Richard explains why he’s on a mission to promote the Common Assessment Standard (CAS) and Pre-Qualification system developed by Build UK.

A GOOD friend of mine has a rule by which he makes many purchases: ‘Never be an early adopter’.

By this he means that there’s a danger of being one of the first to take on a new technology, product, or service before it’s been thoroughly tested.

Let other people make the mistakes and do the beta testing is his philosophy. I have to say there seems to be some sense in this and for me his wisdom works well in areas such as cars, phones, white goods, internet providers, streaming services, and technology.

But there’s always the exception that proves the rule and sometimes it pays to be one of the first to take on a new idea. That’s what I’m going to promote and push for in terms of the Common Assessment Standard (CAS) and Pre-Qualification system developed by Build UK.

I last wrote about this in February 2020 when I reported that it had made some huge steps forward and the last one was to create a data sharing agreement such that legal and GDPR regulation could be satisfied.

As a brief reminder, there are a multitude of pre-qualification schemes that a main contractor or builder may ask for. Schemes such as Achilles, CHAS, Constructionline and PAS91 regularly feature and are some of largest and most well-known. But if you include some of the smaller, local authority and client specific ones the numbers can be multiplied many times.

The frustration of course is they generally all ask the same questions and charge a fee to be approved on their specific scheme.

Step forward the Common Assessment Standard developed by Build UK in conjunction with its main contractor and trade association members, including the CFA. The principle is simple – Build UK created a common question set and suggested all those companies offering a PQ scheme should use those questions.

A specialist contractor has the option to be approved by any Recognised Assessment Body (RAB) against this question set and only has to pay once, with all clients being encouraged to accept the CAS. At the moment there are three RABs – Achilles, CHAS and Constructionline all offering two levels of assessment, either desktop or site-based.

Like most good ideas the devil is in the detail, but with the data sharing hurdle successfully overcome, this now allows the whole scheme to be rolled out more widely with new clients and RABs showing interest all the time.

The Common Assessment Standard is endorsed by CLC and the latest main contractor to sign up is Osborne meaning anyone wishing to work for Osborne can obtain certification from any one of the three recognised assessment bodies in order to tender for work with them. At a recent CFA council meeting, where the project leader and Build UK deputy chief executive Jo Fautley updated, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and hailed as a major leap forward.

In my view, the important thing now is to ensure the scheme maintains momentum and so my call to action is for all CFA members and the wider industry to obtain the CAS for your business. Talk about it, promote it, and use it with any and as many clients as you possibly can.

However, it’s still a fledgling, and so it may be that you have to run the CAS alongside other schemes for a period of time. You may also feel in danger of being an ‘early adopter’.
But the important thing is not to let all the hard work done so far slip away. With your support the CAS can gain traction and save the industry (YOU!) a huge amount of money. You’re not foolish early adopters, but more pioneers or champions of something that has value now.

For further details, visit the Build UK website:

The CFA is a leading trade association representing the Flooring Industry. If you would like an application pack or further information on the benefits of membership, please contact the CFA offices
0115 9411126