Practising with the Quality Assurance Act for Construction

On 1 January 2023, the new Quality Assurance Act for Construction (Wkb) will enter into force. Since this will change a lot for builders and municipalities, Ballast Nedam Development and subsidiary Laudy Bouw & Ontwikkeling are starting a pilot project together with the municipality of Maastricht. Within this project, we are building a section of the Groene Loper Maastricht project in accordance with the new Wkb requirements, so that we can gain knowledge before the Wkb commences.

The project plan was finalised in April and forms the basis for the three parties to work together throughout the construction process. "And with that, naturally, to practice and learn," says Rob Kohl from the municipality of Maastricht. "What does the Wkb mean for the municipality? And for the builder? And the buyer? Of course, by now we know how the law works. But the practical implementation - adjusting your systems accordingly - is still to be done. And then it is good to also apply it in practice. What do we run into? What bottlenecks might there be?"

Jan Drummen, project manager at Laudy Bouw & Ontwikkeling, adds: "Because we are now practising with it, we know what we will have to do later when the law applies."

What exactly will change?

Under the Wkb, the technical quality assurance shifts from municipalities to the so-called private quality assurance for construction.

  • Quality assurance agencies will take care of the complete plan assessment (general engineering, fire safety, structural safety, building physics and installations) and the supervision at the building site.
  • The spatial assessment (including the development plan, environment, external appearance and spatial planning) will continue to be carried out by the Municipal Building and Housing Inspectorate.
  • Municipalities also check whether the quality assurance agencies that have been appointed are (correctly) certified to be able to perform the private quality assurance of construction.

Rob says: "The transition phase is exciting. In this pilot project, we are going to discover whether we can let go of parts of the work with confidence. And whether we can assume that the quality assurance officers will make the necessary corrections. We will continue to supervise, but at a distance. If there are any bottlenecks, we will all sit down and talk, that's what we agreed."


What does this mean for the builders?

As building parties, Ballast Nedam and its subsidiary Laudy Bouw & Ontwikkeling will have to prove that the quality of the construction work meets all the requirements of the Buildings Decree once the Wkb takes effect.

Jan: "This means that more tests will have to be carried out and we will have to monitor matters during the construction process. At the end, we hand in the burden of proof; a construction file that states how we have realised the things. The quality assurance officer gives his approval. So the municipality's task - monitoring and filing during construction - has been transferred to us. Subcontractors are involved in the same way as we are. The person pouring the concrete knows that he has to do it according to the drawings and that his work will be inspected. If he has not done it properly according to the inspection, then it must be corrected. We keep the file and remain liable as the main contractor."

Why a sub-project of the Maastricht Green Carpet project?

Rob explains: "We chose this sub-project within the De Groene Loper Maastricht project because of its size. It involves 91 homes in total. This makes it financially attractive as a pilot project and it is more advantageous than quality assurance for a single home."

Jan adds: "In addition, this project has the advantage of repetition. The 91 homes are being built in eleven blocks and are also being delivered per block. So we can take the experiences from block 1 to block 2. So in block 11, things should go really well, within the same pilot project."

In block 11, things should go really well, within the same pilot project
Jan Drummen Project manager Laudy Bouw en Ontwikkeling

What will change for buyers?

At the moment, buyers receive a document with all the relevant information about the house at the time of purchase. Soon, they will also receive the reports of the quality tests, which state that the house meets the Buildings Decree.

Jan adds: "If something goes wrong, it will also be easier to demonstrate. Because we drew it up at the front, the file is already there. If something turns out to be wrong after completion, we can check the dossier of the house to see what went wrong in the execution. The burden of proof has already been transferred. The buyers are better informed and provided with a file they didn't have access to before."

Positive experiences

The cooperation between the Municipality of Maastricht, Ballast Nedam and Laudy Bouw & Ontwikkeling is going well. So far, the parties involved are enthusiastic. Rob says: "If everything goes well, we will start building after the summer holidays. Before then, we'll be consulting on the spatial aspects, such as the aspect of the appearance of buildings, which will be incorporated into new drawings."

Rene Lecluse, regional director of Ballast Nedam Development, is also pleased with this pilot. "Through this pilot, we are putting the development and construction process under a magnifying glass and sharing valuable lessons with the organisation. By properly structuring the conceptualisation, specification, execution and control cycle, we will be able to better guarantee quality. That is beneficial for the product, but ultimately much better for the residents of De Groene Loper Maastricht. That's exactly why we're doing this.

Rob: "In theory, the quality should improve. Our pilot project is going to demonstrate this."

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