The independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt, was published yesterday and called for an overhaul of building regulations and creating a new culture in the design and construction of high rise residential buildings.
The report called for a new regulatory system to be set up around the lifecycle of buildings over 10 storeys, as well as promoting a new culture creating that prioritises safety over lowest cost. But the review did not include recommending a ban on combustible cladding and insulation, despite demands from some quarters including Grenfell Tower survivors and fire safety experts.
Dame Hackitt said ignorance of Building Regulations, lack of clarity of roles and an insistence to drive down price had created a “race to the bottom” in the construction and refurbishment of buildings.
After publication the government then revealed plans to pay at least £400m for the cladding to be replaced on building with cladding similar to Grenfell and a consultation on banning combustible cladding and insulation materials on high rise residential buildings.
Peter Caplehorn, Construction Products Association Deputy Chief Executive and Chair of the Review’s Regulations and Guidance Working Group, said: “The Independent Review led by Dame Judith Hackitt has outlined the clear responsibilities necessary to ensure a disaster like this can never happen again.
“This is an important chance for the entire construction industry to show we are ready for an overhaul of how high-rise, high-risk buildings are designed and built, and ultimately how we are held to account. Any reforms which can provide greater clarity on how buildings meet safety requirements and the technical attributes of the products that go into them, are much needed. Furthermore, the recommendations’ emphasis on creating a digital record of a construction project will go a long way to addressing the impact of product substitution and value engineering, quality of training and poor installations.”
“The Review has identified systemic failings in the way construction projects are designed, delivered and managed,” said BESA chief executive David Frise. “We now need to move forward with building regulations that focus on the whole lifecycle of buildings and have a tighter focus on competence and compliance.
“Dame Judith’s team spotted right at the start that it was not the building regulations themselves, but how they were applied and enforced that allowed a culture to develop, which led to the Grenfell tragedy. Banning cladding would not move that issue forward – it was the way in which the refurbishment of the tower was managed and delivered, as a whole, that should face scrutiny.”