Hackitt review into buildings standards released

A review into UK building standards carried out in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire has found that there has been a “race to the bottom” in building safety practices that have prioritised cost over safety.

The report into the review carried out by Dame Judith Hackitt was released on Thursday 17th May and stated that a new standards regulator should be a part of future reforms; however, it does not suggest that combustible materials should be banned - as this will not address the root causes of safety concerns.

The review states that new buildings regulations should focus on buildings of more than ten storeys in the first instance and a new regulator known as the Joint Competent Authority should be set up. This would be made up of local authority building standards, fire and rescue authorities and Health and Safety officials. It would also be independent and will approve designs of buildings before any work is carried out.

Increased penalties for failures would also be considered, as there had been a 75% reduction in the numbers of enforcement actions carried out for breaches of building regulations in the last ten years. However, Hackitt did state that there should not be a prescription on the materials used in construction, but that the construction industry should take responsibility for the delivery of safe buildings.

The review suggested that the primary concern of the construction industry appeared to be doing things as quickly and as cheaply as possible, rather than focusing on quality. Many builders also seemed to be taking advantage of the ambiguity of some building regulation legislation. However controversial desktop studies should not be banned, but be carried out by qualified people and should remain commercially confidential.

The review also points out that the fears and concerns of residents are too often overlooked, even when legitimate safety issued are identified. The new regulatory framework must address this.

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