Draft Safety Bill: 6 Key Takeaways for Architects

Architect Drawings
Architect Drawings

The government published the draft of its new Building Safety Bill in July earlier this year in an attempt to regulate the construction industry and ensure the safety of every resident. This Bill details a wide range of changes, including stringent requirements for fire safety and the introduction of a Building Safety Regulator to regulate and control the industry. Here are six key takeaways from the Bill specifically for architects:

The New Building Safety Regulator

The most significant introduction in the new Bill is the role of a Building Safety Regulator. The regulator  will be responsible for introducing a better safety system and wields the power to impose sanctions and regulations to ensure that the safety system is upheld. The role of the Building Safety Regulator will also be to introduce various steps to improve the competence and capabilities of landlords, architects and developers.  

More Stringent Regulations for High-risk Buildings

The new draft Bill also talks about the various duty holders in the construction process and through the lifecycle of the building, who will have the main responsibility for managing risks across the design, construction and occupation of buildings. The Bill proposes three main gateway points during the planning, design and construction stages to ensure that building safety risks are minimised. At each stage of planning, design and construction, the regulator must review and give approval for the project to progress. The architect will require approval at the gateway two stage before construction begins to ensure that the design meets the functional requirements of the building regulations. 

Enforcements and Sanctions

The newly appointed Building Safety Regulator will have various powers to ensure enforcement and sanctions against non-compliance. These powers would include issuing compliance notices for the buildings that fail to meet regulations and issuing stop notices for serious non-compliances found during the construction phase. Violation of the recommendations of the Building Safety Regulator could result in imprisonment and an unlimited fine for the responsible parties.

Competence of Architects

The draft Bill gives power to the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to monitor the competence over time of the architects on their register. Additionally, the ARB will also have the power to remove architects from the register for incompetence, professional breaches or any other serious issues. They will also be allowed to publicly issue and display sanctions in case of misconduct to increase the transparency for consumers. 

Construction Products

To regulate the industry and uphold standards, products used in construction available on the UK market will also be regulated under the provisions of the draft Bill. The Bill introduces the concept of a critical safety product, and the Secretary of State would have the power to make regulations for these products. The Bill will also give the Secretary of State the power to enforce regulations to build national oversight in the central government. 

Building Control Reform

The Bill, through various unified professional and regulatory structure, aims to bring about building control reforms. This will be done by the introduction of the Building Safety Regulator who would maintain a register of building control approvers and building inspectors. 

Find out more about the reforms introduced in the draft Building Safety Bill on the government website here (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-building-safety-Bill )