Updated Building Regulations
The government has pushed through some updated Building Regulations amending the previous 2010 version (“the 2010 Regulations”)
Dame Judith Hackitt has reported on various matters since the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017 sent shockwaves through the construction industry and public housing sector. Her initial report was not hailed by all as the vigorous and far reaching review which had perhaps been expected from the former chair of Health and Safety Executive.
However, as a result of her final report “Independent Review” the government has pushed through some updated Building Regulations amending the previous 2010 version (“the 2010 Regulations”). The Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (“the 2018 Regulations”) come into force on 21 December 2018 for relevant buildings in England only.
As is to be expected, the amendments to the 2010 regulations (which perhaps paradoxically already provided for external walls on all buildings to resist the spread of fire) focus on materials used on external walls to eliminate the use of combustible materials on high rise residential buildings. The amendments focus on prescribing what is suitable for use on external walls, removing the previous discretion which seems to have allowed a wide range of interpretations to be formulated which, with hindsight in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, might be said to be anomalous.
Buildings with a floor over 18m above ground level with at least one dwelling, facilities such as student accommodation or a room for residential purposes, fall in the definition of relevant building under the amended regulations.
The materials to be used to comply with the 2018 Regulations require close scrutiny of both the 2010 and 2018 Regulations, along with European Classifications and British Standards. There are, of course, some exemptions. For example, projects already in hand on 21 December 2018 or which start before 21 February 2019 are not affected by the 2018 Regulations. This is presumably on the basis that the plans pre-date 21 December 2018 by months but nonetheless, manufacturers and suppliers would be wise to conduct their own checks now before materials are installed on building projects over 18 metres.
Manufacturers and suppliers would be well advised to pay careful attention to these changes to avoid any difficulties in the future with their customers, regulators and insurers.
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