The interim report from Dame Judith Hackitt's review of building legislation and fire safety has called for a “thorough overhaul of the regulatory system”.

This would include integrating the separate Approved Documents, which provide guidance on the Building Regulations, with new professional accreditation systems for key personnel involved in fire safety. She is also calling for regulatory changes to be based around a “culture change” within the construction, fire and property sectors. This would see a move away from the mindset of “minimum compliance” towards one which prioritises life safety over the lifetime of a building.

The detailed 121-page review suggests that penalties for non-compliance with existing legislation needs to be tougher, with the cost of achieving compliance being significantly lower than the sanctions for not achieving compliance.

However while the report doesn't heavily criticise the existing building and fire safety regulations, it does identify six areas where reforms are needed, with recommendations for each. These include:

  • regulations and guidance;
  • roles and responsibilities;
  • competence;
  • process, compliance and enforcement;
  • residents’ voice and raising concerns; and
  • quality assurance and products. 

The main focus of the report is to set out a “direction of travel” towards more detailed recommendations in the final report, which is due in Spring 2018. Those recommendations will also be shaped by the views of stakeholders, who will be invited to a summit meeting on 22 January. Representatives of the design, construction, housing and property sectors, along with local authorities and regulators, will then be asked to develop the recommendations in six “workstreams”. 

Hackitt has stressed throughout that she is focusing on “complex and high-risk buildings” where there is potential for significant loss of life, rather than high rise buildings. Her findings will also not apply to single family homes or straightforward buildings.

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