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The Building Safety Regulator — navigating the new framework

19 minutes read

Contractors, Developers & Asset Owners

High-rise residential buildings against a sunset-lit sky

The Building Safety Regulator and its new regulatory framework are now fully established in law. As of April 2024, the transitional period for the new building safety regime is over and both the Building Safety Act and the Higher-Risk Residential Building (HRRB) regime now require the industry to put its preparation and response into practice.

Read on for a comprehensive guide to navigating the new building safety regulatory framework established by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) in the UK. From understanding key decision points to maintaining a golden thread of information and meeting mandatory reporting requirements, this blog should equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the complexities of the new building safety regime.

Skip ahead using the side navigation to see what you should be prioritising during the design and construction of HRRBs and when a building is occupied.

As a company focused on supporting our customers with Building Safety Act information requirements and compliance here are some of our solutions that could help you manage this complex legislation.

>> Common Data Environment (CDE)

>> Gateway 3 Management

>> High-Risk Building Compliance

>> Building Risk Assessment Management

The Building Safety Regulator in context: Building Safety Act bodies and roles and responsibilities

The final report issued in the wake of the Grenfell Tower Fire, ‘Building a Safer Future Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety’, uncovered system failure in building regulations. A complete overhaul in the way we build high-rise and complex structures in which people live was required and The Building Safety Act was introduced.

Firstly, the Act introduced three new bodies to facilitate effective oversight: the National Regulator of Construction Products, the New Homes Ombudsman, and the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

The National Construction Products Regulator (NRCP) will improve construction products regulation and enforce it across the UK. It has begun enforcement under the Construction Products (Amendment) Regulations 2022, which came into force in July 2022.

The New Homes Ombudsman Scheme is managed by the New Homes Ombudsman Service. It enables owners of new-build homes to raise complaints to an Ombudsman. The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB), an independent not-for-profit body established to oversee reforms in the build quality of new homes, covers its expenses through a levy. This levy is paid by Registered Developers and accredited suppliers who have signed up with the NHQB and follow the New Homes Quality Code.

To learn more about the NHQB read our blog, ‘New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) compliance explained’ or, to find out more about Zutec’s affiliation as an NHQB-accredited supplier, read our news article on being one of the first Quality Management software accredited suppliers here.

The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) will supervise building safety and performance, with a particular emphasis on high-rise structures. It will also enhance competence and capability in the sector, including among building control professionals and tradespeople.

Secondly, the Act identifies new dutyholders known as accountable persons responsible for managing fire and structural safety risks in high-rise residential buildings.

Accountable Persons (APs) are responsible for evaluating and overseeing these risks, including preventing safety incidents, reducing their severity, and repairing common building parts.

Principal Accountable Persons (PAPs) are individuals or entities overseeing APs and ensuring compliance. They must register buildings, provide Key Building Information, ensure Completion Certificates, prepare Safety Case Reports, and submit updates to the Building Safety Regulator upon request and manage Building Assessment Certificates — which need to be reviewed every 5 years.

Additionally, the PAP is accountable for operating a mandatory occurrence reporting system for the high-rise residential building they are responsible for. This system must be in place so the PAP can report and submit mandatory building safety incidents and risks as “safety occurrences” to the BSR.

Information about the system must also be shared with residents for their involvement and consultation. A resident engagement strategy can help with this.

In some cases, the Principal Accountable Person or an Accountable Person may also serve as the Responsible Person, required by the Fire Safety Order 2005 to conduct fire risk assessments for workplace, commercial, or residential buildings.

PAPs and APs can determine if the building they are responsible for is a higher-risk building using the following guidelines:

Higher-Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs)

Buildings with at least two residential units which are at least 18 metres in height or have at least seven storeys.

Who is the Building Safety Regulator (BSR)?

In the wake of the Building Safety Act, the BSR will oversee and enforce stringent safety standards from the planning and design phases, throughout the construction process and into occupation and refurbishment to ensure the delivery and maintenance of buildings that are safe now and in the future.

The BSR is currently being led by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who has been working with stakeholders across the industry, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Home Office, local regulators, building control bodies, residents, building owners, housing providers, the construction industry, the Local Government Association, Local Authority Building Control, and the National Fire Chiefs Council to secure the safety of people in and around buildings and improve standards. Their core responsibilities include:

  • The Implementation of the new more stringent regulatory regime for high-rise buildings in England
  • Overseeing and enforcing the new regime throughout the life cycle of high-rise buildings
  • Acting as the building control authority for high-rise building projects
  • Overseeing the safety and performance of all buildings
  • Providing guidance on existing and emerging building standards and safety risks
  • Promoting competence among industry professionals to raise the standards in building design, construction and management

To learn more about the Building Safety Regulator’s approach to enforcing the Building Safety Act, read the fact sheet here.

Mapping the new building safety regulatory framework

As part of the Building Safety Act, the new building regulatory framework was designed to create a more simple and effective mechanism for driving building safety and providing stronger oversight of dutyholders.

Incentives have been put in place for the right behaviours, and effective sanctions will be issued for poor performance while reasserting the role of residents and providing them with greater transparency of information for things such as fire risk assessments or any significant building alterations.

A framework for stronger oversight

The framework includes the nomination of HSE as a statutory consultee for planning applications, a Joint Competent Authority (JCA) comprised of the HSE, Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRA) and Local Authority Building Standards to provide oversight of relevant dutyholders, the implementation of key decision points, the creation of a golden thread of building information and mandatory reporting.

The new decision points called Gateways, follow a series of inspections, evaluations, and assessments of the design and construction process at designated stop/go decision points. At these points, any potential safety risks can be identified and rectified before building work begins, is completed, and before buildings can be occupied. APs will be assessed by the BSR to ensure structural safety and fire risks have been addressed and that work complies with regulations at these designated stop/go decision points. There are three Gateways in total, which cover:

  • Gateway 1: Fire safety considerations inherent within the design proposals of relevant buildings must be demonstrated before planning permission is granted.
  • Gateway 2: Construction cannot begin until the BSR is satisfied that the design meets the functional requirements of the building regulation, and a building control approval application has been submitted and approved.
  • Gateway 3: A completion certificate application must be submitted and approved to confirm that a HRRB complies with all applicable requirements of the building regulation.

Gateways: New decision points during design and construction

New regulatory procedures outlined in the Building Safety Act introduce decision points known as Gateways to strengthen oversight and regulatory control over high-rise buildings.

To learn more about the Building Safety Act Gateways and understand how we’re helping Contractors and Asset Owners unlock Gateway 3 at Practical Completion (PC) read our blog, Gateway 3 of the Building Safety Act Explained.

Having a mechanism in place to connect information exchange between gateways is essential. This is especially significant now that the transitional period for the new building safety regime set out by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) is over and now fully established in law.

Navigating information in different systems and formats can slow down decisions and communication across stakeholders, ultimately holding up submissions and approvals at these key junctures. This is why adopting a platform built to BSA gateway specification, such as Zutec’s Gateway 3 Management solution could be the best way to help get the following regulatory obligations in order:

Under the new regime, Asset Owners who wish to construct a high-rise residential building must first seek planning permission, and then satisfy key building safety risks and key responsibilities during the design process to gain approval. Only when the JCA deems building work has been completed in accordance with key building safety risks and key responsibilities will a Completion Certificate be issued.

A Golden Thread of information must also be created. This includes data from the client, principal designer or principal contractor and the building owner — each of whom must maintain a golden thread (see below). Additionally, a pre-occupation assessment must be completed, and a Safety Case submitted, where the review frequency must be agreed upon for the building to be ready for occupation. See the diagram below.

Mapping the new building safety regulatory framework — construction and occupation of a higher-risk residential building (HRRB)
Appendix B of Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report: Mapping the new building safety regulatory framework — construction and occupation of a higher risk residential building (HRRB)

When does the Building Safety Regulator start?

Following independent advice from Dame Judith Hackitt, the Government announced the establishment of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in January 2020. Since then, the BSR has been engaged with residents, building owners, the construction industry, and professionals to create a new regime to manage building safety risks. 2023 was a defining year, with the new building safety framework operating to the below timetable:

April 2023

  • In April 2023, registration for existing occupied high-rise buildings opened, granting accountable persons a 6-month window to register with the BSR by 1st October 2023.

October 2023

  • The deadline for registering existing occupied high-rise buildings passed. From this point, all new buildings must be registered before being occupied.
  • The BSR became the Building Control Authority on 1st October 2023 for all higher-risk buildings in England. From this date, developers were required to apply to the BSR for building control approval before starting building work on any projects involving HRRBs in England.
  • The registers for building control inspectors and approvers opened ahead of registration becoming mandatory in April 2024.
  • Any new HRRBs (that fall within the new regime — see note below) can only be occupied after the BSR has checked that the building work is compliant and has issued the building with a Completion Certificate.

N.B. Transitional period: If HRRB projects meet the following criteria they would continue to completion using the old regulatory regime.

  1. An initial notice has been given to a local authority (and not rejected) or full plans deposited with a local authority (and not rejected) before 1st October 2023.
  2. And, a notice has been given to the local authority (and the local authority has received the notice) confirming that the works are sufficiently progressed before 6 April.
  3. And where the initial notice was given by an approved inspector, that approved inspector has become a "registered building control approver" before 6 April 2024.

However, the approved inspector overseeing the project must have registered as a building control approver by 6th April 2024 to enable them to continue supervising the ongoing HRRB work. For more information read the Building Safety Regulator FAQ Explainer here.

April 2024

  • Building control inspectors and approvers must register.
  • By April 2024, a Building Safety Case and Building Safety Report must be completed for all occupied HRRBs. Accountable Persons must present their Safety Case Reports to apply for a building assessment certificate for their HRRBs when invited by the BSR.

Prepare for high-risk building compliance

Process, structure, categorise, and review all your building documents in one platform.

The Golden Thread of Information

Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report called for a radical rethink of the regulatory system covering high-rise complex buildings. Inadequate supervision and role clarity in design, construction, and maintenance tasks led to a lack of change control, putting residents at risk in occupied buildings.

This uncovered the need for a ‘golden thread’ of information that would ensure dutyholders are able to identify, understand, manage, and mitigate building safety risks throughout the life cycle of a building. It’s governed by The Higher-Risk Buildings (Management of Safety Risks etc) (England) Regulations 2023 which came into force on the 13th of January 2024.

Those responsible for building safety are required to create and maintain a secure, accessible and compliant digital record of HRRBs so that they can easily surface the right information at the right time in order to keep residents and their buildings safe.

Who must keep information about a building?

You must keep a digital record of information about a building if you are:

  • A client, principal designer or principal contractor working on a project that involves a higher-risk building.
  • An accountable person or principal accountable person responsible for a high-rise residential building.

The golden thread of information ensures you can:

  • Demonstrate compliance with legal duties across design, construction and operation.
  • Access up-to-date information to manage a building safely and prove risk has been mitigated.

N.B. The information must be available to regulatory bodies such as the BSR, Fire and Rescue Services, other building bodies, other accountable persons for the building and residents or owners of residential units in the building.

How to get your information in order for the building safety regulatory framework

Getting your information in order to meet new responsibilities and requirements is not easy if you don’t have a consistent approach to digitally documenting your building information.

This is especially difficult if you don’t have a unified platform able to house all your building information in one place and create an audit trail of changes to underpin building safety management throughout the asset lifecycle.

Information must be accurate, accessible and up to date at all times to ensure the right people have the right information at the right time to make informed decisions.

Here’s what you should be prioritising during the design and construction of HRRBs and when a building is occupied.

During design, planning and construction of a higher-risk building

The first thing to consider is how you will create a digital record-keeping system where you can easily capture and update building information and control and manage user access at different stages of a project. It’s vital to have a clear view of changes made over time and that they are justifiable and compliant with Building Safety Act legislation. This starts at the design and planning stages, so it is imperative that the client takes proactive steps to establish a comprehensive digital record of all building activities, to capture detailed work as a construction project begins.

Zutec Gateway 3 Management Dashboard Compliance
Zutec Gateway 3 Dashboard displaying compliance breakdown by group

Zutec’s Common Data Environment (CDE) allows the client, principal designer and principal contractor to share and maintain information that describes a building and shows how it complies with building regulations. This can be done across an entire building property portfolio.

This digital record serves as a crucial repository of information, capturing every stage of the construction process from inception to completion. By documenting key milestones, materials used, design specifications, and any alterations made along the way, this digital record ensures transparency, accountability, and compliance with regulatory standards. Having all this information in one place makes it easier to:

  1. Prepare the documents you will need when applying for building control approval.
    1. This must include drawings and plans, and Fire and Emergency (FEF) file, a change control log with an effective audit trail and more.
  2. Gather information and relevant safety information to submit to the BSR when applying for a completion certificate and passing Gateway 3.
    1. This must include record and evidence of the design work during the construction phase and have a mechanism in place to deliver relevant fire safety information to the Responsible Person.
  3. Register Higher-Risk Residential Buildings and submit Key Building Information.
    1. This information must be provided to the BSR within 28 days of registration.
  4. Prepare building safety risk documents and structural safety details so they are readily available to build a Safety Case.

Only when this formal handover has occurred will occupation be able to commence.

When a building is occupied or could be occupied by residents

Having your building information at your fingertips for all in-use buildings is equally as important. This information will be used by the dutyholders to demonstrate to the regulator the safety of the building throughout its life cycle, as well as how they will effectively manage it.

As of April 2024, a Building Safety Case and Building Safety Report must be completed for all occupied Higher-Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs).

If you are a contractor, you are now legally required to keep a robust record of building safety risk documents and structural safety details, so they are readily available to the building owner when the building is ready for use.

If you are an asset owner, you must now submit a copy of your Safety Case Report to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) when requested for each occupied building in order to secure a Building assessment certificate.

Zutec Gateway 3 Management Dashboard BSA Key Building Information
Zutec Gateway 3 Dashboard displaying Building Safety Act Key Building Information list of documents

Zutec's standardised approach offers a seamless solution for digitising and organising documentation related to Safety Case Reports, making the daunting task of managing vast amounts of documentation simplified and efficient.

From the health and safety file to resident engagement strategies, risk assessment documentation and key building information, Zutec’s High-Risk Building Compliance solution centralises all documentation in a secure and easily searchable digital repository.

Having a central repository of digital and structured HRRB documentation you will be able to more easily:

  1. Provide a Safety Case Report promptly to the BSR upon request to show how you will assess and manage building safety risks in your buildings, including the spread of fire and structural failure.
  2. Understand the fire safety strategy for the buildings you are responsible for.
  3. Prepare and update a resident engagement strategy to keep residents informed and consulted on any building safety decisions.

This will not only help you demonstrate compliance with the BSR, but it will ensure the responsible party will be able to plan for emergencies, as well as manage ongoing building work, that affects a building’s safety.

By digitising information and documents to support building safety in one platform, all your in-use building information is at your fingertips across an entire asset portfolio where you can ensure any missing data is identified and completed so you have the right documents to be compliant.

Assessing building safety risks in High-Risk Residential Buildings

Accountable Persons (APs) are required to carry out risk assessments at regular intervals, when current assessments have expired or when asked to do so by the Building Safety Regulator. This forms part of a building’s Safety Case.

By assessing building safety risks APs can better understand their buildings, enabling more informed decisions to prevent safety incidents or minimise their severity. It also helps identify additional steps to further reduce risks and demonstrate effective risk management.

Consideration should be given to various scenarios, including fire and structural risks, and existing control measures should be reviewed and maintained effectively in an effective safety management system.

To address these challenges, Zutec offers a Building Risk Assessment Management solution to help you simplify and enhance the process of identifying, assessing, and managing building-related risks.

With this solution, you can plan, organise, control, monitor and review the measures you have taken to manage the safety risks in your parts of the building in one platform across an entire portfolio of buildings.

To learn more about how Zutec can help you digitise information and documents to support the new building regulatory framework take a look at Zutec’s High-Risk Building Compliance solution or to track information and digital evidence at Gateway 3 to secure Completion Certificates read our Gateway 3 Management solution page. Or if you need help digitising incomplete or disorganised building information for in-use buildings, find out more about Zutec’s Building Data Migration solution here.