The Building Safety Bill has now become law after receiving royal assent on 28 April 2022. A copy of the Building Safety Act 2022 (the “Act”) was published last Friday, 13 May 2022, and all 264 pages are available at Building Safety Act 2022.
The Act aims to secure the safety of people in or about buildings and to improve the standard of buildings and is intended to bring about the ‘biggest improvements to building safety in nearly 40 years’ by putting in place “new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products” and ensuring “residents have a stronger voice in the system”.
Not all of the Act however comes into force immediately. In fact many of the provisions have a transitional period, meaning they will come into force at a later date. We set out below the current key dates that developers, contractors, building owners, building managers and residents need to be aware of:
Royal Assent + 2 months (by 28 June 2022)
Limitation period – under the Defective Premises Act 1972 to be extended so that a claim can be brought within 15 years of completion. The DPA will also be extended to apply to common parts of a building, not just the dwellings.
An extended 15 year limitation period will also apply to section 38 of the Building Act 1984 (essentially, applicable where there is a breach of Building Regulations).
Liability for past defaults relating to cladding products – now has a 30 year limitation period. It applies where a person fails to comply with a cladding product requirement applicable at the time of construction; or a person who markets or supplies a cladding product makes a misleading statement in relation to it; or a person manufacturers a cladding product that is inherently defective and where the product is installed in a relevant building and is the cause, or one of the causes, of the building or dwelling becoming unfit for habitation.
Royal Assent + 6-12 months (between 28 October 2022 to 28 April 2023)
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 - changes and amendments - clarification that the scope ‘includes the external walls of the building, including cladding’ as well as ‘fire doors for domestic premises of multiple occupancy’. This places a legal requirement on building owners to inspect cladding, balconies, windows and fire doors in block of flats. All residential buildings over six storeys will be covered by its new fire safety regime, while sprinklers will be required on all buildings above 11 metres.
Architect’s Registration Board - powers will be strengthened to improve competence.
Construction Products - additional powers will be introduced for the regulation of the quality etc. of construction products.
Residential Panel – to be formally established – this is a significant provision whereby the Regulator has to establish and maintain a committee consisting of residents of higher-risk buildings. The Regulator must consult this Panel on matters relevant to residents.
Social Housing - Democratic filter removed (giving social housing residents unrestricted access to the housing ombudsman).
Royal Assent + 12-18 months (28 April 2023 -28 October 2023)
Establishment of various committees - including Building Advisory Committee and Industry Competence Committee, to be consulted by the Regulator and to advise industry.
Mandatory registration of registered building inspectors and building control approvers - note that the Bill introduces new “building control approvers”, to replace approved inspectors. The Regulator will oversee Building Control for higher-risk buildings. Various changes will also be made to the Building Control regime, for example Building Control Initial Notices will be cancelled once a building becomes a higher risk building.
The Accountable Person and their duties - This is perhaps one of the most significant provisions – this person will have legal responsibility for ensuring that the fire and structural risks in the building are understood, and that appropriate steps and actions to mitigate and manage these risks are taken. This will generally be the management company and, for certain duties, the freeholder.
Mandatory Occurrence Reporting - This will require dutyholders (including Accountable Persons) to inform the Regulator of structural and fire safety occurrences that could cause a significant risk to life.
Gateways 2 and 3 - come into force. The Building Safety Bill will introduce “Gateways” as a means of ensuring that at each stage of a building’s design and construction careful consideration is given to the regulatory requirements that the development must comply with. There are three Gateways, to be considered as “stop/go points”, which must be passed at different stages of a development (1. the planning stage; 2. prior to building works commence; and 3. the completion/final certification stage) and which will make sure that a development is complying with the applicable building regulations. Gateway 1 is already in force (from 1 August 2021).
Developer Levy - introduced at gateway 2. This will be a new levy that must be paid before construction begins on higher-risk buildings.
Golden Thread of Information - building information to be created, stored and updated throughout the building’s lifecycle.
There is also an interesting provision which prohibits “a person of a prescribed description” from carrying out development of land in England. This isn’t yet fully defined and it is not clear when it will come into force, but it could apply to developers that refuses to contribute to the £4 billion building safety fund.
A number of regulations will be introduced to provide much of the detail, as permitted by the Act. These are currently published in draft and available at Building Safety Bill: draft regulations.
It is important to remember that some of the changes and requirements will apply to all buildings (such as requirements around competence detailed in the draft The Building (Appointment of Persons, Industry Competence and Dutyholders) (England) Regulations). Other specific requirements will relate only to “higher-risk” buildings (i.e. buildings in England that are at least 18 metres in height or have at least 7 storeys and contain at least 2 residential units) such as the gateways and the golden thread of information (as detailed in the draft The Building (Higher-Risk Buildings) (England) Regulations ).
At present, the functional requirements which apply to building work remain unchanged and are as set out in the Building Regulations 2010, albeit the Government have said that these may be amended in order to strengthen them and add clarity in due course (any such changes being subject to consultation).
We will be releasing a series of articles covering all of the key provisions of the Act and the subordinate regulations in the order in which they are to enter into force.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact: