Introduced to Parliament in June 2021, the Building Safety Bill establishes a new regime that will overhaul the building safety system in England and Wales. It brings in a stringent framework for high-rise buildings, which will strengthen regulatory requirement before building work commences, through construction and before occupation.
The Bill, which has been welcomed by leading building control and regulation expert, Bureau Veritas, includes a range of new measures – including competence requirements, duty holder accountability, a ‘golden thread’ of building information and mandatory reporting to a newly-appointed Building Safety Regulator. Crucially, it also includes a three-stage ‘gateway’ process. Gateway One regulations were enforced on 1 August 2021, whilst it is anticipated that the remaining two gateway regulations will come into force by 2023 as the Bill passes through Parliament.
It is hoped that the new process – when fully enforced – will provide the home-building industry with the necessary framework it requires to deliver safe homes, along with clear accountability on those undertaking design and construction work.
Andy Lowe, Technical & Training Director for Building Control at Bureau Veritas, said: “The Building Safety Bill is an absolutely crucial requirement for the construction industry. However, with mandatory regulations being introduced at different times, there is a very real risk of developers waiting for legislation to be introduced before making the necessary changes needed to ensure a smooth process to regulatory compliance – risking delays and increased costs at various approval points.”
The requirements of Gateway three are a prime example of this. Gateway three will occur at the completion stage of a building and will be considered – like Gateway two – as a stop/go point. If requirements of the Gateway are not met at this stage, the Building Safety Regulator will not provide final certification; resulting in the developer needing to retrospectively correct noncompliant or defective work, risking lengthy delays to occupation and unbudgeted costs.
Andy continued: “There is a slight misconception that Gateway three and the registration process for a new building are the same thing. It’s important for developers to fully understand the requirements of each stage of the gateway process ahead of planning and development to ensure they are not met with costly delays – whether they are mandatory now, or not.
“Gateway three will take place when a building has been completed, and approval from the Building Safety Regulator must be obtained before it is formerly registered for occupation. Whilst it seems simple enough, there is a lot to consider at this stage with the application requiring plans and documents that reflect the ‘as built’ building, with paperwork demonstrating how the building works comply with the various new regulations. This is part of the ‘golden thread’ approach.
“Only when the Regulator is satisfied a building meets all the requirements is it eligible for registration – and this must be done by the Duty Holder (or Principal Accountable Person), who identifies with having overall responsibility for the building safety risks.
“Overall, the Gateway process will provide a very clear framework that will require regulation compliance at every stage of the build. It’s a necessary change for the industry, however construction companies are going to need to evolve quickly to meet the changes; particularly those working on large and longer-term projects. We’d therefore urge the industry to plan for these important changes now, irrespective of when the various Gateways are set to be introduced, or risk potential delays and increased costs further down the line.”
Bureau Veritas works with developers as an independent third party throughout the building lifecycle to help reduce risk and to achieve compliance. This includes supporting on the ‘golden thread’ approach, and meeting the gateway requirements. For more information on the detail of the Building Safety Bill, download Bureau Veritas’ free ‘Understanding the Building Safety Bill’ webinar.
To find out more about Bureau Veritas’ services or to discuss individual requirements with a member of the team, call 0345 600 1828 or visit www.bureauveritas.co.uk.