Building Documentation

No! Not that gap.

The knowledge gap.

What do I mean by this? Let me explain further.

Fairly recently, a colleague and I audited 46 local authority buildings. The buildings were due to be subject to Community Asset Transfer (CAT).

Part of the audit was to look at the energy use and ways to save on energy costs.

In several buildings, the authority had invested in quality boiler and heating systems with quite sophisticated heating control systems.

I found a really basic manufacturers product brochure in various hiding places in the plant rooms.

The heating controls were all switched to manual. None of the heating controls had been optimised.

All the money invested was just wasted.


  • No one knew where the actual O&M manual was kept.
  • No one had been shown how to use the system or given a demonstration.
  • The authority workmen could not use it nor could the building tenants- users.
  • In one sports facility, the heating had been left on all over Christmas, the New Year and well into February. It was used just once a week!

But this was not the worst!

I visited a £12m Arts centre with a BMS specialist. It was a baking July day. In the building, the heating was on, the air conditioning was on full tilt (two systems in contention) and to crown it all, every window was open.

The BMS was state of the art.

It had never been optimised.

There had been no proper handover or training.

Welcome to……….. the knowledge gap.

In the event of a ‘problem’, the caretaker called the BMS Company. A guy showed up with a laptop and the BMS passcode. One hour later the problem was solved. Cost?  £900.

How many times this would be repeated throughout the life cycle of the business, I shudder to think.

Increased Building Documentation!

Despite the knowledge gap, it seems that the sheer amount of building documentation needed to hand over for a new building increases by the day.

Contractors are under pressure from all sides to produce this list.

There is an abundance of documentation – this is a selection

  • Building Log Book
  • H&S file – essential information – legal requirement
  • O& M manuals
  • Design & Specification
  • As-built drawings – files – CAD files
  • Commissioning & Testing Certification- Compliance documents
  • Manuals for fire alarm system – smoke detectors – sprinkler systems – security – lighting – renewable etc etc etc
Building Documentation

You get the picture. The list is endless.

To make matters worse the process for documentation often does not start at the optimum time.

Often, contractors have long left the site and make the task of compiling an O&M manual extremely difficult. This causes the following problems to occur:

  • The knowledge & understanding gap between handover from contractor to client
  • The difficulty in gathering information for the O&M at the END of a project ( subcontractor has long left the scene)
  • R 38 legal requirement – but still difficult to get information
  • Great sophisticated tech installed – no one knows how to use it?

The chain of events often looks like this;

Building Documentation Process Diagram

This can even happen in BREEAM buildings – great design- all the sustainable bells and whistles and NO training or knowledge transfer to the poor FM or end-user.

For reference, there is a checklist for approved buildings documents here

So What Is The Solution For this?

For construction projects going to handover, there is a breakdown in accurate information transfer on how to run the building to the end user that will take over the building.

Traditionally, Health & Safety plus Operations and Maintenance manuals (O&Ms) are huge items, often sent on disc plus boxes of files which have to be stored somewhere convenient, often out of sight and knowledge of building managers.

Plant rooms can have booklets and guides wedged behind pipes and are often lost or damaged. Basic user guidance is frequently lost and not made available to  the building manager. This results in the building operation haemorrhaging money calling out ‘experts’ to resolve minor issues  that could be resolved in house.

At Green Hat Consulting we are looking at solutions to this problem through an online portal for our clients to access all their building documentation requirements.

We aim for this service to be of benefit in the following ways

  • Easy document location & retrieval
  • Site-specific documentation with data retrieval
  • To assist in compiling open and transparent audit trails for compliance purposes
  • Facility for documents to commence being assembled as soon as construction starts ( including pre-construction phase)
  • Facility for documents to be updated and changed as project requirements change
office_cabinet_business documentation

In addition, we are looking to address the knowledge gap directly by working with manufacturers, distributors, contractors, installers and end users to provide practical hands on training, so buildings and systems are optimised for better operation with less cost.

We can see the need for this in daily interactions with our clients.

We would love to know your thoughts ideas suggestion and any questions you have on this topic!

We would really appreciate your input.

So if you would like to get in touch please email