Spec Finish

Feature Geoff Wilkinson , Managing Director, Wilkinson Construction Consultants, has been delivering a series of FIS webinars about the building regulations and common compliance challenges the sector faces in the fit-out of commercial buildings. A NEWCULTURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY 14 www.thefis.org O NE of the most recent webinars focused on the key points surrounding the Building Safety Act, because regardless of a business or individual’s role in the process we are entering a new age of responsibility and liability. The history of regulation The modern definition of Regulation, is that it seeks to make improvements by changing individual or organisational behaviour in ways that generate positive impacts in terms of solving societal and economic problems. Put another way it’s about getting people to do stuff that they wouldn’t have done otherwise for the benefit of everyone. The current culture In construction the focus has been to deliver on time and to budget while ensuring that costs are controlled to make a profit. Designing buildings to reduce risk was often an afterthought as we moved from traditional contracts to design and build, to build and then design. It was clear that even before Grenfell the culture in construction had to change to refocus on quality and safety. Dame Hackitt’s investigation into the culture that led to the Grenfell Tower disaster discovered that the whole system of regulation as it was written down and the way in which it was enacted in practice was not fit-for-purpose. A template for a change was created and this became the Building Safety Act, which passed into law earlier this year. The new Building Safety Act The Act has introduced the most significant changes to building safety regulation in a generation. It includes: • the introduction of the Building Safety Regulator and Construction Products Regulator; • a new system to subject buildings to a greater degree of scrutiny; • a duty to ensure safety requirements are met throughout the planning and construction process, along with the requirement to maintain a ‘golden thread’ of information throughout a building’s lifecycle; • competency-based accreditation for individuals and organisations; • personal and corporate liability for building inspectors, designers, contractors and building owners; and • an extension of the limitation period for claims brought under the Defective Premises Act, (see more on page 16 of this issue). The new Building Safety Regulator (BSR) Dame Hackitt told MPs that “the construction industry needs to wake up to a new culture of accountability brought in by the Building Safety Regulator.” Under the new system the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to become the overall BSR. The BSR will have four main functions: 1. overseeing the safety and standards of all buildings – setting new technical standards and how these will be evidenced; 2. helping and encouraging the built environment industry and building control professionals to improve their competence; 3. leading implementation of the new regulatory framework for high-rise buildings; and 4. regulating the product manufacturers and the product testing regime. Achieving what the BSR requires could be a daunting task, particularly for sole traders and SMEs. These include requirements for a golden thread of building information - identified, stored, and updated throughout the building’s lifecycle, new duty holder roles with clear accountability and statutory responsibilities and the mandatory reporting of prescribed fire and structural safety occurrences to the Regulator. Mandatory reporting mechanisms It is no longer enough to claim that you have complied with the minimum requirement of building regulations, you must be able to provide robust evidence to the regulator. The introduction of the new Part L in June 2022 has shown how the new regulation requires contractors to evidence this. For example there is now a requirement that each individual thermal junction on all new building Geoff Wilkinson, Managing Director at Wilkinson Construction Consultants

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