The Building Safety Bill: An update for 2021

In response to the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Government has published the Building Safety Bill 2021.

The Bill sets out new regulations for those developing, designing, building and managing residential buildings, hospitals and care homes over 18 metres.

A draft of the Bill was issued in July 2020 and was subject to committee scrutiny in November 2020 meaning the sector had a good understanding as to what was going to be included.

The Bill presented to parliament in July 2021 remains largely as the draft; however, some areas have changed:

  • The time limit for residents to bring a claim for substandard construction work will be extended from six years to 15 years.
  • As well as residential buildings, care homes, and hospitals will be defined as higher-risk buildings if they are higher than 18 metres.
  • In the draft, a higher risk building was defined as being over 18 metres or six storeys which has now increased to seven.
  • Building owners will be legally required to explore alternative ways to meet remediation costs before passing these onto leaseholders and provide evidence of completion.
  • There will be new competency requirements for designers, contractors, and anybody else carrying out building or design work. The British Standard Institute has been tasked with producing national competence standards Including the new role of Building Safety Manager.
  • In addition to the “Accountable Person” in the draft, a new “Principal Accountable Person” position is included where more than one person fits the criteria.

The Government’s proposed timetable would see most of the changes made 12 to 18 months after the Bill receives Royal Assent, with some of the more minor changes happening earlier.

The Building Safety Bill at a glance

The Building Safety Bill sets out a regulatory regime for buildings above 18 metres high (referred to as “higher-risk” buildings) and includes:

1. A new Building Safety Regulator with approval, enforcement and powers to prosecute.
2. The requirement to maintain a Golden Thread of information from design through to ongoing operation.
3. New obligations on Clients, Designers and Contractors, with “Gateway” points to provide a hard stop at key project stages.
4. The creation of new Accountable Person and Building Safety Manager roles to ensure that building and tenant safety continues to be managed throughout occupation.

Criminal liability for both companies and their directors for breaches of the law with unlimited fines and imprisonment for up to two years.

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