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Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety

This call for evidence was issued to inform the independent review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, announced by government in July 2017 following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. 

Objectives of the consultation

The Review was led by Dame Judith Hackitt. Its purpose was to make recommendations that will ensure we have a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future and to provide further assurance to residents that the complete system is working to ensure the buildings they live in are safe and remain so. It examined building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement. The review focused on multi occupancy high rise residential buildings.

This call for evidence closed on 13 October 2017.

Supporting papers

To download the call for evidence document please follow the link below.

CIBSE response

CIBSE responded to this call for evidence highlighting a concern about the definition of roles and responsibilities in the construction and operation of buildings. CIBSE considers that there is a pressing need for the definition of clear roles to be undertaken and the specific disciplines and competences required to undertake those roles.

In addition the Society of Façade Engineering (SFE), which operates under the auspices of CIBSE, prepared a detailed response to the review which specifically addresses the façade engineering aspects of Part B and the supporting Approved Document B. To read both responses please follow the links below.

CIBSE also participated in and contributed to the responses to the Independent Review submitted by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) and the Construction Industry Council (CIC). The Institution fully supports and endorses the content of these responses.

Results of the consultation and next steps

The interim report of the independent Review was published on 18 December 2017. This interim report provided the findings to date and direction of travel for the review, ahead of a final report.

The final report of the independent Review was published in May 2018. The report identified the following key issues underpinning the system failure:

  • 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.

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.

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