• International Workplace
  • 1 May 2018

Government consults on proposals to toughen rules on building safety

Tough new rules designed to strengthen fire testing for cladding systems on residential buildings have been published for consultation by Housing Secretary, Sajid Javid.

The consultation, which aims to improve building safety, will look at restricting or banning the use of ‘desktop studies’ (assessments in lieu of tests) as a way of assessing the fire performance of external cladding systems.

The revisions come directly as a result of the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt in her interim report from the review into building regulations and fire safety published last year. Government is also going further by asking whether ‘desktop studies’ should be used at all, and whether they are appropriate for all construction products, wall systems (cladding) or for any other purpose.

If such studies are deemed appropriate, the proposed changes include improving the transparency of assessments, enabling proper scrutiny of results and ensuring that the studies can only be carried out by properly accredited bodies that have the relevant expertise.

These proposals are subject to a full consultation that will end on 25 May 2018.

Housing Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:

“We have listened carefully to Dame Judith Hackitt and we are taking action to strengthen building regulations guidance, which could mean that the use of ‘desktop studies’ are either significantly restricted or banned altogether.

“This demonstrates the tough measures we are prepared to take to make sure that cladding tests are as robust as possible and people are safe in their homes.”

Assessment in lieu of tests are an established part of the system for classifying the fire performance of construction products and systems set out in paragraph 1b of Annex A of Approved Document B.

Their use is being considered as part of Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review into Building Regulations and Fire Safety established by government following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. Her final report will be published in the spring.

See further details of the consultation.