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Building regs review urges immediate compliance overhaul

Initial findings from independent review into fire safety and high-rise buildings demands shift in policing of standards, quality assurance and resident complaints

Initial findings from the Independent review of building regulations and fire safety launched following the Grenfell Tower fire call for a “universal shift in culture” to rebuild resident trust in how high-rise properties are built and operate.

Dame Judith Hackitt, who is leading the review, has made the calls alongside the publication of interim findings that identify a number of ‘shortcomings’ that the construction industry must tackle.

Broad recommendations of these initial findings include calling on contractors and the industry to immediately take greater responsibility for their work via the establishment of a quick and effective mechanism for residents to raise concerns.

The findings also said that current systems for fire safety in high-rise buildings are not fit for purpose.

Six broad recommendations are set out in the interim report to better tackle concerns raised in the findings.  These include a need to clarify roles and responsibilities to ensure buildings and their systems operate safely. 

The findings, which followed a consultation process held earlier this year, also call for regulation and guidance that is “proportionate and unambiguous”.

 Other immediate recommendations include:

  • · Improving competence levels in the construction industry
  • · Improving compliance and enforcement of regulations
  • · Creating a quick and effective means for residents to raise concerns about issues with buildings that will be “heard and listened to”
  • · Improved testing, marketing and quality assurance of products used in construction

Dame Judith Hackitt said that the initial recommendations would be an important step to build resident trust in properties as the second phase of her review gets underway to consider more long-term challenges in building structure and service use. 

“I have found that the regulatory system for safely designing, constructing and managing buildings is not fit for purpose. 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.”

She added, “While this does not mean all buildings are unsafe, it does mean we need to build a more effective system for the future. That is why I am today calling for the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to come together to identify how to overcome these shortcomings together.”

The final report into building regulations will be published in the spring, with a summit that will bring together government and building industry representatives scheduled for the New Year.

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