Pagabo Live

What You Need to Know About Building Safety Act Changes

30 January 2024

This January, we kick-started our brand-new knowledge initiative, Pagabo Live, with a discussion on the recent changes to the Building Safety Act. The session featured the insights from industry experts – Willmott Dixon’s National Product Director Graeme Whitty and Richard Glazzard, Regional Director at AtkinsRéalis. They were joined for the Q&A session by our Director of Frameworks Jonathan Oram, and presenter Tom Snee of Cartwright Communications.

Pagabo Live was launched with the aim to promote knowledge in the public sector – and with this recent legislation change causing an overhaul to the way projects are managed, there’s no better topic to dissect.

This is demonstrated by 59% of our attendees sharing at the top of the session feeling not prepared or unprepared for the changes. In this blog, we’ve summarised the key points raised within the session, which by the end left 76% of people feeling prepared or well-prepared when asked the same question.

Understanding the build up to the current Building Safety Act:

Richard Glazzard, Regional Director at AtkinsRéalis, said: “If I was to say one thing about the Building Safety Act, it would be to go back to the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 2017 and look at the recommendations that came forward following the subsequent Hackitt Report. This will give you a good grounding and understanding of which changes have been made – and why.”

Our webinar runs through this history in detail:

View webinar

What you need to know about the Building Safety Act:

It impacts all buildings – not just High Risk Buildings (HRBs)

A HRB is one of at least 18m or more than seven storeys high. This includes supported accommodation and student accommodation, with care homes and hospitals also classed as HRBs by their nature.

The changes will affect more than this specification group, applying to all building projects where more than one contractor is appointed – and HRBs where we are constructing, managing or making changes.

However, there are some more stringent controls relating to HRBs to be aware of:

  • Building Safety Regulator – run by the Health & Safety Executive – is now the only body that can be consulted during the planning and building control process.
  • For non-HRB work you can still use LABC and the approved inspector route.
  • More duties for Duty Holders – the client, the principal designer (PD) and principal contractor (PC) – the full list of duties is covered in our webinar.


Understanding “all relevant requirements”

Much of the terminology within the act is similar to the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015, with the addition of “all relevant requirements.” This refers to the legislative framework that applies to whatever is being constructed, such as relevant sections of the building regs and approved documents, British standards and CDM regulations.

The PD and PC on each project should assess the relevant requirements that apply, and ensure ongoing compliance.


New duties for clients, designers and contractors

Some of these new duties include the appointment of a Principal Contractor (PC) and Principal Designer (PD), which can be an individual or an organisation so long as the role is named and delegated.

One party can take on both roles if they hold the relevant skills and expertise. This is where the current challenge lies, with not enough people yet possessing the skills needed, or possessing correct insurance while factors like the full scope are still unclear.

Both roles are responsible for making arrangements to plan, manage and monitor design and building work, ensuring compliance with all relevant requirements. If these two roles are not appointed, then responsibility will default to the client.

While the duties of the PD and PC under CDM regulations remain, there is a difference in the skillset required under the Building Safety Act regulations. Under the new rules, a PD must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate design work so that if it were to be built, it would comply with all relevant requirements. And this party must be part of the design team and able to influence design decisions, rather than being a third party.

Graeme Whitty, National Product Manager at Willmott Dixon, said: “It’s our current view that the principal designer should be by direct appointment by the customer. This is so you can clearly separate this role from that of the principal contractor, mitigating any conflict of interest and allowing constructive challenge for the betterment of the project. This will prove invaluable, as a client, when it comes to signing the declaration at the end of the project.”

Clients now have a duty to make suitable arrangements for planning, maintaining and monitoring a project, including setting adequate time and resources aside to ensure compliance to all relevant requirements.

This includes close communication with each designer and contractor to keep them updated with all relevant building information as soon as practically possible.


A greater requirement to demonstrate competencies

Skills, knowledge and experience have always been a requirement under CDM, but now there is a new addition to consider behaviours when assessing the competency of a person assigned to a role.

Expected behaviour includes only accepting work they are fully competent to complete, and speaking out if they believe the project is in any way working in breach of relevant requirements. Industry bodies including RIBA and CABE are starting to produce information and training to support this into the future.


Gateways and handover

The introduction of Gateways is a key part of the Building Safety Act. There are now three Gateways along the process, each with different requirements – broken down in the below graphic.


Several pieces of essential information must be provided at handover via the Golden Thread. There are now deadlines set to affect how buildings are built and managed, and the more pre-planning effort put in throughout a project, the more chance of a speedy and successful handover.

HRBs cannot legally be occupied until a completion certification is gained. It is also not advisable to occupy non-HRBs due to the added risk to the client until all declarations have been signed.


The Golden Thread

This is information covering the development of the building and must live in a secure electronic format, ready to be submitted as part of the handover process. There is much discussion in the sector over what the exact requirements of the Golden Thread are – but at this stage it’s important to consider anything that can prove a project has been built to previously-agreed plans and in compliance with regulations.

It must be capable of being transferred electronically to other stakeholders who don’t already hold the data, without being lost or corrupted. All Golden Thread information must be accurate, up-to-date and logged in an easily understandable format. To help with this, any keys needed to understand data must be provided, and consistent terminology must be used throughout. If any changes are made, they must be recorded with the name and date of the change.

Should a PD or PC request the data, it must be available as soon as reasonably practical to enable them to comply with the required building regulations.


How Pagabo can help

As construction professionals, we all have a personal responsibility to review and understand the impact and implications of the Building Safety Act. While the legislation is in its early days and many details still under review, there are elements that can be put into practice now to facilitate legal and compliant projects in the future.

At Pagabo, we work with you to ensure that everyone – from client to contractor – understands everything they need to procure consultants and contractors accordingly through our frameworks.

For more information on our frameworks and how they can support you, click below.
Discover our frameworks

Subscribe to our mailing list, to keep up to date with Pagabo news