Building Safety Act News | August 22, 2023


For the Building Control position from I October 2023 in the light of the Regulations published in August 2023, please see our Building Safety Update Sept 2023.

October 1 2023 is scheduled to be an important date in the implementation of the Building Safety Act (BSA) but where are the outstanding regulations- that is the secondary legislation which essentially tells building owners and the construction industry precisely how it is required to comply with important and mandatory parts of the BSA after that date and guidance? 

On October 1, according to the Government’s timetable at the beginning of this year, the following (with links to more information where available) are due to come into effect/ force:

In addition 30 September 2023 is the deadline for registering existing High-Rise Residential Buildings which opened in April, but we understand that the registrations to date are only a small fraction of the estimated buildings which qualify for registration. 

The new regulations and guidance in the list above are the responsibility of the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, (DHLUC), not the Building Safety Regulator, although we assume that the two are working closely together to meet the above programme. The timing is not helped by the country now being in the summer holiday period, as well as parliament being in recess until September. 

It begs the question of how should those working in residential development and construction prepare for 1 October if before then they do not have the official detail about how they comply to the various requirements referred to above. 

The official line currently appears to be that the industry has known for a long time that regulatory changes are coming and therefore the “the direction of travel”. This indicates that compliance is required even if the regulations and guidance are not available in time. It is therefore not prudent to wait for the regulations and guidance to be published, if that does not happen very soon. There has been some suggestion that there may be a raft of publications this month, but nothing official.

Instead, those to whom the legislation applies will need to focus on what is already known from the primary legislation namely the BSA itself, to be as ready as possible for 1 October. That way at least the groundwork will have been done.

As regards the new BSA Gateways, the argument is that the standards are not changing; the principal change is how compliance with the requirements is demonstrated in Gateway approval applications. To an extent that is true but there are gaps in the “how to” knowledge. Undoubtedly, both those submitting approval applications and those reviewing and granting approvals will benefit from uniformity of approach. With official guidance submissions for approval as a whole are likely to be of better quality and contain all the necessary information and documentation, thus avoiding delays. In the absence of guidance, each building owner will in effect have to do their own thing. Such an approach that may lead to bad practices evolving from the outset and unnecessary repetition. 

There also remains concern about whether the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) itself is sufficiently resourced and staffed, the latter both in terms of numbers and experience, to meet the demand when everything comes on stream. BSR say that their recruitment campaign is going well, but is it going well enough?

Concern has also been expressed in the construction industry about developers and builders becoming so tied up in dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy particularly in the early days of the new regime, that paradoxically designing and building to a high standard will take a back seat! There are also those who wonder if innovation will be stifled as everyone involved in the built environment, particularly in relation to housing, will become more risk adverse. 

It looks like there will be changing times ahead for those affected by the BSA, but as it always does, the construction industry will no doubt pragmatically find a way to adapt in the interests of better building safety.

For the Building Control position from I October 2023 in the light of the Regulations published in August 2023, please see our Building Safety Update Sept 2023.