How the Building Safety Bill Could Change Construction as we Know it.

The upcoming Building Safety Bill, which is anticipated to receive royal assent later this year, is anticipated to revolutionise the construction industry.


After an implementation and transition period, anticipated from around 2023/4, the included gateways could provide much needed rigour and certainty to an industry with well-publicised, deeply rooted safety concerns.


Of course, at this stage we cannot be entirely sure of what the bill will officially contain, but it is likely to remain close to the draft version published in July 2021.


But how can gateways change the construction industry and why are they needed?


The Three Gateways


1. Gateway one – Planning Permission Application

2. Gateway two – Commencement of Construction

3. Gateway three – Completion or Final Certificate Phase.[1]


This applies to both


(a) the design and construction of new higher-risk buildings (HRBs), and

(b) the major refurbishment of existing HRBs (i.e. where planning consent is required).[2]



The Building Safety Bill (BSB) sets out three hard stops at three separate gateways (see above), which relate to key stages in buildings life, at planning, construction, and pre-occupation.


These hard stops allow for the building to be fully signed off before the next phase begins.

The aim of this was to ‘ensure that building safety risks are considered at each stage of a building’s planning and design, construction, and pre-occupation,’[3] and guarantees the integrity of fire and building safety. The pause and completion of each gateway goes on to create the Golden Thread, delivering a promise of improved building and fire safety standards within new, or refurbished HRRBs.


Gateway one covers the planning stage of a building, and will largely utilise existing planning permission processes. Planning applications will need to demonstrate that fire safety requirements have been considered and incorporated into the proposals. The Building Safety Regulator will have specialist fire safety input, to assist the Local Planning Authority in their approval processes.[4]

To pass on from gateway one, a chartered fire engineer with relevant high-rise experience, will sign off the Fire Statement, which will enable contractors to be sure that the planned designs for the building will meet appropriate fire safety requirements from the very beginning.


This will ensure that fire safety is at the forefront of the design process, removing the possibility of a repeat of terrible tragedies such as Lakanal House and the Grenfell Tower disaster.[5]


Gateway two requires the Building Safety Regulator to be satisfied that a building’s design meets the functional requirements of the Building Regulations. Construction duty holders will need to submit critical information to the Building Safety Regulator to demonstrate how the building, once built, will comply with the requirements of Building Regulations.[6]

Gateways two and three are stop/go decision points that must be passed before a development can proceed to the next stage, strengthening regulatory oversight of design and construction.[7]


Gateway three begins when construction of the building is completed, and the building control body assesses whether the work has been carried out in accordance with the Building Regulations. Documents and information on the final, as-built building must be submitted to the Building Safety Regulator who will then issue a completion certificate, if they are satisfied.[8]


How Might these Gateways Change Construction?

It is clear to see that the proposed gateways within the Building Safety Bill will create changes within construction for buildings designated as HRRBs.[9]


1. The process will likely take longer.

The timeframe on construction projects is almost definitely likely to increase.


As the Building Safety Bill will require hard stops at each gateway, and any changes will need to be thoroughly explored with the relevant authorities before subsequent progress can be made, extended timeframes will occur.


It could also mean that the project is not able to be handled by companies the tier-1 contractor would prefer, due to scheduling difficulties if delays do occur. Improper planning, delays or major problems could result in losing preferred tier-2 contractors, or in the very least cause them major scheduling headaches.


Similarly, it may take longer for the project to be officially completed and issued with a completion statement from the Regulator, if there is something that needs to be rectified on the building.



2. There may be increased costs.

With any construction project, delays always equate to lost money.


Unless gateways are passed seamlessly, slight delays may occur before the next stage may arise, which could result in a loss of both money and time.


Changes to expected timeframes could also result in cashflow issues or problems with insurances that end on a specified end date, that could be passed very easily with minor delays. [10]



Most importantly however,


3. Building will be made safer.

As with all change, its uncomfortable and it is likely to remain that way long after the implementation and transitionary periods are complete.


However, with patience, time to embed and industry-wide support, the Building Safety Bill could be the legislation that means we have no more deadly high-rise fires across the UK.


The Building Safety Bill could mean that parents never have to watch their children die in their arms from prolonged exposure to toxic fumes.


The Building Safety Bill could ensure that people living with disability have accessible means of escape during a fire. [11]



The practical implications of industry-wide change can feel gigantic and overwhelming.


However, it is important when considering the negative consequence of change, to weigh this up with the positive implications of such a change.


Nobody that has seen the human cost of ineffective building and fire standards would argue that the change was unnecessary.


As such, the Building Safety Bill has the chance to bring about serious change that can save hundreds of lives.


Surely, then it’s worth working through the teething problems for that alone?


Do you agree?

Or do you have concerns for the new Building Safety Bill? Let us know in the comments.


_________________________________________________________________________ [1] Gov.uk, ‘Building control regime for higher-risk buildings (Gateways 2 and 3): factsheet,’ published 05.04.2022 [2] Edwincoe.com, ‘Building Safety Bill – Gateway Overview,’ published 02/12/2021 by Brenna Baye, <https://www.edwincoe.com/blogs/main/building-safety-bill-gateway-overview/> [3] System-concepts.com, ‘A summary of the Building Safety Bill,’ <https://www.system-concepts.com/insights/building-safety-bill-summary/> 26/04/2022 [4] As above. [5] Image from Pexels.com, courtesy of SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS [6] As above. [7] Gov.uk, ‘Building control regime for higher-risk buildings (Gateways 2 and 3): factsheet,’ published 05.04.2022, <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-bill-factsheets/building-control-regime-for-higher-risk-buildings-gateways-2-and-3-factsheet> [8] As above. [9] Image from Pexels.com, courtesy of Printexstar. [10] Image from Pexels.com, courtesy of David Besh [11] As was the case with 4-year-old Jeremiah Deen, who died in the arms of his mother Zainab, who sadly passed away herself shortly after.

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