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Building a Safer Future
Dame Judith Hackitt DBE FREng Cm 9607
Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety:Final Report
Building a Safer FutureIndependent Review of Building
Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report
Presented to Parliamentby the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
by Command of Her Majesty
Crown copyright 2018
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Building a Safer Future Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report 3
ContentsForeword from Dame Judith Hackitt 5
Executive summary 11
Chapter 1: Parameters and principles of a new regulatory framework 17
Chapter 2: Design, construction and refurbishment 29
Chapter 3: Occupation and maintenance 49
Chapter 4: Residents voice 63
Chapter 5: Competence 73
Chapter 6: Guidance and monitoring to support building safety 83
Chapter 7: Products 91
Chapter 8: Golden thread of building information 101
Chapter 9: Procurement and supply 107
Chapter 10: International examples 113
Building a Safer Future Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report 5
A personal view from Dame Judith Hackitt
In my interim report published in December 2017 I described how the regulatory system covering high-rise and complex buildings was not fit for purpose. In the intervening period, we have seen further evidence confirming the deep flaws in the current system:
lack of an audit trail as to whether essential safety work was carried out on the Ledbury Estate, and other large panel systems tower blocks;
a door marketed as a 30-minute fire door failed prior to 30 minutes when tested, revealing concerns around quality assurance and the ability to trace other fire doors manufactured to that specification;
another tower block fire where fire spread between floors via wooden balconies; and
a major fire in a car park in Liverpool which came close to encroaching on a block of flats nearby.
It is not my intention to repeat here all of the shortcomings identified in the interim report. However, it is important to emphasise that subsequent events have reinforced the findings of the interim report, and strengthened my conviction that there is a need for a radical rethink of the whole system and how it works. This is most definitely not just a question of the specification of cladding systems, but of an industry that has not reflected and learned for itself, nor looked to other sectors. This does not mean that all buildings are unsafe. Interim mitigation and remediation measures have been put in place where necessary for existing high-rise residential buildings to assure residents of their safety regarding fire risk. It is essential that this industry now works to implement a truly robust and assured approach to building the increasingly complex structures in which people live.
The key issues underpinning the system failure include:
Ignorance regulations and guidance are not always read by those who need to, and when they do the guidance is misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Indifference the primary motivation is to do things as quickly and cheaply as possible rather than to deliver quality homes which are safe for people to live in. When concerns are raised, by others involved in building work or by residents, they are often ignored. Some of those undertaking building work fail to prioritise safety, using the ambiguity of regulations and guidance to game the system.
Lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities there is ambiguity over where responsibility lies, exacerbated by a level of fragmentation within the industry, and precluding robust ownership of accountability.
Inadequate regulatory oversight and enforcement tools the size or complexity of a project does not seem to inform the way in which it is overseen by the regulator. Where enforcement is necessary, it is often not pursued. Where it is pursued, the penalties are so small as to be an ineffective deterrent.
The above issues have helped to create a cultural issue across the sector, which can be described as a race to the bottom caused either through ignorance, indifference, or because the system does not facilitate good practice. There is insufficient focus on delivering the best quality building possible, in order to ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe.
A global concern
England is by no means alone in needing to improve building safety. Scotland has provided some excellent examples of good practice which are included in this report, in particular around supporting resident participation and collaboration. However, at the time of writing, the Scottish Government had commissioned a further review of building regulation, driven by serious structural failures which have occurred there. The Building Products Innovation Council in Australia
6 Building a Safer Future Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report
has also published its own report, Rebuilding Confidence: An Action Plan for Building Regulatory Reform1 since I wrote my interim report it tells a story which could just as easily be applied to us. Extracts from that report are included in Appendix K of this report for easy reference.
A principled approach
At the heart of this report are the principles for a new regulatory framework which will drive real culture change and the right behaviours. We need to adopt a very different approach to the regulatory framework covering the design, construction and maintenance of high-rise residential buildings which recognises that they are complex systems where the actions of many different people can compromise the integrity of that system.
The principle of risk being owned and managed by those who create it was enshrined in UK health and safety law in the 1970s, following the review conducted by Lord Robens, and its effectiveness is clear and demonstrable. The principles of health and safety law do not just apply to those who are engaged in work but also to those who are placed at risk by work activities, including members of the public. It should be clear to anyone that this principle should extend to the safety of those who live in and use the products of the construction industry, such as a multi-occupancy building, where the risk of fire exposes residents to danger.
A decision was taken back in 1975 to specifically exclude consumer safety and building safety from the Health and Safety Executives (HSE) remit. However, since then, HSEs remit has increasingly extended into certain key areas e.g. domestic gas safety. This review concludes that there is a strong case for the full effect of the key principle of risk ownership and management to be applied alongside building regulations.
This report recommends a very clear model of risk ownership, with clear responsibilities for the Client, Designer, Contractor and Owner to demonstrate the delivery and maintenance of safe buildings, overseen and held to account by a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA).
The new regulatory framework must be simpler and more effective. It must be truly outcomes-based (rather than based on prescriptive rules and complex guidance) and it must have real teeth, so that it can drive the right behaviours. This will create an environment where there are incentives
1 Hills, Rodger (2018), Rebuilding Confidence: An Action Plan for Building Regulatory Reform, BPIC, Australia.
to do the right thing and serious penalties for those who choose to game the system and as a result put the users of the product at risk.
This approach also acknowledges that prescriptive regulation and guidance are not helpful in designing and building complex buildings, especially in an environment where building technology and practices continue to evolve, and will prevent those undertaking building work from taking responsibility for their actions.
An outcomes-based framework requires people who are part of the system to be competent, to think for themselves rather than blindly following guidance, and to understand their responsibilities to deliver and maintain safety and integrity throughout the life cycle of a building.
We must also begin thinking about buildings as a system so that we can consider the different layers of protection that may be required to make that building safe on a case-by-case basis. Some of the social media chatter and correspondence I have read whilst I have been engaged in this review shows how far we need to move in this respect. The debate continues to run about whether or not aluminium cladding is used for thermal insulation, weather proofing, or as an integral part of the fabric, fire safety and integrity of the building. This illustrates the siloed thinking that is part of the problem we must address. It is clear that in this type of debate the basic intent of f