The Building Safety Act: 9 key building safety changes from 1 October 2023

From 1 October 2023, the UK is set to witness a transformative change in the construction industry. On this date, a series of new responsibilities and systems under the Building Safety Act come into force. The Building Safety Act is a piece of landmark legislation, aiming to revolutionise the way buildings are designed, constructed, and managed, with a primary focus on enhancing safety and accountability across the sector.

What is the Building Safety Act?

The Building Safety Act 2022 represents a monumental shift in the regulatory framework governing the UK’s construction industry. Its core objective is to reshape the industry’s culture and practices – primarily following an independent review of the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy – to make sure building safety is a paramount concern on all projects.

So, what changes from 1 October 2023?

1.        Dutyholder responsibilities

The Act introduces new dutyholder roles, impacting all stakeholders involved in a construction project. This includes the client, the principal contractor and the principal designer.

There is also a list of general duties for all contractors and designers that must be met.

Read our latest whitepaper for details all of these dutyholder responsibilities. 

In addition to these specific dutyholder requirements, there are duties for everyone throughout the supply chain that must be complied with.

Duties for all

    • Planned, managed, monitored – Building work must be planned, managed and monitored to comply with the building regulations
    • Designed appropriately – If a building is constructed in accordance with a design, it should meet all relevant regulation requirements
    • Communicate and cooperate – Everyone has a responsibility to share information and support other dutyholders in achieving compliance

2.        New building control systems

Under the new building control system regulations, the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) – which is the Health & Safety Executive – will become the building control body for new higher-risk buildings.

The BSR will oversee safety and standards, encourage industry competence, and lead the implementation of the new regulatory framework for high-rise buildings. High-rise buildings are those classed as being at least seven storeys tall, and over 18 metres in height. They must also contain at least two residential units, including hospitals, care homes and student accommodation.

Safety checkpoints gateways 2 and 3 will also come into effect. Gateway 2 requires applicants to submit a building control approval application to BSR before starting construction. Gateway 3 involves the BSR assessing whether work has been completed in line with the building regulations before occupation – the golden thread (see below) will be crucial for this. If successful, a Completion Certificate will be issued.

Finally, registration for building control approvers and inspectors will also be required. BSR will establish registers for building inspectors and building control approvers, with defined registration criteria – including a code of conduct – for registered building inspectors and professional conduct rules for building control approvers.

3.       Transitional arrangements for higher-risk buildings

For higher-risk building projects to continue under the current framework, an initial notice or full plans must have been submitted and not rejected before 1 October 2023. Additionally, the project must be “sufficiently progressed” by April 6 next year. Projects meeting this criteria will not be subject to Gateways 2 and 3.

4.       The golden thread of information

For higher-risk building projects to continue under the current framework, an initial notice or full plans must have been submitted and not rejected before 1 October 2023. Additionally, the project must be “sufficiently progressed” by April 6 next year. Projects meeting this criteria will not be subject to Gateways 2 and 3.

Your building information must be…

    • Kept digitally
    • Kept securely
    • A building’s single source of truth
    • Available to people who need the information to do a job
    • Available when the person needs the information
    • Presented in a way that people can use

5.        Safety case for higher-risk buildings

A safety case report summarising major fire and structural hazards and risk management measures is now mandatory for each higher-risk building. Principal accountable persons must have identified and assessed safety risks, determined how safety incidents can be prevented and measures to mitigate their severity.

6.       Mandatory Occurrence Reporting

Organisations must establish a Mandatory Occurrence Reporting system, detailing communication with other accountable persons, arrangements for reporting to BSR, and summaries of incident reports.

7.       Registration for new high-rise residential buildings

High-rise residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height or at least seven storeys tall, with two or more residential units, must have been registered with BSR by 1 October 2023. The principal accountable person or their authorised representative must complete the registration process.

8.        Amendments to fire safety regulations

Phase 3 of the Building Safety Act introduces amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. These changes enhance cooperation and coordination among responsible persons, improve the recording and sharing of fire safety information, simplify enforcement against non-compliance and ensure residents have access to comprehensive fire safety information.

9.       The Building Safety Levy

The Building Safety Levy aims to generate £3 billion over a decade to prevent the public and leaseholders from bearing the cost of safety deficiencies like unsafe cladding. Developers are responsible for paying the levy – which has been through a consultation period – as part of the building control process.

Pivotal moment for the construction industry

The Building Safety Act represents a pivotal moment for the construction industry. It places a huge weight on building safety, accountability and transparency. For construction contractors and subcontractors, adapting to these changes is essential. Understanding the Act’s requirements, cooperating with other dutyholders and embracing a culture of safety and compliance will be crucial in navigating this new era of construction regulation.

These are just some of the changes coming into force from 1 October 2023. For more information, a deep dive into the recently unveiled secondary legislation and more about what it means for you, download our new whitepaper.

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