The Government's objective is to implement a long-lasting reform of building safety standards, following the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt's Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety in the wake of the Grenfell Fire Tragedy.
The scope of the legislation is expected to be directed principally at the 12,500¹ high-risk residential properties in England of at least least 18 metres, or six storeys tall, that contain either two or more dwellings or student accommodation².
It is estimated there are a further 77,500¹ high-rise residential properties between 11 and 18 metres (excluding student accommodation). As fires makes no distinction by height, many lobby groups argue these buildings should also be included within the scope of the new legislation.
Both groups are split fairly evenly between private and public ownership.
Even if the final decision is to limit the Bill to just the first group, it is highly unlikely the 192 district councils, 55 unitary councils and 32 London borough councils in England³ will operate a 2-tier safety programme. There are just too many pragmatic, logistical and political reasons why authorities will choose to operate a unified building safety policy across the board, and accept the added cost implications.
The implications for the construction sector are clear and onerous. The new Bill creates an obligation to register an accountable person, and a Building Safety Manager (BSM), for each property that falls with the scope of the new legislation. As these named individuals will be held accountable for all building safety failures in the properties registered under their names, they have a vested interest in ensuring only competent contractors will be engaged to work on them. Those construction firms who raise their game and work to the new higher standards will prosper. Those who don't, will lose their contracts to firms who can prove their competency through holding credible, third-party accreditations.
1. Draft Building Safety Bill
2. Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Building Safety Bill
3. Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report
4. The Building Regulations 2010
5. Approved Documents - The Approved Documents provide guidance on ways to meet the building regulations.
6. The Grenfell Inquiry
1. Building Safety Programme: Estimates of EWS1 requirements on residential buildings in England. 21 November 2020.
2. Explanatory Notes to the draft Building Safety Bill [CM 264 (2019–21) -EN], p 39
3. List of councils in England by type, 2019.
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