The long-awaited Building Safety Bill has finally gained Royal Assent and passed into law. Nearly five years on from the Grenfell fire, the Building Safety Act 2022 aims to improve building standards, ensure the safety of residents and protect leaseholders from fixing defects such as flammable cladding.
Recommendations from the Hackitt Inquiry underpin key aspects of the new legislation, which is due to take between a year to 18 months to implement, with a transitional period of 18-24 months for secondary legislation. The 262-page bill had substantial input from the Construction Industry Council (CIC), and its membership of professional bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE).
Key areas of the Building Safety Act 2022 include:
- Formation of a new Building Safety Regulator which will:
- Oversee the safety and standards of all buildings
- Help and encourage the built environment industry and building control professionals to improve their competence
- Lead implementation of the new regulatory framework for high-rise buildings
- Extending the amount of time homeowners can take retrospective legal action against developers/contractors regarding unsafe properties under the Defective Premises Act 1972, from 6 to 30 years
- Creation of a national regulator for construction products, with powers to remove dangerous products
- Creation of a New Homes Ombudsman scheme
- Changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure responsible persons are more clearly identified and record fire risk assessments in full
- Creation of a ‘waterfall’ system of leaseholder cost protection, so they are the last in line to be liable for cladding and non-cladding related works, and that costs of works are capped
- Three new ‘gateways’ introduced during the planning, design and construction stages of higher-risk buildings
- The requirement to create, hold and maintain the golden thread of information.
Kevin Wellman, CEO of the CIPHE said: “Since the tragedy at Grenfell, the construction industry has acknowledged the need for meaningful reform. However, Royal Assent is simply the first step on a long road, with the detail of secondary legislation still to be agreed. As ever, the CIPHE will put forward the views of its members and the wider plumbing and heating industry, via the CIC, especially in regard to key issues such as improving competence under the Building Safety Regulator.
“One area where we do share concerns, is around the extension of the limitation period of the Defective Premises Act 1972 from 6 to 30 years. This will have a disproportionate impact on SMEs, who are already battling inflation and cost of living rises, supply chain issues and may now face costly insurance hikes to cover higher liabilities. In addition, it’s highly unlikely SMEs and self-employed sub-contractors will hold project documentation going back 30 years.
“While we do have concerns over aspects of the legislation, we can’t lose sight of why this Act has been introduced. The Building Safety Act 2022 will greatly improve standards and safety for all, including some of the most vulnerable in society. The CIPHE welcomes the new legislation and the lives it will inevitably save.”