Opinion

Reading the post-Hackitt roadmap

26 September 2018 | By Gavin Dunn

A speech this month may shed light on future industry regulation, says Gavin Dunn.

Gavin Dunn

Dame Judith Hackitt will this month provide further insight into her report: Building a Safer Future: Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

It has asked many searching questions of construction, including whether the sector is fit for purpose to deliver regulatory compliance, let alone ensure performance beyond the minimum standards set in law.

The government appears to have accepted the principles, if not the detailed proposals, contained within the report. It also seems clear that new legislation to reform the application of the Building Regulations, as well as legislation relating to buildings in use, are likely to be a high priority for the next parliamentary session.

There is also a need to restore confidence and public trust in construction – with Dame Judith challenging the sector to change its culture and put public safety in front of profit.

We do not yet know what legislation may emerge post Hackitt, but the industry should be prepared for the system of regulation, enforcement and management of building safety to undergo significant “end-to-end” reform with increased regulatory oversight.

Change is likely to include clearer accountabilities for duty-holders in all phases of the building life cycle, which could be aligned with the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations. We can expect greater emphasis on competency of all professionals involved in building design, construction and maintenance, including more demanding verification. There will be specific requirements for those working on fire safety and higher-risk buildings.

There are also questions about how accurate building information – the “golden thread” – will be created and maintained, plus a review of the Approved Documents and supporting second tier guidance to the Building Regulations.

Dame Judith will shed more light on these issues in her keynote address at the annual Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE) conference this month.

Construction lacks a clear roadmap in this post-Grenfell era – but all professionals will need to work together to meet the challenges we face across the sector.

Dr Gavin Dunn is chief executive of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers and sits on the Building Regulations Advisory Committee

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