The Building Safety Act takes effect

Fri, 06 May 2022

Introduction

The Building Safety Act (BSA) has now been given Royal Assent, which requires all those involved in planning and phased construction to adhere to more stringent safety standards.

The Act provides a detailed framework as to how professionals ought to approach safety measures and requires that new buildings and re-developments must meet a higher standard. 

What’s being introduced?

The Act establishes a Building Safety Regulator (BSR) to lead the implementation of the new regulatory regime for high-rise buildings to:

  • ensure compliance with safety standards and performance of all buildings; and
  • to communicate and inform the responsibilities of those individuals undertaking work connected to planning and construction. 

The BSR will fall under the umbrella of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and will have two principle aims: (1) to ensure the safety of individuals using and around buildings and (2) to ensure a significant improvement to the building standards. The BSR will seek to work with local authorities and emergency services in order to implement and properly regulate appropriate and effective safety features.

Role of the Regulator?

The introduction of the BSR will appoint all new independent regulators responsible for overseeing the safety and compliance with the Act along with other safety regulations. Whether you are an architect in the concept phase, or a fabricator involved in mass production of cladding materials, those who are undertaking work in respect of building control in England and Wales are required to review their practices and comply. 

The new regulators will be able to provide advice to local authorities and other professionals in relation to what needs to be considered before proceeding on certain phases of any project and will require that the regulator is involved during specific phases of construction and most pertinently, high-rise buildings. 

The BSA will provide clarity and focus on the responsibilities of those involved, with the additional intention that the BSR’s will further collate the information within the industry in order to identify, recommend and establish further safety practices both at planning and during the construction process. 

Compliance?

Though buildings may be under various stages of construction, it is necessary that whatever the stage, all practitioners review the work undertaken to date. Individuals will be required to adhere to competence frameworks, which will be an establish code familiar to all regulators, with BSR ensuring that all building regulators maintain the disciplinary standards of professionals carrying out works. RIBA, RICS, ISE and other professional bodies are all aware of such changes and it is likely that they will all review their own internal procedures in order to reflect the practical implementation and disciplinary compliance with the BSA. 

In addition to the BSR there will be the creation of further committees involving statutory resident panels, which will enable local residents to influence the development of local policy and strategy, though such details are still under review. 

Some of the principle changes you will need to be aware of include: 

Planning will:

  1. demonstrate fire safety needs for your proposal inc. site location, water sources and access across the site.
  2. demonstrate design integration with fire strategy.

Design & Construction will incorporate:

  1. a design response to safety risks.
  2. a demonstration of how your project meets building regulations, change control (i.e. how such changes needed due to the BSA are to be considered, designed, reviewed, and coordinated with the overall framework in mind), demonstrate a record of compliance with the building, demonstrating such proposals and assumptions are reasonable and justified in the circumstances.

Building Work will:

  1. not start until approval has been given by the regulator.
  2. comply with regular site inspections throughout the CPP with  BSR approval at each stage of the CPP.
  3. comply with change control.
  4. ensure maintenance of records.
  5. provide a comparison of the work undertaken, with the initial application made.
  6. ensure the regulator will undertake the final inspection on the completed works.
  7. assess, approve and advise on the final documents to be provided to individuals occupying the premises.
  8. ensure registration following compliance of the works to the BSR, which enables occupiers to use the building.

 

Occupied Buildings must:

  1. appoint an accountable person for residential high rise buildings (either a managing company or an individual) who will have a positive duty to ensure compliance and adherence to safety regarding the spread of fires or structural safety. 
  2. receive a building assessment certificate from the BSR where compliance is achieved.

Consequences

These new regulations require all individuals involved in safety measures to review their working practices and the construction phase plans in order to ensure compliance with the BSA. Where there is a failure to comply with these standards, then the newly appointed regulator has powers to investigate your practice, issue sanctions and undertake enforcement measures against those responsible. In addition, where individuals fail to comply with the new standards, the regulator can seek to self-appoint themselves to ensure compliance is maintained, until such time as the company can demonstrate compliance. Though it is likely that as in other areas, this will be a serious measure and would result in financial sanctions.

Where the company or individual is involved in high-rise developments, there is now no longer the option of appointing your own body for the purpose of building control, which will now be the responsibility of the regulator. In addition, further powers are now granted to the regulator to enable the enforcement of building regulations when such developments become high risk building.

Compliance with the regulations will not be free as fees will be charged to ensure costs are recovered. Additionally as the BSR forms part of the HSE it will already have the strategic framework, resource funding, and enforcement capabilities which will enable a rapid implementation throughout England and Wales. 

Finally, those involved in the construction or restoration of high rise developments are now required to be registered from April 2023, with further safety management requirements to be implemented in October 2023. 

Should those require further guidance or advice, please do not hesitate to contact regulatory@no5.com

 

 

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