The long awaited Building Safety Bill was published on 5th July 2021. The bill sets out how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained. In addition it gives additional powers to residents to hold builders and developers to account and toughens sanctions against those who threaten the safety of residents.
The Building Safety Bill marks the next step in the Government’s ongoing reforms to ensure everyone’s home is a place of safety. The Bill will deliver improvements across the entire built environment. It will strengthen oversight and protections for residents in high-rise buildings and give a greater say to residents of tall buildings and toughen sanctions against those who threaten their safety.
The main aspects of the bill are as follows:
- A Building Safety Regulator (BSR), to be established by the Health and Safety Executive, will oversee this new regime and will be responsible for ensuring that building safety risks in both new and existing high rise residential buildings (18m+) are effectively managed and resolved, taking costs into account.
- The BSR will also give advice to local regulators, landlords and building owners, the construction and building design industry as well as to building occupants.
- There will be specific Gateway Points at design, construction and the completion phases, these will be followed to ensure safety is considered at each stage of the construction. This ensures safety risks are considered at the earliest stage of the planning process.
- This approach will enable a ‘golden tread’ of information to be created, stored and updated through the building lifecycle. This establishes clear obligations on owners, enabling swift action to be taken by the Regulator wherever necessary.
- A Mandatory Occurrence Reporting System will be established to report to the BSR on ‘structural and fire safety occurrences’. Secondary legislation will include a list of occurrences which must be reported. This will cover substandard products which impact safety, defective installation of fire proofing, structural failures of a building, failure of building components such as fire doors, failure of installed fire safety systems as well as major events such as fires.
- There will be new roles for building safety management once the building is occupied.
- The amount of time residents have to seek compensation for substandard work will increase from 6 to 15 years, backdated to 2010 enabling proceeding against developers until 2025.
New measures introduced in the bill will:
- Ensure there are clearly identified individuals responsible for safety during the design, build and occupation of a high rise building.
- Establish a Building Safety Regulator to hold to account those who break the rules and are not properly managing building safety risks.
- Provide residents in these buildings with more routes to raise safety concerns and mechanisms to ensure these will be heard and taken seriously.
- Extend rights to compensation for substandard workmanship and unacceptable defects. This includes taking enforcement action where needed.
- The whole will drive a cultural change across the industry.
- Includes powers to strengthen the regulatory framework for construction products, underpinned by a market surveillance and enforcement regime led by the Office of Product Safety and Standards, part of BEIS.
The national regulator will be able to remove construction products from the market that present safety risks and to prosecute or use civil penalties against businesses that breach the rules.
The new safety regime outlined in the Building Safety Bill applies to the following buildings:
- Buildings that are at least 18m in height or have at least 7 storeys and have at least two residential units
- This includes care homes and hospitals meeting the same height threshold during design and construction
- Buildings owned or occupied by the Crown which meet the scope criteria e.g. Crown Estates, Duchy of Lancaster or Duchy of Cornwall or Government Departments. This is in line with the Fire Safety Order and Health and Safety at Work Act which applies to Crown buildings
- Building safety risks are defined as fire spread (one flat to another or one floor to another) and structural failure
The relevant documents can be accessed using the links below:
The Building Safety Bill can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/building-safety-bill
Building safety factsheets, to provide more information about the provisions in the Building Safety Bill and how they will be implemented can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-bill-factsheets
One page explainer: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/999440/Building_Safety_Bill_-_explainer.pdf
Government has also published its response to the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Building Safety Bill, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-bill-government-response-to-pre-legislative-scrutiny-by-the-select-committee
Finally, the transition plan for the Bill and timelines are:
- Royal Assent in anticipated some 9-12 months after introduction so this takes us to March – June 2022
- Phase 2 will be the introduction of regime and Secondary Legislation
- Phase 3 will be Transition and coming into force of the regime.