Your Top 10 Building Safety Act Questions Answered

Understanding new legislation can be challenging. That’s why we’ve taken the initiative to simplify the process for you by compiling all the essential information about the Building Safety Act 2022.

Curious about the questions other industry professionals have regarding the Building Safety Act 2022? Enhance your understanding of meeting legal compliance obligations by reading the below.

1. Why is the Act Being Introduced?

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London in June 2017, it became clear that there was a need for government to step in and change legislation for high rise buildings so that a tragedy like this never occurs again. It builds on the recommendations within Dame Judith Hackitts’ Independent Review of the Building Regulations and Fire Safety final report published in May 2018. RICS has been working closely with and advising government on the changes.

2. Is There a Summary of the Act Available?

The Act is the most comprehensive piece of legislation to hit the built environment in decades. It is divided into 6 Parts; Part 1: Introduction, Part 2: The Regulator and its functions, Part 3: Building Act 1984, Part 4: Higher-risk buildings, Part 5: Other provisions about safety standards, etc and Part 6: General.

In addition there are 11 Schedules;

  • Schedule 1: Amendments of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
  • Schedule 2: Authorised officers: investigatory powers
  • Schedule 3: Co-operation and information sharing
  • Schedule 4: Transfer of approved inspectors’ functions to registered building control approvers
  • Schedule 5: Minor and consequential amendments in connection with Part 3
  • Schedule 6: Appeals and other determinations
  • Schedule 7: Special measures
  • Schedule 8: Remediation costs under qualifying leases
  • Schedule 9: The New Homes Ombudsman Scheme
  • Schedule 10: Amendments in connection with the new homes ombudsman scheme
  • Schedule 11: Construction products regulations

See this link to the Act table of contents, with interactive links to each section.

Explanatory Notes have now been published, with interactive links to sections and pages, which will help you navigate through this lengthy Act. These notes also have: Commencement, Financial implications of the Act and Related documents.

And finally 3 Annexes;

  • Annex A – Territorial extent and application in the UK (subject to devolved nations take up). See attached pdf.
  • Annex B – Hansard References
  • Annex C – Glossary

 

3. What Are the Timelines for Implementation?

All building owners (Principal Accountable Persons) will need to register a residential HRB 18m or more / 7 stories or more, with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR), by 1st October 2023 or face criminal prosecution. There are approximately 12,500 such buildings across England.

The BSR will begin assessing Building Assessment Certificate applications in April 2024.

All building control professionals will need to register with the BSR by 1st April 2024 – the register will open in October 2023.

S.156 of the BSA comes into force 1st October 2023. This makes a number of amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. S.156(4) is not at this stage being commenced (duty on RPs to appoint a competent fire risk assessor).

 

 

 

4. What Does This Mean for Building Owners?

Building owners will be required to manage safety risks, with clear lines of responsibility for safety during design, construction, completion and occupation of high-rise buildings. The focus of the Act is on building structural safety and fire safety only, not other aspects.

It will also require a ‘golden thread of information’, with safety considered at every stage of a building’s lifetime, including during the earliest stage of the planning process (Gateway 1).

Building owners will need to demonstrate that they have effective, proportionate measures in place to manage safety risks, and will need to register their buildings. Any incidents will also need reporting to the Building Safety Regulator, which will be within HSE.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 will also be amended, to ensure tougher sanctions for non-compliance. Those who don’t meet their obligations may face criminal charges.

5. Who is the Accountable Person?

The Accountable Person (AP) is a new role (distinguished from the Responsible Person under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) for residential high-rise buildings (HRBs). This will be the organisation or person who owns or has responsibility for the building. It may also be an organisation or person who is responsible for maintaining the common parts of a building, for example corridors or lobbies.

The AP will usually be an organisation or business but could also be an individual.

The AP will have a duty to take all reasonable steps to:

  • prevent a building safety risk happening, with building safety risk defined as ‘spread of fire and/or structural failure’
  • reduce the seriousness of an incident if one happens.

Further information can be found here and here.

6. What is the Position in Scotland?

The Scottish Government are committed to improving building safety to ensure another tragedy like Grenfell is avoided. Whilst there are differences in ownership legislation and approach to rectification of cladding defects and building safety from England, the overall impact should be safer buildings.

The Building Safety Act 2022 does not generally apply in Scotland. For the only relevant parts refer to the Annex A – Territorial extent and application in the UK (subject to devolved nations take up).

 

 

 

7. What is the Position in Wales?

The Welsh Government are committed to improving building safety to ensure another tragedy like Grenfell is avoided. Whilst there are differences in approach to rectification of cladding defects and building safety from England, the overall impact should be safer buildings. RICS has been and continues to work closely with the Welsh Govt on these issues.

The Fire Safety Act 2021 was also implemented in Wales, by The Fire Safety Act 2021 (Commencement) (Wales) Regulations 2021, which came into effect on 1st October 2021.

The Building Safety Act 2022 has not yet been implemented in full in Wales, and no new national regulator such as the BSR has been set up. The Building Safety Act 2022 (Commencement No. 3, Transitional and Saving Provisions) (Wales) Regulations 2023 were made on 18th Aug 2023. More information on changes in Wales will be posted here for future reference. See this link to the Audit Wales report published August 2023 on building safety in Wales.

The EWS1 process applies equally to Wales as it does to England. Read the Ministerial / RICS statement published 21st March 2023 here. The extended guidance applicable to Wales is expected to be published autumn 2023, further updates will be made here.

The guidance document ‘Fire safety responsibilities Under Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022’ published on the Welsh Government website is for those who have responsibilities for fire safety under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It covers the changes to the Order made by Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022. These new requirements will come into force on 1 October 2023.

8. Which Buildings Have to Be Registered?

Those responsible for the safety of high-rise residential buildings in England have six months from April 2023 to register with the new Building Safety Regulator.

The Building Safety Regulator was established to protect high-rise residents from unsafe building practices in England in response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

Under the Building Safety Act, high-rise residential buildings which are 18 metres tall or higher, or at least seven storeys, with two or more residential units are defined as ‘higher-risk’.

Across England there are approximately 12,500 of these buildings and the new regulator will require all of them to be registered from April 2023, with a named person responsible for maintaining their safety.

A new campaign aimed at owners and managers of high-rise residential buildings will highlight their new legal duties. It will call on those responsible for the safety management of higher-risk buildings to prepare for a new wave of regulatory change to ensure that they are ready to step up and comply.

The registration process is a crucial stage in setting up the new building safety regime.  Registering buildings in scope will be a legal requirement and owners and managers who fail to comply by October 2023 will be investigated and may face prosecution.

Applying to register a high-rise residential building? See this guidance for a Principal Accountable Person here.

Guidance on registering multiple structures 

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published guidance to help register buildings with complex structures.

If your building has two or more structures that are attached, you need to assess the ‘independent section’ criteria to see if they count as one building or should be registered separately.

Read the guidance on building definition and independent sections.

9. Where Can I Get Help to Prepare for the Building Safety Act 2022?

While the Building Safety Act 2022 imposes increased responsibilities, potential liabilities and costs on clients in the construction sector, it also aims to enhance building safety. By closely following the regulations and seeking professional advice, stakeholders can navigate these changes effectively, ultimately contributing to the long-term safety and wellbeing of property owners and developers. For further clarification and guidance, reach out to our Principal Designer Lead, Steve Wood, at steve.wood@db3group.com

Date Published: 12 December 2023
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Navigating the Building Safety Act

Navigating the Building Safety Act

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