An interim report into the review of building regulations, carried out in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, has concluded that they are ‘not fit for purpose’
The report by Judith Hackitt found that a ’universal shift in culture’ is needed to bring about ’true and lasting change’, describing the publication as a ’call to action for an entire industry’.
Hackitt, who is an engineer and chair of manufacturing trade body EEF, was commissioned by the government to carry out an independent review of the building regulations and fire safety in July following the Grenfell Tower fire. A final report is due to be published in spring next year.
The 121-page interim report, published this morning (18 December), identifies six broad areas for change, including the need for a ’golden thread’ for high-rise buildings, which would record and review the ’original design intent and any subsequent changes or refurbishment’.
The report also concludes that there is a need to ’raise levels of competence and establish formal accreditation’ for those involved in fire safety regarding the design, construction and inspection of tall buildings.
It adds that the ’roles and responsibilities’ for ensuring buildings are safe must be clarified; the rules for constructing high-rise buildings safely need to be ’more risk-based and proportionate’; and there must be a ’clear, quick and effective’ route for residents’ concerns to be addressed.
Commenting on her interim report, Hackitt said: ’The current system is highly complex and there is confusion about the roles and responsibilities at each stage. In many areas there is a lack of competence and accreditation.
’While this does not mean all buildings are unsafe, it does mean we need to build a more effective system for the future.’
In many areas there is a lack of competence and accreditation
The former chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive also called on the construction building owners, regulators and government to ’come together to identify how to overcome these shortcomings’. She said there is a need to ‘rebuild’ trust with residents of tall buildings.
Writing in the report, Hackitt says: ’As the review has progressed, it has become clear that the whole system of regulation, covering what is written down and the way in which it is enacted in practice, is not fit for purpose, leaving room for those who want to take shortcuts to do so.’
She later adds: ’Change control and quality assurance are poor throughout the process. What is initially designed is not what is being built, and quality assurance of materials and people is seriously lacking.
’I have been shocked by some of the practices I have heard about and I am convinced of the need for a new intelligent system of regulation and enforcement for high-rise and complex buildings which will encourage everyone to do the right thing and will hold to account those who try to cut corners.’
I have been shocked by some of the practices I have heard about
Hackitt goes on to argue that, although changes in the regulatory system are needed, there is also a requirement to ’change the culture away from one of doing the minimum required for compliance, to one of taking ownership and responsibility for delivering a safe system throughout the life-cycle of a building’.
She says her goal is to create a ’robust overall system’ and a ’process that ensures there is effective oversight of materials, people and installation’.
Elsewhere, the document found that there is a requirement for building products to be adequately tested and certified, as well as a need to ensure these materials are correctly installed.
Hackitt will go before ministers this afternoon to discuss the findings of the interim report.
The terms of reference for the review of the building regulations were published in August, and were criticised by the RIBA for not examining the ‘overall regulatory and procurement context’ for the UK construction industry. The AJ has contacted the RIBA for comment.