New UK Building Regulations & Changes to the Building Control Process (1st October 2023)

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The Building Safety Act 2022 marks a pivotal moment in the UK’s approach to building regulations, ushering in a comprehensive overhaul of the building control process to enhance safety and compliance. 

Following the enactment of this landmark legislation, significant updates to building regulations have been introduced, starting on October 1st, 2023. These changes aim to address critical safety concerns, improve oversight, and ensure higher standards in the construction and maintenance of buildings. 

 

Here’s a summary of the key points:

 

  1. Background  The revisions were prompted by the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, which highlighted severe inadequacies in the existing building safety regime. This led to a call for a comprehensive overhaul to ensure higher safety standards.
  1. Duty Holder Regulations  New roles, known as Dutyholders, have been defined. These roles are responsible for ensuring compliance with building regulations throughout different phases of a construction project. 

This includes Clients, Domestic Clients, Principal Designers, Designers, Principal Contractors, and Contractors, each with specific duties to enhance compliance and safety.

  1. Building Control Process Changes 
  • **Registered Building Inspectors** The title becomes legally protected, with specific qualifications required.
  • **Registered Building Control Approvers** Approved Inspectors will need to register with the Building Safety Regulator.
  • **Building Control Applications** Must include more detailed planning and notifications, with new procedures for project commencement and compliance declarations.
  1. Fire Safety Information Regulation 38 mandates that information relating to fire safety must be comprehensively documented and passed on at project completion.
  1. Higher Risk Buildings (HRBs) From October 1, 2023, the Building Safety Regulator will handle building control for HRBs, with stringent compliance and oversight mechanisms at various project stages.
  1. Enforcement and Sanctions There are updated sanctions for contraventions, including potential criminal offences leading to imprisonment and fines, and extended civil liability periods for non-compliance.
  1. Transitional Provisions For ongoing projects, certain transitional provisions apply, allowing some existing arrangements to continue under old regulations until specific future dates.
  2. Lapse of Building Control Approval From October 1, 2023, building work must have commenced within three years of the Initial Notice date, or the approval will lapse.

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General Implications For Domestic Construction Work

The UK Building Safety Act 2022 has significant implications for domestic construction work, primarily aiming to enhance safety standards and accountability throughout the building lifecycle. Here are some of the key impacts on domestic construction:

  1. Increased Responsibility for Dutyholders  The Act introduces defined roles known as Dutyholders, who are responsible for ensuring compliance with building regulations. This includes clients, designers, and contractors who are involved in domestic construction. These stakeholders are now required to manage, plan, and monitor construction work more diligently to ensure compliance with the new safety standards.
  2. Enhanced Regulatory Oversight  There is a more robust framework for oversight, with increased powers granted to the Building Safety Regulator. This includes greater scrutiny of safety measures during the design, construction, and post-construction phases, ensuring that all domestic construction adheres to higher safety standards.
  3. Stricter Compliance Requirements  The Act mandates more stringent compliance with building regulations, emphasising safety and quality over cost and speed. This may result in increased project timelines and costs but aims to significantly improve building safety.
  4. Specific Requirements for Higher Risk Buildings (HRBs)  While primarily affecting larger residential buildings (such as those with 7 or more storeys or a total height of 18m or more), the principles and stricter regulatory environment may trickle down to smaller domestic projects, influencing overall industry standards and practices.
  5. Greater Accountability and Penalties  There are clearer lines of accountability, and failure to comply with the regulations can lead to harsher penalties, including criminal charges, fines, and extended periods of liability for defects. This places a higher burden on all parties involved in domestic construction to ensure that their work is compliant.
  6. Improved Fire Safety Measures  Regulation 38 requires that fire safety information be thoroughly documented and passed on upon project completion, ensuring that future occupants and owners have access to vital safety information.
  7. Documentation and Record Keeping  Enhanced documentation and reporting requirements ensure that every phase of the building process is recorded, promoting transparency and accountability. This may require additional administrative work for those involved in domestic projects.

 

Overall, the Building Safety Act 2022 seeks to overhaul the safety culture within the construction industry, with a strong focus on protecting end users and enhancing the accountability of those involved in building design and construction. 

For domestic construction, this means adapting to a more regulated environment where safety and compliance take precedence over other considerations.

 

Special Notes:

 

1 Appointments. 

The client is responsible for appointing competent  duty holders e.g. the principal designer and principal contractor.

2 Increased Responsibility for Dutyholders

Under the Building Safety Act 2022, the roles and responsibilities of Dutyholders are clearly defined and expanded to ensure better compliance with building regulations throughout the construction process. These Dutyholders include clients, designers, principal designers, contractors, and principal contractors. 

 

Here’s how their responsibilities have been affected:

  • Clients and Domestic Clients: Clients are individuals or entities for whom a construction project is carried out. Under the new Act, clients are responsible for ensuring that proper planning, management, and monitoring practices are in place to comply with building regulations. They must take reasonable steps to appoint competent designers and contractors. For domestic projects, if the client does not expressly agree to it, the contractor or principal contractor assumes certain client duties.
  • Designers and Principal Designers: Designers are responsible for ensuring that their designs comply with building regulations. Principal Designers have additional responsibilities to plan, manage, and oversee the design process, ensuring that all other designers collaborate and that the designs, if followed during construction, will comply with the regulations.
  • Contractors and Principal Contractors: These roles involve overseeing the construction phase, ensuring that the building work complies with the designs provided and meets all regulatory requirements. They must also manage and coordinate with other contractors and the design team to ensure regulatory compliance throughout the project.

This increased responsibility ensures that all parties involved in the construction process are accountable for safety and regulatory compliance from the project’s inception through its completion.

 

3 Greater Accountability and Penalties

The Building Safety Act 2022 introduces stricter penalties and extends accountability across the lifecycle of building projects, which significantly impacts how domestic construction is approached:

 

  • Criminal and Civil Penalties: The Act makes it a criminal offence to contravene building regulations, with potential consequences including imprisonment and unlimited fines. Additionally, there’s an extension of the period during which civil claims can be made against duty holders for non-compliance with building standards, now up to 15 years post-completion.
  • Corporate Accountability: The accountability extends to corporate bodies and their directors, managers, or other similar officers. If found directly liable, these individuals can also face penalties, emphasising the need for thorough oversight and compliance at all organisational levels.
  • Extended Liability: Alongside the specific provisions of the Building Safety Act, updates to the Defective Premises Act 1972 extend liability for defects to up to 30 years for existing buildings and 15 years for new constructions, further emphasising the long-term responsibility of those involved in building projects.

 

These measures are intended to ensure a high degree of accountability and encourage all stakeholders in the building process to prioritise safety and compliance, significantly altering the landscape of domestic construction with a clear message: safety and regulatory compliance cannot be compromised.

 

Author Natalie Hewitt: BA(Hons) BArch(Hons) ARB RIBA CEO & Architect

 

How we can help:

We can act as principal designer and liaise with building control giving you peace of mind that everything is legal and your project is compliant with the Building Safety Act 2022. We can also assist with finding suitable contractors willing to become the principal contractor from a duty holder aspect.

Tel:01538 756888

Mail:enquiries@hcarchitects.co.uk 

Or use our contact Form: https://hcarchitects.co.uk/contact/

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