The Building Safety Act (BSA) 2022 received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, with the Act being published July 2022; the most recent version available is April 2023. The Act introduces new and enhanced rules to ensure the safety of high-rise residential buildings, construction products, and also intends to provide assurance to residents of high-risk building types that they are occupying a safe building – following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
The Act will impact the design, construction, and management of new and existing high-risk buildings (HRBs) primarily in England with Wales heavily affected; however, some sections will also apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland, as outlined in clause 169 of the Act.
HRBs are defined as buildings that are 18 metres tall or higher, or at least seven storeys, with two or more residential units.
The Act is expected to achieve the following:
- Create an enhanced safety framework for high-rise residential buildings, taking forward the recommendations of the Hackitt Review.
- Provide clearer accountability and stronger duties for those responsible for the safety of high-rise buildings, with clear competence requirements to maintain high standards.
- Give residents a stronger voice in the system and ensure that they fully understand how they can contribute to maintaining safety in their buildings.
- Strengthen enforcement and sanctions to deter non-compliance.
- Develop a new, stronger, and clearer framework to provide national oversight of construction products.
- Develop a new system to oversee the whole built environment, with local enforcement agencies and national regulators.
- Require that developers of new build homes belong to a New Homes Ombudsman.
Secondary legislation has now been published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). You can find this here.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been named as the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) in England. The role of the BSR will be to raise the standards for building safety and performance. It will oversee the new rules in place for high rise domestic buildings and oversee the system to regulate the safety and performance of all building types.
The new responsibilities that will come into force through the BSA will also mean that professionals will need to show their competence to work on HRBs. The two roles are the Principal Designer (PD) - not to be confused by the PD role named under the 2015 Construction Design Management (CDM) regulations - and Principal Contractor (PC).
CIAT is in the process of developing its Register to ensure the competence of Architectural Technology professionals that intend to act as the PD when working on HRBs. This will be based on the principles outlined in the Publicly Available Specification produced by British Standards Institute PAS 8671.
Definitions and main duties
Below is a list of definitions to understand the terminology and main duties associated with the Building Safety Act 2022 duty holders. These duties apply to all building work.
It may be helpful to issue these to prospective clients, as it outlines their responsibilities as well.
A dutyholder can be an organisation or an individual. A dutyholder can carry out the role of more than one dutyholder, provided they have the skills, knowledge, and experience. An organisation can also be a dutyholder if it has the organisational capability and competence necessary to carry out those roles.
This can be an organisation(s) or individual(s) for whom a construction project is carried out as part of a business.
- make suitable arrangements for planning, managing, and monitoring of a project; this includes the allocation of sufficient time and resource to deliver compliance with building regulations. In practice, this means appointing the right people, with the right competencies (the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours or organisational capability) for the work, and ensuring those they appoint have systems in place to ensure compliance with building regulations;
- appoint a Principal Designer to be in control of design work and a Principal Contractor to be in control of the building work where there are several firms working on different aspects of the project;
- provide building information to every designer and contractor on the project and have arrangements to ensure information is provided to designers and contractors to make them aware that the project includes any existing or proposed higher-risk building work;
- cooperate and share information with other relevant dutyholders.
A domestic client means a client for whom a project is being carried out which is not in the course or furtherance of a business of that client.
Domestic clients must:
- appoint a Principal Designer (PD) to be in control of design work and a Principal Contractor (PC) to be in control of the building work, if there are several firms working on different aspects of the project;
- provide building information that they have, or it would be reasonable for them to obtain, to designers and contractors working on the project;
- cooperate with anyone working on, or in relation to, the project to the extent necessary to enable them to comply with their duties or functions.
If a domestic client does not appoint either a Principal Designer (PD) or Principal Contractor (PC), then the roles are automatically allocated to the designer in control of the design phase of the project as the principal designer (PD) and the contractor in control of the construction phase of the project as the Principal Contractor (PC).
Principal Designers (PD)
A designer appointed by the client in projects involving more than one contractor. They can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience, and ability to carry out the role.
- plan, manage and monitor the design work during the design phase;
- take all reasonable steps to ensure the design work carried out by them and anyone under their control is planned, managed and monitored so that the design is such that, if built, it would comply with all relevant requirements of the building regulations;
- ensure that they, and all those working on the project, cooperate, communicate and coordinate their work with the client, the PC, and other designers and contractors;
- liaise with the PC and share information relevant to the building work;
- assist the client in providing information to others.
Principal Contractors (PC)
A contractor appointed by the client to coordinate the construction phase of a project where it involves more than one contractor.
- plan, manage and monitor the design work during the building work;
- cooperate with the client, the PD, and other designers and contractors to the extent necessary to ensure that the work complies with all relevant requirements of the building regulations;
- ensure that they, and all those working on the project, cooperate, communicate and coordinate their work with the client, the PD, and other designers and contractors;
- liaise with the PD and share information relevant to the building work;
- assist the client in providing information to others.
A digital record of a building's information required to be kept for its life cycle and is the responsibility of the dutyholder. This can be the client, PC or PD.
The information needed to satisfy regulation 31 of The Building (Higher-Risk Buildings Procedure) (England) Regulations 2023 includes: designs for the building work; fire statement; and evidence of building regulations compliance.
Golden thread information must be:
- Portable and Interoperable
Golden thread information must be proportionate and will depend on what stage the building is at in its life. This information will relate to both the content and process.
While the building is being designed and built, information that describes the building and shows how it complies with building regulations will need to be available as part of the golden thread of information.
When the building is occupied, information that shows how it is being assessed and managed for building safety risks will need to be kept as part of the golden thread of information. It will be the Accountable Person's (AP) responsibility to maintain and manage this.
The strategic plan sets out how the BSR will carry out its building safety functions in England in the first three years of operation – April 2023 to March 2026. The BSR Strategic Plan is required under Section 17 of the Building Safety Act 2022. It aims to keep a focus on the priorities to deliver the new building safety regime. It will be kept under review, especially after the publication of the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 2 report.
Key dates in Building Safety Regulator strategic plan roadmap
- Additional duties applying to Accountable Persons and and Principal Accountable Persons come into force.
- Residents' complaints system opens.
- Taking action on un-remediated higher-risk buildings.
- The BSR will have created the national register of higher-risk buildings, providing a searchable portal of higher-risk buildings in England for the first time.
- BSR starts to call in occupied higher-risk buildings for assessment of their compliance with the new duties to assess and manage building safety risks.
- Building inspector and building control approver registration becomes mandatory.
- BSR will investigate allegations of non-compliance with rules, regulations and codes relating to the building control profession.
- Planned inspections of Building Control Bodies begin.
Beyond March 2026
- Any work on remediating dangerous cladding will be completed or underway.
- BSR will have completed a cost-benefit analysis of making regular inspections of condition of electrical installations in relevant buildings and consider what further provision or guidance may be needed regarding stairs and ramps in relevant buildings; emergency egress of disabled persons from relevant buildings; and automatic water fire supression systems in relevant buildings.