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Building Safety Bill FAQs

Building Safety Bill Frequently Asked Questions

On 5th July 2021, the Building Safety Bill, first published in July 2020, was introduced to Parliament. This is a lengthy document, and will be subject to change as it works it’s way through to gaining Royal Assent expected in 2022. The following information may be subject to change.

FAQs

  • Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London in June 2017, it became clear that there was a need for government to step in and change legislation for high risk buildings (HRBs) so that a tragedy like this never occurs again. RICS has been working closely with and advising government on the changes.

  • We expect the draft Bill, having already undergone pre-legislative scrutiny, to still have quite a difficult passage through the House of Commons and the House of Lords before being passed by Parliament. Presently we do not expect Royal Assent to be achieved until Summer/Autumn 2022, with an implementation date for some measures as late as 18 months afterwards.

  • The Bill will create a clear, proportionate framework for the design, construction and management of safer buildings in England in the years to come (note the Bill will not apply to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland).

    It will strengthen the construction products regulatory regime, with new requirements to make sure more products are safe, while paving the way for a National Regulator for Construction Products to oversee and enforce the rules.

    A new developer tax, and a levy on developers, are also being introduced to ensure that the industry makes a contribution to the costs of correcting existing defects in buildings.

     

  • A higher level of competency will be required for the three regulated roles referred to in the Bill of Principal Designer, Principal Contractor and Building Safety Manager (BSM) for HRBs. In addition, a new Building Safety Regulator will have responsibility and oversight of the building control profession. This means all building control professionals (public sector and private sector), private building control approved inspector firms, building surveyors (in respect of design), building managers, quantity surveyors and project managers are all affected by the Bill.

    An Interim Industry Competence Committee has been established by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ahead of the Bill proposals for an Industry Competence Committee, and this interim committee will be ensuring that competence of all involved in the design, construction, and management of buildings is ramped up.

    RICS is currently reviewing the APC pathways and competencies, particularly for building safety and fire safety, having increased the fire safety competency in 2018. Any changes will be consulted on; however we do anticipate that for those professionals who wish to work on HRBs, there will need to be an accreditation with demonstrable third party validation as well as a public register. Training will also be developed to support our professionals through these changes.

    The new role of Building Safety Manager is an opportunity for RICS professionals and firms, and RICS will be developing training and accreditation for this.

  • Building owners will be required to manage safety risks, with clear lines of responsibility for safety during design, construction, completion and occupation of high-rise buildings. The focus of the Bill is on building structural safety and fire safety.

    It will also require a ‘golden thread of information’, with safety considered at every stage of a building’s lifetime, including during the earliest stage of the planning process (Gateway 1).

    Building owners will need to demonstrate that they have effective, proportionate measures in place to manage safety risks, and will need to register their buildings. Any incidents will also need reporting to the Building Safety Regulator.

    The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 will also be amended, to ensure tougher sanctions for non-compliance. Those who don’t meet their obligations may face criminal charges.

  • Residents in high-rise buildings will have more say in the management of their building in future. They will be able to raise building safety concerns directly to the owners and managers of buildings, who will have a duty to listen to them.

    And if residents feel concerns are being ignored, they can raise them with the Building Safety Regulator directly.

    All homeowners will also have more than twice the amount of time, from six to fifteen years, to claim compensation for sub-standard construction work as a result of amendments to the Defective Premises Act 1972, extending the time in accordance with the Limitation Act.

    This will apply retrospectively – meaning that, properties built up to 15 years prior to this change coming into effect will be able to bring a claim for compensation for defective work.

    However, the Bill will not affect the current requirements for leaseholders to contribute towards the costs of remediation for combustible cladding where government funding is not available.

  • The Draft Bill introduces several significant changes to the Defective Premises Act 1972 (Clause 125 and 126 of the draft Bill), namely applying the DPA to extension or refurbishment works to existing properties and extending the limitation periods for breaches under the DPA and the Building Act 1984, from six years currently to fifteen years.

    The extended limitation period for claims will apply both prospectively and retrospectively. The changes allow for property owners to challenge sub-standard construction work that may have become apparent after the existing six-year limitation period. This means that work that had previously been discounted as being out of time, could now be resurrected and claims be brought as a result of the retrospective effect of the changes.

    Since the Grenfell tragedy, a hardening PII market and insurer concern around the building regulations alongside exposure to fire safety, have resulted in the reduced availability of PII and significant increases in premium cost. The retrospective extension of the period of limitation will not be viewed positively by insurers, who have been concerned by changes to building regulations, and brings back into scope previously discounted risks which have not been priced into their reserves for claims or into the premiums of the risks that they are currently underwriting. At a time when insurers are assessing their construction exposure, the increased limitation period for which claims can be made may result in insurers assessing their involvement in the market.

    As a result, the proposed legislative change is likely to negatively impact the availability and cost of PII for RICS regulated firms in an already extremely challenging market. We will work with Government, insurers and other stakeholders to limit the impact of these proposals as the legislation progresses and ensure that adequate and affordable PII remains in place.