. However in the future we are going to have to do more with less. We will have to retain “value through life” and at “end of life” of projects. Modern methods of construction can help us deliver this goal with reduced risk if supported by suitable assurance schemes such as BOPAS.

Nick Whitehouse, Industry Advisor

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