Construction Guide: What is the Building Safety Bill?

Building safety is a top priority when building and maintaining a property. This Bill is set to become law by July 2022 (the Building Safety Act 2022), making it important to brush up on, especially as a construction worker. So, what is the Building Safety Bill? Find out all the information you need to know below.

What is the Building Safety Bill?

The Building Safety Bill introduced new and more rigorous requirements for residential buildings, following the Grenfell Tragedy in 2017. The new regime applies to higher-risk buildings: at least 18 metres in height/have seven storeys and have at minimum two residential units. The Bill intends to ensure that building safety is a top priority. It creates an independent Building Safety Regulator which will be established by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

What does the Building Safety Bill do?

The Bill now comes under the sponsorship of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), (formerly the MHCLG). There are a few things that this Bill aims to do:

  • Give advice to local landlords, building owners, construction and design industry. It can also help building occupants
  • Competency requirements for those involved with the building
  • Ensuring enforcement processes if there is a breach
  • A Building Safety Regulator within the government will oversee the design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings and sign this off.
  • New roles to manage buildings at higher risk
  • A legislative framework to protect buyers of new-build homes enabling secondary legislation to create a New Homes Ombudsman scheme
  • Changes to the construction products regime
  • Improved access to claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972. They do this by lengthening the periods within which claims can be brought
  • New measures to hold the industry accountable for remediation works.
  • An already established £1 billion Building Safety Fund to remove dangerous cladding from high-rise buildings 
  • New obligations that will apply throughout the life cycle of a building
  • Big changes to the regulatory building safety framework by three amendments to the Building Act 1984. New measures include the creation of three “gateways” (see below)

Building Safety Bill Gateways

Designed to bring safety to the core of the construction procurement process and maintain this through the building’s lifecycle, the three ‘gateways’ manage and control risk at key stages in the design, planning and construction of high-risk buildings. This can include mandatory hard-stops during:

  • Gateway one: The planning stages (already in progress)
  • Gateway two: Prior to building works commencing
  • Gateway three: The completion/final certification stage.

Developers will have to pay a Building Safety Levy and there will be sanctions for failure to pay.

What does the Building Safety Bill mean for construction workers?

With this new law in place, there can be more responsibility and tougher regulations on construction workers. See our list of things to look out for below:

Tougher sanctions and increased liability on builders

The Building Safety Bill is designed to give residents more power to hold builders and developers to account. They could do this by toughening sanctions against those who threaten their safety. Builders and construction workers are expected to:

  • Carry out the work in a workmanlike or professional manner
  • Use proper materials
  • When the work is complete, the residence must be fit for habitation

As we mentioned briefly, another legal sanction is under the DPA 1972. It will be extended to include refurbishment work, applying prospectively and subject to the 15-year limitation period. Keep this in mind when completing work.

New home new regulations

This Bill also includes a framework to improve compliance, requiring developers to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman scheme mentioned above, with tougher penalties for breaking the rules.

Responsibility to drive up standards of the sector

Building control inspectors will be legally liable and responsible for their decisions. They will be now be required to register with a new Building Safety Regulator.

The Bill also has the power to set minimum performance standards, with the power to investigate non-compliance and sanction individual inspectors if they breach a code of conduct.

Regulation for Construction products

As we mentioned above, a National Regulator for Construction Products will be established within the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). This will co-ordinate the enforcement of construction product regulations.

With this Bill, there are powers in place which allow inspection and searching premises, removing products that pose a safety risk from the market and impose civil sanctions (including fines, as well as maintaining a national complaint system). It will also support local Trading Standards to deal with concerns quickly

If you’re working on a specific project, like a high risk building or a new home, there are certain things you need to be aware of so we suggest taking a look at the links above. It’s important to know the new rules, as well as your rights as a construction worker.

If you’re looking on information on a construction work career, find out how to be a construction worker with our article.