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Building Safety Act In 2023: What You Need To Know

Big changes are underway for residential buildings in the UK.

As the deadline for registering all multi-storey residential buildings under the Building Safety Act creeps up, it’s important to stay informed about how the act will affect you and your building.

But what is the Building Safety Act? And how do these changes affect buyers, suppliers, and other relevant personnel in the construction industry?

This blog post will explore the upcoming changes to the Building Safety Act and what they mean for you. Keep reading to find out more.

What is the Building Safety Act 2022?

Following the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, The Building Safety Act 2022 was introduced.

The act’s primary aim was to implement more rigorous and comprehensive safety requirements for the design, construction, management, and maintenance of high-rise residential buildings in the UK. The key actions of the 2022 Act were:

  • To establish an independent public body named the Building Safety Regulator (BSR). This establishment is responsible for overseeing the performance and safety of buildings in the UK.
  • The introduction of an “accountable person” for each high-rise building. This individual is responsible for the building’s safety throughout its lifecycle.
  • A mandatory registration system for high-rise buildings to ensure every building is accounted for and will be subject to regular inspections from relevant authorities.
  • An increased and improved focus on accountability and traceability of the building materials and products used in construction projects.
  • A strong focus on improving resident engagement and empowerment by making sure their voices are heard throughout the process.

What updates to the Building Safety Act are coming in 2023?

Despite the Building Safety Act 2022 flipping the UK construction world on its head for the better, many felt there was still more work to be done.

It was announced on 26 March 2023, that the UK Government had made The Higher-Risk Buildings (Key Building Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2023.

The Higher-Risk Building (HSB) Regulations came into effect on 1 April 2023. All occupied high-rise buildings in the UK must comply with these regulations and be registered no later than 1 October 2023.

These new regulations work in tandem with updates to the Building Safety Act 2022 to further strengthen the safety of occupants. These changes include:

  • Higher-Risk Buildings Regulations: These updates come under the aforementioned HSB Regulation 2023. Higher-risk buildings must be registered on a register set up by the Building Safety Regulator, and this registration is the responsibility of the Principal Accountable Person (PAP). These regulations also include newer, more stringent safety measures, comprehensive fire safety procedures and elevated risk assessment and management systems being implemented for every relevant high-risk building.
  • Extended cover for lower-rise residential buildings: The Building Safety Act’s scope has been extended to include buildings below 18 metres in height. This change will see more UK construction projects held to tighter and more rigorous safety standards.
  • Improved leaseholder protection: Leaseholders have been issued guidance on building safety by the government in order to provide reassurance. This guidance includes the rights and responsibilities of the leaseholders.

What makes a higher-risk building?

If a building is 18 metres tall (or is 7 storeys and above) with at least 2 residential units, then the building is considered to be at higher risk.

Using these criteria from the Higher-Risk Buildings Regulations 2023, there are around 12,500 existing higher-risk buildings in the UK.

As per S.73 of the Building Safety Act 2022, the Principal Accountable Person (PAP) for a higher-risk building is either:

  • A person who holds possession of legal estate in relevant parts of the building’s structure or exterior (such as the owner), or
  • A person who holds the relevant repair obligation to relevant parts of the building’s structure or exterior despite not owning a legal estate in any part of the building.

The duties of the PAP include:

  • Registering the building for the first time.
  • Providing the Building Safety Regulator with key building information for each higher-risk building they are the PAP for.
  • Notifying the Building Safety Regulator of any changes to the Key Building Information within 28 days of learning this information.
  • Within 28 days of applying for higher-risk building registration, send any Key Building Information in electronic form.

What do these changes mean for the construction industry?

As these newer rules come into action, they will naturally have an effect on the sector at large, especially when it comes to demonstrating compliance within the construction industry.

Tighter rules and regulations surrounding compliance will affect suppliers, as this will mean extra procurement must be taken to ensure their building materials and products meet the required safety standards.

Later in this post, we will outline the best way for suppliers to demonstrate industry compliance with ease.

A supplier’s failure to meet these regulations can result in substantial fines, penalties, and even criminal charges.

Additionally, these new regulations will affect the due diligence process of both public and private sector buyers.

This due diligence process is essential in ensuring the work carried out by suppliers meets the necessary safety standards.

Building safety regulations must be met before a building can be used, bought, or sold. Therefore, buyers should look to verify compliance up front, and if a supplier cannot demonstrate business compliance, they should look for another supplier with a better track record of meeting building safety regulations.

Under the new regulations, buyers must also contact the Building Safety Regulator if they wish to do any work on high-rise residential buildings. The buyer must receive building control approval before commencing work; otherwise, they will face serious penalties.

Finally, the introduction of the PAP role has also had an impact on the sector. As the Principal Accountable Person, it is up to them to ensure that their building meets all applicable regulations and is safe for occupants to live in.

Key dates for changes in the new building safety framework

Before we explore how suppliers can demonstrate their compliance within the industry (and how buyers can find this information with ease), let’s outline the key dates surrounding these regulation changes.

April 2023:

  • PAPs can begin registering existing, occupied high-rise residential buildings.

October 2023:

  • The registration deadline for existing occupied buildings (1 October).
  • Every new building must be registered before being occupied.
  • The Building Safety Regulator is now the control authority for high-rise residential buildings.
  • As of 1st October, every developer must receive approval from the BSR before starting any work on high-rise residential buildings.
  • Registers for building control approvers and building inspectors are open.

April 2024:

  • BSR will begin to issue Building Assessment Certificates after inspecting and assessing buildings.
  • Registration requirements for building control approvers and building inspectors are now enforceable.

How to demonstrate compliance in construction

These new regulations to the Building Safety Act mean that compliance must be demonstrated at a high level and at every step of the way for construction projects in the UK.

Using the Compliance Chain platform, construction suppliers can demonstrate compliance with ease and quickly access the information needed to prove they meet industry building safety standards.

The intuitive platform is specifically designed for the construction sector and provides a single hub for all compliance needs.

The Compliance Chain platform also makes it easier for buyers to find the information they need when looking for suppliers. All information is available in an easily searchable format, and buyers can quickly compare suppliers side-by-side to find the most suitably qualified.

By implementing a streamlined compliance platform such as Compliance Chain, suppliers can ensure they are always meeting the latest standards of the Building Safety Act and beyond.

Meanwhile, buyers have confidence that their projects meet all building safety regulations and are of the highest quality.

Discover more by signing up for Compliance Chain today, or contact a member of our team.

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