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Jun 14 | Industry

The Building Safety Bill receives Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament

On April 28th 2022, The Building Safety Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament. This landmark Act is set to bring about historical change to building legislation and the industry.

The first draft of the Building Safety Bill was issued in July 2020 following an independent review of building regulations and fire safety carried out by Dame Judith Hackett. Five years on to this day, it is the main legislative response to the Grenfell Tower disaster and takes forward a selection of Dame Hackett's review recommendations.

The Act contains provisions intended to secure the safety of people in or about buildings through the creation of a national framework that will, "create lasting generational change." From inception through to Royal Assent, the Building Safety Act has undergone significant transformation. The journey thus far has proved it will be an ever-evolving process with wide- and far-reaching implications. Initial talks centred on safety measures during the design and construction of new high-rise buildings. Nevertheless, legislation now stretches from the pre-construction procurement stage through to operation, occupation and facilities management. For that reason, focus has transposed to the entire lifecycle of a building.

Despite the Building Safety Bill becoming law, secondary legislation is required to support the implementation of new measures and is estimated to take between 12 and 18 months.

I call on everyone involved in the design, construction and management of buildings in England to now step up, get ready for the changes, and work together to drive the necessary culture change to protect people and deliver safe and good quality buildings. 

-Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings at the Health and Safety Executive.

The Act will cover all buildings with particular attention being placed on higher-risk buildings. Higher-risk buildings are defined as properties with two or more residential units, 18 metres and above or at least 7 storeys high. Also included are care homes and hospitals during design and construction stages, not operation, meeting this height threshold. Regulating these properties will be the Health and Safety Executive-appointed Building Safety Regulator who will be expected to lead the implementation of new regulatory framework, oversee safety standards and the performance of buildings and encourage competence among the built environment industry and those registered. All documentation, findings, safety case reports and certificates accumulated during planning, construction, post-completion and operation will need to be passed from dutyholders to the estate owner. The owner, who is defined as the Accountable Person as per the new legislation, will be expected to store all information in what has been titled a digital Golden Thread.

Some of the more recent amendments that have been made to the Act include removal of the legal duty to appoint a Building Safety Manager and instead accountable persons have been encouraged to reflect on their current management arrangements. As a consequence of the removal of the Building Safety Manager provision, the separate charging mechanism to pay for these costs, the Building Safety Charge, has since been withdrawn. The length of developer warranties has also been revised. Developers must provide the purchaser of a new build with a New Build Home Warranty that covers 15 years, beginning on the day on which the relevant interest is granted or disposed of. This also applies to existing properties that have been converted into flats. And finally, a National Regulator for Construction Products will be established within the Office for Product Safety and Standards. The regulator will have the power to withdraw unsafe products from the market and issue penalties to suppliers or manufacturers failing to meet compliance rules. Suppliers of products that are defective or marketed with misleading information will under the new legislation become liable to pay costs relating to the affected building. Actions can be started within 15 years of the act coming into force and in the case of cladding products liability will be extended to 30 years prior to the Act being introduced.

Both the Health and Safety Executive and government have advised, if you own or manage an occupied higher-risk building, now is the time to compile all obtainable information about your property in preparation for the incoming building safety framework. It has been estimated that all those involved have between 12 and 18 months to ensure all buildings in question comply. Attention now turns to face the technologies that have been developed in recent years to assist and support the built industry with transitions such as this one. Innovative tools such as Twinview's comprehensive browser-based platform have been designed with industry shifts, changes to legislation and people in mind.

An understood built environment is a safer one.

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