The construction industry has faced a swathe of changes, following the implementation of the Building Safety Act 2022 (“the Act”). Considering its gravitas and its far-reaching powers that can affect many, there is precious little content out there warning those within the sector of the key changes the Act has brought about.
The Building Safety Act 2022 : Key Changes
The Building Safety Act received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, following a legislative process that lasted almost 3 years. Designed to tighten regulation in the construction industry following the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Act marks the most radical change to the industry in 50 years.
Who is Affected?
The Act applies to a wide range of parties, from developers, landlords and tenants, to those who commission construction work, including designers and contractors. Certain parts of the Act apply to both commercial and residential buildings, but the Act places specific controls and obligations on “high-risk buildings”, defined as residential buildings, including student accommodation, hospitals and care homes that are at least 18 metres or seven storeys high.
Top Takeaways for Businesses
The Act has created a new regulator, namely the Building Safety Regulator (“BSR”). The BSR is appointed on high-risk construction projects from planning, up to occupation of the building and have the power to impose spot notices, fire notices and even the opportunity to prosecute businesses and individuals for supplying/installing dangerous products or buildings that fall foul of the Act. The Act delves into detail as to what constitutes a “defective” product/building, but businesses affected by the Act should know that the punishments associated with breaching the Act range from fines to up to 2 years’ imprisonment.
Following on from this, the costs linked with remedying safety defects (ie. removing/replacing unsafe cladding) are not recoverable from leaseholders of “long leases” and instead, developers/freeholders and landlords are now responsible for such costs. Not only does this place additional responsibilities on these parties, contractors and manufacturers will be increasingly sought by building owners to recover costs associated with correcting safety defects.
The importance of building owners to be involved in all stages of a construction project is becoming increasingly clear. However, the industry still awaits the full effects of the Act to sink in, and for the much-needed improvements required to health and safety within the sector to be felt.
If you would like more advice on the Building Safety Act 2022 or have any construction queries please contact Fainche Whelan.