The Government has produced the Building Safety Bill as part of its response to the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
The Bill proposes a new statutory system for regulating building safety (effectively fire and structural safety) for residential buildings. It will have significant commercial and contractual implications for UKAA members.
The Bill is currently in draft form and will go through four stages before coming into law:
- July 2021 – The Bill was updated and republished
- 1 August 2021 – Gateway 1 in force via an amendment to planning legislation
- 2022 – The Bill will receive Royal Assent and the primary and secondary legislation deriving from the Bill will be published (along with practical guidance on compliance)
- By end of 2023 – All the legislation for the implementation of the Bill will come into force
- Risk of additional costs during construction impacting ability to meet funding requirements
- Risk of non-compliance due to legal changes in building safety requirements post-completion
- Availability of suitable resource to cover the new building safety roles as well as registering regulated buildings with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
- Training available to improve knowledge and understanding of new roles required
- Cost of additional and dedicated staff
- Increased expenditure as a result of historic remediation costs that cannot be recovered through warranties as its likely that compliance was achieved at the time of construction
- Lack of knowledge or digital resource to cater for new “golden thread” requirement.
- Delays in digital systems catching up with market demand
- Requirement to have policy documentation on resident engagement and resource to deliver any strategy
- Potential for the remit of the BSB to change and include lower-height buildings
- Landlords do not have sufficient resource or policy structures to ensure residents are actively engaged and supported
- Lack of knowledge and understanding of their own role in having duties for building safety purposes
To which buildings does the Bill apply?
The new system will apply to all “higher-risk buildings”.
For the moment, this is limited to buildings of seven or more storeys or 18 metres which contain two or more dwellings or rooms for residential purposes.
Included are flats, houses, serviced apartments, student accommodation and supported accommodation, educational accommodation and mixed-use developments including these residential elements.
The design and construction elements of the Bill will also apply to hospitals and care homes which meet the same height criteria.
Currently excluded (September 2021) are detention centres, guest houses, hotels and prisons.
It is expected that more types of building will become 'higher-risk buildings' over time
It is expected that more types of building will become “higher-risk buildings” over time – potentially including buildings currently excluded from the scope of the Bill (see above). For example, the height threshold might decrease over time.
The Bill applies to England. The Welsh Government intends to adopt the Bill for higher-risk buildings, but also intends to introduce greater regulation for residential buildings below the height threshold (essentially any building with two or more residential units).
Scotland has no plans to adopt the Bill.
What are the key changes imposed by the Bill?
The Bill specifies various duty holders who will be responsible for discharging the new building safety duties across the whole life of any applicable building (including over-arching duties to ensure the fire and structural safety of buildings and to comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations).
During any construction works (including refurbishment/remediation), the client, principal contractor and principal designer under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 will be the duty holders for the new building safety duties.
During the occupation phase, new duty holders will be created – the principal accountable person, accountable person and the building safety manager.
Draft regulations require all parties working on buildings will need to demonstrate they have the competence for such work
Draft regulations published alongside the Bill require that all parties working on buildings (of any height) will need to be able to demonstrate that they have the competence necessary for such work.
Overarching duties to plan, manage and monitor construction work to ensure it complies with the Buildings Regulation will be imposed.
Competence standards will also be introduced for the occupation phase.
A new Built Environment Competence Framework, BS Flex 8670, is being introduced by the British Standards Institution for all of the trades and professions working on or managing buildings.
BSI will also develop and publish three new Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) standards setting out competence requirements for the roles of principal contractor, principal designer and Building Safety Manager for projects involving “higher-risk buildings”.
These will be in place by March 2022.