The Building Safety Act, which received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, brings about a comprehensive regulatory overhaul in relation to higher-risk buildings (HRBs) with a residential component in England as well as many changes to product, competency, fire and structural risk management standards.
The reforms, the most sweeping in 40 years, will make people safer, although they will create significant new duties for owners, tenants, managing agents, developers, designers, consultants and others. Responsibility for managing safety risks is now more clearly defined and tough new criminal sanctions have been put in place for those failing to meet their obligations. The Regulations will be overseen and enforced by the new independent Building Safety Regulator’s Office established within the Health and Safety Executive.
A phased transition plan is being implemented by the Government. However, Ridge strongly advises all clients and partners within the residential and housing sector to embrace the spirit of the new regime immediately and to prepare for all new requirements well in advance of the intended deadlines.
In practical terms, the way in which projects are procured will require more intensive scrutiny to ensure that project teams are fully aware of their statutory responsibilities and have the capability to meet the new standards, including the ‘gateway scheme’. Materials, techniques and product specifications will also need to align with the requirements of the Act and related secondary legislation.
We recommend engagement with the requirements of the Act from the outset of a project, ensuring that briefs are detailed and clear, forming a robust basis for the all-important “Golden Thread” that follows, particularly in relation to fire and structural safety.
In establishing a strong data foundation for the Golden Thread, Ridge is currently working with clients to identify HRBs and determine the status of information held and its sufficiency to inform Building Safety Cases (which will become a prerequisite to occupation). Ridge is assisting clients with development of robust Building Safety Cases in class-leading accessible formats and providing supplementary services, including:
Ridge can also provide consultancy advice to clients, helping ensure that contractors, suppliers and materials meet the more stringent requirements. Our Health and Safety experts provide CDM / PD services which are fully informed by the new legislation.
The large scale of regulatory changes is such that Ridge recommends clients and partners implement a programme of education on the Act and its wide-ranging impact. Such a programme may encompass not only employees, but also stakeholders, suppliers and anyone else relevant or for whom the Act imposes new duties, including residents themselves. Ridge will be happy to assist with this, having already given several presentations and seminars on the topic.
Nearly five years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, Ridge welcomes the new Act and will continue to uphold the principles behind the Hackitt Report, ensuring that the safety of everyone who uses the buildings we help create is paramount throughout all stages of design, procurement, construction and occupation.