Houses in the United Kingdom under construction

The Building Safety Act: How Technology Can Make it Work

Written By: Harri Vivian
August 31, 2023
3 min read

The Building Safety Act was made law in April 2022. Its purpose is to give residents and homeowners more rights, powers and protections to make homes in the UK safer and more secure. As part of its purpose, it will enhance building safety and regulation oversight – particularly for high-rise residential buildings.

The Act is made up of several components, including a new framework which will oversee design and development, the appointment of a Building Safety Regulator (BSR), and an assignment of ‘duty holders’ - who are mainly building owners, developers and managers that have roles related to building safety. Additionally, new technology will allow managers to track real-time information about high-rise residential buildings through a new platform – the Building Safety Information Gateway.

While this came into law last year, the industry is still waiting to fill in the gaps when it comes to the new legislation. The government is expected to provide more clarity on what the changes mean for the built environment industry as a whole. Experts believe technology will have a key role to play in supporting developers, architects and construction companies to adapt to new ways of working.

The newly appointed BSR will be responsible for overseeing the safety and performance of all buildings they are assigned to. They have authority to carry out inspections, enforce notices and take action against those that are non-compliant. It’s a tough ask, but it is thought technology can help regulators collect, manage and analyse large amounts of real time data at any one time. This could be through the design process, information maintenance or when reviewing the compliance history of the building. It has the ability to highlight areas of concern more quickly so the necessary action can be taken. It will help the BSR manage reporting too, as many technology platforms embody a reporting function – which keeps it all in one place and cuts out the room for manual error. Inevitably, this will streamline the complaint-handling process for the BSR and the ‘duty-holders’ they are working with. It will enable effective communication, more accurate reporting and quicker response times.

New technologies have the ability to support project managers (PMs) too. If data, compliance reporting and workstreams are all in one place, it will allow PMs to foresee and fix problematic situations and raise safety concerns promptly. All parties will have the opportunity to find a solution sooner rather than later.

Thankfully, the UK government is already looking at how the Building Safety Act will work in practice, and has proposed a digital system for storing and sharing building safety information related to high-rise buildings. While it just applies to residential buildings at the moment, the government is working on a flexible model so in future the Act can be applied to all high-rise buildings. It says the purpose of the Act is to improve data management, accessibility and transparency of building safety information throughout the building lifecycle. The new system will act as a central data depository and a record keeping book which will enable regulators and project managers to trace information and provide real-time updates.

It is clear that there is still work to be done to make the Building Safety Act work for the industry and for the people it will impact and protect. However, by embracing technology – regulators can speed up this process and mitigate more safety risks to ensure better compliance. There is no doubt there is an urgent need for the Building Safety Act, which will significantly improve standards and safety in higher risk buildings.

Written By: Harri Vivian

Harri Vivian is a Senior Manager of Regional Marketing (UKI) at Quickbase.