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Building Safety Bill Explainer

WHAT IS THE BUILDING SAFETY BILL?

The Building Safety Bill 2021 was introduced at the end of July 2021 and aims to give the industry more stringent requirements, with a focus on fire and structural safety in high-risk buildings.

The Building Safety Bill will be implemented over a transitional period, over the next 12 – 18 months. However, developers and Clients of both new build and existing buildings within the scope are advised to consider how this key piece of legislation will impact them.

WHO DOES IT APPLY TO?

Buildings currently within the Bill’s scope are multioccupancy residences and are over 18m or 6 stories and above (whichever height is reached first). It is likely that the Bill will further be applied to other multi-occupancy premises such as hotels and care homes. The building must have at least 2 residential units, and could be mix-use structures. In addition, the Bill will apply retrospectively to buildings which have been built within the 15-year period prior to the changes coming into effect. This retrospective application will allow for compensation claims to be brought, against defective works on the building.

In addition to new buildings, any existing buildings that fall within the Bill’s scope, even if they are already occupied, will need to be registered with the Building Safety Regulator.

WHO IS THE BUILDING SAFETY REGULATOR?

The Building Safety Regulator is a national organisation and is part of the Health and Safety Executive. The Building Safety Regulator is responsible for implementing the Building Safety Bill, and their legal powers will include: stop work on site, stop occupation of the building at build completion, and ability to issue fines or prosecutions for failures in compliances by the duty holders. Their enforcement powers and assessment tools will ensure that those participating in the design, build and refurbishment of buildings will be held to account and to ensure compliance with the building regulations.

The Building Safety Regulator will require certain information and documentation to be submitted at 3 Gateways or approval stages.

  • Planning
  • Pre-Start on Site
  • Practical Completion / Prior Occupation

The Building Safety Regulator will furthermore act as the Building Control body for projects within the scope, whereas previously, the Client team was able to select a Building Control entity of their choosing.

WHO WILL THIS BILL IMPACT?

Implication for Residents & Home Owners

The Bill will allow residents to have more say in the management of their building, facility to raise building safety concerns directly to owners and managers. If they feel concerns are being ignored, they can raise concerns with the Building Safety Regulator.

Implication for Building Owners

Building Owners will be required to manage safety risks, with clear lines of responsibility for safety during design, construction, completion and occupation of high-risk buildings. Through the Golden Thread of information; records of safety considerations are required at every stage of the building’s lifecycle. Building Owners will need to demonstrate that they have effective and proportionate measures in place to manage safety risks. Failure to do so may incur criminal charges.

Implication for the Built Environment

The Bill aims to create a proportionate framework for the design, construction and management of safe and high-quality homes in the years to come.  It will strengthen the construction products regulatory regime, by introducing new requirements to ensure products being used are safe via the National Regulator for Construction Products. Towards the end of the transition period, a new developer tax and levy will be introduced.

WHAT IS THE GOLDEN THREAD?

The Building Safety Regulator will use the Golden Thread policy to approve building works at each of the 3 Gateways, which are approved at RIBA Stage 0 – 3 (Planning), RIBA 4 (Pre-Start Construction) and RIBA 6 (Prior to Occupation)

The Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) has defined the ”Golden Thread” of information as the following:

The golden thread is both 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’.

Those familiar with the RIBA Stages, can compare them with the 3 Gateways and to identify what information is required to maintain the Golden Thread.

Gateway 1: (RIBA 0-3)

Draft Fire Statement. Finalise and submit Fire Safety Plan to Building Safety Regulator.

Gateway 2 (RIBA 4).

Establish Change Control Plan. Submit full plans and supporting documents to Building Safety Regulator

RIBA 5: Record design changes in Change Control Plan

Gateway 3 (RIBA 6)

Finalise Building Safety Information Pack (including fire and emergency file and Change Control Plan);  Issue Conformity Declaration to Building Safety Regulator; Advise Client as to the occupancy arrangements required by the Accountable Person and Building Safety Manager.

 

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ENSURING THE BILL IS COMPLIED WITH?

The Client, Principal Designer and Principal Contractor duty holders will be the same organisations who are nominated as such under CDM Regulations 2015.

GENERAL DUTIES FOR ALL DUTY HOLDERS UNDER THE BUILDING SAFETY BILL:

  • Co-operate and share information with BSR
  • Ensure compliance with Building Regulations
  • Comply with specific regulatory requirements imposed upon them
  • Ensure they are the people they employ are competent to do the work they are undertake

 

CLIENT DUTIES

  • Above general duties
  • Ensure scope of service for PD and PC cover both CDM and BSB
  • Ensure those appointed are competent to undertake both CDM and BSB duties
  • Submit full plans, Construction Control Plan, Fire and Emergency File & supporting documentation to BSR
  • Ensure Change Control Plan is in place prior to commencing on site
  • Agree site inspection programme with BSR for specific stages of construction
  • Register the premises with BSR upon completion and prior to occupancy
  • Upon completion, issue BSR with: updated as-builts indicating variations from Gateway 2, complete construction control plan, updated fire and emergency file and complete key data set
  • Issue a jointly signed (by PD & PC) conformity declaration to the BSR at PC and prior to occupancy

Prior to occupation, appoint a competent Accountable Person*

* Prior to occupation, the Client must appoint a competent Accountable Person to work alongside the Building Safety Manager. The Accountable Person will have legal responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the structure and outside the building, plant rooms and common parts. This will likely be the freeholder or the head lease. In complex building ownership models, there can be more than one Accountable Person.

PRINCIPAL DESIGNER DUTIES

  • Above general duties
  • Create and submit the Fire Safety Plan to the BSR
  • Ensure the design complies with the Building Regulations
  • Demonstrate competency to Client
  • Establish Change Control Plan
  • Submit full plans and supporting documents to the BSR via the Client
  • Record design changes in Change Control Plan
  • Prepare Building Safety Information Pack to issue to the BSR via the Client
  • Issue conformity statement to the BSR

PRINCIPAL CONTRACTOR DUTIES

  • Above general duties
  • Similar duties to the PD, but in relation to the Build Works

 

Duty Holders will still be able to use the skills of consultancy services to help them with the discharging of their duties. If you have any questions or need advice on the Bill, please get in contact.

CONTACT US

Health and Safety can seem like a complex area. We offer pragmatic advice and only what is necessary to you and your individual circumstances. Contact us today to start the conversation.




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