The government has announced that it will consult in the spring over proposals for a “digital by default” standard of record keeping for the design and construction of high-risk residential buildings.
The plan was revealed as it announced that it would implement all the recommendations put forward by Dame Judith Hackitt in her review of Building Regulations and fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
In its Building a Safer Future – An Implementation Plan, launched by the secretary of state for housing this week, the government says that it will consult on a tough new regulatory framework, to ensure that a digital record is maintained throughout the occupation of buildings.
The Implementation plan says: “The government recognises the importance of a ‘golden thread’ of information to both quality and safety and accepts the need for a digital record of key building information in the new regulatory framework.
“Building Information Modelling (BIM) Level 2 has already been mandated for government-procured projects. Many organisations involved in the design, construction and management of residential buildings are already embracing BIM and better digital record keeping, and seeing the benefits to their businesses, clients and residents.
“There are a range of technical solutions on the market for BIM and it is important that there is a level of consistency in digital record keeping, ensuring that information is available in an accessible format for all key users, across all stages of the building’s lifecycle.”
The implementation plan set out a raft of measures to take forward Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations. These include the creation of a Joint Regulators Group made up of key regulatory partners (including LABC, fire authorities and HSE) that will help to pilot new approaches and, in due course, to assist with the transition to a new regulatory framework.
It also set out a broad scope of consultation in the spring, informed by ongoing research and the input of the Joint Regulators Group:
- The scope of the new regime and whether higher-risk residential buildings should be wider than the 10-storeys proposed by Dame Judith Hackitt, to include other multi-occupied residential buildings where a significant fire or structural failure could put many people’s lives at risk;
- Proposals for creating dutyholder responsibilities that will set out in law who owns and needs to manage building safety risks at different stages of the lifecycle of the buildings in scope – along the lines of those in the CDM regulations;
- Proposals for a stronger and more effective enforcement and sanctions regime for buildings in scope;
- How the “gateways” proposed in the review could be implemented in practice for buildings in scope;
- What a safety case regime would look like to provide assurance that safety risks are being managed appropriately for buildings in scope during their lifecycle;
- Making fire and rescue authorities statutory consultees in the planning process for multi-occupied residential buildings of 30 metres or more (10 storeys or more) in advance of the establishment of the new regulatory framework;
- Proposals for managing the provision of building control within the new regulatory framework and the role of Approved Inspectors in supporting dutyholders for buildings in scope;
- Options for a more effective regulatory framework to oversee the new regime, including the option of establishing a statutory Joint Competent Authority (as recommended by the review) that would sit at the centre of a stronger regulatory framework for buildings in scope;
- Proposals for a “digital by default” standard of record keeping for the design and construction of buildings in scope and to ensure that this digital record is maintained throughout the occupation of buildings for buildings in scope;
- Proposals for how dutyholders would collect, hold, analyse and make available the data that constitutes the “golden thread”.
The government says that the proposals will “create a more effective regulatory and accountability framework to provide greater oversight of the industry – and introduce clearer standards and guidance, including establishing a new Standards Committee to advise on construction product and system standards and regulations”.
In addition to setting out its plans to implement the changes called for by Dame Judith Hackitt, a full review of fire safety guidance within Approved Document B and other building regulations has also been launched.
Secretary of state for communities, James Brokenshire, said: “There is nothing more important than being safe in your own home and I am determined to improve building safety. My plan for stronger, tougher rules will make sure there is no hiding place for those who flout building safety rules.
“By making people responsible and more accountable for safety, we will create a more rigorous system so residents will always have peace of mind that they are safe in their own homes.”