The New Building Regulations System – Key Highlights
17th October 2023
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Government commissioned a report by Dame Judith Hackitt, which determined that the existing system was unfit for purpose and lacked a clear line of responsibility for compliance with Building Regulations.
Dame Hackitt’s report recommended clearer duty-holding roles, increased competency, and a more transparent design and change control process known as the Golden Thread to ensure accurate records were maintained.
In response, the Government passed the Building Safety Act in 2022, creating a new Building Safety Regulator. Subsequently, amendments to the Building Regulations were published, which now apply to all building control applications made from October 1, 2023.
So, what does all of this mean?
For High-Risk Buildings
For high-risk buildings (HRBs*), you will no longer be able to use the services of an Approved Inspector or Local Authority. Instead, as of October 1, 2023, you must apply directly to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR). The BSR has confirmed that it will charge an hourly rate of £144 for processing applications, plan checks, and site visits and will no longer provide fixed fee quotes.
Don’t worry if you already have an application submitted with us before that date, we can continue processing it, provided that construction work commences before April 2024.
(*HRB includes buildings over 18m in height with 2 or more dwellings or over 18m in height used as a care home or hospital.)
Duty Holder Roles
On all future projects, you will need to confirm the details of the Client (i.e., the person paying the builder to carry out the work). The Client will have a statutory duty to appoint a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor for every job. Failure to do so will result in our inability to process your building control application for the construction phase. In the case of a domestic client (e.g., someone having work done on their own home), these roles will automatically default to the builder if no appointments are made.
Building Control Role
All building inspectors will need to be registered from April 2024, and registration will be limited to the types of buildings that the Inspector is competent to oversee. We are currently in the process of registering all our inspectors in line with the new system, and in the future, we will allocate your Inspector based on their registration type. This will apply to all Building Inspectors, including those in Local Authorities, and is likely to lead to a shortage of inspectors for more complex building types. The additional costs associated with registration are expected to lead to a rapid increase in building control fees in the coming months.
The Government has made it clear that building control can no longer be used as a sounding board for approval. Instead, you must demonstrate competence to undertake the work. In short, you should not be asking us how to comply (e.g. what thickness of insulation do I need?) instead, we should be asking how you have complied (e.g. what thickness of insulation have you designed). Failure to demonstrate competence or compliance can result in the project being subjected to enforcement action.
In light of these new duties, the way building control applications are processed has also changed. There is now an expectation that detailed plans showing how work will comply must be available to the contractor before work commences. This has been described as “Design then Build” rather than “Design and Build,” where design continues whilst works proceed. Projects will be expected to adhere to the latest regulatory guidance, and we will not be able to issue an initial notice unless a named contractor and a start date for work have been set. Furthermore, to prevent projects from commencing only to avoid regulatory changes and then being put on hold, work must have reached a substantive point to be considered as commenced. Typically, this will require either 15% of the contract work to be completed or for the work to have reached slab/DPC level for new builds or horizontal extensions at ground level.
Here are some of the key changes and how Wilkinson Construction Consultants will work with you moving forward:
When you first appoint us, we will still review your plans and collaborate with the design team to determine the necessary information to be supplied. We will also keep you updated on anticipated regulatory changes. However, we will be unable to issue the Initial Notice until you can confirm:
- The names and contact details of the Client, Principal Designer, and Principal Contractor.
- The date when work will start.
- A date when sufficient work will have been carried out to deem the work as “commenced.”
Once the notice has been served, we can close out the formal consultation and plan approval process as the applicable Regulations will be known. You will then need to issue the following written notifications:
a) WORKS WILL START: We need at least 2 days’ notice that the builder will be starting on-site.
b) WORKS HAVE REACHED THE POINT OF COMMENCEMENT: We will have up to 4 weeks to formally review the notification and accept or reject it.
c) ANY CHANGES TO THE WORK: If there is a change in the Duty Holders, the description of work, or any approved plans, it is important that you inform us of the changes at the earliest opportunity so that the notices can be amended.
d) WORKS ARE COMPLETE: The Client must give notice of practical completion, including confirmation from each of the Duty Holders that they have completed all their duties.
Please note that we will not be able to issue a Final Certificate without receiving the signed declarations and any commissioning certificates, this could affect your ability to occupy/handover the building. For buildings other than single dwellings, you must also provide evidence of compliance with Regulation 38 and as-built fire safety plans. Again, we cannot issue a Final Certificate without receiving confirmation that Regulation 38 has been complied with.
As you can see, significant changes are here. While it may take some time to adapt to these changes, this way of working will become the norm, improve competence, and raise standards across the board.
We have produced a helpful guide to explain the changes to building regulations and the new roles, which you can share with clients and other duty holders.
Additionally, we will be hosting a webinar on Friday, November 10th, from 4-5:30 pm if you would like further training on the changes. To book on this webinar click here.
Contact us for further information or guidance on the latest changes.
T: 01732 523466
Building Regulations are seen as a set of rules to be followed, which, yes, essentially, that is exactly what they are, but building regulations don’t need to constrict architects.
The Building Safety Act 2022 received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, marking a monumental shift in the regulatory landscape for building safety in the UK.