Changes to building safety aren't just about cladding. They're about creating a thread of responsibility for safety throughout a building's life. However, the anticipated scale of building safety reform has widened over the last few years. Initial focus was on residential buildings 18m+, but the spotlight has widened to shorter buildings. And media coverage of Grenfell and its Inquiry has increased public awareness and scrutiny of building safety and social responsibility in construction.
In June 2017, a fire broke out at Grenfell Tower, London. It was 24-storeys high. 72 died. It’s become a catalyst for building safety changes.
Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1
Examined the fire’s cause and development Phase 1 Report (October 2019):
• said the fire spread quickly because of the building’s ACM cladding
• made recommendations.
Grenfell Inquiry Phase 2
• Currently underway
• Examines the circumstances and causes of the disaster, including how Grenfell Tower was in the condition it was in
• Individuals and companies are generally protected from criminal prosecution in giving oral evidence
• Hopefully, completed this year
Grenfell has affected insurance; professional indemnity cover is harder and more expensive to get, with more conditions attached to policies.
Materials on a building’s exterior
Aluminium composite material
Not aluminium composite material
Property for living in
Where something is remedied, repaired or fixed
Business-controlled part of the economy
Government-controlled part of the economy
A leading figure in the post-Grenfell landscape
• Led the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Hackitt review (2018), which made 50+ recommendations and led to a ban on ACM cladding on residential buildings above 18m
c.£200m to remediate unsafe ACM cladding on private sector residential buildings 18m or higher (closed December 2019).
£1bn to remediate unsafe non-ACM cladding on private and public sector residential buildings 18m or higher (closes June 2021).
Bans combustible materials in external walls (e.g. unsafe ACM cladding) in residential buildings 18m or higher.
Makes building owners and managers responsible for assessing risks of external walls and fire doors.
Proposes a new regime including a new Building Safety Regulator, new system of “dutyholders”, registration of building inspectors and building control approvers, etc. Anticipated 2021.
To be within the Health & Safety Executive, to raise building safety standards. Detail awaited.
New dutyholders system
(A Reformed Building Safety Regulatory System) Dutyholders to support development of safer buildings, share information with the Building Safety Regulator, ensure compliance with building regulations. Residents will get information about their building’s safety and be involved in safety decisions. Detail awaited.
To be within the Office for Product Safety and Standards. Detail awaited.
£30m for installing alarms in private sector buildings 18m or higher with unsafe cladding, where leaseholders pay for waking watch.
An extra £3.5bn, to replace unsafe cladding on residential buildings 18m and higher. Details awaited.
About whether the ACM cladding ban should be extended to cover residential buildings of 11m+ and non-residential buildings like hotels. It’s ended – Government response awaited.
This concluded consultation’s outcome is that sprinklers must be provided in new residential blocks of 11m or higher, and wayfinding signage must be easily readable in low light from November 2020.
Residential Property Developer Tax: consultation, as a measure “to bring an end to unsafe cladding”. BSI drafting a new code of practice for building safety professionals to assess external walls and cladding systems, including consultation.
Other awaited developments
Independent review into system of testing the safety of construction products to reform and strengthen building safety regulation.