The Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 was a wake-up call for the construction industry and policymakers. In response to the devastating fire, governments and regulatory bodies took action to prevent such incidents in the future. The enactment of the Building Safety Act in April 2022 stands as a significant milestone in ensuring building safety and compliance.
The Act makes ground-breaking reforms to give residents and homeowners more rights and powers. Its aim is to protect people living in high-rise buildings and give new duties to the people responsible for the safety of these buildings. It overhauls existing regulations, creating lasting change and indicating how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained, and made safe.
The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) are an independent body established by the Building Safety Act, 2022. They are the building control authority formed to oversee the safety and standards of all buildings, having a special focus on high-rise buildings; 18 metres or higher. They will advise the government, oversee, and influence the competence and performance of the whole built environment. This includes ensuring that buildings are safe from fire and other hazards, including using combustible materials in building construction. The BSR implements and enforces a new regulatory regime for high-rise residential buildings, which has 3 main functions:
- Encouraging the built environment industry and building control professionals to improve their competence.
- Leading implementation of the new regulatory framework for high-rise buildings.
- They will regulate high-rise buildings.
Every high-rise building will have a Principal Accountable Person, or PAP, who is responsible for managing the building’s safety. They are responsible for preventing and reducing fire spread and structural failures to limit consequences on the people living in the building. They will be compelled to demonstrate that effective and proportionate measures have been established to manage building safety risks in the higher-risk buildings for which they are responsible. The BSR will assess whether these duty holders are correctly evaluating building safety and meeting regulations on their buildings. The principal accountable person can be:
- The freeholder or estate owner
- A management company
- Resident Management Company (RMC)
- Right To Manage Company (RTM)
- Commonhold Association
With multiple parties from differing industries being involved in the remediation of these projects, it is critical to ensure alignment and clearly defined roles. However, without doubt, the most important people involved are the residents who are living in these buildings. With six years passing since the Grenfell tragedy, residents are rightly feeling the pressure, some with mounting bills for insurance and unable to re-mortgage or move from their property. It is essential therefore that the Resident Liaison piece of the remediation works is handled with utmost care, compassion, and a sympathetic ear to understand their pain and work with them throughout the works.