The Building Safety Bill is being developed as part of the new safety regime to prevent any events similar to the Grenfell Tower disaster, which killed 72 people in 2017. It will overhaul existing regulations, and set out a clear pathway on how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained and made safe. As part of this bill, projects will require a ‘golden thread’ of information, with safety considered at every stage of the building’s life cycle.
The Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) has published its golden thread report, which provides an overview of this policy. The BRAC reports into the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Within BRAC, there is a golden thread working group that has been collaborating with industry and existing digital standards to develop and test the policy.
BRAC’s summary definition is as follows:
‘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’.
There will be primary legislation that will put a legal duty on duty holders and accountable persons regarding this information development. Secondary legislation will define the principles, information, data and documents required – and the processes, including information gateways. Guidance will be developed to lay out best practice and practical ways of meeting this legislation.
Golden thread definition
The BRAC report provides a full definition and set of principles. These can be read in full in the report at the following website:
The ten principles listed are as follows:
- ‘Accurate and trusted’.
- ‘Residents feeling secure in their homes’.
- ‘Culture change’.
- ‘Single source of truth’.
- ‘Simple to access (accessible)’.
- ‘Longevity/durability and shareability of information’.
Golden thread and specification
At NBS, we are playing a small role in developing the golden thread policy through the Golden Thread Initiative (GTI) being led by L&Q to feed recommendations into the BRAC. Dr Stephen Hamil, Innovation Director at NBS, is chairing the specification sub-group, which has members from across the industry – including clients, project managers, contractors, designers and manufacturers.
Construction specifications will form part of the information required at each stage of the project to demonstrate that the building is compliant with applicable Building Regulations, and to identify and mitigate any risks of fire spread or structural collapse.
Three key stages are identified in the draft Building Safety Bill:
- Planning gateway one – the submission which demonstrates that the planning application incorporates thinking on fire safety.
- Gateway two – construction cannot begin until the building safety regulator (BSR) has approved the submissions.
- Gateway three – the BSR assesses final submissions, undertakes inspections and issues a completion certificate.
The main gateway one submission is the fire statement. This is intended to be short and concise: not a full fire strategy. It should demonstrate that fire safety measures have been integrated into the planning proposals.
On 10 May 2021, the Government published a draft statement form and associated guidance that should be completed and submitted as part of Planning gateway one. This may be accessed at the following website:
Within the draft statement form, there are aspects of ‘specification’ at both a whole building level and at the level of itemized elements and systems.
It is expected that full prescriptive specifications will be required at both Gateway two and Gateway three. A change control process is required to ensure that any revisions are carefully monitored and approved, so that the final Gateway three information represents what has been built – and that any deviations from previous submissions have been suitably approved.
Watch Dame Judith Hackitt present at the NBS Construction Leaders’ Summit:
Watch members of the Golden Thread Initiative team present at the NBS Construction Leaders’ Summit: