Here’s what you need to know about the Building Safety Act Secondary Legislation
It has been little over a week since the Building Safety Act was fully implemented in England – and, with it, a slew of changes to the rules for higher-risk buildings, writes Max Meadows of Project Four Safety Solutions.
While there is a lot of information to take on board, the new regulations are more of an improvement on existing construction standards, rather than a whole new set of rules. We have said from the early days that the BSA is CDM regulations on steroids, and this holds true. The legislation has a focus on behaviour change and demonstrating compliance, two things the built environment needs to embrace from the top down.
Outlined in The Building etc. (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2023, there are 17 new pieces of legislation surrounding duty holders and competency requirements for all buildings and a clear set of robust formal review points for higher-risk buildings – those that have at least two residential units in them and are at least seven storeys tall. This also includes hospitals and care homes during the construction and design phases.
The changes impact multiple people in the project team, from the developer and client to the designer and contractor.
Because of this, Project Four has been working closely with all organisations within project teams to provide a straightforward, no-nonsense approach to BSA compliance.
That includes highlighting the fact that the legislation also introduces the roles and responsibilities of the principal designer and principal contractor, separate from existing construction design and management duties.
These responsibilities are focused on coordinating and demonstrating building regulations compliance – a totally new approach and the PD and PC must ensure they can demonstrate competence to take on these new roles. Our team at P4 have monitored the PD role closely and ensured our team can clearly demonstrate the appropriate skills, knowledge, experience, and behaviour to allow us to take on the new ‘PD under BSA’ role.
For those managing higher-risk buildings or involved in building them, there will be a requirement for clear and accurate data – collated via a single live electronic record which forms “The Golden Thread”. They will be charged with providing evidence that any installation at the property meets fire and structural safety regulations during three gateway times: planning and design, construction, and completion.
This is a new approach and we have been keen to get the message out to clients that they are no longer buying the bricks and mortar – clear and accurate building information is just as valuable!
The new legislation pushes projects to carry out more design work upfront prior to construction starting. For higher-risk buildings, building safety regulations will fix projects to a design agreed at the Gateway 2 point prior to starting on site.
If major design changes are made after this stage, you will be required to request sign-off from the Building Safety Regulator, which carries a six-week, hard-stop review period. Mandatory robust change control processes are key to a successful construction project – the days of designing on the fly are behind us.
These changes align with a longstanding call for industry transformation, emphasizing compliance with the law rather than guidance. While some in the construction sector may struggle to meet the requirements for compliance, industry bodies are collaborating to offer guidance and support.
Project Four is one of those groups. We have been hosting open briefing sessions virtually and in-person throughout the past few years on the changes and will continue to do so.
In our own work, we made a point to implement new compliance actions on projects well in advance of secondary legislation being issued and have run internally reviewed “mock gateways” for projects.
We are also publishing monthly blogs and working with partners on pilot projects. Information is power and so we aim to collaborate with our clients and industry partners to stay ahead of the game.