‘These are the biggest changes to building safety legislation for nearly 40 years, and they will raise standards across the industry.’ - Lord Greenhalgh.
The Act is set to revolutionise how buildings are designed, constructed and managed. It applies to new and existing high-risk buildings which are seven storeys or 18 metres high and contain at least two residential units. The developments excluded from the Act are hotels, prisons and military accommodation although this is expected to change in the future.
The new legislation is designed to help residents feel safer in their home and will affect a range of people within the industry, from building owners/managers to those involved in the design and construction process.
The Building Safety Act 2022 places a great emphasis on ensuring competency across all areas of the project. It is the responsibility of clients, designers and contractors to ensure proficiency when complying with the Building Regulations. To ensure this compliancy, the BSA has implemented the following measures:
1. The BSA introduces a new independent governing body called the Building Safety Regulator who will help set the direction and accelerate the compliance with the new legislation. The BSR has three main responsibilities: To oversee the safety and standards of all buildings and help the building industry improve their competence and to lead the implementation of the BSA.
2. Duty Holder clarification is another component of the new reform. Established responsibilities will be assigned to all the duty holders involved in the development who must be able to evidence they have the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours to complete the work. Duty holder roles are similar to those found in the CDM regulations and include the Client, the Principal Designer, the Principal Contractor, General Designers and General Contractors.
3. Accountability definitions have also been introduced which will provide clarity on the role of the ‘Accountable Person’. This individual oversees and manages the building after its construction and is responsible for registering the building with the Building Safety Regulator. It is this person that is presented with the finalised Golden Thread.
4. The Building Safety Act also introduces the Gateway approval process for new buildings. All new construction work (including extensions and refurbishments) will now be subject to scrutiny by the Building Safety Regulator and compliance with the Gateway Approach.
Each Gateway acts as a ‘checkpoint’ to assess the competency of all parties at each stage of the development.
Gateway 1: Planning - Any developer seeking planning permission for a HRB must submit a comprehensive fire and structural safety report.
Gateway 2: Pre-construction - No building work can begin until the BSR confirms that the plans meet the demands of the BSA. Gateway 3: Pre-occupation - The BSR will assess whether work has been completed in line with the building regulations. If it passes, then the building will be registered and can be occupied.
No developments can be moved forward until approval has been given at each Gateway stage.
5. The BSA 2022 has also reformed the approval process when it comes to project changes in order to maintain the Golden Thread. ‘Notifiable Changes’ are minor, low-level alterations that can take up to two weeks to approve. Alternatively, ‘Major Changes’ are amendments that could have a significant impact on fire safety and can take up to 12 weeks to be approved. In both cases, no work should take place regarding the change until approval has been given.
6. The Golden Thread was recommended by Dame Judith Hackitt in her report ‘Building a Safer Framework’ and is a major feature of the new legislation. It is a timeline of all ‘the information that allows you to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future.’ The Golden Thread enables full transparency between all stakeholders involved in the project, including residents and emergency responders, by bringing all information together in one place as a ‘single source of truth’.
It applies to every stage such as design, construction, occupation, refurbishment and ongoing management of buildings to promote a collaborative culture of safe construction.
The Golden Thread serves to provide evidence that the building was compliant with regulations during its design and construction and that the data is stored as structured digital information. It will be gathered, managed, and maintained in accordance with the Golden Thread principles. The government will specify digital standards which will provide guidance on how these principles can be met.
The Building Safety Act will come into full effect in April 2024 during which we will be releasing an article about Maple’s compliance with the legislation.