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There is no doubt that 2023 was a groundbreaking year for building safety, primarily led by the introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) and higher-risk buildings (HRBs) regime. The new Building Safety Regulator (BSR) came into effect and an estimated 12,500 HRBs needed to be registered by the 1st October 2023, which is no small task.
But for all of the change and positive progress towards better building safety within our industries last year, it is only the start of the building safety journey.
We received a timely reminder of the potential building safety journey ahead at a recent CIOB lecture by Paul Morrell titled ‘How much longer? Why is change so difficult (and yet so necessary) in construction?’. Currently completing a review of current systems for testing and regulating construction products on behalf of the housing secretary, he drew parallels between the introduction of the BIM mandate in construction and the current changes to the building safety regime, suggesting that it could be up to a 10-year journey before it is fully established and operating as ‘business as usual’.
Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious one is that the industry needs to get to grips with the building safety act requirements which were introduced on the 1st October 2023, particularly in relation to the HRB requirements. The BSR suggested at a recent seminar that they had received very few applications through the new HRB gateway 2 approval process and that they were mainly refurbishment works to existing HRBs and not applications for new HRBs. This could be partly attributed to the current market conditions with developers grappling with inflation, but it also probably suggests that the industry is still getting their heads around what is required to comply with Gateway 2. The transitional period for HRBs will also come to a close on 6th April 2024.
One of the hot topics within building safety which appeared to come to the fore towards the end of the year was the new building regulations principal designer role. With enhanced responsibilities for non-HRBs and a building regulations principal designer role introduced for HRBs, before embarking on any construction works a client needs to make sure they have the relevant competent people in place to complete these new responsibilities. This perhaps the most pressing task for clients as 2024 commences. See our recent article on the new principal designer roles for more information.
Finally, there is the second staircase requirements bubbling in the background in new residential buildings over 18m, with Michael Gove giving an update to parliament in October 2023 advising that there will be a 30-month transition period to take on board the new regulations. He also advised that this transitional period will only commence once the government publishes the changes to Approved Document B which could be in 2024, however the timescale for this is yet to be confirmed by the government.
In London however, we are already seeing councils requesting second staircases within residential buildings above 18m. We are likely to see how developers proceed with the second staircase dilemma in 2024 but the clarity from the government on the transitional period could see developers move ahead with previously shelved schemes, which is surely what the government will be hoping for, with an election looming.
In summary, whilst the above highlights some of the big building safety points to look out for in 2024, its likely to be another big year for the industry and building safety, with it likely that there are going to be plenty of other developments ahead.
Get in touch with us at here at Building Safety Act Consult if you need any support or guidance to tackle the next stages in the industry’s journey to safer buildings.