The independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety is being led by Dame Judith Hackitt and the interim report was published in December 2017.
Its purpose is to make recommendations that will ensure we have a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future and to provide further assurance to residents that the complete system is working to ensure the buildings they live in are safe and remain so.
It is examining the building and fire safety regulatory system, with a focus on high-rise residential buildings.
Dame Judith comments, “As the review has progressed, it has become clear that the whole system of regulation, covering what is written down and the way in which it is enacted in practice, is not fit for purpose, leaving room for those who want to take shortcuts to do so.
"This should not be interpreted as meaning that buildings are unsafe. Major building failures, including large-scale fires, are very rare and there are many construction firms, building owners, landlords and others in the system who do the right thing and recognise their responsibilities.
"The unprecedented verification, interim mitigation and remediation work undertaken by fire and rescue services, local authorities and building owners since the summer have ensured that measures are in place to assure residents of high-rise buildings of their safety.
"My focus is to create a better system for the future which will be easier to work with, deliver better solutions everywhere and rebuild confidence.”
She continues, "A cultural and behavioural change is now required across the whole sector to deliver an effective system that ensures complex buildings are built and maintained so that they are safe for people to live in for many years after the original construction.
"The mind-set of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings to others must stop. Everyone’s focus must be on doing the right things because it is their responsibility as part of a system which provides buildings that are safe and sustainable for those who will live in and use them for many decades".
The work of the review to date has found that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose. This applies throughout the life cycle of a building, both during construction and occupation, and is a problem connected both to the culture of the construction industry and the effectiveness of the regulations.
7 interim recommendations and challenges
- The government should consider how the suite of Approved Documents could be structured and ordered to provide a more streamlined, holistic view while retaining the right level of relevant technical detail, with input from the Building Regulations Advisory Committee.
- There is a need to be certain that those working on the design, construction, inspection and maintenance of complex and high-risk buildings are suitably qualified.
- Consultation with the fire and rescue services is required on plans for buildings that are covered by the Fire Safety Order, but does not work as intended.
- Building developers need to ensure that there is a formal review and handover process ahead of occupation of any part of a new high-rise residential building.
- There is a need for building control bodies to do more to assure that fire safety information for a building is provided by the person completing the building work to the responsible person for the building in occupation.
- It is currently the case under the Fire Safety Order that fire risk assessments for high rise residential buildings must be carried out ‘regularly’. It is recommended that the responsible person ensures these are undertaken at least annually and when any significant alterations are made to the building.
- The government should significantly restrict the use of desktop studies to approve changes to cladding and other systems to ensure that they are only used where appropriate and with sufficient, relevant test evidence.
This interim report provides the findings to date and direction of travel for the review, ahead of a final report expected to be submitted in spring 2018.
Interested parties are asked to provide feedback on this report which can be sent to BuildingRegulationsandFireSafetyReview@communities.gsi.gov.uk or in writing to:
Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety
3rd Floor Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF