As published in PBC Today on 24 April

With the transition period for the Building Safety Act ending in April, Nathan Hooper, associate at Hollis, says it is essential to understand the duties and compliance requirements of the new building safety regulations.

The Building Safety Act 2022 marks a significant shift in how construction projects are regulated in the UK, introducing stringent requirements that extend beyond Higher-Risk Buildings (HRBs) to encompass all construction works notifiable under the Building Regulations.

Understanding the scope of the Building Safety Act 2022

The act introduces a broad spectrum of amendments aimed at enhancing the safety and standards of buildings. For HRBs, there is increased scrutiny and a more rigorous building control process, administered by the newly established Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

The BSR mandates a three-gateway process for project approval: Gateway 01 at the planning stage, Gateway 02 before construction commences, and Gateway 03 before the building’s completion.

This process ensures a thorough review and adherence to safety standards from the project’s inception to its conclusion.

Key considerations for compliance

To align with the new building safety regulations, there are several critical factors to consider:

  • Legal obligations: The introduction of statutory declarations for Building Regulation compliance necessitates a comprehensive understanding of your legal responsibilities throughout the construction process.
  • Project durations and financial implications: The extended pre-construction and construction phases may impact project appraisals, with potential increases in interest on debt and alterations to the Internal Rate of Return (IRR).
  • Risk allocation: It’s essential to determine how risks associated with compliance and extended durations will be contractually allocated through the building contract.
  • Procurement and support: The selection of procurement routes for HRB projects and the engagement of building control consultants are vital for navigating the enhanced requirements.

Ensuring compliance is complex and needs a meticulous approach. We would suggest enlisting the support of project managers, surveyors and fire safety experts to guide you through these complexities and the new duties imposed by the regulations.

The risk of getting it wrong is high. The experts you instruct should be able to:

  • Advise you on fulfilling your defined duties under the new regulations, including appointing competent principal designers and principal contractors.
  • Conduct competency checks on appointed duty holders.
  • Assist you with putting the measures into place to comfortably make the statutory declarations at key project stages to affirm compliance.

Your responsibilities under the new regime

The new regulations stipulate that clients cannot delegate responsibility of their statutory duties. If your consultants get it wrong, it is still your liability.

These responsibilities include ensuring compliance with Building Safety Regulations, appointing designated duty holders and making necessary declarations at the appointment, commencement and completion stages.

It is therefore imperative that you understand these duties to avoid legal pitfalls.

Additional provisions for HRBs

HRBs face additional requirements, including specific measures for building control, mandatory gateway processes and the submission of detailed documentation to demonstrate compliance.

These measures necessitate a thorough preparation and submission process, underscoring the need for expert guidance.

The amendments introduced by the Building Safety Act 2022 represent a paradigm shift in building safety and regulation.

It’s essential for all parties involved in construction projects to familiarise themselves with these changes and take proactive steps towards compliance.

Find a team you trust to provide the expertise and support needed to navigate this new regulatory landscape, ensuring your projects not only meet but exceed the new safety standards.