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What Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report means for IRPM members
19 December 2017
Dame Judith Hackitt’s “Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: interim report” is out and there is a lot within the covers for IRPM members to take note of. Dame Judith said she was “shocked” by some of the practices she had seen and that a “cultural change” was needed, both in industry and those parts of the government that oversee it. The government has accepted all the report’s recommendations.
The interim report confirms that the whole system of fire safety regulation regarding complex and high-rise buildings is "not fit for purpose". Regulations are too complex and unclear. There is a lack of clarity about roles in design, construction and maintenance, also no clear reporting line for residents to raise concerns.
Interim recommendations included:
- An overhaul of the "Approved Documents" in building regulations
- An accreditation system to ensure competence for people working on the design, construction, inspection and maintenance of complex buildings are suitably qualified
- Better consultation with fire services when designing buildings
- Building developers to ensure formal handover process for any new high-rise residential building before occupation
- More done to make sure that fire safety information is passed to the person responsible for running the building once it has been constructed
- Fire risk assessments are carried out at least annually
- Desktop studies to approve changes to cladding should be used only where appropriate and with sufficient, relevant test evidence. The cladding on the Grenfell tower is thought to have contributed to the spread of the fire
There are some very clear messages here for IRPM members:
- Fire safety and construction regulations/procedures are going to change.
- There will be a renewed focus on qualifications and accreditation.
- There will be government focus not just on the construction of the building but the ongoing maintenance and management. IRPM members know that the management of a building is too often underappreciated and undervalued.
- Lines of responsibility should become much clearer. The responsibilities of the “person responsible for running the building” will be sharply focussed.
- The way buildings are handed over to managers needs to change. Simply handing over the keys and a construction CDM file isn’t good enough.
The links to the interim report and accompanying documents are below but before you go there, it is worth standing back a moment and taking in the bigger picture…
- There has been a mass of government consultations into unfair practices in leasehold, into mandatory regulation and qualifications for property managers, into client money protection and improving the sale of leasehold property. Government already has major concerns over the leasehold sector.
- Social and mainstream media is alive to the sound of housing. Demanding decent homes for our people across all tenures and solutions to the Housing Crisis. Calling out bad practices such as onerous ground rents on houses. For the first time in at least a generation, possibly two, housing is high up on the political agenda.
- The tragedy of Grenfell has taken the above and supercharged the housing debate. Grenfell is not just about building regulations and cladding, but about how we look after our people. Things went wrong that must be put right and politicians need to be seen to “do something”.
In summary, every part of the housing construction and management supply chain will be touched by Grenfell. There will be a push for mandatory qualifications for property managers, also regulation of agents and possibly individual managers too. Professionals who are already qualified will have to learn new things.
IRPM, your professional body, has lead the industry in raising standards since 2002, and with you, we are raising our game. We sit at the table with government to inform debate and help shape legislation that is fit for purpose. We provide balanced, informed responses to government consultations https://www.irpm.org.uk/public/page/news. And we are preparing for the changes that are coming your way. There has never been a more important time to connect with your IRPM, read those monthly Tech Updates, get your CPD in and attend the Annual and Regional Seminars.
- Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report While you are there, we recommend you take a look at Appendix D, a separate download, mapping the building and fire regulatory system
- DCLG’s latest data release setting out progress made in identifying buildings with unsafe cladding systems. DCLG intend to publish these monthly going forwards, with the next one due in the week commencing 22 January
- The Independent Expert Advisory panel has issued a note welcoming the report
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