Drawn up in response to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in which 72 people lost their lives, the much anticipated Building Safety Act passed into legislation last month, gaining Royal Assent nine months after its first reading in Parliament. Following its enactment, we explore the anticipated changes expected to come into force.
Key changes proposed by the Act
The Building Safety Act brings into law several measures to improve the safety of existing buildings, as well as outlining new regulations for housing developers and handing more rights, powers and protections to residents and homeowners. Whilst the Act is not expected to come into force for another 18–24 months, a summary of the key takeaways includes:
- The creation of an independent Building Safety Regulator as an extension of the Health and Safety Executive. Sitting alongside the existing Housing Ombudsman, the Building Safety Regulator will oversee all aspects of high-risk buildings (seven stories/18 metres in height or above), including the design, construction and occupation, as well as give advice to local authority building control and planning services, landlords and building owners, the construction and building design industry and to individual building occupants.
- The Building Safety Regulator will require developers to place a greater emphasis on safety at each stage of the design, construction and pre-occupation phases of new residential buildings. Strict information requirements will need to be met at each phase to demonstrate that the building meets safety requirements outlined by the Building Safety Act, with the Building Safety Regular empowered to issue Stop Notices to non-compliant developers, forcing them to cease construction. This process creates what is referred to as a ‘golden thread’ of information, ensuring key building safety information is available to relevant stakeholders at all times.
- A new requirement for building owners to be able to demonstrate they have effective and proportionate safety measures in place to manage building safety risks, with those who are unable to do so liable for criminal charges.
- The period that homeowners are able to claim compensation from developers for substandard or defective construction work on new builds will increase from six to 15 years. This will apply retrospectively, meaning residents of homes built in 2018 will be able to claim compensation up until 2033.
- New powers for residents within high-rise buildings allowing them to raise safety concerns to the owners and managers directly, and who are now duty-bound to listen to them. Should residents feel their concerns are being ignored, the new Building Safety Regulator can step in to enforce the relevant changes.
- New roles for building safety management:
- Accountable Person (either an individual, partnership or corporation): the duty holder of a multiple occupancy building whose responsibilities include registering the building with the new regulator, applying for a Building Assurance Certificate to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Building Safety Act, and assessing building safety risks and taking steps to mitigate or eliminate them.
- Building safety manager: appointed by the Accountable Person, the building safety manager supports them with the day-to-day management of building safety, as well as being responsible for compliance with the requirements of the Building Assurance Certificate and directions and notices given by the Building Safety Regulator.
- Paves the way for secondary legislation introducing a National Regulator for Construction Products to oversee and enforce a stricter regime of requirements to ensure materials used in construction are safe.
What this means for the construction industry and tendering
The implications arising from the Building Safety Act are wide-ranging and will inform fundamental changes within the construction industry as it comes into force. For organisations who provide services to commercial landlords, housing associations or other housing providers, the introduction of the Building Safety Act means that even greater care will be needed, with increased levels of stakeholder engagement required to ensure services are provided with a deeper consideration to residents and their safety.
From a tendering perspective, we anticipate changes to the types of quality questions asked, and the weighting applied. For example, a larger emphasis may be applied to health and safety not only during the construction phase, but in the years that follow, with bidders required to evidence how they have considered suitable building materials, methods, and precautions to safeguard residents in the future.
Similarly, as residents are expected to have a bigger involvement in identifying and raising safety concerns, quality elements focused on resident engagement, consultation, and management of safety issues will likely become more prominent.
At Executive Compass we are already in the process of identifying how this Act will affect future tenders and are working with our clients to discuss how we adapt our approach to fully evidence our understanding, and proactive application of the Act’s requirements. For more information on how we can support you with your tender needs contact us free on 0800 612 5563 or email email@example.com.
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