The review of Building Regulations after the Grenfell fire is out. Dame Judith Hackitt was interviewed on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. She said a lot of things many in the industry are already aware of:

  • On the Building regulations: “This is a broken system and it needs to be fixed
  • It’s not just about cladding and the Grenfell fire: “Cladding is just one issue – there are many other features and shortcuts that could result in disasters in the future…
  • A ban on dangerous materials won’t work: On its own it is not enough – we know that whether it’s cladding or any other feature of the building – there are people out there taking short cuts [with building regulations], cutting costs and not taking responsibility for building buildings that are safe for people to live in. Why do you think a ban will work?
  • “[We need] a regulatory system that will ensure that anyone who tries to make shortcuts…are stopped before those buildings are designed and commissioned for people to live in.”
  • The solution: To make building regulations effective “you have to go beyond simply specifying what can and can’t be used – you have to put gateways in place that hold people to account and pick them up if they do try and shortcut the system.
  • On the broken system: “There are no clear assignments of responsibility. We have to put in place a new system that holds people to account.”
  • “We need a much stronger regulatory regime that ensures that those who try to take shortcuts [with building regulations] or do not do what they are responsible for are held to account and see tougher sanctions as a result”.

It remains to be seen whether those sanctions and gateways are implemented to ensure that buildings are built which are safe for people to live in.

Will there be a wholesale culture change? It can’t come soon enough. Will the changes be limited to high rise? They appear to be needed across the system.

Positive messages, but we shall have to wait and see if change comes. If not, Dame Hackitt is clear: “there are many other features and shortcuts that could result in disasters in the future…”.

You can listen to the radio 4 interview on line (commences at 2:11:33 https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b2gspb#play)

The Hackitt report is available by clicking here.