At the end of April, a number of Royal Assents reached fruition and chiefly among them was the Building Safety Act. In this article, we’ll look at the changes introduced in the new Act and outline what that means for building safety moving forward.

Now that the Building Safety Act has completed all parliamentary stages through the House of Commons and the House of Lords, it has become an Act of Parliament. This means that it is now the Building Safety Act 2022. 

Although the Act has passed, it could still take over a year to implement the latest measures, given that supporting legislation is needed to make this happen. However, this Act is one of the biggest overhauls of building safety regulations in decades, so it’s important to understand the changes, how they affect the built environment, and to who it applies.

Generally speaking, the Act applies to building owners and the building industry at large. Basically, anyone who is involved in designing, commissioning and constructing building work, whether they’re contractors, designers, clients or consultants. Potentially, anyone involved in the built environment should be mindful of the new Act. 

Though a spotlight has been rightfully placed on high rise buildings in recent years, due in huge part to the Grenfell tragedy and the ongoing cladding scandal, the Act will cover all buildings, though there will be special measures to address high rise safety issues, especially in buildings that are at least 18m in height or 7 storeys tall.

This doesn’t just apply to residential buildings – hospitals and care homes can also be deemed high-risk buildings if they fall within those same height parameters.

The Building Safety Act Explained

Building Safety Regulator

Under the Building Safety Act, three main functions have been set out that fall under the jurisdiction of a new Building Safety Regulator, a role that is being established by the Health and Safety Executive. They are as follows:

  • Assisting the built environment industry and professionals working in building control to improve competencies
  • Implementing new or updated regulatory frameworks for high-rise buildings
  • Overseeing the performance, safety and standards of the building and process

Gateways

A new concept, called “Gateways” has been announced. Three Gateways must be achieved before a building can be occupied. They are the Planning Gateway, Pre-Construction Stage Gateway and Post-Completion Gateway.

The Planning Gateway will, among other things, require applications for planning permission to include a fire statement. At the pre-construction stage, the Building Safety Regulator must be satisfied that the design of a building meets “functional requirements” and must demonstrate that it will fulfil all Building Regulations requirements. At the post-completion stage, the building control body will determine that Building Regulations have been adhered to before a completion certificate is issued by the Building Safety Regulator. 

The above is not exhaustive, so to see more information on each of the three gateways, visit the government website.

Fire Safety

When it comes to fire safety, which is an often discussed topic in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy and the ongoing cladding saga, the Act includes legislation that seeks to strengthen the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) in a number of ways. Historic remediation now sits firmly with landlords and developers instead of leaseholders, with housebuilders liable for paying remediation costs for cladding-related issues.

Additionally, the Building Safety Pledge, which invited over 50 of the largest homebuilders in the UK to sign up, means that housebuilders must conduct remediation work deemed “life-critical fire safety defects” on all buildings over 11m that have been constructed by said developers in the last 30 years. 

Warranties

As per the new Act, all developers will be required to provide a 15-year warranty, minimum, for all new build homes and existing properties that have building work done to create a new dwelling, like converting commercial buildings to residential, etc.

For the first time, this legislation has put such a warranty into law, extending the previous warranty from 10 years. The amendments to the warranty element of the Building Safety Act have been introduced to provide more protection for buyers of new homes and are widely welcomed by homebuyers.

For an in-depth look at all the component parts of the Building Safety Act 2022, explore the Fact Sheets.

 

What does this mean for surveyors?

The Building Safety Act 2022 represents sweeping changes for an industry which has suffered immensely over previous years, and it will certainly have a significant impact on anyone working in the construction, development and design of buildings. But, beyond that, it also applies to building owners, building managers and investors, too.

The Act undoubtedly holds numerous benefits, and high up on that list is the ability to work in a more constructive, clear way. The Gateways, which exist as a “golden thread” of standards from planning to completion, and the lessons that can be drawn out from that framework, shed light on the importance of consistency and efficiency.

Having a visible, clear path that runs through every aspect of a building professional’s work, whether that’s in property inspection or building design, is fundamental to upholding the standards expected in the industry today.

Here at Property Inspect, we’ve long championed the importance of digitising workflows to help maintain and elevate those standards, which is why we help surveyors, building managers, property inspectors and more revolutionise the way they work with smarter, more transparent processes befitting the modern age.

If you’re looking for a solution that speeds up what you do, all the while protecting your business with clear and concise audit trails, then look no further.

Schedule a free demo today and see for yourself.