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28 Sep 2023 < Back

The Building Safety Act and Waterproofing

The PCA 2023 International Structural Waterproofing Conference took place a couple of months ago now and one of the big topics at the event was The Building Safety Act (BSA). Whilst it was a common theme throughout the day, it was examined in detail by Laura Beveridge of Visqueen and a video of that presentation is available for those who were unable to attend the conference, and/or for anyone wishing to share it with colleagues or to watch again.

The objective of the Building Safety Act

An overriding objective of the BSA is to promote competence within the construction industry. So I was somewhat disheartened when during an audit this week, there were still gripes over encountering large contractors / housing associations who are appointing unqualified contractors simply because they were cheaper. Admittedly the Act is not in full effect yet, but clearly the mindset has still not shifted from 'the great race to the bottom' described by Dame Judith Hackett.

Will the Act actually have an impact?

The Act has been described as “very much a work in progress” with much of the second legislation still being enacted. Ultimately it won’t be until claims are made that we truly understand the full impact of the Act. That said, there are already worrying signs.

As part of the Act, higher risk residential buildings (defined as those over 18m in height) have to register with the new Building Safety Regulator (BSR), which sits within the Health & Safety Executive, by the 1st October 2023. It is estimated that this accounts for around 12,500 properties, but it is believed that approximately 2,400 have failed to register with just days to go before the deadline!

What else is being implemented on 1st October 2023? 

The Building Safety Regulator undertakes three core functions, including:

  • implementing the new, more stringent regulatory regime for buildings that meet the higher-risk building (HRB) definition in the Building Safety Act
  • overseeing the safety and standards of all buildings
  • assisting and encouraging competence among the built environment industry and the building control profession

Significantly, the Building Safety Regulator will have the ability to make and recover charges in connection with the performance of a relevant function, much like HSE’s fee for intervention scheme. More details on the Building Safety Regulator charging scheme can be found via the button below.

Building Safety Regulator charging scheme >>

Will the Act affect waterproofing?

The Act is about safety so knowing what impact it will have on the world of waterproofing is difficult, particularly at this stage when we are still very much waiting for secondary legislation to be enacted. However, the Building Safety Act places a responsibility on the client to submit a declaration that they are satisfied that any person carrying out works are competent to carry out their roles.

The Building Safety Act also extends the limitations of the Defective Premises Act which states that homes must be ‘fit for habitation’, and cannot cause ill health or undue inconvenience which excessive water ingress will undoubtedly cause. At the moment, the Act places the greatest responsibility on the principal contractors and designers with it working much like the CDM regulations. Here the requirements of demonstrating competence seem to be a bit clearer, as set out in PAS 8671:2022 and PAS 8672:2022. The reality is that as specialist contractors, the likelihood is that it would be rare for members of the association to be allocated these roles.

Time will tell

Ultimately, as I've said, we won’t know the full impact until the dust begins to settle. We would like to see the Act encourage the use of qualified and competent contractors such as members of the Association however, this is not the first time I have spoken about concerns that 'the great race to the bottom' culture is very much alive and kicking.

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