Draft Building Safety Bill and new energy efficiency standards

28th January, 2021

Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 the Government has introduced a draft Building Safety Bill. The Bill proposes to create a new Building Safety Regulator with increased powers to manage the Building Control process and impose sanctions.

It also proposes three strict Gateways throughout the design and construction of each high-rise building (defined as a building over 18m to the upper storey), firstly at planning, then at building control and finally at completion. Prescribed information will be required at each stage, including from the developers, to maintain a ‘golden-thread’ of information from conception to occupation. This seeks to maintain a record of design changes and intent throughout the process to ensure accountability is maintained. Alongside this developers will have a duty to check and sign a declaration that they are satisfied that the people they instruct to work on their behalf are competent to do so.

Following completion, in high-rise buildings, owners will be required to appoint a Building Safety Manager who will be responsible for the day-to-day management of building safety and ensure a clear point of contact for residents.

In order to produce the information required at each gateway it is likely that the buildings will need to be designed using BIM (Building Information Modelling), whereby the building is developed and detailed in a 3D environment with scheduling and construction information integrated within it that can be collaborated on by the whole design team.

Pro Vision has for many years been using BIM and we are already utilising BIM software to deliver a wide range of projects.

Whilst many of the changes are specifically related to buildings over 18m to the upper floor or 6 storeys in height, it is Government’s intention for many of these changes to be rolled out to all buildings over time. It is therefore important for anyone in the development industry to know and understand the direction of travel and the potential implications to the way in which buildings are designed, procured and constructed.

Other changes coming forward include those to the Building Regulations energy efficiency standards. These will likely require developers to reduce carbon emission targets within their buildings by an additional 31% over current regulations. This is likely to require more thermally efficient construction as well as a greater requirement for on-site renewables. Equally, Accredited Construction Details, which currently allow developers to use standard junction details to model the heat loss through a building, are being withdrawn and developers may be required to appoint a suitable specialist to calculate heat loss through each individual junction in a building. These all have the potential to add cost and time for the developer during the detailed design and construction phases of a project.

Changes to the Building Regulations are likely to come in spring 2021 and so developers looking to begin construction later this year should be aware of the implications. The Building Safety Bill is likely to become law this summer / autumn and so the industry is currently in a period of gearing up for this to ensure that we can design, procure and construct buildings in a safe and accountable way.

If you would like to know more about these issues or you want to discuss how these changes might affect a specific project, please contact us on: 01794 368 698 or info@pro-vision.co.uk