CIC proposes creation of a Building Standards Agency
The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has proposed the creation of a Building Standards Agency to oversee construction and building management.
The recommendation comes as part of its response to Dame Judith Hackitt's independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety.
The CIC, which represents 500,000 individual professionals and more than 25,000 firms of construction consultants, said the Building Standards Agency should have a "clear objective" of ensuring that buildings are built to be safe and remain safe throughout their operational life.
It would be responsible for a number of measures recommended by Hackitt, including setting competency standards for local authority and independent building control professionals, and managing the mandatory reporting system, including the process for imposing sanctions for non-reporting.
In response to Hackitt’s review, the CIC said it wanted to see systemic change in the building industry that applied to all buildings, while those buildings that present higher risks to occupants - a wider estate than the 10-storey residential buildings that Hackett is suggesting - should be subject to enhanced regulatory oversight during design, construction and occupation.
Defining 'higher-risk' buildings
And it set out how it wants the new regulatory regime to address risk in a proportionate way, based on three categories: higher-risk building work (with greater life safety risks); complex building work; and simple building work.
Higher risk should not be solely defined by height but also include buildings where people sleep or are occupied by vulnerable people such as schools, hospitals, care homes and some leisure buildings, it said.
Meanwhile, government should retain responsibility for regulatory policy and for setting performance standards for building work, while compliance and enforcement should be delivered through a "revised and more robust" building control framework, operating at the local level.
It also took issue with Hackitt's combined recommendation, as part of her proposal for a Joint Competent Authority (JCA), for more robust local building control activity aligned with fire and rescue and health and safety agencies, alongside the need for some form of national oversight of the building control system.
Unclear boundaries between local and national
"It is unclear quite how this combination of local and national activity is to be achieved, especially when building control and fire and rescue are services that are both provided and accountable locally," the CIC said.
It has therefore recommended the separation of enhanced joint local provision (bringing together building control, fire and rescue and health and safety as recommended by Hackitt) from the governance of building regulations, associated guidance and the compliance and enforcement regime over the whole life of a building, including oversight of building control professionals.
In order to make the compliance framework more robust, CIC called for the initial responsibility for compliance to rest with clients through a "clearly independent" certifier/verifier regime, whereby independent building control professionals advise on and jointly certify that building work is compliant, which is then verified by Local Authority Building Standards.
To read the CIC’s full response, click here.