Northstone on-board with easier document management for Part L and beyond

Northstone is a national house builder, part of the Peel Group. Their goal is to transform land into amazing communities, characterised by super efficient homes with brighter rooms, bigger windows, higher ceilings and truly open plan living. Northstone is committed to contributing to a sustainable future, believing that all residents should have access to a safe, greener home.

Challenge

With plans of substantial and sustained growth over the five years, having robust systems in place is a must.

With the looming requirements of Approved Document L 2021 on the horizon, Northstone needed to find a solution to taking, storing, reviewing and documenting the newly required photographic evidence.

“Whilst the company had developed a number of internal processes for Document Management, Issuing Information and Submiting RFIs, the team recognised that trying to create an internal solution which was robust, reliable and easy to use was not going to be a simple task,” Ashley said.

Solution

Northstone came across Fonn through word of mouth, and Ashley immediately saw the potential for the system to fit their needs. “From the moment we saw it, and how it worked we knew this was something good,” Ashley said.

Having a single source of truth has allowed Northstone to consolidate all of their processes. “Everything is unified into a nice little package – a picture goes onto the app, shows exactly what plot and item it’s for, when it was taken and who took it.” With Fonn in use, the team has a main contact person within a site, and there is a chain of responsibility where all information is passed through the Fonn app. Everyone understands what their role is.

While Northstone have only been using Fonn for around three months, they have noticed distinct improvements in their day-to-day work. For example, the ability to analyse pictures that are being taken on-site – with them all in Fonn it’s easier to see what is being done and what is outstanding. “Fonn actually highlighted a detail that we didn’t realise was difficult for the team – taking and reviewing photos captured with Fonn allowed us to see that there was an issue in real time, discuss the problem, and resolve it in a time and cost effective manner, without affecting the work programme,” Ashley said.

Good on-boarding is key

Ashley found the on-boarding process very straightforward with Fonn. “We had a training day and it was immediately apparent how simple it was to use. It went from being something all of the guys on-site were dreading to saying ‘oh my god this is so easy’,” he said.

Fonn’s support means that there is always someone on hand to make sure that Northstone has access to the information they need to make the most of the tools available. “I get sent videos of how to do things, links to articles. The support is invaluable because we needed to get set up rapidly.”

"Fonn will grow and scale with our business, it’s so much more than the tools that we’re using." Ashley Tucker, Northstone

Northstone had people internally do the in-person training to then take this out to the site teams, who immediately saw how simple the app was to use. Ashley estimates it took no longer than five minutes for people to start using the app as needed.

Planning for the future

As Northstone looks to expand their operations and scale up, Ashley can see Fonn being a tool that plays a big part in mitigating some of the risks that come with construction projects. “It will eventually prevent rework, going back and having to uncover things because that responsibility and review process is there to make sure things are right,” he said.

Having accountability for all works means that there is an improvement in quality, with assurance that things are being completed to the highest standard beyond Part L. “We’ve noticed a massive improvement in quality, all our substructure cavities are really clean, whereas before we’d go in and pull out all sorts! Quality is better because everyone knows the picture is being taken,” Ashley said.

With secure document management and storage in place, Ashley is confident that Northstone won’t worry about internal storage of documents; it’s all in one place, which is vital when working on larger scale projects with more team members involved in updating information. “I think it’s a tool that will grow with us as we need it to,” he said.

“Fonn will grow and scale with our business, it’s so much more than the scope of works and the Part L tools that we’re using. We’re actively exploring how we can make it fit for us as we grow.”

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