The Grenfell Tower fire of July 2017 marked a watershed moment in the construction industry. The decades-long move into modern methods of build, value engineering, refit, and refurbishment of poor-quality, post-war construction, deregulation, and skills shortages in all aspects of the built environment industry had finally resulted in the catastrophic loss of life - things had to change.
The independent review of the Building Regulations and fire safety conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt resulted in the creation and phased implementation of the Building Safety Act 2022, which delivers a raft of changes to the industry; some affecting all developers of all property types, such as a 24-year extension to the Defective Premises Act for historical build, extensions on minimum warranties on new build properties to 15 years, and the creation of several new organisations to manage build quality and safety.
The New Homes Ombudsman has been designed to ensure quality build and fair treatment of customers, and the Building Safety Regulator, who will oversee the planning, construction, building control, and ongoing safety of all higher-risk buildings.
If you are involved in the construction of new ‘Higher-Risk Buildings’ as a Client, Principal Designer or Principal Contractor, you now have new responsibilities. The Construction (design and management) Regulation 2015 has worked well to focus those involved in construction work on the risks inherent in the construction and maintenance, but the new Higher-Risk Building regime will require that a similar degree of focus is given to the risks to those who will occupy the building.
What Is a High-Risk Building?
Higher-risk buildings are those that contain at least two residential units and are over 7 Storeys, or 18m. During construction and design, the definition will also encompass residential care homes and hospitals.
You will need to:
- Consider fire safety as part of your planning application. The Building Safety Regulator will be a statutory consultee on all planning applications for higher-risk buildings. Since this step was launched, more than 50% of applications have resulted in concerns about fire safety being flagged by the regulator.
- The Building Safety Regulator will now be the Building control for higher-risk buildings. No works can commence on the scheme until the Building control approval is received. Critically, this will not just require you to show how you comply with the building regulations but also how future duty holders will comply with theirs. In essence, this means showing how the building can be lived in safely.
- Ensure that through the construction process, you comply with the golden thread/ building information requirements. This means evidencing that the building has been built correctly and in accordance with the fire strategy and building control approval.
- All changes to the building will need to be fully documented and justified; certain changes will require re-submission to the regulator.
- Before your building is occupied, you will need to apply to the regulator for a completion certificate. If you plan to build and occupy in phases, this needs to form part of your original plan and approval.
The Building Safety Act doesn’t just look forward to new buildings but also backwards to every higher-risk building in the UK, regardless of age. As the owner, freeholder or management company, you will have new responsibilities to:
- Hold building information in an easy-to-access digital format.
- Register your building with the regulator, providing key information, including the details of those responsible.
- Have in place robust processes to ensure your buildings are safe, with key risks managed.
- Produce a safety case report to show how you manage the buildings and provide a copy of this to the regulator when requested.
- Manage refurbishments to ensure the continuity of structural and fire safety.
- Engage with your residents regularly and have processes in place to manage any complaints.
Our Services in Accordance with The Building Safety Act
DM Safety and Health Services are well placed to help support you in not just your longstanding responsibilities under the CDM regulations but also to deliver on these new obligations.
Our team of multi-skilled consultants will be available at every step of the journey, whether you are a Building Owner, Client or Designer seeking support or require us to take on the role of Principal Designer for your project.
As one of the country’s leading safety and risk management consultancies, we are extremely well-placed to provide you with help, advice, and support as you navigate these new responsibilities. Through our wider group of companies, we have access to the fire and structural engineers, building control support, and other allied professionals needed to ensure that you meet your obligations to manage risk in the properties you are responsible for.
We are currently partnering with a leading software developer to bring to market an intelligent software solution backed up by our extensive building and risk management to provide a one-stop shop for building information and risk management. This will be an essential resource for anyone managing risk in existing structures or looking for a way to comply with the golden thread through a new build process.
In the meantime, if you need help understanding your responsibilities, registering your building or completing a gap analysis on your current building records and information prior to preparing a safety case, get in touch to see how we can best support you.
DM Safety & Health Services can offer:
Safety Case Development
With the implementation of the Building Safety Act 2022 and registration open for tall buildings over 7 stories or 18 metres, our experienced team have the skills and confidence to register and develop the necessary information to successfully build and develop your safety case.
Cladding Remediation Project Support
With many projects already successfully completed, we can provide the necessary support to ensure your project delivery whilst ensuring public safety, which is critical to all projects.