16 June 2022

Has Grenfell changed the face of Construction? Andrew Parker speaks to Raconteur Magazine

Construction Partner, Andrew Parker, recently spoke to Raconteur magazine on the impact that the Grenfell fire has had on both the Construction industry and the resultant legal developments in relation to regulations and safety standards. Andrew said:

“In the five years since the tragedy at Grenfell there have been two significant pieces of legislation. The first is the Fire Safety Act, which received Royal Assent on the 29th April 2021 and the second is the Building Safety Act, which received Royal Assent on the 28th April 2022.

"The Fire Safety Act, which came into force in May 2022, amends the 2005 Fire Safety Order to require updated fire risk assessments for buildings with two or more domestic premises to take account of the structure and external walls of a building and all the doors between the domestic premises and the common parts.

"This is a huge undertaking, essentially requiring updated fire risk assessments for all communal residential buildings and puts significant demand on specialists in the sector to carry out the assessments. To help manage the demand the Government has introduced a ‘fire risk assessment prioritisation tool’ so those buildings with heightened risk are tiered accordingly and can access competent professionals as a priority. The Fire Safety Act also makes it easier to identify the ‘responsible person’ to ensure greater accountability for a buildings fire safety.

"The Fire Safety Act, which came into force in May 2022, amends the 2005 Fire Safety Order to require updated fire risk assessments for buildings with two or more domestic premises to take account of the structure and external walls of a building and all the doors between the domestic premises and the common parts.

"This is a huge undertaking essentially requiring updated fire risk assessments for all communal residential buildings and puts significant demand on specialists in the sector to carry out the assessments. To help manage the demand the Government has introduced a ‘fire risk assessment prioritisation tool’ so those buildings with heightened risk are tiered accordingly and can access competent professionals as a priority. The Fire Safety Act also makes it easier to identify the ‘responsible person’ to ensure greater accountability for a buildings fire safety.

"The Building Safety Act has introduced several new rules and regulations, including a new Building Safety Regulator, Homes Ombudsman Scheme, and a ‘Gateway’ system, which will see greater scrutiny on buildings as they progress through design and construction, but a majority of the provisions in the Act won’t come into effect for another 12-18 months.

"One of the first parts of the Building Safety Act that will be brought in is an extension to the limitation period which will see the limitation period extended from six years to 30 years for retrospective claims, essentially meaning that a whole swathe of buildings constructed since 1992 may now be the subject of new claims from residents against building owners and developers.

"It could be a challenging time with increased demand for suitably qualified and experienced engineers to carry out assessments and remedial work.”

Read the full article here on pages 18-19.

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