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The Building Safety Bill

The Building Safety Bill

(Image: SEE Monster)

The Grenfell Fire had a profound influence on construction and bottle necks in testing accompany a zero risk approach to certification and compliance. 

ADB was amended in 2018 and 2020 following release of The Hackett Report (2018) which made many recommendations that appear to put greater responsibility for fire compliance on the industry and lessen the liability on statutory bodies.  The Building Safety Bill was the product of this and had its first reading in parliament in July 2021 with a view to:

• Implementing a more effective regulatory and accountability framework with greater oversight
• Providing clearer standards and guidance
• Placing residents at the heart of a new system of building safety – better informed and empowered
• Driving a culture change – a more responsible building industry

Big news for many of us; the regulations get overhauled, the HSE becomes the overseer, users get a voice and Architects have to pull their socks up in respect of competence (they are named in the Bill). But we wonder what this means in a wider sense? We note the Sara Cultural Centre in Sweden (recently completed) is a multi-storey building almost entirely of timber. Whilst not a residential building we cant see this being acceptable in the UK for the time being, despite timber ticking many sustainability boxes.

Our commencing a residential care building (less than 18m in height) in Kent coincided with the release of the Hackett Report and this had a profound influence on the course of the project. MHCLG advise was referenced alongside the guidance in AD B and we have since employed two firms of fire engineers as building control resisted responsibility for fire compliance. Cavity barrier and fire stopping was subject to particular scrutiny, much of the (compliant) phenolic insulation was replaced and fire tests and (back logs) in certification became an obstacle for the main contractor. It was a compliant building it is now a safer building and we are glad of the early exposure to the new order.

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