What is the Building Safety Act?

Building Safety Act 2022 Summary

The Building Safety Act (BSA) makes substantive reforms to how higher-risk residential buildings are designed, constructed, and managed in England.

The Act was introduced to Parliament in 2021 because of recommendations made following the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017. An independent review of England’s fire safety and building regulations by Dame Judith Hackitt revealed gaps in how the safety of high-rise residential buildings was regulated. The BSA was passed into law on 28 April 2022.

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Does the Building Safety Act apply to all buildings?

While headlines often focus on high-rise buildings, the BSA's reach extends far wider. The BSA applies to most buildings in the UK.

Here's the breakdown:

  • The Act covers ALL buildings requiring building control approval. This includes residential, commercial, industrial, and even public buildings.
  • However, the level of regulation varies depending on the building's type and risk profile.

Higher-risk buildings (HRBs) face stricter scrutiny. For HRBs, the BSA introduces:

  • New resident engagement duties. ️
  • Mandatory fire safety information sharing.
  • A Golden Thread of building information for future reference. ️

Enhanced competency requirements apply to everyone involved in building work. This means everyone must be qualified and competent to ensure building safety.

 

Glossary of Building Safety Act 2022 terms

The Building Safety Act contains many key terms which you’ll need to get your head around as a block manager to understand what is being asked of you.

 

Accountable Person (AP)

You see this role mentioned over and over in part 4 of the Building Safety Act and associated guidance. The Accountable Person is the person or organisation that owns or has responsibility over the building.

This person or organisation must take all reasonable steps to:

  • Prevent a building safety risk from happening. A building safety risk is defined as the “spread of fire and/or structural failure”.
  • Reduce the seriousness of an incident if one happens.

 

ACM (Aluminium Composite Material)

ACM is a type of cladding used on buildings. A variant of ACM containing combustible materials was thought to contribute to the rapid spread of the Grenfell fire. It has been banned from being used in the construction of new buildings, with building developers and landlords tasked with removing this type of cladding from existing buildings.

Note: 'ACM' can sometimes be used to refer to 'Asbestos containing material'.

 

Building Safety Fund

This is a fund provided by the government to pay for the removal and replacement (remediation) of dangerous cladding from higher-risk buildings. A building’s responsible entity can apply for the fund. This can be the building’s:

  • freeholder
  • head leaseholder
  • right-to-manage company (RTM)
  • resident management company (RMC) or
    registered provider of social housing, such as a local authority or housing association.

 

Building Safety Case Report

The Building Safety Case collects all the information the Accountable Person uses to manage the risk of fire and the structural safety of a building. You’ll need to send a Building Safety Case Report to the Building Safety Regulator when they request it. This will be after you have registered your building with the Regulator.

This report summarises the Safety Case, giving the reader the confidence that you have identified the building’s major fire and structural risks and are doing what you can to limit them.

Once this information has been accepted, the Regulator will issue a Building Assessment Certificate. This certifies that the Accountable Person is carrying out all of the duties they have under the Building Safety Act.

 

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Building Safety Regulator (BSR)

The Building Safety Act created a Building Safety Regulator to oversee the new building safety regulatory regime. This role is fulfilled by England’s independent regulator of health and safety, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).

The Building Safety Regulator has three functions:

  • Overseeing the safety and standards of all buildings.
  • Helping and encouraging the built environment industry and building control professionals to improve their competence.
  • Leading implementation of the new regulatory framework for higher-risk buildings.

 

Cladding

Cladding is an external layer of material added to a building to improve its weather resistance, thermal insulation or appearance. Highly combustible cladding was one of the main reasons the Grenfell fire spread so easily. Two main types are under the spotlight after extensive investigations: ACM and HPL.


Emergency Plan

A part of the Building Safety Case, the emergency plan describes the strategy for your building in the event of an emergency and explains why this approach has been chosen.

 

EWS1 - External Wall System Fire Review Certificate

Commonly referred to as an ‘EWS1 form’, the EWS1 survey and certificate was introduced to help mortgage lenders calculate the value of high-rise flats with cladding. The Government, on the advice of independent experts, believes that only buildings 18 metres and above (higher-risk buildings) require this survey. It is not a legal requirement.

 

Golden Thread

The golden thread involves maintaining a digital record of essential building information throughout the building’s entire lifecycle, beginning with its design. This should grow over time as the building changes.

The golden thread encompasses both building work and maintenance. This ensures accurate documentation of any alterations or improvements to the building, empowering owners to proactively identify potential risks or hazards and implement corrective measures. 

Crucially, it ensures that those responsible for the building are aware of the location of up-to-date information for relevant parties, including maintenance personnel, workers, residents, and emergency responders.

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Landlord Certificate

A landlord’s certificate enables landlords to demonstrate whether or not they meet the contribution condition for historic remediation works and, therefore, whether qualifying leaseholders will be protected from the costs of those works.

Although it is the landlord’s responsibility to complete the certificate, managing agents are frequently asked to assist by providing the right information, including:

  • key building information, such as height
  • details on the defects in need of remediation, such as the risk they pose
  • prior works on the building.
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National Construction Products Regulator

In Grenfell and similar fires, poor-quality materials were found to contribute to the severity of the disaster. One of Dame Hackitt’s recommendations was the creation of a national regulator for construction products. This has been established as part of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). The regulator will have the power to test construction products for sale and remove any it deems to be unsafe.

 

New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS)

The Act also created an ombudsman scheme for new homes, the New Homes Ombudsman Service, and a new board, the New Homes Quality Board, which developers of new homes must register with. Members must comply with a code of practice scheme, the New Homes Quality Code (NHQC), which sets out the standards of service they should provide to purchasers of new homes in the first two years following reservation or legal completion. Homebuyers can lodge a complaint through the ombudsman about any issues the developer has been unable or unwilling to resolve.

 

PAS 9980:2022

This is a code of practice for assessing fire risk from the external wall construction and cladding of existing buildings. The code should be used by competent professionals such as fire engineers to carry out assessments. The results of these assessments may be useful to Accountable Persons and Responsible Persons.

 

Principal Accountable Person (PAP)

A Principal Accountable Person is defined when a building has multiple Accountable Persons. It is the person or entity in charge of the structure and exterior of the building. If there is only one Accountable Person, then they are the Principal Accountable Person and must follow the duties of both the Accountable Person and the Principal Accountable Person.

The Principal Accountable Person must:

  • Register existing buildings with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR); they can do this between April 2023 and October 2023.
  • Register all new buildings before occupation.
  • Prepare a Building Safety Case Report for the building.
  • Apply for a building assessment certificate when directed by the BSR.

 

Resident Engagement Strategy

Under the Building Safety Act, the Accountable Person (or Principal Accountable Person) must prepare and follow a resident engagement strategy. This describes how you will include any residents over the age of sixteen who live in your block or anyone who owns a flat in the block in building safety decisions.

The Accountable Person must also:

  • review and revise the strategy and keep a record of reviews
  • provide the latest version to each Accountable Person
  • consult residents, owners of flats, and Accountable Persons about the strategy
  • share the strategy with residents and owners of flats
  • tell residents about building safety work, including who will carry it out.

 

Responsible Person

Under the Fire Safety Order 2005, the Responsible Person either owns the building or has control over its premises. Block managers are typically appointed by the Responsible Person to act on their behalf to manage the common or non-domestic areas of a multi-residential building. The Responsible Person has a duty to carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises. 

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Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is part of the Building Safety Case. Assessing the safety risks for a building requires input from a range of technical experts with knowledge and experience of fire safety, structural safety, and safety management systems. You'll need to keep records of:

  • How the building was assessed for risk
  • Who assessed for risk and why they were competent to do so
  • Assessment findings
  • Actions and recommendations that came out of this
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