Last July, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) published draft regulations under sections of the Building Safety Act 2022, that would help to clarify the high-level information about a higher-risk building (HRB) and who is responsible for what. Now in force, the Higher-Risk Buildings (Key Building Information) (England) Regulation 2023 marks a big step forward in improving the safety of HRBs further to Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations for a systemic review of building regulations.
Hackitt, who led the independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell fire, had a goal to establish, “a process that ensures there is effective oversight of materials, people and installation.”. With this legislation, she can now see the beginnings of a more accountable future where building owners and landlords are able to have clarity around building safety roles and responsibilities. And by making this information digitally accessible and up to date, sets in motion her vision of implementing a golden thread of information in the construction industry.
Under the Building Safety Act 2022, as of 6th April 2023 to October 2023, Principal Accountable Persons (PAPs) must now both register all HRBs and provide high-level information (Key Building Information) to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).
This means that every HRB must be registered with the Regulator by 1st October 2023. This includes any new buildings which are partly or fully completed, as well as existing residentially occupied buildings, leaving asset owners or PAPs just 6 months to register their buildings. The registered higher-risk buildings will be published by the Regulator so that residents and other interested parties can see that a building is registered and who is responsible for its fire and structural safety.
At the same time, the PAP has just 28 days from submitting an application for registration to provide Key Building Information. A PAP will need to do this for every building in their portfolio. And far more than a one-time exercise, whenever structural changes are made and key building information changes, updates must be submitted — again within 28 days.
The purpose of the Key Building Information is to empower those responsible for a building to make informed safety decisions, as well as provide “robust and proportionate oversight” so that everyone can take ownership and be held accountable for doing the right thing. Furthermore, this high-level information will help the Building Safety Regulator analyse trends more easily. If issues emerge in one building, they will be able to identify similar buildings that pose the same building or systems failure.
The high-level Key Building Information as defined in regulations 3 to 18 of The Higher-Risk Buildings (Key Building Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2023 is summarised below:
Use: The principal use of the higher-risk building, any ancillary buildings, outbuildings or storeys below ground must be defined, as well as whether there has been a change to the principal use since its construction.
Materials: A description of materials used in the external wall of the higher-risk building, as well as the roof, including the covering, layers of insulation and if it’s pitched or flat.
Fixture on external wall: The type of fixture and the material from which it is composed.
Structure: The main material used and the type of structural design the building has, which must comply with the Building Regulations 2010.
Storeys and staircases: The number of storeys below ground level, as well as the number of staircases and which storeys they serve.
Energy: The type of energy supply and energy storage system installed.
Emergency planning: A description of the type of evacuation strategy that is in place, as well as a list of the fire and smoke control equipment within the building and where it is located.
To be able to update their key building information easily, PAPs must ensure they have a robust digital and data infrastructure so that the Regulator has accurate and timely information, while duty holders can upload and update data as easily as possible in order for them to meet legal deadlines.
Requirements to identifying information about the entire building and collating it so that the right people have all the right information to ensure the safe management of a building during occupation will follow in further legislation. This will support compliance for maintaining a golden thread of information.
If you have a portfolio of legacy building stock and multiple developments or live projects on the go and none of your project handover or building information is digital and easily locatable, you’re likely struggling to account for all this information. With new legislation around the registration and delivery of high-level information for higher-risk buildings now in force, there’s never been a more important time to have all your documents in one place, and digitisation is the best route forward to build your building safe case.
But achieving consistent documentation that is easily accessible for your portfolio of building stock and developments can be a lengthy process. Adopting a fully managed service such as Createmaster’s makes it easy to process, structure and review all your documents for older and new buildings, in one platform. Experts can take your files and ensure your documents are templated, organised and categorised, and any information gaps or documents that need significant changes can be identified and reviewed.
By having all your documents hosted in one place, previously siloed building information of differing quality can be structured and standardised in a single digital platform, but also be structured ready for sharing with the BSR. When you have all your manuals, drawings and documentation in one place, including key building information, you no longer have to navigate disparate systems. When you have metadata that makes documents easily searchable, it’s far easier to submit required information to relevant parties.
Beyond the ability to make informed safety decisions, a golden thread of information will soon need to be maintained by those responsible for HRBs throughout occupation. Building owners and landlords will need to ensure all duty holders have the right information to hand at the right time to support ongoing building safety compliance. This will not be possible without a digital solution. Having a Golden thread dashboard that puts all building information and processes in one place to manage document collation, actions, approvals, gateways and compliance will no longer be a nice to have, but a non-negotiable.
If you’d like to find out how our team of experts can collate your information and standardise how you receive your documents, while linking documents to your BIM models with metadata so you can find them easily, get in touch for a demo. Or for more information, download our booklet about our Digital Retrofitting Solution.