The Building Safety Act and Higher-Risk Buildings: A Transformation in Home Safety

The Building Safety Act, which received Royal Assent on April 28, 2022, represents a groundbreaking overhaul of building safety regulations in the United Kingdom. This transformative legislation is designed to empower residents and homeowners with enhanced rights, powers, and protections, ultimately ensuring safer homes across the nation. 

Key Objectives of the Building Safety Act 

1. Provide Robust Protections for Leaseholders: The Act aims to shield qualifying leaseholders from the financial burden of remediating historical building safety defects. Qualifying leaseholders, as defined in the Act, include those residing in their own homes and owning no more than three properties in total. 

2. Hold Responsible Parties Accountable: The Act introduces a comprehensive toolkit of measures to hold those responsible for building safety defects accountable for their actions. This includes building owners and other parties involved in construction and maintenance. 

3. Revamp Existing Regulations: The Act revamps and modernizes existing regulations, providing clear guidelines on how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained, and made safe. 

Key Components of the Building Safety Act 

1. Creation of Three New Oversight Bodies: The Act establishes three new regulatory bodies to ensure effective oversight of the new regime: the Building Safety Regulator, the National Regulator of Construction Products, and the New Homes Ombudsman. These bodies will play a crucial role in enforcing building safety standards. 

2. Extended Claim Period for Homeowners: Homeowners will now have an extended period of 15 years (previously 6 years) to claim compensation for sub-standard construction work. This change provides homeowners with significantly more time to address construction-related issues. 

3. Leaseholder Protection: The Act prohibits building owners from charging qualifying leaseholders for the costs of cladding removal or remediation in buildings over five storeys or eleven meters tall. Qualifying leaseholders will also be safeguarded from costs associated with non-cladding defects and interim measures like waking watches. 

4. Responsibility for Building Safety: Dutyholders, including Principal Designers and Principal Contractors, will be responsible for managing building safety risks throughout the design, construction, and completion phases. Accountable persons must demonstrate effective measures for managing building safety risks in higher-risk buildings. 

5. Cost Sharing: The Act stipulates that building owners and landlords must contribute to the costs of fixing their own buildings, reinforcing their responsibility for building safety. 

Impact on the Built Environment Industry 

The Building Safety Act sets forth a clear and proportionate framework for designing, constructing, and managing safer, high-quality homes. It strengthens the regulatory regime for construction products, ensuring all products on the UK market are safe for their intended use. A National Regulator for Construction Products will monitor and enforce product safety. 

Additionally, the Act introduces a developer tax and levy to ensure that the industry contributes to rectifying building safety issues. New rights to redress will hold those responsible for contributing to the building safety crisis accountable for the costs of rectifying their mistakes. 

Criteria for Identifying Higher-Risk Buildings 

The Act defines higher-risk buildings as those with at least two residential units that are at least 18 meters in height or have at least seven storeys during the occupation phase. This definition applies unless the entire building is used as a hospital, care home, secure residential institution, hotel, or military barracks, or if the building contains living accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence for military personnel. 

Mixed-use buildings, such as those with both residential and commercial spaces, are also subject to the higher-risk regime if they meet the height or storeys threshold. 

Exclusions from the Higher-Risk Regime 

Certain building types are explicitly excluded from the higher-risk regime during occupation, including: 

1. Hospitals and Care Homes 

2. Secure Residential Institutions 

3. Hotels and Hostels 

4. Military Barracks and Military Premises 

Registration of Higher-Risk Buildings 

Higher-risk buildings need to be registered by October 1, 2023, which is also the date when the remaining provisions of the Building Safety Act 2022 will come into force. 

Responsibilities of Principal Accountable Persons (PAPs) 

If you are a Principal Accountable Person (PAP), you have specific responsibilities: 

  • Register Occupied Higher-Risk Buildings: PAPs must register any occupied higher-risk buildings (HRB) for which they are accountable by the October 1, 2023 deadline. 
  • Ensure Compliance: Once registered, PAPs must ensure compliance with their duties under the Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act) and the associated Regulations. 

Registration Requirements 

The registration process requires the submission of various information, including the HRB’s Key Building Information, as well as the names and contact details of all PAPs and Accountable persons. 

In Conclusion 

The Building Safety Act represents a pivotal moment in the UK’s approach to building safety and construction standards. It prioritizes the well-being of residents, extends protections to leaseholders, and introduces stringent measures to ensure accountability within the construction industry. Build Warranty is working closely with its Insurer to introduce suitable products to cover the the new liabilities the Building Safety Act brings to the Developers and Builders.  

This transformative legislation sets a clear and proportionate framework for building safety, product regulation, and industry contributions to rectify building safety issues. As it begins to take effect over the next few years, it promises to significantly enhance the safety and quality of homes across the country. 

Learn more at: 

Share this article with a friend