An overview of The Building Safety Act

An overview of The Building Safety Act

Many of the provisions of the The Building Safety Act came into force last month and it’s not just about highrisk buildings, Polypipe Building Products provides an overview.

The Building Safety Act 2022 has completely transformed UK building safety regulations and set out a clear pathway on how residential buildings should be safely constructed and maintained.

Following its development in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, some elements of the 2022 legislation are already in effect. However, the majority of updates to the Building Safety Act came into force on 1st October 2023. This set of updates will impose greater responsibilities on housebuilders, developers and contractors, as well as building owners and operators.

Most notably, the implementation of a golden thread of information in construction is on the horizon. This new concept has been designed to ensure that safety is considered at every stage of the building’s lifecycle and will require all those working to build or maintain a property to adhere to new regulations and processes.

As the deadline for compliance approaches, contractors should familiarise themselves with the new regulations and what the golden data thread means for them.

The Golden Thread

The government has introduced the concept of a golden thread of information following recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt as part of the Building Safety Review. It will require contractors to keep a record of key information in the form of a single, transparent source that runs through the entire process, with the intention of improving the safety of residential buildings. Now part of the regulations, the Government defines this as ‘both the information that allows you to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future.

The golden thread is being introduced as a mandatory aspect of the Building Safety Act and all those responsible for building design, construction, and maintenance, will be expected to implement systems that ensure compliance. Therefore it will affect everyone in the supply chain, whether it’s providing data, ensuring the provision of data, or referring back to the data in the instance of retrofitting a property later down the line. 

As such, it’s important that the data thread is readily available and kept up-to-date throughout the building’s life. The golden thread of information must be provided and stored digitally to ensure it can be easily accessed and updated later on in the building’s life.

Responsibility and compliance

The Building Safety Act grants further enforcement powers to the newly appointed Building Safety Regulator including Regulation 38, which can hold not only organisations to account, but individuals too In fact, any person responsible can be held liable retrospectively for up to 30 years since a build, and 15 years prospectively. 

The Building Safety Act puts a duty on the people responsible for buildings to put in place and maintain a golden thread that is accurate, accessible and up-to-date. During the build phase, these individuals are known as ‘duty holders’ and can be personally prosecuted if they fail to comply with building regulations.

Following the completion of a building, the duty holders are responsible for passing such information to the accountable person or persons. The accountable person for a building can be an individual, partnership or company and is likely to be either the owner or a facilities manager. This person will now hold liability for noncompliance with the regulations. Therefore, they will also be liable for any work carried out on the property that does not adhere to the regulations, and any work carried out for clients that does not meet regulation may make them susceptible to prosecution.

As well as legal repercussions, failure to comply with the new regulations may also result in timely and costly refits and repairs for contractors, so using the correct products for the job and ensuring this is documented correctly is in everyone’s best interests.

Looking to the future

Ensuring widespread adoption of such monumental changes will be challenging, however, this should be viewed as an opportunity for the construction industry to come together and change for the better. The best way to ensure building safety, and therefore compliance, is to collaborate with the full supply chain – ensuring adequate data, scrutinising specifications, and highlighting any elements of a specification that could be problematic in future. By doing so, we can ensure our products and buildings are safe.

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