The government has finally published its long awaited consultation on amending Building Regulations. As the Government had committed to, the proposals seek to implement recommendations set out in the Hackitt report. For buildings "in scope" the proposals are broad and cover the design, construction and occupation phases with particular emphasis on the greater involvement of residents whilst a building is occupied. Whilst the proposals will affect buildings lived in by "multiple households" which are 18 metres (i.e. six storeys) or more, which is in line with the changes to Building Regulations in December 2018 banning the use of combustible cladding materials in high rise residential developments, many are likely to be disappointed that buildings where vulnerable people sleep (such as prisons, hospitals and supported/sheltered housing) are not within scope. The government, perhaps recognising this, says it is proposing to implement a system that is flexible enough for other building types to be added in in the future.
As well as significant changes during the occupation phase the consultation sets out numerous changes during the design and construction phase. These include new duty holders responsible for ensuring building regulations are complied with; a new regulator; the introduction of new "gateway points" where external sign off for a project will be required; the requirement for the much talked about "golden thread" of information and increased sanctions in the event of non-compliance. If implemented the proposals will require a step change in the way the industry works (which is, of course, what the Hackitt report recommended) including how those employed within it are trained; the way in which projects are implemented and how the materials used in them are produced and marketed.
Implementation of the recommendations will require much closer alignment between authorities and a more joined up approach across projects. This will create a steep learning curve for clients, their teams and local authorities as well as requiring more of already stretched local authorities. Whilst the proposals may not survive exactly in the form set out in the Consultation, it would not be surprising to see a new regime come into force strongly based on many of these principles.
The consultation proposes fundamental reform of building safety requirements so that residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes