From 1 October 2023, it is a criminal offence for any qualifying building not to be registered with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR). This includes buildings which are at least 18m or seven-storeys high and contain two or more residential units, or are hospitals/care homes.
The Building Safety Act was drafted as a response to the results of hearings and reports from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which claimed 72 lives and 74 injured people. The HSE has established the BSR to provide oversight of a new regulatory framework for designing, constructing and continuously managing high-risk residential buildings (HRRBs).
Compliance with the Act will result in new responsibilities incurred by purchasing authorities, principal designers/contractors, and other contractors working within qualifying buildings. This has also begun to impact the tender process – our team of bid writers and reviewers have already seen relevant topics within quality questions.
Having written previously on potential implications and developments to the Building Safety Act, we identify the main changes to existing legislation, and how this could impact quality questions within a tender.
New duty holders
Under the regulations of the Act, two new duty holder roles have been introduced specifically to support compliance and safety for HRRBs. A principal accountable person (PAP) must be appointed to every qualifying HRRB asset in the UK. This can be either an individual or a business – for instance, the building’s landlord, a property management company, or the corporation who owns the asset. Subsequently, the PAP will hold ultimate responsibility for the ongoing fire and structural safety of the building and its occupants over the asset’s lifetime.
The PAP must also assign a building safety manager to support day-to-day compliance and management of building safety. Depending on the asset in question, this could be a full-time role or part of wider duties – for example, those of a property manager or health and safety manager.
With the introduction of the two new duty-holding roles, it is reasonable to assume we can expect to see the following within tender quality questions:
- Proposed methods for liaising with the PAP during mobilisation and service delivery, including a dedicated point of contact to provide consistency.
- How the building safety manager would remain updated while works or services are being delivered – for instance, during regularly scheduled maintenance.
- Timescales for communicating updates to the programme during the design and construction phase, ensuring compliance.
Gateway stages for design and construction
Although the technical requirements of regulations to buildings remain unchanged, the Act has implemented several significant changes to the application process for the design and construction of assets. This includes the introduction of new ‘gateway’ stages, aimed at strengthening oversight for safety and legal compliance. For instance, during Gateway 2 (prior to the commencement of building works) new processes and procedures include:
- Stronger confirmation of sufficient competence and experience of the principal designer and contractor, ensuring they have the requisite skills and experience to design and construct assets in a safe and compliant manner. This is similar to requirements under Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015.
- A fire and emergency file to manage building safety risks identified in earlier stages once principal construction has concluded – ensuring no information is absent or omitted.
- Additional safeguards for ensuring use of suitable materials such as electrical wiring conforming to BS 7671 standards, reflected within quality questions such as resourcing and supply chain.
The BSR will then assess applications, with a 12-week evaluation period beginning on receipt. Gateway 3 begins prior to occupancy – at this stage, the BSR will require a copy of the change control log, detailing any departures from the initial programme and why, in addition to a compliance declaration from each principal designer.
The ‘golden thread’ of information
Responsibilities under the Act also include the creation, maintenance and updating of a digital building compliance register – also known as the ‘golden thread’ of information. This mainly comprises information on fire and structural issues which could impact the safety of residents or other occupants. All stakeholders, including principal designers/contractors and regular contractors, are required to participate in preserving and continuously updating the golden thread.
As above, our bid writers have already begun to see quality questions on the subject when supporting clients with construction and facilities management tenders. Common elements of a response will include the following:
- Managing changes to designs during the construction and pre-construction phase, ensuring all aspects of the building are updated accurately.
- Capturing as-built data on installation and servicing assets within buildings, including asset condition/defects, details of complications or mitigations and specifications of parts and materials, e.g. size and manufacturer.
- Information on your digital record management systems inclusive of managing a consistent flow of information on, and processes for, how updates will be communicated digitally to the PAP.
Bidders will need to ensure they have appropriate digital capabilities – for instance, real-time digital access, shared files/client portals for job management systems – in order to gain full marks from the authorities.
One of the principal objectives of the Building Safety Act is ensuring safety and compliance is not reduced to a ‘box-ticking’ exercise. Periodic announced and unannounced inspections from the BSR will be conducted to ensure ongoing compliance with all aspects of the Act. Infractions or failures could not only result in a stop notice or an annulment of your contractual agreement with the buyer, but also criminal penalties – potentially fines and jail time.
Executive Compass have been monitoring and responding to changes to legislation within SQ, PQQ and ITT submissions for over 14 years, with a fully auditable 85% success rate demonstrating our efficacy and credibility. If you would like to learn more about the bid and tender services we provide – including bid writing, reviews and social value services – our sales and marketing team are contactable at 0800 612 5563 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat or a free, no-obligation quotation.
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