Presidential update on Building Safety Act and Secondary Legislation

Update from Eddie Weir PCIAT on the Building Safety Act and CIAT's Principal Designer Register.

The built environment industry in the UK is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. Findings from inquiries into the tragic events at Grenfell Tower and structural failures in Scottish schools laid bare systemic failings in safety, quality management, and regulatory compliance. Governments have responded by introducing new measures to improve accountability, with the competence of individuals and organisations sitting at the heart of these regulatory interventions.

These measures should come as no surprise. The design, construction, management and operation of buildings and the wider built environment requires a wide range of competent duty holders with the right skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours to make the right decisions when executing their work. While systematic approaches to improve safety are important, built environment activities are heavily reliant on people and organisations as the primary custodians of building safety.

In order to restore confidence in the built environment industry, residents, regulators and clients need to know that people and systems are operating consistently to the required standards and that behaviours aligned with achieving the right outcomes. As an industry which employs over 2.5 million people and is prone to fragmentation and siloed behaviours, the need to implement consensus and consistency in measuring must be clear.

To date, the British Standards Institute (BSI) has overseen the development of a number of critical standards relating to building safety and the new duty holder regime in England which set the competence standards for Principal Designers, Principal Contractors and Building Safety Management:

  • BSI Flex 8670: v3.0 2021-04 Built environment – Core criteria for building safety in competence frameworks – Code of Practice
  • PAS 8671:2022 Built environment – Framework for competence of individual Principal Designers – Specification
  • PAS 8672:2022 Built environment – Competence requirements for the management of safety in residential buildings – Specification

Additional standards are being developed relating to Fire Risk Assessment, Organisational Management of Competence and Construction Products Competence. Further proposals are expected as industry mobilises to implement new competence management standards and systems in response to the UK Government's reform proposals which progressively take legal effect through 2023 into 2024.

Under its Royal Charter, CIAT is:
(a) to promote, for the benefit of society, the science and practice of architectural technology;
(b) to facilitate the development and integration of technology into architecture and the wider construction industry to continually improve standards of service for the benefit of industry and of society;
(c) to uphold and advance the standards of education, competence, practice and conduct of members of the Institute thereby promoting the interests, standing and recognition of Chartered Members within the industry and the wider society. 

Therefore, it is important to understand that CIAT, like many other professional bodies, are responding to the need to offer publicly accessible registers for members of the public, building occupants and duty holders to access information which confirms the competence of professionals in line with the tenets of the Royal Charter. This is reflected in Flex 8670 in order to facilitate the development of a consistent approach and use of competence frameworks across the built environment. 

As such, CIAT is taking proportional steps to ensure that Chartered Architectural Technologists who wish to practice as Principal Designers (PD) can provide the evidence that they satisfy what is outlined in PAS 8671 relating to knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours.

The Chartered Architectural Technologist qualification satisfies a significant portion of the evidence required to undertake the function of a PD but the diversity and range of the functions, roles and experience of Chartered Architectural Technologists in practice requires proof that those that wish to offer this service possesses the appropriate currency.

The process is yet to be confirmed but will be proportionate, and the Institute will operate a system that takes reasonable steps to verify that the evidence provided by Chartered Architectural Technologists satisfies PAS 8671. Details of all Chartered Architectural Technologists that have demonstrated their competence under our scheme will be listed in a publicly accessible Register as per Flex 8670.

CIAT cannot confer the competence of Chartered Architectural Technologists without assessing them to some extent. Much like employers would not offer an individual a job without reviewing their CV or interviewing the candidate to ensure that their knowledge, skills, experience, and behaviour meet the job description.

In order to demonstrate that they meet PAS 8671, Chartered Architectural Technologists have the option to be verified by other organisations that offer a competency qualification or they can choose to verify their competence by CIAT.

The Institute is also developing frequently asked questions (FAQs) which will answer more specific questions that members and affiliates may have in relation to the Building Safety Act and role of the PD.

Please do get in touch with us if you need any further clarification or have further questions.

Eddie Weir PCIAT

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Building Safety CIAT