The Draft Building Safety Bill was published in July to enable consultation and scrutiny before the Bill is introduced to Parliament. In this Blog, BWF Technical Director Kevin Underwood provide’s an overview of the Draft Bill, looking at the five key parts and then summarises what this means to BWF members at this stage.
The objectives of the Draft Safety Bill
The objectives of the Draft Building Safety Bill are to learn the lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire and to remedy the systemic issues identified by Dame Judith Hackitt’s 2018 Independent review. The Draft Bill seeks to strengthen the whole regulatory system for building safety by ensuring there is greater accountability and responsibility for fire and structural safety issues throughout the lifecycle of buildings in scope of the new regulatory regime for building safety.
Key proposals contained within the Draft Bill
Greater accountability and responsibility for building safety will be achieved by:
a) Establishing a new Building Safety Regulator to oversee the new, more stringent regime for higher-risk buildings and drive improvements in building safety and performance standards in all buildings;
b) Ensuring residents have a stronger voice in the system;
c) Driving industry culture change and incentivising compliance; and
d) Providing a stronger and clearer framework for national oversight of construction products.
Further detail on the above can be found in Part 1: Introduction of the Draft Bill
The Building Safety Regulator
The Draft Building Safety Bill establishes a new Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It also defines the scope of the regime with respect to the definition of risks that it is intended to manage and creates a power to set out in secondary legislation the buildings that are included in the scope of the regime.
More information on the Building Safety Regulator can be found in Part 2: The regulator and its functions
Amendments to the Building Act 1984 (England)
Part 3: Building Act 1984 of the Draft Bill deals with amendments to the Building Act 1984 as it applies to England. It sets out the provisions for the new regulatory regime during the design and construction phase for higher-risk buildings, and provides for the registration of building inspectors and building control approvers to improve competence levels in the building control sector by better regulation.
Higher Risk Buildings
Part 4: Higher-risk buildings of the Draft Bill is concerned with higher-risk buildings when they are occupied. It defines and places duties on the Accountable Person (i.e. the dutyholder in occupation) and Building Safety Managers in relation to building safety risks in their perceived higher-risk building.
Construction Products and Professional Oversight.
Part 5: Supplementary and general of the Draft Bill details supplementary information, including:
– Provisions to require a new homes ombudsman scheme to be established;
– The creation of powers to make provision about construction products
– Disciplinary orders made against architects by the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) of the Architects Registration Board to be listed alongside an architect’s entry in the Register of Architects.; and
– The removal of the ‘democratic filter’ – a process where social housing residents must refer unresolved complaints to a ‘designated person’ or wait eight weeks before they can access redress via the Housing Ombudsman.
The impact on BWF Members
This is the first draft of the Building Safety Bill and will be developed over time through scrutiny in Parliament and Committees. As this is enabling legislation there will be other regulations and changes to existing legislation, such as the Housing Act 1984 that will need to come into effect.
Key areas for BWF members as I see it:
– Construction products will be subject to closer scrutiny particularly those that are considered to be of high risk;
– Everyone in the construction industry will need to demonstrate levels of competency appropriate to their level of involvement whether they are designers, manufacturers installers, building control inspectors, risk assessors etc.; and
– Information regarding construction products will need to accurately describe the product and express its performance and this information will need to be transferred and retained digitally.
What action needs to be taken?
At this stage, BWF members do not have to take any action. The BWF team will track the developments resulting from the Bill as they occur, and be involved where we can. We will report back to members on progress and respond to consultations when appropriate.