Written evidence submitted by the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists [BSB 285]
Building Safety Bill: Call for evidence
The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, (CIAT), is the lead body in Architectural Technology; it represents circa 10,000 Architectural Technology professionals
Chartered Architectural Technologists are the lead for the technological and technical design of a project; forming the link between concept, innovation and realisation. They are qualified to identify, investigate, research and evaluate the needs, functions and aspirations of society within the built environment and they ensure that projects are designed and constructed to be economical, environmentally sustainable and robust to perform efficiently and effectively within their planned life.
Chartered Architectural Technologists are qualified and competent in their field of practice such as offering full design services and managing building projects from conception to completion. The depth and breadth of specific functions may vary within the wide range of job roles of the Chartered Architectural Technologist but they must be conversant with the main aspects relating to design, technology, management and practice within a national and international context.
How well does the Bill, as drafted, meet the Government’s own policy intentions?
CIAT welcomes the draft Building Safety Bill as an enabling legislation to implement ‘Building A Safer Future’, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety and other ongoing related activities led by BSI on competences.
CIAT supports the need for accountability for building safety at each stage of a project, including the requirement for an Accountable Person and the various duty-holders, linked to the process of planning, designing, construction and using buildings.
We recognise that this proposed Bill must link with and be cross referenced to other existing legislation that is in place or under development. In particular, this needs to be transparent regarding clarity of purpose when there are titles, roles and functions in existing legislation such as the CDM Regulations 2015.
The roles during the design, construction and refurbishment of buildings in the new regulatory regime are the same as those identified in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, commonly known as the CDM Regulations 2015. However, the functions relating to the roles are different and it essential that these are made clear and be unambiguous.
For example, the function of the proposed principal designer and principal contractor roles under the proposed draft Building Safety Bill require different competences and skills to those required under CDM and the doubling-up of these responsibilities will need to be clear and understandable to a range of stakeholders and users. We are currently working with BSI on such competencies and this has been identified as a key issue.
There are a number of areas that need further exploration and definition as the proposed draft legislation confuses roles and functions within the draft relating to principal designer and lead designer and furthermore to obligations cross referenced to CDM 2015 such as responsibilities for compliance with building regulations .
There needs to be absolute clarity on each role and function, and we are concerned and doubtful that this is currently correct, understood and clear within the draft. We would be pleased to enter into a constructive dialogue with the Government to inform and help resolve these issues as we as an institute have significant experience in this field particularly in the practice and application of such legislation.
It is of significance importance that this is resolved to ensure that all parties, particularly clients, building users and the public are not confused by terminology, title, role and function.
We would wish to avoid creating additional titles to the long list that is used within the industry and this also applies to reference to building control approver as there is already a function of Approved Inspector.
As such, we recommend that further consideration is necessary in this whole area and suggest that the titles, roles and functions should be tested, with all stakeholders, for understanding, correctness, practicality and robustness, and to prevent confusion.
We would further recommend the testing of the processes and practices to ensure that they are workable, efficient and effective. This includes value for money and affordable services as the impact and cost of PII on professional consultants may lead to limitations in such service provision. The demand and supply must be balanced against policy need to ensure that there is a system that is affordable and workable within industry constraints. This includes timescale as duration must be carefully considered within the context of a building project.
Does the draft Bill establish an appropriate scope for the new regulatory system?
As a consequence, the draft Bill focuses on such building typologies and uses but we consider that for the industry and the users that this should be extended to other at risk buildings; as such, the Bill in its current form is limited in scope and does not cover other buildings in which people sleep and may also be vulnerable and at risk. As a result of this, the Bill, as currently drafted, will not capture the potential risks to loss of life in buildings that will remain out of scope to the proposed legislation.
Whilst understanding the Government’s underpinning rational and recognise the issues that may arise by bringing in other residential, including hotels and guest houses, it is essential that criteria other than height should be added as there are many residential high risk buildings that are significantly lower than high rise but are potentially and a propensity for significant loss of life.
Will the Bill provide for a robust – and realistic – system of accountability for those responsible for building safety? Are the sanctions on those who do not meet their responsibilities strong enough?
We note the expectation is that to achieve many of the improvements outlined in the draft Bill, a change in attitude, behaviour and culture within the industry is required and as an institute we are actively involved with the work of BSI in help making this a reality.
We support the proposition of mandatory and voluntary reporting schemes in support of improving overall building safety and believe this to be an important issue.
We note and support the need for competence of Built Environment Professionals and others engaged working on buildings within scope, will be developed under secondary legislation.
There is a need to clarify the implementation of such systems relating to accountability, including type of sanctions to ensure that robustness applies to all areas
Will the Bill provide strong mechanisms to ensure residents are listened to when they have concerns about their building’s safety?
We support the need of giving residents and other users a stronger voice and ensuring that their interests regarding the safety of their buildings is of paramount importance. There must be clarity of purpose, use and clear lines of communication to ensure that not only are residents voices heard but action is taken.
For this intention, we support the formal recognition of Residents’ Panels and the role of the Regulator to establish these with the participation of defined “relevant persons”
In adopting the pragmatic widening of the definition of ‘higher risk buildings’ there would need to be a broadening of intent to include all occupiers and users of higher risk buildings whether or not defined as resident.
This will require further consideration on the intent and proposals for stand-alone Residents’ Groups but is we believe, entirely consistent in working towards a safer environment for all.
Is the Government right to propose a new Building Safety Charge? Does the Bill introduce sufficient protections to ensure that leaseholders do not face excessive charges and that their funds are properly managed?
It is essential that leaseholders do not face unaffordable costs for the refurbishment of their buildings due to the historic use of materials now seen to be unsafe.
As previously stated, testing the workability of this and other aspects is crucial in the achievement of an affordable, efficient and effective model.
Does the Bill improve the product testing regime in a way that will command the full confidence of the sector?
CIAT supports the need for construction products to be brought within the regulatory framework to ensure greater testing and oversight of products; and that more safety-critical products should be required to be tested.
We suggest that Government considers the adoption of a system similar to Robust Details, that was implemented for noise as a system that would provide assured technical standard at an affordable price, encourage innovation but provide high standards of quality of design and installed construction.
Is it right that the new Building Safety Regulator be established under the Health and Safety Executive, and how should it be funded?
We support the establishment of the Building Safety Regulator under the Health and Safety Executive.
The considerable expertise of the HSE can be drawn upon for this purpose, and can be established within this organisation that has significant presence, credibility in the industry which already has long experience of working in close collaboration with other regulatory bodies and with the construction industry.
To deliver the new regime, it is essential that the new Regulator has a strong degree of independence from both the industry and government and the HSE has a track record of such independence.
The BSR will need to be funded by a mix of public and private funds and by recovering costs from regulated parties. We suggest, as like other areas the Government funding proposal of £16.4 million is sufficient to establish the shadow regulator at the level required for it to be effective and to provide the necessary momentum once the Bill has been enacted.
Does the Bill present an opportunity to address other building safety issues, such as requirements for sprinkler systems?
It is important that the Bill provides sufficient flexibility to consider secondary legislation or refers to existing legislation such as the building standards where such issues relating to active and passive safety issues can be implemented.
This also applies to competencies that are currently being developed by BSI.