Property managers take centre stage on safety
Dame Judith Hackitt's recommendations are now being firmed up, so watch this space.
Ringley CEO Mary-Anne Bowring was joined by Life by Ringley MD Sam Hay at an RICS event in Manchester in November to talk about the future of building safety.
Last month, we blogged about the ?golden thread? of data that Dame Judith Hackitt?s building safety review is recommending should be established for every high-risk residential building (ie, one that is 10 storeys or higher) in the country. The review also sets out the framework for a new ?Joint Competent Authority? to ensure that safety is placed firmly at the heart of the property industry.
The Hackitt review proposes the new JCA should have an overarching role, bringing together local authority building standards, fire and rescue authorities and the HSE. The report recognises the role that the CDM regulations have had in improving accountability and responsibility for safety and sees a future where these bodies all work together to maximize the focus on building safety within HRRBs across the entire building lifecycle. The recommendation is this: the best way to get genuinely effective safety management is to establish a new body that ensures feed in from other bodies is made an absolute requirement.
As we explained in our previous blog, one of the key responsibilities of the proposed JCA will be to create and maintain a database of all HRRBs and key duty holders for those buildings ? whether under construction or already occupied. It will also ensure duty holders focus on mitigating building safety risks during the design and construction phase.
A new role of building safety manager will also be created ? above and beyond the role of the property manager. The increased focus on reducing ongoing safety risks in HRRBs is not the property manager?s job ? and is certainly not achievable within the same base management fee per unit.
The responsibilities that will fall to the building safety manager are likely to include:
- periodic safety case reviews to demonstrate that building safety is being maintained and that residents are properly engaged (this may also be triggered if a significant refurbishment is planned); and
- dutyholders required to make building improvements where necessary, to reduce building risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
The JCA is a new independent body and will be expected to assess and deal with immediate ad-hoc building safety concerns on HRRBs including:
- the mandatory reporting of safety concerns by dutyholders;
- referrals made by Environmental Health Officers (EHOs);
- escalated referrals made by residents of HRRBs.
The JCA can also expect to:
- request testing of construction products that are critical to HRRB building safety on a reactive basis when concerns arise, including information exchanges with all HRRB dutyholders in exceptional circumstances.
- request annual reports from product testing houses providing summary details of the types of tests carried out and the numbers of passes and fails reported; and
- help the proposed new government body to validate and assure the guidance produced by industry to meet the outcomes-based goals of the Building Regulations.
So a whole new raft of responsibilities then. Enhanced levels of training will be required as the industry gets to grip with the new regime - and there may be a need for higher levels of PI insurance for block managers as they take on these obligations. At present these are only recommendations but watch this space ? our industry is changing and there will be more to come.
Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
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