From 1 October 2023, the next round of changes to construction practice will be enforced. For those involved in Higher Risk Buildings, this key change requires detailed designs to be signed off by the Building Safety Regulator before site work can begin.
This change is made possible by the pieces of secondary legislation published on 17 August by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). These will implement the Building Safety Act on 1st October 2023.
There are essentially three new sets of regulations.
1. The Building (Higher-Risk Buildings Procedures) (England) Regulations 2023
A Higher-risk building (HRB) is a building (in England) that is at least 18 metres in height or has at least seven storeys and contains at least two residential units.
For those involved in the design and construction of Higher-Risk Buildings, The Building (Higher-Risk Buildings Procedures) (England) Regulations 2023 sets out details of the building control regime.
This establishes the process for, and what must be included in, Gateway 2 applications. This is the application that must be submitted to, and approved by, the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) before any work can start. There is a 12-week determination period.
In practical terms, far more detail needs to be decided before a proposed building can move to the construction phase. This makes It critical that all parties are engaged throughout the design process to ensure that the relevant building regulations will be met.
Responsible manufacturers such as Knauf have a key role to play in enabling designers and contractors to comply with this part of the Building Safety Act through the provision of clear and accurate performance information and advice to ensure designers and installers make accurate, informed choices about the products they use. This advice will be particularly important where combinations of products are assembled to form a system, as in an exterior wall system for example, to meet the performance requirements set out in the Building Regulations and Approved Documents.
This regulation also sets out the change control process, including what are "notifiable" changes and what are “major” changes, and the requirement for the principal contractor to maintain a change control log.
Examples of “Major” changes include: material change of use and a change to the number of storeys in a proposed HRB, while examples of “notified” changes include a change to the number or dimensions of any openings in any wall, ceiling or other building element.
Major changes will be determined by the BSR in six weeks, while the BSR has 10 days to consider notified changes. Again, in practical terms, if a product or system is changed, that change could cause a six-week delay in the construction process. These are the types of changes that commonly occur during a value engineering process.
The document also establishes the procedures for the handover to duty holders of up-to-date safety information relating to the building's design, build and management throughout the project under the golden thread.
Finally, the document sets out the procedure for applying for a completion certificate under Gateway 3. There is an eight-week determination period and a building cannot be occupied without this.
2. The Building Regulations etc. (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2023
The duty holder and competence requirements have now been incorporated into the 2023 amendment to the Building Regulations. This is a change to the Building Regulations 2010 (not Approved Documents), and so will be applicable to all building work. The specific changes are new regulations 11A to 11Q.
Duty holders introduced under this amendment are the client (including domestic client), the principal designer and principal contractor. They are modelled on roles that exist in the current CDM regulations.
A duty holder must have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and behaviour to undertake the work for which they have been engaged.
Duty holders must refuse to accept an appointment for works they are not competent to deliver. They must cooperate, coordinate work and communicate with other duty holders and must also ensure systems are in place to monitor both design and building work to ensure compliance with Building Regulations.
3. The Building (Approved Inspectors etc. and Review of Decisions) (England) Regulations 2023)
The final set of regulations relate to the design and construction phase of a building: The Building (Approved Inspectors etc. and Review of Decisions) (England) Regulations 2023) These amendments support the new HRB control regime under which the BSR is now the only building control authority for all HRBs.
This new regime has been introduced to ensure the construction industry upholds the highest standards when it comes to safety and usability now and for generations to come.