The Building Safety Bill has recently been approved by the government to ensure the safety of high rise buildings in the UK.
The bill was introduced on July 5th 2021 to ensure buildings meet safety requirements from the design process straight through to construction and completion. There are three specific “gateways” that buildings have to pass through in order for the project to be approved – the planning stage, the design stage and the construction phase.
The new measures have been drawn from Dame Judith Hackitt’s “Building a Safer Future” report in the hopes that buildings will be constructed with safety at the core of the process moving forward.
The report outlines the need for systemic change and the need for greater safety measures to be taken, meaning that increased documentation will be required as well as increased oversight of the building process.
It also highlights the need for a change in regulations particularly following the Grenfell fire in 2017. The minister of building safety, Stephan Greenhalgh, has stated that “this is not a time for complacency.”
Building safety risks, including fire safety risks, in new and existing high-rise buildings of 18 metres and above will be covered under this new act.
How will developers be affected?
Developers will be affected by the new building safety bill as contractors and builders will need to abide by the new framework for design and construction in order to ensure a higher quality of homes being built.
Furthermore, as the new legislation now allows homeowners to claim for sub-standard construction for up to 15 years, these measures will also apply to buildings that were constructed 15 years prior to this bill coming into place.
Claims that were no longer valid before the bill could resurface as an additional 9 years have been added to the time period in which these claims could be brought to action. This could result in an overwhelming influx of claims against developers.
How will building owners be affected?
Building owners will be required to complete more management and oversight duties to ensure the safety of the entire process. Safety must be incorporated in every part of the building or remodelling process, including the early stages and planning.
With regards to building owners in the build to rent sector, this could complicate the process further as regulations and rules will be strengthened, leading to potentially higher costs and longer project times.
Building owners are also likely to review relationships with their developers and monetary claims that are still outstanding.
How will social housing managers be affected?
Social housing managers will also be affected by this bill as many buildings will either be refurbished to ensure safety or new social housing developments will be built with fire safety at the core of the design and construction process.
A vital part of ensuring fire safety in social housing is the removal of unsafe cladding. Social housing managers will need to consider their residents and the disruption that the refurbishment or rebuilding might cause for them.
How will residents be affected?
Residents and homeowners will now have a say in the management decisions of their building. They will also be able to raise concerns with the building managers or Building Safety Regulators.
However, the construction that may be done to buildings in order to get them up to safety standards could have a disruptive impact on residents, especially if their building has to be partially remodelled or rebuilt to meet building safety standards.
The Building Safety Bill provides hope for the future of safer places to live and is the beginning of a major systematic change for all buildings being constructed or refurbished across the UK.
This article is intended as a guide only. For further information, please refer to the government’s website.