The Building Safety Act has been described as the ‘the biggest change in safety legislation our industry has seen in a generation’.
Our recent InSite conference focused on this challenge as a panel of experts discussed how best to prepare for the changes ahead.
Below is an extract from the Q&A portion of the day, during which the panel were asked burning questions from a passionate room of builders, developers, architects, designers and contractors.
If you would like to access the full report, you can do so here.
Colin Blatchford Brown from the Building Safety Regulator: Gateway three turns on at the same time as the regulator becomes the Building Control Authority. That will be 1 October this year (2023) but clearly that is the completion stage of buildings so hopefully they take a little longer than a couple of months to build.
1 October we become the Building Control Authority, building control applications to us, it will be in the transition of that building phase.
Sean: Shareholders that are not directors, their interest is limited to the value of their shares so if a company cannot trade any longer, then they have lost their shares but there is no liability to a shareholder.
Colin: To put this into context, the change control strategy that you will have in place will be your liability and duty and you will have to provide that evidence to the regulator throughout the process.
We are looking at it in three stages. You must record all the changes you make. That’s the first thing. Just do that. I’m sure you do that already but you must then have that in a form so that you can show the regulator if they ask you or want to see what you have changed. That will form each and every inspection we anticipate. We are going to look at that a lot.
Then it becomes a matter of what is notifiable. Is it slightly more than just changing a product or a material? Is it now starting to maybe affect the principals that you agreed at gateway two? In which case then that is a notification. Tell the HSE, the HSE have that period to look at it and we might ask you about it the next time we are on site and we will review it.
The major changes are going to be those major fundamentals of 'I'm adding some more storeys', 'I’m adding more units'. 'I am changing the fundamentals upon which my approval is based'. That’s a major change as we see it.
The secondary legislation has got to follow and it will specify some of those things but I suppose the first step is try not to change those fundamentals. That’s what gateway two is about. Get those fundamentals fixed and don’t muck around with them.
Colin: So that is about the intent at the outset. So at gateway two, if a developer is intending to occupy in part, and I mean cause not floor-by-floor, then actually that should be part of the submission. It’s about that planning and managing and monitoring.
If you can demonstrate how this is actually going to be phased and how it’s going to be constructed then that’s part of that approval process. That partial completion process will form part of the approval. Then partial completion is entirely reasonable and practical.
Colin: Our remit as a regulator would be to enforce the building regulation so we don’t really have a duty in enforcing warranty standards or technical standards or insurance provision.
We need building inspectors to support our function.
In essence there is a crossover. Will you issue a warranty if you don’t have a building control completion certificate?
James McGloin, Regional Director at Premier Guarantee: We wouldn’t be able to.
Colin: We’re not going to necessarily say we won’t issue a certificate until we’ve got a warranty. It’s getting the crossover right.
James: Everything is happening far, far sooner which means come to us far, far sooner. It doesn’t mean necessarily put the warranty in place but at least open the conversation with us. We are an open door. Talk to us.
James: In terms of the new homes warranty, that is going to be the primary insurance in place – workmanship and defects.
From our perspective, as I mentioned earlier the ‘common parts’, trying to bring everything inside it. I’m sure that is cladding. I don’t see them wanting to pay for that again so they are trying to encapsulate all of that within the new homes warranty first and I guess part of the building insurance later on.
Competency expert Peter Dawber from Solvere Ltd: Dame Judith was asked this question. Her reply was ‘if you are competent and if you have built a proper building that complies with the regulation you will get insurance’.
Colin: Yes there is. It will be in place before the implementation of the gateways in October. There is a process to be followed. There is lots of work going on at the moment.
Peter: There is mutual recognition. If you were to meet it (competency) through one professional body then that should transfer to another.
I would say here and now, if you are a member of any professional body you will not meet the threshold to be a principal contractor or principal designer as it stands because of the additional responsibilities around fire safety and structural stability.
Colin: The Government are not going to give a definition of digital. It’s up to you. It’s too broad and it will change.
Golden thread expert Dan Hollas from Clarion Housing: I want it to be smart so that you can use it in different formats. Having it in a PDF is not really much use. Where I would have it in a PDF is if I had a chartered engineers, external walls survey and I had that as a document within the digital model itself and I would place it there with the accreditation.
In terms of the component itself, I really want that in a digital format.
Peter: One of the essential requirements we have suggested is timestamps – it must be timestamped. If you were to construct something that was checked at a point and the subsequent follow-on has challenged its integrity, you need to have that record.
The report also includes:
Are you prepared? Find out by getting the report here.
Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication (June 2022). Guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. For the most up to date Premier Guarantee technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the Premier Guarantee Technical Manual.