Risk management in the construction of taller residential buildings is under the spotlight as never before, thanks to the new Building Safety Act.
The Building Safety Act’s focus on risk management for taller residential buildings makes early engagement with warranty providers more important than ever, argues Premier Guarantee.
Among the many new regulations it introduces through a new building safety regulator is a series of stop-go Gateways for “high-risk buildings” – specifically, multi-residential buildings at least 18 metres high or seven stories tall and containing at least 2 residential units.
Gateway One takes place at the planning stage and is already in effect, with the regulator now a statutory consultee on fire safety risks. Even here, the regulator reports that over half of early applications were rejected, potentially leading to project delays and increased costs.
From October 2023, Gateway Two could prove to be a bigger hurdle for project teams. Here, the full design of the building must be approved by the regulator before construction can begin on site.
What does Gateway Two require?
This new stop-go stage for the construction of high-risk residential buildings requires a comprehensive design and construction review to be submitted to the regulator. Work cannot begin until approval is granted.
Leaving design decisions for the contractor will no longer cut it. Instead, detailed design submissions will need to demonstrate how the design will meet the functional requirements of the Building Regulations, include a change control plan and show how a site’s resources will be managed.
Furthermore, it will be necessary to clearly establish the competence of the team selected to carry out the work.
With the regulator permitted to be able to take up to 12 weeks to make a decision, few clients will be able to afford a delay at this stage.
Build your expert team early
We have long promoted the benefits of getting a structural warranty provider in early to help a project run more smoothly and anticipate risk. The Building Safety Act simply amplifies this need. Providers like Premier Guarantee have worked on complex construction projects for many years and have built in-house expertise on structural risk.
Their customers have already reported a desire to engage earlier with warranty providers, with a recent trend where developers prefer two-stage/hybrid procurement models. These approaches can better support pre-construction technical guidance to aid greater design certainty, including structural risk management advice that warranty providers can offer.
Remember, a good warranty provider includes a site inspection service to assess any construction subject to its insurance cover has been built according to standards that minimise the risk of serious structural defects. Premier Guarantee support spans design, construction, completion and beyond.
Don’t wait for the detail – Act Now
There are still plenty of details to be worked out around the implementation of the Building Safety Act, not least the registration of competent building control inspectors and approvers needed to work on all new-build projects.
Most commentators had expected a transition period of some kind but this has yet to be announced; it remains the regulator’s intention for Gateway 2 to be introduced from October 2023.
J3 MD, Jack Bristow adds, ‘These forthcoming changes place the responsibility squarely on the developer- underscoring the importance of thorough and timely communication regarding the design and pre-construction plans with the appropriate authorities. As always, those who are adequately prepared and seek sound advice will smoothly navigate through the transition, while those who neglect these crucial steps are more than likely to encounter a sudden and disruptive halt.’
At J3, we believe in partnering our clients with the right A-rated insurers for their projects. Knowing which provider is right for each developer and subsequent development results in ultimate peace of mind, time redemption, and money saved for our clients.