Impacts on the role of the structural engineer
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Impacts on the role of the structural engineer

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Overview of the Building Safety Act and the impacts on the role of the structural engineer.

The Building Safety Act is designed to give residents more power to hold builders and developers to account and toughen sanctions against those who threaten their safety.

The Building Safety Regulator oversees the new regime and is responsible for ensuring that any building safety risks in new and existing higher-risk residential buildings of 18m and above (or of seven storeys or more) are effectively managed and resolved.

This includes implementing specific gateway points at the design, construction, and completion phases to ensure that safety is considered at each stage of a building’s construction, and safety risks are considered at the earliest stage of the planning process.

The duties of cooperation, coordination, communication, and competence apply to the duty holders (clients, principal designers, designers, principal contractors, contractors) for building work associated with higher-risk buildings.

These changes simplify the existing system to ensure high standards are continuously met, with a ‘golden thread’ of information created, stored, and updated throughout the building’s lifecycle, establishing clear obligations on owners and enabling swift action to be taken by the regulator, wherever necessary.

The Act also includes measures to prevent leaseholders from being responsible for the remediation costs of their building.

Implementation

Primary legislation sets out
  • The scope of the Act

  • Amendments to existing (Building) regulations

  • Secondary legislation scope​

Secondary legislation
  • The government has now published the secondary legislation alongside the introduction of the Act. The secondary legislation sets out technical definitions, excludes certain buildings from the regime, and, for the design and construction regime, defines the use criteria for a building to be covered.

Technical scope

The Building Safety Act defines building safety risks as relating only to fire spread and structural failure, although other hazards may be added.
Government-commissioned research by the Health and Safety Executive concluded that the major accident hazards in a higher-risk building would largely be rapid onset escalating fire, structural, or explosion events. 

The regulations, such as duty holder requirements and competence, will apply to all work to which the Building Regulations 2010 apply. Additional requirements will apply to higher-risk (residential) buildings (HRBs), such as the Golden Thread, Gateways, and Saftey Case provisions.

Oversight

The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) oversees the safety and performance of all buildings, as well as having a special focus on high-rise buildings. It promotes competence and organisational capability within the sector including for building control professionals and tradespeople.

The National Construction Products as part of the OPSS oversees a more effective construction products regulatory regime and lead and co-ordinate market surveillance and enforcement in this sector across the UK.

The New Homes Ombudsman Scheme allows relevant owners of newbuild homes to escalate complaints to a New Homes Ombudsman. Developers of new-build homes will be to become a member of the New Homes Ombudsman Scheme.

The Building Safety Regulator

The new Building Safety Regulator is at the heart of the reforms. Housed in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it is responsible for overseeing the “safety and performance of all buildings”.
The three broad functions of the Building Safety Regulator are:

  • Implement the new, more stringent regulatory regime for higher-risk buildings

  • ​Oversee the safety and performance of all buildings

  • Assist and encourage competence among the built environment industry, and registered building inspectors.

There are also registers of occupied high-rise buildings, building inspectors, and building control approvers.

Duty holders

The regulations set out the framework of duties for those persons and organisations (duty holders) who commission, design, and undertake building work to which building regulations apply:

  • Client

  • ​Principal Designer

  • Designers

  • Principal Contractor

  • Contractors

Duty holders need to work together to plan, manage, and monitor the design work and the building work, ensure they cooperate and communicate with each other, coordinate their work, and have systems in place to ensure that building work, including design work, complies with all relevant building regulations.

The regulations also set out the competence requirements (i.e. the skills, knowledge, experience, and behaviours) that those duty holders need to have to undertake work and ensure that those they appoint are also competent to carry out that work.

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