Interview with Chris Griffin-McTiernan, Deputy Chief Inspector, Building Safety Regulator

Can you explain the role of the Building Safety Regulator in helping to implement and oversee the new post-Grenfell safety regulations? 

We’re all really impacted by what happened at Grenfell, and the purpose of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) is to ensure that it never happens again. Ultimately the BSR has three functions: oversight (that is to keep the safety and standards of all buildings under review), competence (both of industry and through the creation of the new regulated building control profession) and the high-risk building regime.

To deliver those functions, there are three regulatory regimes. One is to ensure that we raise and promote standards in high-rise buildings; the BSR will become the building control authority for all high-risk buildings (HRBs). Our aim will be to regulate to ensure all HRBs are planned, designed and constructed in a way that complies with all Building Regulations. While the process for obtaining building control approvals is new, the standards are not.  

The second regime is making sure that residents currently living in HRBs are safe, and feel safe, in relation to spread of fire and structural safety. To deliver that, there will be four key features. Firstly, the principal accountable person (PAP) will be required to register their building and tell us about the accountable persons (APs) for the building; we’re encouraging people to do that now before the register closes later this year. 

Secondly, the BSR will then invite PAPs to submit a safety case report at some point after April 2024 to set out how they are managing risks in their building in relation to fire spread and structural stability. 

Thirdly, as part of this process PAPs will be expected to have a resident’s engagement strategy, setting out how residents will be engaged and considered as part of the overall management of the safety of the building. Finally, there will need to be a system in place to report any incidents that happen within the building – a system for reporting a Mandatory Occurrence (MOR). All that will enable a building to be assessed and, if appropriate, issued with a Building Assessment Certificate (BAC).

The third regulatory regime is to create a new regulated building control profession; all building control inspectors and bodies will need to meet the conditions for registration and register with the BSR from October 2023, which will include demonstrating their competence. We will work with leaders of the profession to drive up standards over time, responding to changes in industry practices and innovation. There will be a regime of audit and investigation work to ensure that standards are uplifted and improved.  

What will the process be in terms of registering buildings, and beyond the initial registrations?

The Building Safety Act (2022) requires the PAP to register their building with the BSR now. There is a deadline for that of October 2023, and that deadline won’t move. Failure to register a building by that point will leave PAPs at risk of committing a criminal offence. 

After that point, there will be a period between October and April where we will release the details of that register to the public. From April 2024, the BSR will start to request PAPs to come forward to undergo the BAC process. This process will include assessment of several documents, including the safety case report, residents’ engagement strategy and the system in place for reporting mandatory occurrences. 

Our approach to the order in which buildings are called forward will be based on height and number of dwellings. All of that will lead to the issuing of the BAC, if dutyholders have satisfied the standards expected. The BAC will demonstrate to residents that their building has been through the process of assessment and that dutyholders are appropriately managing the risks of fire spread and structural stability within that building. 

What will the dutyholder role entail? 

There are several duties, depending on which particular role individuals or organisations play in the planning, designing, construction and management of buildings. More information can be found on the Making Buildings Safer website.  

The whole purpose of the BSR is about raising the standards within the built environment; to have oversight of the built environment; to raise and improve the competence within the industry; to deliver the regulatory regimes outlined above to ensure compliance with the legislation and, ultimately, to ensure the safety of residents in their own homes. 

Can you tell us more about the building inspector register? 

Building inspector registration is a key part of establishing the regulated profession. By registering with the regulator, we will know who has demonstrated their competence to work as a registered building inspector to carry out restricted functions and activities, e.g., plan checking and site visits. From April 2024, building control professionals will be required to be registered. 

By creating a regulated profession, it’s the opportunity to put building control on par with other regulated professions such as doctors and solicitors. By working together to raise standards over time, it’s a great opportunity to create a consistently high-performing and competent profession. 

For now, the message for inspectors working in building control is to be prepared for registering in October, and act now to ensure that those in building control can demonstrate their competence, a requirement for registration. More information on that will be coming out soon. 

Hear Chris Griffin-McTiernan delivering the opening Keynote Address at the Built Environment England event on the 20th June 2023.

Find out more and book your place now.

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