Building Safety Bill published

The Building Safety Bill, published on 5 July, has set out a clear pathway for the future on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick will outline the next stage of an extensive overhaul to building safety legislation, which gives residents more power to hold builders and developers accountable and toughening sanctions against those who threaten their safety.

New measures in the Building Safety Bill will:

  • Ensure there are clearly identified people responsible for safety during the design, build and occupation of a high-rise residential building.
  • Establish a Building Safety Regulator to hold to account those who break the rules and are not properly managing building safety risks, including taking enforcement action where needed.
  • Give residents in these buildings more routes to raise concerns about safety, and mechanisms to ensure they have a voice and are taken seriously.
  • Extend rights to compensation for substandard workmanship and unacceptable defects.

The Building Safety Regulator will oversee the new regime and will be responsible for ensuring that any building safety risks in new and existing high rise residential buildings of 18m and above are effectively managed and resolved, taking cost into account.

This will include implementing specific gateway points at design, construction and completion phases to ensure that safety is considered at each and every stage of a building’s construction, and safety risks are considered at the earliest stage of the planning process.

These changes will simplify the existing system to ensure high standards are continuously met, with a ‘golden thread’ of information created, stored and updated throughout the building’s lifecycle, establishing clear obligations on owners and enabling swift action to be taken by the regulator, wherever necessary.

The reforms will tackle bad practice head on, building on Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which highlighted a need for significant cultural and regulatory change.

Under the proposals, the government is more than doubling the amount of time, from six to 15 years, that residents have to seek compensation for substandard construction work.

The changes will also apply retrospectively, so for example, residents of a building completed in 2010 would be able to bring proceedings against the developer until 2025.

These reforms also include new measures which apply to those seeking compensation for shoddy refurbishments, which make the home unliveable.

Robert Jenrick said: “This Bill will ensure high standards of safety for people’s homes, and for high rise buildings, with a new regulator providing essential oversight at every stage of a building’s lifecycle, from design, construction, completion to occupation.

“The new building safety regime will be a proportionate one, ensuring those buildings requiring remediation are brought to an acceptable standard of safety swiftly, and reassuring the vast majority of residents and leaseholders in those buildings that their homes are safe.”

Industry reactions
Jonathan Moulam, president of the Association for Product Safety (APS), said: “The long-awaited publication of the Building Safety Bill offers the opportunity to reset building safety in England by designing safety in and appointing an expert to every team when projects are being developed.

“APS members believe everyone should have the right and expectation to work and live in buildings that are safe. Firms that have failed in their duty to guard the safety of residents and workers should play their part in putting things right. But safety cannot be an afterthought. Everyone in construction must work together, using all our skills and experience to make construction safer for everyone.”

James Talman, chief executive of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC), said: “We welcome and fully support the introduction of the Building Safety Bill. We are particularly pleased to see the emphasis placed by the government on the competency of both organisations and individuals working on high-risk buildings and are already leading the way in this area for the roofing industry with our RoofCERT programme.”

He added: “Now that the government have clearly outlined their intentions in this bill, the industry must start planning and preparing for these changes. We were one of the first specialist trade associations to sign up to the Building A Safer Future Charter, which aims to drive up standards, change culture and behaviours and raise the bar across the construction industry, and we urge roofing and cladding contractors to do the same”