Building a Safer Future – An Overview

04.08.2020

On Monday 20th July 2020, the government published its draft Building Safety Bill. Described by housing secretary Robert Jenrick as the “biggest improvements to building safety in nearly 40 years.”

We have spoken with the Head of BIM Varun Soni to highlight some of the key changes in a three-part series focusing on An Overview, Through the Gateways and finally Post Occupation where we will be looking at life after handover.

The Building Safety Bill has been established by the government as a response to the recommendations provided by The Hackett Report. Published in 2018, the report looked at the organisation and cultural causes of the Grenfell disaster, putting forward a series of recommendations. Out of these recommendations, the following terms surfaced ‘A Single Source of Truth’ and ‘Golden Thread of Information.’

  • A Single Source of Truth (SSOT), is the practice of structuring information models and associated data such that every data element is stored exactly once. In practice, this means that there is only one repository for any data element – the primary source. Wherever this data is accessed from, the link is always back to this primary source.
  • The ‘golden thread’ is a term used to describe an accurate and up-to-date record of the building data needed to maintain and operate an asset.

The Hackett Report was followed by a government consultation last year called ‘Building a Safer Future.’ The consultation set out to explain how the reports’ recommendations should be translated into a new regulatory approach for building safety. Thus causing a need for the Building Safety Bill to be created.

The proposals from the Building Safety Bill include the introduction of a new Building Safety Regulator role which is to be performed by the HSE. The main purpose of this new role is to implement a new, more stringent regulatory regime for the safe design, construction and operation of residential buildings over six storeys or 18m high through the use of a Golden Thread of information and single source of truth. Responsibility will be placed on the client, principal designer, and principal contractor to ensure that this happens throughout the lifecycle of an asset, as well as the building safety manager once the building is complete.

The proposal identified by the Building Safety Bill, compels the need for an early conversion to BIM. The information management aspect of BIM will play a crucial part in complying with the new information duties. The use of BIM will also be necessary to aid the design and construction of taller buildings with greater resource to check and ensure compliance with Building Regulations.

The regulation, confirming that information will need to be stored digitally, includes specifications regarding the sharing and accessing of information. This provides all the relevant people throughout the design and construction with ease of access, and also creates an audit trail of information being updated, thus ensuring that the ‘Golden Thread’ of information is maintained.

Stay tuned for part two: Building a Safer Future – Through the Gateways