Episode 15

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Published on:

8th Feb 2024

Reduce Your Risk Designing Roofs With James Talman | 015

In this episode, Jon hosts Architecture Business Club with guest James Talman, CEO of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors and Competent Roofer. They delve into the intricacies of roofing in architectural designs and how architects can minimise risks to ensure that their next roof is designed and built properly. James also shares important information about the NFRC's crucial role in enhancing technical excellence in roofing, elevating industry standards, and offering free resources. The discussion further explores the Building Safety Act and how the industry is preparing to implement it to ensure safety and professionalism.

Today's Guest...

James Talman is the CEO of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) and CompetentRoofer. Since 2016, James has led a transformation focused on enhancing technical excellence in roofing and elevating industry standards. He's played a key role in partnerships, including CITB's RoofCERT accreditation programme, and represents the NFRC globally, fostering connections with roofing bodies in China, Germany, USA, and Canada. James, a board member of Build UK, balances his professional life with a passion for sports and the outdoors.

Episode Highlights...

00:53 Introduction to the Guest - James Talman

01:39 Personal Interests and Hobbies

03:23 Understanding the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC)

06:29 Benefits of Working with NFRC Registered Contractors

08:41 Understanding the Competent Roofer Scheme

10:27 How NFRC Can Assist Architecture Practices

15:32 Reducing Risks and Ensuring Compliance

20:09 Understanding the Building Safety Act

24:49 Career Opportunities in Roofing

26:16 Personal Travel Experiences

27:34 Connecting with NFRC Online

28:31 Conclusion and Preview of Next Episode

Key Takeaways...

👉 The National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) is a membership organisation that provides support and resources for contractors, manufacturers, and service providers in the roofing industry.

👉 The NFRC offers a Competent Roofer scheme, which allows roofing contractors to self-certify their work to building regulations, eliminating the need for separate building control inspections.

👉 NFRC registered contractors undergo rigorous inspections and audits to ensure their commercial probity, office procedures, and health and safety standards meet industry standards.

👉 Working with NFRC registered contractors provides advantages such as independent inspections, comprehensive guarantees, compliance with data provision, and recourse in case of any issues.

👉 The NFRC has connections with suppliers and manufacturers in the roofing industry and can assist in finding specialist roofing contractors for specific projects, such as heritage buildings.

👉 The NFRC provides resources on its website, including essential safety information, guidance bulletins, and books on various types of roofing.

👉 The NFRC is actively involved in the development of the roofing industry, including implementing mandatory technical competencies and promoting careers in roofing.

👉 The Building Safety Act has introduced legislation and frameworks for competency in the construction industry, including roofing, to ensure safety standards are met.

👉 The NFRC is available to provide support, advice, and guidance to architects and other professionals involved in roofing projects.

Links Mentioned In The Episode...

NFRC’s Website

https://www.nfrc.co.uk/

James’s Email

jct@nfrc.co.uk

NFRC’s Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/NFRCuk

NFRC’s Twitter

@TheNFRC

NFRC’s Instagram

@nfrcltd

NFRC’s LinkedIn

http://www.linkedin.com/company/nfrc-uk/

NFRC’s YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/@nfrc

What To Do Next...

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In The Next Episode...

Next time Jon chats with business coach Mike Cole about embracing your neurodivergent quirks.

Transcript
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Most building projects involve some element of roofing works,

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but as architectural designers, we're not necessarily experts in

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all types of roof construction.

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So how could you minimize your risks and ensure your next roof

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is designed and built properly?

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That's exactly what we're going to be chatting about in today's episode

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of architecture business club, the weekly podcast for solo and small

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firm architecture, practice owners, just like you who want to build a

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profitable future-proof architecture business that fits around their life.

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I'm the host, John Clayton.

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She wants to get notified when I release a new episode and get access

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to free resources and exclusive offers.

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Then go to Mr.

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John clayton.co.uk forward slash ABC.

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And sign up to my free weekly email newsletter.

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Now let's chat about roofs.

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Today's guest is James Talman, CEO of the National Federation of Roofing

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Contractors, and competent roofer.

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Since 2016, James has led a transformation focused on enhancing

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technical excellence in roofing and elevating industry standards.

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He's played a key role in partnerships.

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Including CITB's ReefCert Accreditation Program and represents the NFRC globally,

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fostering connections with reefing bodies in China, Germany, USA and Canada.

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James, a recent board member of BuildUK, balances his professional life with a

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passion for sports and the outdoors.

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James, welcome to Architecture Business Club.

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Thank you, John.

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Very pleased to be here.

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Oh, it's great to have you on the show, James.

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I also know, aside from your interest in sports and outdoors, I also know you're

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a big music fan, particularly from the 1980s era and especially Simple Minds.

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Is that right?

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Oh dear, John, you know far too much about me.

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I, I, I'm showing my, my age, but, uh, I, I, I'm a passionate fan of eighties

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music and indeed, uh, Simple, Simple Minds going back to it's very much the

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origins of the band and, uh, have been a regular at their gigs over the years.

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Brilliant.

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What, what's it like to see them live?

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They were originally a, you know, a real sort of stadium band.

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And, uh, I think I've seen them in that guise and I've seen

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them in their acoustic versions.

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Can go from being this big bombastic anthem to be played in an acoustic

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version in a very sort of tranquil manner.

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And it shows the quality of the song, for example.

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So, no, I'm a massive fan.

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Indeed, I've used it, I've used one of their songs at our annual

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roofing awards, uh, a few years ago.

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Much to the, uh, the amusement of my colleagues.

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They're all like, James, not, not Simple Minds again.

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Can we, can we put something different on this year?

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Yes, indeed.

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Indeed.

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I think my, my daughter might be quite pleased to have a bit of

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Taylor Swift or Gracie Abrams.

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Yeah, I'm sure.

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But I, I'm a big fan of 80s music as well.

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So Simple Minds all the way for me as well.

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But we're not going to talk just about 80s music today.

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We are going to talk about what you do over at the NFRC and.

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Specifically how the NFRC can help small firm architecture practices as well.

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So firstly, what is the NFRC?

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Okay.

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Well, I'm speaking to you today from our London headquarters.

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In essence, what, what the NFLC is, is a membership organization, um, founded

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originally back in 1892, no less.

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I believe it was started by a, uh, a gentleman in Hull and a group of Slaters.

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And over the period, the term Federation relates to the fact that

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it had originally seven, uh, regions.

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And it has evolved into a modern organization of circa 1, 300 members.

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And it's origins as, as I've referred to is in contracting, but these

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days, of course, fundamentally it's about contractors, but it's the

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whole supply chain in particular, or leading manufacturers of roofing

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products on members and indeed merchants and service providers.

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So it's very much this supply chain.

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And then the other side to the bow, if you like.

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So we have that as our trade association membership.

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Uh, we also own a, uh, accreditation scheme for roofers who self certify

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work to building regulations.

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So in other words, you don't need to, as an architectural practice or

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client, bring in, um, building control if the work can be carried out by one

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of these companies called Competent Roofers who can self certify and produce

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the building control certificate.

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So, that's a regulatory business alongside our trade association and

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that business has circa 600 members.

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That's interesting.

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So, um, the competent roofer scheme.

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Is that a little bit similar to say like the fencer equivalent

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It is

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fencer for windows and,

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E.

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E exactly.

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So all these various schemes covering things like boilers and um,

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glazing, external wall insulation, et cetera, all, uh, come under

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the term competent person schemes.

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I think it's a slightly a misnomer as a name because it's actually

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about companies initially who should then have competent installers.

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But the companies are accredited through, uh, ucas, uh, which these days also now

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sits under the building safety regulator.

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You know, which is controlled by the HSE to an international standard

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of which is a company standard ISO 17065, which we are accredited as a

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compliance requirements of us to make sure that all our 600 contractors are

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meeting their requirements to provide this self certification service.

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okay.

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So, I mean, what are the advantages of working with.

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NFRC registered contractors.

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What are some of the advantages there?

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Well, yeah, that's, that's obviously, uh, the nub of things

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is why use one of our members.

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So, you know, a lot of trade bodies historically were associated with

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what it's a badge or what's behind the badge and the case of the NFRC,

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uh, to start with all members.

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are independently inspected.

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So what does that mean?

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So when you join the NFRC, you go through a rigorous process in

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terms of your commercial probity, your office procedures, your

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health and safety procedures, etc.

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And we do an office visit, site visit, and then, sorry, and then we follow

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that through by doing site visits.

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So in the case of the, a new member would be audited, as I say, not just

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from the point of view of their, their, their business procedures,

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but also practically of their work.

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And as long as both those things, uh, comply, they're then,

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uh, accepted into membership.

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And now from the point of view of The NFRC, the Trade Association,

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those inspections, the audit, the office site is done every year

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and the sites are inspected every three years on a tri annual basis.

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With the Competent Persons Scheme, it's slightly more rigorous because

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of the necessity to meet our UCAS requirements and those sites are

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inspected at least once a year.

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Got it.

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So it's a fairly rigorous.

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It absolutely is, and it's independent.

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That was one of the changes in my time.

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We moved away from, uh, the process of, you know, using our own, so to

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speak, to using our, in fact, we use our inspection team from our, uh, common

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person scheme across the whole network, both, both sides of the business.

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And obviously in turn those inspectors are subject to ongoing

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training, updates on standards, etc.

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to keep them competent.

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Could you tell me a little more about the, the competent roofer scheme,

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So from the point of view, so In essence, for a roofing contractor,

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currently the remit of the scheme is for domestic and commercial retrofit

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roofs and not new build, albeit that's likely to change quite soon

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with the Building Safety Act, but in essence, it means that the contractor

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has to go through this inspection process that I've discussed from the

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point of view of the construction.

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The consumer specifier, the contractor has to provide a 10 year workmanship

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guarantee, has to make sure that they are, um, Providing full compliance

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with regard to data provision.

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Now, when I say data provision, we are a data hub for all registered jobs.

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So the contractor has to register early, notify us that this work

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is going to proceed, to enable the inspection process to kick in.

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And at the end of it, As a scheme provider, we also have

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to provide the client with a 10 year insurance backed guarantee.

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And that's in the unlikely event that the contractor went into liquidation

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during the time of the guarantee,

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which we hope doesn't happen.

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which we absolutely hope doesn't happen.

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I'm very pleased to say, despite the economic climate, that that's

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been very few and far between.

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Yeah, let's hope it stays that way.

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So I guess something I'd like to dig into is.

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If you can outline a few ways, a few examples of how the NFRC can help

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architecture practices specifically.

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So, um, have you got any thoughts on some of the things that you do that

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and the resources that you have that might be useful, um, for architecture

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practices that they may not be aware of?

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Yeah, I'd be delighted to.

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I mean, very much.

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I think the first thing to say was we are here to help.

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Very, very simple terms.

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We are here to help.

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The specialization in any area of construction, let's just take, roofing

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is a minefield for an architect to keep up to date with, with regard to changes

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in legislation, technology, et cetera, and to have a trusted, independent voice.

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Please urge your subscribers if they want some basic help.

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Please be in touch.

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We have a technical, uh, helpline.

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And in the first instance, we can provide.

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We're not here to tell you what is the best, best product to use.

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We're here to tell you to help you to ensure whatever product you choose

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to use is installed to its best, ultimate, um, you know, best quality.

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And it's, That sounds very sort of basic, but that's the starting point.

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So, you can do that either, and we'll give you the links after the pod.

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So, please encourage, uh, as I say, for anybody who wishes to get

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some basic help to be in touch.

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If, you know, going beyond that, my next suggestion would be very

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much engage with our members.

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early, not late.

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Often we see the problems with, with work is because the contractor has been

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brought in very late in the proceedings.

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Design is all complete, etc, etc.

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And then the contractor says, well, hang on a minute.

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How am I going to practically produce this, complete this?

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It's a common issue.

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very common.

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Not just not just with roofing contractors either.

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Indeed.

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Indeed.

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And, and I think a lot of the subscribers might be relatively small companies

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and, you know, in turn, a lot of our members are relatively small.

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We've obviously got some very large companies as well, but

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more than willing to help.

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So long as you, you know, one's building that kind of

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professional mutual relationship.

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You know, and that kind of work can be what, whether the contractor

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wins a job or not, but that, that kind of knowledge of welfare.

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Well, that company really helped me and assist me that should then

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help in turn to, to encourage the sort of use of that firm.

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So you know, we very much, the ethos of the, of any trade body or good

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one is to provide our members with as much practical knowledge as possible

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to assist their existing skills.

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So that kind of combination between what we can provide and what they can provide.

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I think it's a very strong combination and a good reason to use our members.

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that sounds great.

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The fact that people can freely we can get in touch if we need some support.

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If we've got elements of roofing works on on one of the projects that

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we're involved in the design on and you can help connect architecture

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practices to Good quality, competent roofing contractors and something else

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you mentioned about was helping find specialist roofing contractors as well.

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Say, for example, maybe it was a heritage building, for example, maybe

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it was a listed building or there was some complex roof works to do.

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That sounds like an area where it would be really sensible to get

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in touch with you guys to connect with the members that you have.

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To be able to find the right contractor for that job.

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Exactly.

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I mean, again, there's some useful material on our website, um, with

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regard to our heritage register.

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That's a good example of a type of contractor where the requirements are

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very specific to be a heritage member.

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I won't go into the detail now.

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I haven't got long enough, but in terms of that specific, and again,

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from a heritage perspective, materials are very local, often in use.

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So, there's different specializations in different

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parts of the country, for example.

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So, very much, I say that material is available on our website,

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what about reducing or avoiding risks?

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Is that something that you can assist with?

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Remember, don't forget to subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter.

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You can do that at mrjonclayton.co.uk/abc.

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And if you are enjoying this episode then please visit podchaser.com,

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search for Architecture Business Club and leave a five star review.

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Now, back to the show.

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Yes, I mean, I would say from the point of view, I say, sort of, going, the

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first thing to avoid risk, engage early.

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Make sure specification is very much being confirmed, approved with a contractor.

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Um, As well as in some cases, it may be a combination of working with the supplier.

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Some, some projects, the specification may be driven by the supplier.

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Again, I would encourage the use of, why wouldn't I?

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But clearly there's requirements for suppliers to be members of the NFLC.

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So that kind of mutual combination.

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But if after all of that, for instance, for example, and we've gone through

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the vetting, so all that kind of risk process guarantees we've discussed.

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But ultimately, if something went wrong, you've got recourse

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back to our organization.

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So that in resolving any issue, ultimately, one should in the unlikely

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event arise, we are here to act in an advisory capacity to mitigate the

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need to go down any legal routes.

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And that's very important for us.

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We do this on a, not that regular basis, but where we need to.

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I think we have a.

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a good success rate with our members, getting our members to work

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together to sort out any issues.

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It's good to know.

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You mentioned there about manufacturers which leads me to ask about supply chain.

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You, I think you mentioned earlier in the conversation about whole supply chain.

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So you also have connections.

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It's not just the actual roofing contractors that you're

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connected and working with.

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There's also the manufacturers as well.

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absolutely.

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So we have a very vibrant, uh, supplier working group.

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We have representation on our board from, from the suppliers within the industry and

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they are very valuable and very important supporters in not only Uh, ensuring that

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we're driving, for example, training, um, helping with events, et cetera, but

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also in writing and helping to assist us in writing standards and guidance.

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Because, you know, it's sort of bread and butter, isn't it?

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So, supplier side, so going back to your point about supply chain, from the

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point of view of, on particularly on big jobs, it is crucial that the, the

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driver of design would often include Quite a lot of input from the supplier.

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So it's very, very important to mitigate risk for the contractor.

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And in turn, the following of that specification through with

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the contractor, the contractor's had all the relevant training to

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install those products correctly.

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And it's that sort of, it's that combination, if you like, that's

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crucial to the success of the job.

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Sorry, maybe just one other point I mentioned very briefly was that it is so

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important to the, to the industry that the supply chain collectively is going to

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deliver the training and the competency upskilling that's needed because there's

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no third parties to do this or very few, I should say are a few, but it's up to

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industry suppliers, contractors to work together to train to make sure we've

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got the next generation of roofers.

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What about resources?

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You've mentioned that there's some resources that you have,

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I think, hosted on the website.

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What type of resources do you have on there,

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Yeah, so we've got a range of, so for.

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From the point of view of what we'd call essential safety information,

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we've got free resources and we urge your, your subscribers to look at that.

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And also there'll be things like guidance on wind loadings for bad

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weather and that sort of thing.

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So fundamental safety things when carrying out a project and

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alerts to do with particular issues beyond that, then we have.

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Um, which is free to members.

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We have, um, detailed guidance uh, bulletins and, and indeed books, booklets,

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I should say, on various types of roofing.

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As you can imagine, there are quite a few.

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So if you were sort of broad terms, you've got pitched, flattened,

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cladding, and we cover all those genres.

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So those, those, uh, publications I say are free to members.

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And we charged, um, there's a token amount charged to non members

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and they are, we have an online bookstore for those, for those items.

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Fantastic.

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Thanks, James.

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another question I wanted to ask.

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We've sort of mentioned this a few times throughout the conversation just

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regarding the Building Safety Act.

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I was just wondering, um, what your thoughts are on the Building Safety Act?

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And if you'd like to share any of those with the listeners?

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Indeed, and I'm sure it's a topic that the listeners are

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all having to get to grips with.

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And it's something that's been in our sphere for quite some time.

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Indeed, in one sense, if the Grenfell tragedy, um, we predated that in looking

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at The roofing industry, because in one particular manner, the industry has

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suffered reputationally and where, I'll use a cliched term, cowboy roofers have

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brought down the reputation of our members and others who do a professional job and

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we've been For many years trying to push for the government to support more of a

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sort of the root of like the German model where we're regulated industry and that

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goes for other construction trades and where colleagues I know feel very similar.

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However, that's unlikely until.

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The Grenfell tragedy and the subsequent building safety act.

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So we are now starting to see mandated, uh, legislation coming through.

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We obviously know that at high level and we're then, uh, from the point of view

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of, um, designers and contractors, we have the frameworks of competency there,

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which I'm sure, as I say, is impacting, uh, some of the subscribers, but from our

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point of view, we've got to then help to ensure the roofing industry is delivering.

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Competent companies and individuals to carry out the work, whether it's

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on a high rise building or on a semi detached, um, extension, shouldn't matter

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from the point of view of the safety act for us in the immediate future, we

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are implementing what is referred to as mandatory technical competencies.

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I know that sounds a mouthful.

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So all competent persons, companies, companies, We'll have to have, uh,

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individual roofers who meet this mandated technical competency.

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Now, that's not something that can be achieved overnight.

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It's going to be rolled out over probably the next two to

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three years, I would suggest.

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But it starts with those companies because those companies are in the,

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you know, are required to produce, um, self certification and they are

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in the spotlight to ensure that they have their competency requirements.

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The broader industry will follow in due course.

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So it's a very big piece of work, not just for roofing, and indeed I'm very

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pleased with the work we've done with our Roof Cert Accreditation Program.

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We're well on the way to being able to implement this.

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Some other parts of industry have got some major challenges, but collectively

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it's going to take time, and we've all got to just, I think, be You know,

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working steadily, collectively together, whether it's an architect, whether it's a

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surveyor, whether it's a trade or whatever sort, it's small steps, but working

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together to achieve the ultimate ambition.

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Yeah,

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Absolutely.

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I think ultimately it's got to be a good thing, but Right now, um, I know there are

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a lot of people that are feeling a little bit confused about, about the legislation.

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And I'm trusting that there'll be more guidance that comes out

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to help people in due course.

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And hopefully that comes very soon to, to support the listeners of the podcast.

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We'd all echo that.

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absolutely.

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James, what is the main thing that you'd like the listeners to take

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away from this conversation today, if they want to, the main kind of

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point, I think that you'd like them to remember and recall from this episode.

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And thank you.

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So I think I've got to sort of reiterate what I said earlier.

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So please.

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Sometimes trade bodies are felt that they're sort of, sort of a

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closed shop for, for members and, and nobody else should get involved.

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We are, we, our success is by the more we engage with those

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who specify and need roofs.

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Because in turn, that encourages the use of our members.

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So very much, as I say, the door is open to contact us if you need help.

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That's brilliant.

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Is there anything else you, you wanted to say that we haven't already covered?

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Just one other point, I think, in terms of anybody and even, you

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know, anybody who's thinking of a career in roofing, we launched our

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careers service a few years ago.

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Again, going back to that reputational matter I referred to during the earlier

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part of the pod, and we've set up a careers service because a career in

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roofing, I mean, I've, like many, I came into roofing by accident.

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My professional background, and I've been in the industry almost as long

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as I've enjoyed Simple Minds, and it's a fantastic industry of opportunity.

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It's going in a very much a professional way, and I certainly, you know, perhaps

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I won't totally see it in my, in time, but I want to see this industry

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continue in its professional route.

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And to get whether it has official recognition, it has broad recognition.

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It is a professional sector to be in.

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You make a fantastic living.

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You meet incredible people.

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You're dealing with different jobs all the time.

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It's a great place to be.

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Apart from all the lovely stuff that roofing needs to do to contribute with

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net zero, which we could touch on on another occasion if you, if you wished.

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Thanks so much, James.

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Just to kind of wrap things up.

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I, I always like to ask this question.

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So it's not related to the topic that we've been talking about today, but

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I love travel and discovering new places and I just wondered if you

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could tell me one of your favorite places and what you love about it.

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Well, this is probably going to go back to my.

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African origins.

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So my favorite place would be in a part of KwaZulu Natal, which is in the

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northern part of the province which I've been to on several occasions.

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It's a particular game reserve where in fact my wife and I went there about

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five years ago and it was just us and nothing else in this wilderness.

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Peace and tranquility was just divine.

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And you can't beat an African Knight for the sky and, and the sounds.

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So that would be mine.

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That sounds incredible.

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Definitely a trip to Africa on safaris on my bucket list.

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I'm not sure when I will get there, but hopefully one day.

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I very much encourage it.

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Great.

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Look, thanks so much, James.

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That's been really helpful.

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I was just going to ask you, where can people connect with you online?

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And if you want to find out more about the NFRC, where is the

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best place for people to go?

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So the best place would be our, our main website, which is ww dot nfr c.co.uk.

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And it's equivalence for competent persons.

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So if you just bang in NFRC competent persons, you'll get

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the, um, the accredited site.

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So those are the two main areas,

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That's great.

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and then we are on normal social media, um, LinkedIn, Facebook, et cetera.

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I'll make sure that we pop those links in the show notes so that the

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listeners can access the links there.

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Okay.

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So, James, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

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It's been a pleasure, John.

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Next time I'll be chatting with business coach Mike Cole, about how

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to embrace your neurodivergent quirks.

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Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Architecture Business Club.

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If you liked this episode, think other people might enjoy it.

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Or just want to show your support, then please visit podchaser.com.

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Search for Architecture Business Club and leave a glowing five-star review.

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It would mean so much to me and makes it easier for new

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listeners to discover the show.

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If you just want to connect with me, you can do that on most social media

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platforms, just search for @mrjonclayton.

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The best place to connect with me online though is on LinkedIn.

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You can find a link to my profile in the show notes.

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Remember running your architecture business doesn't have to be hard.

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And you don't need to do it alone.

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This is Architecture Business Club.

Show artwork for Architecture Business Club - For Architects, Architectural Technologists, Surveyors & Designers

About the Podcast

Architecture Business Club - For Architects, Architectural Technologists, Surveyors & Designers
Helping busy architecture professionals build a better business with actionable tips and tactics.
Architecture Business Club is the weekly podcast to help solo and small firm architecture business owners build a profitable, future-proof architecture practice that both you and your clients love! It’s an inclusive place (for ALL architecture business owners). So whether you’re an Architect, Architectural Technologist, or Architectural Designer…If you sell architectural services and want to improve the way you do things…This is THE podcast for you.

I’m Jon Clayton, your show host, and a Chartered Architectural Technologist based in the UK. I’ve been in architecture for over two decades and running my own (solo) practice for 10 years+.

Each week you’ll hear from inspiring people from the world of architecture and business who share actionable tips to help you improve how you work, save time, or make more money. I’ll also share my own experiences running an architecture business in occasional solo episodes. We cover everything from mindset, money, business strategy, sales & marketing, productivity, systems & workflows, client experience, outsourcing, software, technology, and much more.

Episodes are kept as short as possible by cutting out the fluff and getting straight to the point. So expect interview episodes of around 30 minutes or less, and solo episodes of 5 to 15 minutes.

New episodes are released every Thursday at 6am GMT / 2am EST.

Welcome to the Club!

About your host

Profile picture for Jon Clayton

Jon Clayton

I’m Jon. A Chartered Architectural Technologist and the founder of Architecture Business Club. I've been working in architecture for over two decades and running my own architectural design business for over ten of those years. My mission is to help you build a better architecture business on your terms. So if you're a sole practitioner (or small practice) architect, architectural technologist, or architectural designer, I want to help YOU. I'm a Northerner but now live with my family in Norfolk, UK. Outside of work, I'm a guitar tottin', kayaking, movie trivia buff.