The introduction of new legislation focused on safety should always be welcomed by the construction sector and the Building Safety Act 2022 is no exception.
At Pinewood Structures, we are committed to delivering the highest quality and standards of timber frame construction and this new legislation will help us achieve this throughout every project.
Let’s take a look at the changes that have been made and how timber frame construction can help make a difference.
What is the Building Safety Act?
The Building Safety Act 2022 originated from the Grenfell Tower incident and aims to create lasting generational change to high rise residential building design, construction and operation. It has been introduced to give residents and homeowners more rights, powers and protections – making homes across the country safer.
Other legislation and measures that have been introduced in response to the inquiry into the incident are:
- Fire Safety Act 2021: All responsible persons must assess, manage and reduce fire risk in residential buildings.
- Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have included valuation guidance for higher-risk buildings.
- Changes to the UK Finance Mortgage Lenders’ Handbook and the Building Societies Association Mortgage Instructions.
The Building Safety Act encompasses a wide range of measures such as building liability orders, a rectification regime and prohibitions on developers. By placing the responsibility of rectification on developers or manufacturers to correct any defects, it protects leaseholders from the costs of remediation for unsafe external cladding.
There will now be 3 separate gateway points to guarantee building safety regulatory compliance at every stage of a building’s lifecycle. Here’s a Building Safety Act 2022 summary:
Building Safety Act Gateway Points
Gateway 1 came into effect on 1st August 2021. It states that a person responsible for fire and structural safety must be identified before planning permission is granted. Also, within the planning permission application, information to support the incorporation of fire safety requirements must be included. Although Gateway 1 is part of the Planning Legislation, it is still an important part of the Building Safety Act.
Gateway 2 came into effect on 1st October 2023. It states that an application must be submitted to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) before construction starts that outlines the full design intention. Once the BSR confirms it is satisfied that the design meets the requirements of the Building Regulations 2010, work can begin.
Strict change control requirements have also been introduced where any changes to the works classed as “major” or “notifiable” must be further reviewed and approved by the BSR. “Major” changes refer to alterations to the use, structural design or certain fire safety features in the building. “Notifiable” changes refer to alterations of plans previously approved by the BSR during Gateway 2 or the substitution of products to be used in the works.
Gateway 3 also came into effect on 1st October 2023. It states that once construction is complete, the BSR confirms whether the work complies with the new Building Regulations. Also, the BSR makes sure all relevant information is produced and provided to the person responsible from Gateway including a completion certificate.
When Does the Building Safety Act Come Into Force?
Although originally introduced to Parliament in July 2021, after the Building Safety Act 2022 received Royal Assent on 28th April 2022, it came into force on 1st April 2023.
From 1st October 2023, all new higher-risk buildings must be registered with the BSR. Without registering, it’s compulsory that the buildings must not be occupied.
What is the Building Safety Regulator?
The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) closely monitors the lifecycle of higher-risk buildings due to the new Building Safety Act regulations. The BSR has a wide range of enforcement powers and has the ability to imprison or fine those that do not comply with building protocols. Without the BSR’s confirmation throughout every Gateway, you will not be able to move forward with your construction.
What Buildings Does the Building Safety Act Apply To?
The Building Safety Act applies to higher-risk buildings. Higher-risk buildings are defined as, “buildings with at least two residential units which are at least 18 metres in height or have at least 7 storeys.” (Source: gov.uk). These new regulations apply to both new and existing buildings of this definition, as well as care homes and hospitals that meet this height threshold.
Impact on the Construction Industry
Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it’s common knowledge that a large number of residential buildings urgently require remediation works. The requirement to correct work found to be non-compliant with new building regulations has extended from 1 to 10 years. So, over the next decade, the construction industry may be inundated with these types of projects.
Whilst panelised timber frame is not often used on these higher-risk buildings, the Building Safety Act requirements may well extend further in the future. Offsite construction, like timber frame, has the advantage of being inherently well documented, and fabricated under factory conditions, meaning that design intent can be agreed early and executed consistently.
The BSA, by ensuring that design is thought about up-front, aligns well with MMC and offsite construction. By locking in the design with approval before the manufacturing process begins, the consistency of pre-manufactured, offsite construction should confirm that what is built is in-line with what is designed – which is one of the key aims of the Act.
Interested in learning more about how timber frames could benefit your housing project?
Pinewood Structures are specialists in timber and can be trusted to deliver. Submit an enquiry or call us now on 01767 651218 to find out more.