Thomas Lane on the government’s consultation

Tom Lane NEW with path grey

The consultation on changes to the building regulatory system is one of the most significant in recent years. Although the main focus is multi-occupancy residential buildings over 18m tall, many of the proposals will touch everyone in the industry.

As suggested by Hackitt, the new regime will be modelled on CDM regulations, with a client, principal designer and principal contractor. There will also be a subset of designer and contractor to cover specialist contractors and the rest of thedesign team. The responsibilities placed on the principal designer and contractor are quiteonerous, particularly at gateway two, the second of three milestones that span from planning application to building handover. The principaldesigner will need to submit a “full plans” application including the products to be used and a 3D model of the design.

The principal contractor will need to submit a construction control plan that details how building regulation compliance will be controlled and maintained during construction and how changes to the design will be controlled and recorded. The government is considering extending this dutyholder model to all building projects.  

The government is minded to mandate the use of existing BIM standards to maintain the golden thread of information, a move likely to drive further uptake of BIM.

Also read: Government launches consultation on Hackitt response

The proposed building safety regulator would have a much wider remit than the current system of building control. It would set standards, put in a compliance regime and maintain a register of duty holders and buildings impacted by the legislation, and have oversight of the second, crucially important strand of Hackitt – the work to increase competence standards across the industry.

Product performance is also covered in the consultation with a more robust system of performance declaration and third-party certification body accreditation. A new construction products regulator’s remit could also be extended to ensuring offsite manufacturers meet claimed standards. This could help build confidence in offsite systems as currently this slips between a gap between building control and trading standards.

But none of this is any good without a sharp-toothed enforcement regime – and again the consultation doesn’t hold back. Serious breaches, including starting work on the next stage of a project before the gateway for the previous stage has been signed off, could be made a criminal offence. Fixed penalties could simplify the enforcement of more minor transgressions, and in another example of the wide-ranging nature of this review, the consultation proposes the current two-year period for tackling building regulation breaches is extended to six or 10 years.

Inevitably, all this comes at a cost, at an estimated 0.5% – 1.2% of the construction budget of a building over 18m. But this isn’t surprising given the low levels to which some areas of the industry have sunk in a bid to cut costs.

Although the scope of this consultation means many detailed questions are left unanswered, it is an important and radical move towards establishing the new regulatory regime.

Thomas Lane is group technical editor of Building

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Implementing the Hackitt review: next steps forward

Book your tickets for our 13 June conference

On 13 June at 3pm we are holding a short conference dedicated to next steps after Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report. Taking place just after the launch of the government consultation on the Hackitt review and the Steering Group on Competence’s publication of its final recommendations, Building Live’s conference will bring together a range of experts to debate impact of the new regulatory framework, as well as the lessons learned since the fire and what these mean for clients and the supply chain. 

Speakers at the conference will include:

  • Peter Baker, director of the HSE Building Safety Programme Response
  • Nick Coombe, strategic technical adviser for the London Fire Brigade
  • Andrew Mellor, partner in architect PRP
  • Martin Taylor, director of regulatory policy at Local Authority Building Control
  • Jim Martin, executive chair of Martin Arnold
  • Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council and chair of the Competence Steering Group
  • Graeme Whitty, director for technical improvement at Willmott Dixon

Visit to view the full programme of the conference on 13 June at the Bloomsbury Hotel, London, and to book your tickets. Early bird rate only £99 + VAT.