Summary of the independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety
Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review showed whole system change was needed. She made 53 recommendations and warned against them being cherry-picked as it would compromise her integrated professional approach.
Construction industry leaders have overwhelmingly accepted her report and many aren’t waiting to introduce changes in practice – they’re getting on with building a safer future now.
Below are the key areas where Dame Judith recommended changes to the culture and practices of the construction industry:
New regulatory framework
Creating a Joint Competent Authority (JCA), formed of LABC (renamed Local Authority Building Standards), Fire and Rescue Authorities and the HSE to oversee the safety case throughout the lifecycle of all higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs).
HRRBS initially defined as any residential building over 10 storeys.
There will be a single streamlined regulatory route to oversee building standards and to prevent owners or developers choosing their own regulator.
There will be three "gateway" points where those responsible for a building's safety will have to prove to the new JCA that they are complying with regulations and properly understand the building’s safety case throughout design, construction and occupation.
Clear 'duty holder'
Every HRRB owner needs to identify a clear "dutyholder" with responsibility for building safety of the whole building at all stages of its life – through construction, occupation or refurbishment.
Clearer rights and obligations for residents to allow duty holders to maintain the building safely and provide greater transparency of information on each building’s safety case.
High competence levels
The construction and fire safety sectors will have to demonstrate more effective leadership on competencies and work with other sectors to learn and translate good practice to develop continuous improvements in competence levels. The whole sector should work together to develop a common approach and competence framework applying to all building inspectors.
More effective product testing
A clearer, more transparent and effective specification and testing regime for construction products must be developed, including products as they are put together as part of a system. What systems/products can and cannot be used for should be clearly identified. Additional test houses should be set up and certified, while standards and test methods should be under periodic review.
More rigorous enforcement
Stronger and more rigorous enforcement powers should be introduced. The new JCA would have additional powers to issue improvement and prohibition notices, as well as clear powers to require changes to work to meet Building Regulations with longer time limits to prosecute ‘major deficiencies’.
Principal contractors and clients for HHRBs should devise contracts that state safety requirements must not be compromised for cost reduction. Tenders should set out how the proposed solution will produce safe building outcomes. Contract documents relating to building safety should be included in the digital record.
There are four key pieces of information integral to building safety – the digital record, the fire and emergency file, full plans and the construction control plan. The creation, maintenance and handover of this key information (the golden thread) should be an integral part of the legal responsibilities of clients, principal designers, and principal contractors undertaking works on HRRBs.