11 Oct 2023

What is the Building Safety Act and how can COGNICA help?

What is the Building Safety Act and how does it affect Operation and Maintenance Manuals?

The Building Safety Act 2022 is the legislation brought into law following the review of building regulations carried out by Dame Judith Hackett into the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. The Act brings in critical changes which are expected to have a massive impact in the real estate industry. It aims to create safer living environments for the residents of High-Rise Buildings. The Act is designed to be implemented in stages, secondary legislation covering the Design and Construction phases came into law on 1st October 2023.

What buildings are affected by the Act?

The legislation categorises buildings into Risk levels and the main requirement Is for those that fall into the category of High-Risk Buildings (HRB). HRB’s are defined as any Building which is over 18 metres or 7 storeys tall from ground to roof and contains more than one residential unit. The legislation also covers refurbishments of existing buildings that fall into this category.

The following types of building are excluded from this definition: secure residential institutions, hotels, military barracks and living accommodation for Ministry of Defence or His Majesty’s forces or visiting forces.

Hospitals and Care Homes are only covered in Parts 1 to 3 of the act (Planning, Design and Construction Phase) and do not proceed to Part 4 (Occupation). These buildings are already covered by other assessment bodies and are therefore assessed regularly when in occupation.

The competency changes to the regime apply to all building projects not just HRBs. The Act is a change to the Building Regulations to align with CDM.

The Building Control Authority (BCA), formerly known as the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) will assess Buildings in England. HRBs should be registered at Gateway One, planning stage, and from the 1st October 2023, need to pass through two further Gateways prior to occupation.

Who is Responsible?

The Act describes the people who are responsible as the dutyholders and states roles for each of the duties that need to be covered. Dutyholders can be individuals or organisations, they can cover more than one role if they have the skills, knowledge, experience and (if an organisation) the organisational capability and competence necessary to carry out those roles.

The Client

This is the organisation or individual that the construction project is being carried for.

The Client must make the arrangements for planning, managing, and monitoring of the project. This includes the allocation of sufficient time and resource, to deliver compliance with building regulations. In the case where several firms are working on various aspects of the project, the client will need to appoint a Principal Designer to be in control of design work and a Principal Contractor to be in control of the building work.

Principal Designer (PD)

The Principal Designer is appointed by the Client on projects that involve more than one contractor. They should be either an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience, and ability to carry out the role. 

The Principal Designer must plan, manage, and monitor the design work during the design phase. They are responsible for taking all reasonable steps to ensure the design work carried out by them and anyone under their control is planned, managed, and monitored so that the design is such that, if built, it would comply with all relevant requirements of the building regulations.

Principal Contractor (PC)

The Principal Contractor is appointed by the client to coordinate the construction phase of a project where it involves more than one contractor.    

The Principal Contractor must plan, manage, and monitor the design work during the building work. They should make all efforts to ensure that other designers and contractors work complies with all relevant requirements of the building regulations.

Communication between these three parties throughout the project is paramount. It is also encouraged that communication between these parties and the BCA is continuous and not just at the Gateway points.

These parties should agree the contents of the information that is due to be submitted to support the case at each Gateway. Key to this is that information should be relevant and proportionate.

The Information Requirements needs to be considered by dutyholders:

  • Before Building work starts
  • During Construction
  • Through change management
  • When applying for a Building Completion Certificate

To date no template for the requirement has been provided, although the following should be considered when assessing what information to include:

  • What the Client needs to identify and assess potential risks relating to the spread of fire and structural failure.
  • Support any decisions made regarding the building now or in the future.
  • Complete the Safety Case Report.

What are the Gateways?

The Building Safety Act introduces a gateway regime to the design and construction of or major refurbishment of HRBs. Each building will need to go through three gateways during the design and build.

Gateway 1 – Planning Stage

In law since 1st August 2022. This involves the Client or their appointed bodies submitting a fire statement with the planning application, showing that fire and structural issues have been considered.

Gateway 2 – Design Stage

In law since 1st October 2023. This stage needs to be completed prior to works starting on site. At this stage, the BSA need to be satisfied that the design of the HRB meets all building regulations and that that the safety management requirements of the competed building are realistic. The BSA have a 12-week statutory period to review and determine the application, so this should be factored into the programme.

Gateway 3 – Completion Stage

In law since 1st October 2023. This stage results in the HRB obtaining a completion certificate, occupation of the building cannot happen until this has been received. At this stage, the completed building will be assessed against original design so it is essential that change control has been completed throughout the build process. The BSA have an 8-week statutory period to review and determine the application, so this should be factored into the programme.

How can COGNICA help?

COGNICA have over 25 years of experience in collating and structuring data in digital formats. Our experience has shown that some of the key information needed for the Safety Case Report is embedded in the documentation obtained during the build of the Operation and Maintenance Manual. COGNICA have been separating this key information out for several years to support Client’s requirements and getting them ready for the implementation of the Act.

COGNICA’s collation tool has several publication outputs that can be used to aid the Golden Thread process once the building is in occupation.

Contact Us now to discuss how COGNICA can support you through the requirements laid out in the Building Safety Act.