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Hot Topic Highlight - 3 Hot Topics for Autumn 2019



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What is today's blog about?


In this week’s blog, we look at three hot topics for this Autumn’s RICS APC final assessment interviews:


1. International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS)

2. RICS Fire Safety Guide

3. National Design Guide


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1. ICMS


The International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) were first published in July 2017, providing a ‘single methodology for reporting, grouping and classifying construction project costs’.


They were updated by the ICMS Coalition to the 2nd Edition in September 2019 to incorporate life cycle costs. This will help to increase accuracy when accounting, comparing and predicting project finances.


To facilitate application of the Standards using practical examples, RICS have published a User Guide and supporting Appendices.


ICMS can be used in a wide variety of scenarios, including early cost discussions, benchmarking, cost reporting, cost classification and analysis, quantum forensics, Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) and BIM models.


You can read more and download the Standards on the RICS website. It should be noted that ICMS is not yet mandatory, although RICS are planning to publish a Professional Statement later in 2019. RICS are also intending to publish guidance to explain the links between NRM and ICMS and then revising NRM 1 and 3 to align to the ICMS classifications.


2. RICS Fire Safety Guide


The RICS have published ‘A clear, impartial guide to fire safety’. This is aimed towards consumers and was produced by the RICS Building Surveying Professional Group and Fire Safety Working Group.


Gary Strong, RICS Director of Practice Standards and Technical Guidance, stated that ‘never has fire safety been in the public domain so much as it is now. With recent fires in residential property, there is an urgent need for the public, landlords and residents to be aware of what can cause fires and the measures they should take to stay safe. RICS is acting in the public interest in publishing this guide, which we hope will be of benefit widely’.


The aims are to provide good practice guidance on fire safety in the home, including common causes of fires, forward planning, fire escape basics, owner-occupied property and rented or shared accommodation.


Common causes of fires outlined include cigarettes, candles, e-cigarettes/vaping, overloaded electrical circuits, electric blankets, electrical appliances, furniture and gas. Methods of fire detection are discussed such as smoke alarms, heat alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, as well as dealing with accessibility and specific needs around fire safety.


The full document can be downloaded on the RICS website.


3. National Design Guide


The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published a new National Design Guide and updated Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) on Good Design on 1 October 2019.

This aims to replace the existing ‘outdated’ system, with Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, confirming that ‘I want to put people at the heart of the housing process and provide a strong blueprint for building homes that families are proud to live in, recognising beauty and design in the most locally appropriate way’.


The National Design Guide provides context to the principles of ‘good design’ for developers and Local Planning Authorities.

This supplements Paragraph 130 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which states that ‘permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions, taking into account any local design standards or style guides in plans or supplementary planning documents. Conversely, where the design of a development accords with clear expectations in plan policies, design should not be used by the decision-maker as a valid reason to object to development’.


Ten characteristics for good design are set out in the National Design Guide, which are supplemented by policy directions, best practice applications and future considerations:


1. Context

2. Identity

3. Built form

4. Movement

5. Nature

6. Public spaces

7. Uses

8. Homes and buildings

9. Resources

10. Lifespan


The updated PPG provides guidance on tools and practices which can be used to achieve best design, e.g. National Design Guide, Local Design Guides, masterplans and Neighbourhood Planning Toolkit. Specifically, a new National Design Code is likely to be published to supplement the new guidance later in 2019.


The new National Design Guide can be downloaded from the Government website.


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N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.