By October 2023, the owners of high-risk buildings will need to register with a new public authority and be able to demonstrate a “golden thread” of information pertaining to their buildings’ safety.
Following the tragedy of the Grenfell fire and the subsequent Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt, the UK Government introduced its Building Safety Bill. The Bill received Royal Assent on April 28, 2022, with building owners being given six months to fulfil their obligations under the Act.
The scope of the Building Safety Act
The Act extends across the delivery, design, construction and operational phases of a building’s lifecycle. As well as requiring periodic building safety and fire risk reviews, the Act seeks to allay public fears by requiring building owners to pull together quality information about the building and make it easily available.
This “golden thread” of information must include all safety-related matters in the building design and construction, including those of the products used in the build, their specifications and how they are installed and deployed.
The framework of measures designed to deal with any breaches of the Act includes the extension of legal liability, fines and prison sentences of up to two years.
Accountable persons under the Building Safety Act
The Act specifies that duty holders, such as the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor, will be required to manage building safety risks, with clear lines of responsibility during the design, construction and completion of all buildings.
During the operational phase of a building lifecycle, the Act requires accountable persons to be nominated and to be able to demonstrate that they have effective, proportionate measures in place to manage building safety risks in the higher-risk buildings for which they are responsible.
These accountable persons must register with the new Building Safety Regulator created under the Act before the deadline of October 2023. The Building Safety Regulator is part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Which buildings fall into scope of the Building Safety Act?
Phase One of the Act applies to higher risk buildings, i.e. those buildings which are at least 18 metres in height or have at least 7 storeys. Those responsible for the safety of such buildings in England have until October 2023 to register with the new Building Safety Regulator.
A draft Higher-Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations, which had been published with the Bill, provided that care homes and hospitals would be classed as higher-risk buildings as well as buildings containing two or more dwellings or educational accommodation.
It is estimated that more than 12,500 buildings in England fall into scope of Phase One.
A second phase of the Act is planned, under which a larger number of buildings will fall into scope. It is anticipated that the registration of these buildings will be required by 2025.
How will the Building Safety Act apply to existing higher-risk buildings?
Meeting the Act’s requirements in terms of creating a golden thread of building safety information and being able to demonstrate that they have effective, proportionate measures in place to manage safety risks will be easier for new buildings, when the information required can be collated and centrally stored throughout the design and construction phases and, from there, continually updated.
However, for existing buildings this “golden thread” will need to be retrospectively collated, organised and stored in such a way that it is easily accessible and can be continually updated.
How can existing building owners meet their obligations?
The 2021 Building Regulations Advisory committee report recommends that, “the golden thread information should be stored as structured digital information”, which will provide a “single source of truth”.
We see this as a four-stage process:
Review Understand how many buildings in your portfolio fall into scope Gather the information that currently exists on these buildings
Enable Identify the accountable person(s) Increase awareness of the new responsibilities throughout your team Set up a resident engagement strategy, establishing an incident reporting system
Create your golden thread Agree a structured, digital format for your golden thread Collate all the information about your building(s) Populate your digital system Put the processes in place to ensure your golden thread is kept up to date
Maintain the golden thread and resident engagement programme for your building(s) Apply for and maintain your building safety assessment certificate(s) Be ready to demonstrate safety and compliance Submit your safety case reports when requested Report significant fire or structural safety issues to the Building Safety Regulator
Matterport digital twin technology offers a reliable and easily updatable platform in which to gather, host and maintain your golden thread of Building Safety information. The cloud-based solution ensures that information is easily accessible and provides a much more cost-effective route to meeting your obligations under the Act than other industry- standard options.
We’ll explore more about the detail of how digital twins can help you meet your obligations in our subsequent blog.
If you can’t wait and would like information today, please get in touch with Ana Maria Dumitru she will be happy to share our insights and advice: [email protected]
Or register for our forthcoming event.