NBS Construction Leaders’ Summit: The Digital Future
Early in the webinar, I mentioned that you may also be interested in the Construction Leaders’ Summit: The Digital Future on 13th and 14th October, where our keynote speakers will be Dame Judith Hackitt and Nadhim Zahawi MP. You can read more about the online event and sign up for free here.
The Building Safety Programme
Immediately following the Grenfell fire, UK Government commissioned the Building Safety Programme – a series of parallel activities and reviews to identify risks and reduce or remove them from UK construction.
Information is available on the ban on combustible materials on new high-rise homes, guidance for owners with buildings that affected by new legislation, a remediation fund to remove and replace dangerous materials, and various tests and investigations.
The Building Safety Programme continues today, influencing and enforcing routes of improving building safety.
One form of update from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the monthly data releases to summarise progress to date with remediation work on buildings in scope identified with ACM cladding.
Led by Dame Judith Hackitt, the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety was commissioned by the Government to review and make recommendations about the future of building safety regulation.
Published in May 2018 and titled “Building A Safer Future,” the final report assessed the various issues and failures surrounding existing construction process and building safety regulation. The review recommended root-and-branch reform of the entire system, and greater scrutiny of duty holders. It also includes recommendations to maintain and track the ‘golden thread of information’ – a digital record of project information across a building’s full lifecycle.
The Hackitt Review was quickly followed by government consultation and reports on how the review’s various recommendations could be translated into new regulations and frameworks and have formed the foundation of the draft Building Safety Bill and Fire Safety Bill.
In response to the findings and recommendations of the Hackitt Review, MHCLG opened a consultation period with the UK construction industry, building owners, residents and other stakeholders, to gather feedback on their detailed proposals about long-term reform of building safety and the regulatory system.
The consultation received a range of useful and interesting responses from industry professionals and proposals, and all the consultation documents and survey summary tables remain available on the gov.uk website.
Dame Hackitt continues to chair the Industry Safety Steering Group, aiming to “support and challenge industry to deliver meaningful change to building safety practice and culture.” Their second report on progress towards culture change has recently been published, along with letters of response from Government, and the first report was released in July 2019.
In March 2020, the Home Office issued the Fire Safety Bill to amend the Fire Safety Order 2005, with particular focus on duty holder responsibilities, and extending definition of structure and external walls in buildings of two or more dwellings to include cladding, and specific common door areas and window and door openings such as balconies to fall under the requirements.
The Bill itself is very concise - just a handful of pages – minimising the changes to the requirements, with the aim of moving it through the various requirements to amend the existing order quickly. As with the draft Building Safety Bill, it is still likely that much of the detail will be covered in secondary legislation and information from the new Building Safety Regulator.
Released for a period of parliamentary scrutiny in July 2020, the draft Building Safety Bill brings together the context and history of the Building Safety Programme and the various reports into a set of key legislative changes which aim to learn the lessons from Grenfell, and reform the building safety regulatory system.
In brief, the draft Bill sets up a new Building Safety Regulator within the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and sets out its power to define detail in secondary legislation, amends the Building Act 1984 (England) to create the new regulator and give it scope across the design and construction phases for high rise residential buildings of 18m or six storeys in scope, and defining a new planning and construction gateway process.
It also defines new regulation before buildings are occupied by residents and for their future lifecycle, including new roles like the Accountable Person and Building Safety Managers for buildings in occupation. There are also a raft of additional requirements and related schedules, including competency requirements and related powers for the Architects’ Registration Board (ARB).
The Bill is supplemented by a huge amount of explanatory material, which is important to read in parallel with the Bill’s text, providing examples and further information on the definition and context of the new rules and legislation, all of which is well worth reading to develop a greater understanding of the reforms, and the wider requirements ahead for industry to collaborate and commit to making buildings safer.