The Building Safety Act (BSA) received Royal Assent on the 28th of April 2022 and is being implemented in stages.

The BSA requires more stringent safety measures and will change the way buildings are constructed and maintained for generations to come.

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The BSA applies to building owners and the built environment industry, including those who commission building work and participate in the design and construction process, such as clients, designers and contractors.

The focus of the BSA is on high-risk buildings, which are defined as high-rise residential buildings (including student accommodation), hospitals and care homes that are at least 18 metres or seven storeys high.

However, certain provisions relating to the remediation of relevant defects focus on self-contained buildings in England that contain at least two dwellings and are at least 11 metres high or have at least five storeys.

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The Accountable Person

All occupied higher-risk buildings will be required to have at least one clearly identifiable Accountable Person.

An Accountable Person(s) is responsible for ensuring fire and structural safety is properly managed for the whole building.

They will need to prepare, maintain and review a resident engagement strategy that allows for relevant persons to contribute to the making of building safety decisions, for which residents, owners and any prescribed person are to be issued a copy of.

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Golden Thread

The 'Golden Thread' is information that allows someone to understand and keep a building safe. It also describes how the information is managed, which is to be in a digital format to ensure it remains accurate, up-to-date, easily understandable and can be accessed by relevant persons when needed.

The Accountable Person will be responsible for coordinating, maintaining, and providing access to the golden thread of information.

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Defective Premises

The BSA means developers, contractors, and design consultants are at a greater likelihood of claims for fire safety-related problems.

The BSA does this by amending the Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA). The DPA imposes a duty to carry out work to a dwelling in a workmanlike or professional manner with proper materials so that the dwelling is "fit for habitation".

The BSA extends the period in which a claimant can commence a claim under the DPA.

Previously, a claimant only had six years from the completion of the work to bring a claim that a dwelling was not fit for habitation.

This period is now extended to a maximum of 30 years for work completed as of the 28th of June 2022.

For works completed on or after the 28th of June 2022, the time period for bringing a claim is now 15 years.

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There are three "Gateway" points for new higher risk buildings which must be complied with before the development proceeds:

  • Gateway 1 – Planning. This came into effect on the 1st of August 2021 and required those seeking planning permission for a higher-risk building to submit a fire statement for approval as part of the planning process.
  • Gateway 2 – Pre-construction. At this stage, applicants will have to demonstrate how the proposals comply with building regulations. This is a "stop/go" point, and if a developer is unable to demonstrate compliance with the above, it will not be able to proceed with construction.
  • Gateway 3 – Post-construction, pre-occupation. A completion certificate will be required prior to registration and occupation. A building cannot be occupied until the Gateway 3 process has been completed satisfactorily.

Gateway 1 is already in place. Gateway 2 and Gateway 3 are still in consultation. 

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Duty Holders

The BSA introduces "duty holders" and will place building safety duties on those who procure, plan, manage and undertake building work, including clients, principal designers, designers, principal contractors and contractors, i.e. the same duty holders identified by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 for health and safety duties.

Again, the outcome of this consultation is awaited.

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