Building Safety: Landlords must act fast to meet deadlines for high-rise rise buildings, Steven Rodd, Partner and Workman’s Head of Fire Safety Group, writes in CoStar News.
Deadlines are fast approaching to meet new Building Safety Act Regulations for high-rise residential buildings.
Introduced following a wholescale review of the fire and the safety of buildings regime undertaken by Dame Judith Hackitt after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Building Safety Act 2022 tackles many of the wide-ranging issues across the built environment, from build through to occupation and building management, in particular for high-rise residential buildings.
The Act is intended to improve both safety for buildings and ongoing resident communication. It introduces new legal responsibilities for the registration, document submission and ongoing resident engagement of these residential buildings, as set out by the Building Safety Regulator.
The Regulations apply to all new or existing occupied buildings in England over 18 metres high or seven storeys or more, which contain at least two residential units. A new regulatory system for managing building safety applies to buildings defined as “higher risk.”
According to government estimates, there are 12,500 existing buildings which will require registering.
The register for such assets opened on 6 April 2023.
The key deadlines are:
By 30th September 2023, all 12,500 high-rise residential buildings need to be registered. Registering buildings in scope will be a legal requirement. Failure to comply may result in investigations and potential prosecution of owners and managers.
From 1 October 2023, developers must apply to the regulator for building control approval. This is before starting building work on any high-rise buildings.
By April 2024, a Building Safety Case Report will need to be completed. From this date the BSR will begin to call in buildings for assessment and issue Building Assessment Certificates. At this point, the requirements related to registration for building inspectors and building control approvers becomes enforceable.
Based on the provided registration information, the BSR will give priority to high-risk buildings for assessment. This will be based on height and number of dwellings. The regulator aims to assess all buildings for the first time within five years.
When assessing an asset, the Principle Accountable Person must submit the Building Safety Case Report. This report should compile a comprehensive “golden thread” of necessary information to meet and surpass the new requirements. Such information encompasses construction materials, occupancy figures, fire and structural safety systems, emergency plans, and safety integration into the building’s structure and design.
Navigating building safety compliance: steps and considerations in building safety assessment
Reports should provide comprehensive building safety information, outlining risk management strategies. Compiling the report could involve contributions from a number of expert sources and specialists.
Crucially, the Building Safety Act emphasises the need for proactive communication of safety for buildings to residents through an engagement strategy, addressing their feedback. This may already be in place. However, further time and resource may be required from the PAP to prepare and implement a more comprehensive regime.
A good starting point is a comprehensive gap analysis and forensic review of available documentation. Following that, building surveyors should consult the PAP to discuss the findings and the interim report.
The regulator will examine these documents and may send an inspector to the building to verify arrangements for managing risks. Once satisfied, the regulator will issue a Building Assessment Certificate for the building. In the future, treat the Building Safety Case Report as a dynamic document, regularly updating it.
So, with 30th September now only a few weeks away, it’s time to get on the case.