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The Building Safety Act is rewriting history for construction companies

The building sector is constantly innovating. From experimenting with new materials and machinery to changing construction techniques: we’re used to forward change. But what happens when industry updates put new constraints on completed projects?

That’s exactly what has happened in the UK with the introduction of the Building Safety Act. In addition to shaping upcoming projects, this new legislation has doubled the time for homeowners to make retrospective compensation claims about building work.

Construction companies will need to keep one eye on the past, and one eye on the future – or they could face backlash.

What is the Building Safety Act?

In June 2022, the UK government introduced the Building Safety Act. This new legislation gives homeowners and residents greater rights and protections from the impact of substandard building work. For example:

  • Building owners will no longer be able to charge leaseholders for the cost of removing or replacing cladding that needs to change due to new cladding legislation.
  • High-rise residents can report any safety concerns directly to building owners and managers.
  • If residents’ concerns are ignored, they can report owners to the Building Safety Regulator – a new UK industry body overseeing building safety and performance standards.

How will the Building Safety Act shape current and future construction projects?

Introducing the Building Safety Act has two major implications for the construction industry.

Firstly, there’s now a much greater focus on accountability in construction. Building owners will want clear documentation from their construction partners to show leaseholders and residents that their homes meet high safety and quality levels. This data can also be used in risk assessments to mitigate danger and performance issues.

Building companies need a ‘golden thread’ of information throughout construction projects to capture every detail. Safety and quality are paramount at each stage of development – from the earliest moment in the planning process.

Secondly, building owners and managers need greater traceability to avoid attention from the Building Safety Regulator. With the responsibility for more repair bills now falling at their feet, they need to know all materials and assets used during construction.

Easier access to material information will help building owners determine whether their properties need updating if construction laws change – as we saw after the ban on MCM cladding panels with an unmodified PE core. Sharing a ‘golden data thread’ will also help to improve routine maintenance, as building owners can easily replace materials like-for-like.

These safety and quality improvements make sense on paper. But we need to ask how construction companies will create this golden thread. For example, many are investing in project management software in light of these new guidelines. Others are upgrading their existing construction software to provide a better portal for capturing and storing vital data.

Will the Building Safety Act affect completed building works?

Project management software makes it easy to introduce accountable, transparent processes for future construction programmes. However, the Building Safety Act will also have a major retrospective impact on existing buildings.

Under the new legislation, residents and homeowners now have 15 years to claim compensation for substandard work – a significant increase on the previous threshold of six years. Building company liabilities have changed overnight.

The Building Safety Act leaves construction companies across the UK vulnerable to financial and reputational damage. Any company that can’t validate materials and practices used in previous construction programmes could face compensation claims. And very few companies have accessible, detailed and accurate project information dating back to the early 2000s.

Manually reviewing every project to check whether it falls foul of subsequent law changes will be a long and challenging task. But it’s one that construction companies may need to consider if they want to protect their business from retrospective legal action.

Can Powerproject help building companies adhere to the Building Safety Act?

Now the Building Safety Act is legally binding, construction companies must make programme management a top priority.

Investing in a digital planning solution like Powerproject will centrally document every element of future jobs from day one. Powerproject’s 3D modelling capabilities can showcase the outcome of each design, while our 4D scheduling feature can demonstrate precisely how a building will be constructed.

Real-time progress can be captured and stored during construction through Powerproject’s Site Progress Mobile app. At the same time, Powerproject Vision gives building companies access to the entire history of each project in one easy-to-access online location.

All our Powerproject solutions have been designed to be interoperable with the golden thread of construction data we’ve discussed. Plus, companies can upload historical data from completed programmes to Powerproject for future reference.

Preparing your company for building law changes

The Building Safety Act is one of the most significant construction law changes in recent years. Companies that invest in project management software are best positioned to cope with these changes – and any more that follow.

From initial planning to ongoing maintenance, programme management software like Powerproject helps building firms stay accountable for safety and quality throughout the project lifecycle. And no matter how far into the future things change, the golden data thread exists to ensure buildings stay compliant.

Want to protect your company from changing legislation? Start your free Powerproject trial to explore our planning and project management software.

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