Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the subsequent report by Dame Judith Hackitt, a major review of the regulatory regime and culture in the construction sector has led to significant change. Here we talked with Kevin Blunden, Director of Building Consultancy at Acivico, about the new changes being introduced for building inspection and the implications for the construction industry and its clients.
What recent changes have been announced following the introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022?
The Building Safety Act 2022 introduced a new Building Safety Regulator with responsibility for building regulations. The Health and Safety Executive has taken on this role and now secondary legislation is being introduced to change the culture within the construction sector around compliance with the building regulations.
Over the next nine months, it is anticipated that there will a considerable amount of new legislation and guidance published in what will be the most significant change in building control for 40 years.
Whilst both Local Authority and Approved Inspector building control bodies will continue to deal with applications and assess compliance at the design and construction stages, the names and assessment of competency of those carrying out that function will change, with all individuals making decisions in respect of compliance being required to join a new national register of Building Inspectors. This register will assess competence and restrict the complexity of projects which Building Inspectors can work on.
How is this impacting compliance in ‘high risk’ buildings?
Recent announcements have also confirmed that the new regulator will take direct responsibility for overseeing building regulation compliance on ‘high-risk buildings’ which primarily comprise buildings which are over 18m tall and which contain dwellings or similar accommodation.
Critically for those working in the sector the roles of Principal Designer and Principal Contractor will be introduced to mirror the requirements of the CDM Regulations but these individuals will need to be able to demonstrate competence in respect of building regulations compliance and so may not be the same individuals as those carrying out the roles under CDM.
What new responsibilities have been given to clients and end users?
From a client perspective, the client will need to take all necessary steps to ensure that those they appoint to carry out the key roles of Principal Designer and Principal Contractor are competent to do so. Legislation is making it clear that the responsibility for compliance with the building regulations rests with designers, contractors and clients.
What other changes have been introduced with regard to high risk buildings?
Existing high risk buildings also have to be registered with the Regulator and over the next few years the safety of these buildings will be assessed to ensure that occupiers are not put at risk.
Where can I go to obtain additional help and guidance?
Acivico Building Consultancy is the biggest building control team in Europe. All of our employees along with those working at Acivico Traded Services (our approved inspector consultancy), will be trained in and have a comprehensive understanding of the new regulations to ensure we can provide expert guidance and a market leading service to our clients.
Once full details of how to become registered as a Building Inspector are made public, all of our employees will be working to achieve registration before the proposed changes come into effect in April 2024. In the meantime, our teams are able to demonstrate competence at the highest levels required and are on hand to provide advice, updates and information about the new changes to our clients.
Kevin Blunden, Director of Building Consultancy, Acivico
Kevin Blunden has more than 40 years’ experience in building consultancy, control and inspection. A former Chairman of the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors and the East Midlands Region of CABE, he worked for both private and public sector organisations prior to joining Acivico Group. He has overall responsibility for building control and approved inspector services at Acivico, and is a member of Acivico’s Group Leadership Team.