The Building Safety Bill

With the first draft of the Building Safety Bill being published on 20 July, Space Group CEO Rob Charlton takes a deeper look at what it means for the industry:

 

On the 20th July the government issued the first draft of the Building Safety Bill. The Bill responds to the independent review of building regulations and fire safety carried out by Dame Judith Hackitt following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Dame Judith’s report made over 50 recommendations. The government have subsequently accepted all the recommendations and principles which have informed the bill.

There was a consultation paper, so we had a good idea as to what was going to be in the bill.

It has taken a few days to get my head around the information. There are 8 documents on the .gov website relating to the bill.

Firstly, there isn’t anything we didn’t expect, however there is a little more detail in some places. It is also different seeing something written as a bill rather than a report; it becomes very real.

Much of the detail as to how the law will be implemented is not included. Instead the bill sets out the jurisdiction of the regulator who will be the Building Safety Regulator to sit within the Health and Safety Executive.

What this means is even when the bill is passed there is still work to do.

I won’t go through the bill in detail, I will leave this to the lawyers. However, I have picked out some of the key points plus a few of the things which caught my eye.

The new building safety regulator has three functions:

  • Implementing the new, more stringent regulatory regime for higher risk buildings.
  • Overseeing the safety and performance of all buildings.
  • Assisting and encouraging competence among the built environment industry and those registered.

The regulator will maintain committees to advise on building functions including:

  • Building Advisory Committee.
  • Committee on industry competence.
  • Residents panel.

The legislation will encompass higher risk buildings. These buildings will be defined by the regulator.

When buildings are designed, constructed, or refurbished, those involved will have formal responsibilities. These will align with the CDM 2015 regulations to include:

  • Client
  • Principle designer
  • Principle contractor
  • Designer
  • Contractor

There is a new set of gateways for projects:

  • Gateway 1: Planning granted
  • Gateway 2: Construction work beginning
  • Gateway 3: Completion and Final Certificate

Golden Thread: The bill includes provisions that will help create a Golden Thread of information. The intention of the clauses in the bill is to ensure that the right people have the right information at the right time to ensure buildings are safe and building safety risks are managed throughout the building life cycle.

This information will be held digitally and will ensure that the original design intent and any subsequent changes to the building are captured, preserved, and used to support safety improvements

For new builds, the duty-holders must start to collect this information during the design and construction process.

Once construction is complete, the information must be handed over to the accountable person.

The accountable person is the duty-holder during occupation and is responsible for registering the building and applying for a building insurance certificate.

Once a building is registered the accountable person must also apply to the Building Safety Regulator for a Building Assurance Certificate. The Building Safety Regulator will issue a Building Assurance Certificate if it is satisfied that the accountable person is complying with meeting the statutory obligations placed on them.

Existing buildings that are already occupied will also need to be registered and existing buildings which are unoccupied at the introduction of the new regime will have to be registered by the point the building is occupied.

The accountable person must appoint a Building Safety Manager who must have the organisational capability and relevant skills knowledge experience and behaviours.

The role of the Building Safety Manager:

  • Comply with statutory duties as set out in the bill
  • Managing the building in accordance with the safety case report for the building and ensuring that the requirements of the building assurance certificate are complied with
  • Keeping informed and cooperating with the managing agents of the building about safety measures and works
  • Complying with all directions given and statutory notices issued by the Building Safety Regulator
  • Cooperating with other occupiers or owners of the building

The safety case report: This is the document that goes to the Building Safety Regulator to make the claim of an argument for residents’ safety. It is essentially the response to the exam question “Can you identify the building safety risks in your building and show me how you manage these on an ongoing basis as far as you can so that it is safe?”

The safety case report summarises all the key components of the safety case with references to supporting documentation. It is supported by the wider safety case which refers to the totality of the building safety information and includes all the evidence that supports how these building safety risks are being managed and contained within the Golden Thread of information.

The accountable person must develop a strong partnership between residents and the Building Safety Manager. These obligations cover engagement and participation, complaints handling, information provision and the role of residents in helping to keep the building safe.

One such obligation is to produce and keep up to date a residence engagement strategy setting out how the obligations will be delivered in practice.

Building Control: The bill includes provisions to improve competence levels and accountability in the building control sector by creating a unified professional and regulatory structure for building control, changing, and modernising the existing legislative framework.

The role of a registered building inspector is being introduced. A registered building inspector is an individual who will be able to provide advice to local authorities or registered building control approvers overseeing building work.

The bill also removes the ability for a person carrying out any building work for higher risk buildings to choose their own building control body.

Construction Materials: The bill creates the concept of a safety critical product an gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations to place safety critical products on a statutory list

Architects: The bill introduces a power for the Architects Registration Board to monitor competence of the architects.

Higher Risk Buildings: At the start of the new regulatory regime higher risk building will be formally defined as:

  • Two or more dwellings  
  • Two or more rooms for residential purpose
  • Student accommodation

Where:

  • The height is 18 metres or more above ground level ignoring any Storey which is a roof top plant and machine area or any storey consisting exclusively of plant and machinery

or

  • The building contains more than six storeys ignoring any storey which is below ground level

And

  • Room for residential purposes means a room other than in a dwelling which is used by one or more persons to live and sleep but excluding a room in:
    • A residential care home
    • Secure residential institution Search as prison detention centre
    • Temporary accommodation Eg hotel hostel guest house hospital Hospice

The Secretary of State can allow the Building Safety Regulator to charge fees and recover charges from those it regulates in relation to its functions.

It would appear existing occupied buildings will be transitioned into the new regime.

The building safety manager must report information related to the safety of an occupied building to the building safety regulator in a manner prescribed by the Secretary of State

The accountable person must establish and operate a system that will enable reportable information to be given to the building safety manager. This system will be assessed as part of the building assurance certificate application.

Information and reports required as part of the Bill:

Golden Thread of Information

Fire on structural safety building information held digitally to specific standards. These standards will include requirements around robust information management and keeping the information up to date. The Golden thread will ensure that those responsible for the building have the required information to manage building safety during throughout the lifestyle life cycle of the building

Building Assurance certificate

This certificate that an accountable person must apply for and the building safety regulator will provide if it is satisfied that the accountable person is complying with meeting the statutory obligations placed on them.

Gateway one, two and three

Three key stages in the building development where the duty holder must demonstrate that they are managing building safety risks appropriately before they are permitted by the relevant regulator to continue to the next stage of development.

Safety Case Report

A structured argument supported by a body of evidence that provides a compelling, comprehensive, evidenced and valid case as to how the accountable person is proactively managing fire and structural risks in order to prevent a major incident and limit the consequences to people in and around the building

New Roles included in the Bill:

  • Accountable Person
    • The accountable person is responsible for meeting the statutory obligations for occupied higher risk buildings, they will either be the building owner or have a repairing obligation of any part of the common areas of the building.
    • Management bodies are defined as the accountable persons in circumstances where the lease sets out repair and maintenance obligations on that management company.
    • Common parts include the structure and exterior of the building and any part of the building which is provided for the use of the residents in the building.

 

  • Building Safety Manager
    • Named by the accountable person, the building safety manager will support the accountable person by carrying out the day to day functions of ensuring that the building safety is safely managed and promote the openness trust and collaboration with residents that is fundamental to keeping buildings safe.

 

  • The Building Safety Regulator
    • The building safety regulator will be set up within the health and safety executive and make buildings safer through the implementation and enforcement of the new more stringent regulatory regime for buildings in scope stronger.
    • Oversight of the safety and performance of all buildings and assisting and encouraging competence among the built environment industry and registered building inspectors.

 

  • Registered Building Control Approved Inspector
    • Formally known as an approved inspector or a building control body under the old regulatory system. Refers to private sector firms doing building control work.

 

  • Registered Building Inspector
    • Refers to individual inspectors that are registered by the building safety regulator.

Timescales:

It is difficult to be specific regarding timescales. The bill needs to go through three readings in both the House of Commons and House of Lords, then amendments before it gets to Royal Assent. Typically, a Bill takes about a year to get through Parliament, however it may be this Bill moves quickly as there has been public criticism of the delays to date. Once the act has been passed there is likely to be a transitional period for the regulator to put processes pin place. On this basis I would anticipate building owners need to have things in place by later 2021 or early 2022.

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