Building Safety Bill Overview

By Howard Hall, Director and Mark Jones, Director at WYG

The Bill introduces a significant regulatory overhaul of building safety – described as the biggest change in this area for 40 years. It will entail a new building safety regime, overseen by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), that will apply to all new multi-occupied residential buildings over 18 metres, or six storeys, in height in England.

Existing buildings within that description will also be brought within the system on a phased basis.

It is still a draft Bill and is expected to be implemented in 2021.

Despite the Bill being in response to Grenfell, the new regime is broader than merely fire, it also covers building integrity & structural safety in general.

Compliance with it will sit alongside other health & safety obligations e.g. CDM, Health & Safety at Work Act etc.

Duty Holder Roles

Five categories of ‘duty holder’ will be created during the construction phase (RIBA 5-7):

i.e. Client, Principal Designer, Designer, Principal Contractor and Contractor
These mirror existing health and safety roles under the 2015 CDM Regulations, but with new responsibilities for fire and structural safety of the building.

Golden Thread and BIM

Duty holders will also be responsible for keeping vital safety information about how the building was designed and built and is managed up to date. This so-called ‘Golden Thread’ of information will be stored electronically for the entire life of the building. This is likely to require digital records (likely BIM Level 2).

Golden Thread and Gateways

The key consequences to clients will be the inclusion of obligations around the production and storage of this ‘Golden Thread’ of building safety information and the obligations to achieve HSE signoff at certain ‘Gateways’ –Gateway 2 (end of RIBA 4 prior to construction commencing) & Gateway 3 (RIBA 5-7 prior to occupation).

The principal contractor and principal designer will be required to sign a declaration that the building complies with the regulations.

New ‘Building Safety Regulator’

The HSE will also gain important new responsibilities for the safety and performance of every building, regardless of height. It will oversee the performance of local authority building control and approved inspectors and advise on changes to the building regulations/areas to improve for building inspectors.

Existing Buildings and Projects

In respect of existing buildings – their inclusion seems likely to be staggered over a long period of time to allow property owners to build a safety case report in order to get through Gateway 3 & obtain Occupation certification.

On-going projects will likely, at the point of implementation, be captured by relevant Gateways.

Enforcement / Penalties

Breach of the Bill will result in real/serious sanctions – from a financial, reputational and even criminal perspective. New criminal liability will be introduced for breaches of the building regulations; for offences committed by a corporate body with the consent or connivance of a director, manager or officer, or where an offence is attributable to their neglect.

Fire Safety Consultation

There is also a new government consultation on reform of existing fire safety legislation in England.

Key recommended actions that property owners should consider doing now:

  • Review your current property portfolio / estate.
    • Do you have any over 6 storey residential buildings?
    • Are you planning to build / commission any in scope over 6 storey residential buildings?
    • Can you profile your estate into property type and occupancy risk?
  • Review the level of safety documentation that you have for your estate building.
    • Consider the new ‘Safety Case’ (or Golden Thread) requirement for existing buildings.
    • Can you demonstrate appropriate identification & ongoing management of the fire and structural safety risks?
    • Do you have BIM (or CAD) models for your buildings?
    • Do you have electronic building fire and structural safety records for your buildings?
  • Review the current level of building safety management and assigned responsibilities.
    • Is there a clear, documented ‘Accountable Person’ responsible for occupied buildings?
    • Do you have the ability/resource to appoint the new ‘Building Safety Manager’ in the future?

Once you have undertaken these basic reviews, you will be better placed to consider the implications of the Building Safety Bill.  This is currently a draft Bill and is expected to be implemented in 2021.

You will need to start planning your response and remediation actions plans now, as there will be additional responsibilities, electronic building safety documentation and ‘Gateway’ approvals requirements that will need to be considered and budgeted for.

For more information on PfH nominated suppler WYG, please click here.