Takeaways from the Inaugural BSR Conference

Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
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After initially missing out on a ‘golden ticket’ to the inaugural BSR conference I was surprised and delighted to latterly receive an invitation from the organisers. Admittedly I did have a bit of a public tantrum over the lack of capacity for attendees.

Due to the scarcity of attendee places, the proximity of the Building Safety Act to commence, and the lack of secondary legislation and clear guidance, I took it upon myself to ask some difficult questions and report back. So here goes:

“When will the BSR Registration window open?”
(this is the BSR digital platform to register HRBs and provide key building information)

What I thought I knew: All HSE communication to date has referred to April 2023 and the end date is 1st October 2023. They also refer to the window being open for 6 months, so the window must open on 1st April 2023.

What I now know: The registration window will (they hope) partially open on 12th April for Registration only. It should then open fully, to include key building information, around 3rd May 2023. There is no possibility of the 1st October closure date moving back, so the registration window is in fact just under 5 months. 

What I’ve taken away: BSR needs to stop quoting a 6 month registration window, they should just promote the 1st October registration deadline.

“The reported requirement to submit key building information within 28 days of initial registration incentivises leaving registration to the last moment.”

What I thought I knew: Despite reporting from a well respected law firm asserting the 28 day rule I was only aware of it in relation to supplying Building Assessment Certification Information to the regulator when called forward. Incentivising late registration seemed daft. 

What I now know: According to the HSE / PA Consulting team who are building and were demonstrating a video of the registration platform (there was no actual platform to play with) there is no 28 day cut-off on key building information submission. PAPs or their nominees can register from 12th April 2023 and need to have submitted key building information by midnight on 30th September 2023. Once information is submitted you cannot log back in and amend it. However, in a later session with Peter Baker, he repeated the same line as the law firm, so I will need to dig deeper.

What I’ve taken away: Due to the confusion I would get all of my registration information and key building information ready ASAP and only submit it once I have ALL the information ready for a building. It’s not worth the risk of submitting a partial registration. The system is also likely to be buggy due to a lack of proper testing. 

“How much is the BSR fee to conduct the Building Assessment Certificate application process likely to be?”

What I thought I knew: Having read through the Impact Assessment, I found a table giving the breakdown of expected BSR time to conduct the application process. This table estimates 76 hours. Despite the BSR not issuing its proposed fees schedule yet, I guessed it would be proximate to the HSE Fee for Intervention of £163 per hour, so £12,388 per HRB.

What I now know: After speaking with a couple of senior HSE/BSR people, I was reminded that the fee schedule is out for consultation. They indicated that it was likely that the standard Fee for Intervention rate would be charged and the 76 hours was an estimate. They don’t know how accurate the estimate is yet, so it could be more or less per block. They also plan to charge an additional application fee (amount not disclosed).

What I’ve taken away: Application for a Building Assessment Certificate could get very expensive, very quickly, if you don’t submit high quality, well structured documentation. Even if your application goes smoothly, it will be expensive in terms of production and assessment costs. Please speak to me about our new Safety Case system if you want to fly through the assessment process 😉

“What is the earliest date the BSR could ask to see your Building Safety Case?”

What I thought I knew: The new regime commences 1st October 2023, so it is possible to breach the Act from that date forward. BSR have widely advised that they will start calling forward applications for the Building Assessment Certificate in tranches from April 2024. In ordinary times this would be the first time the BSR would expect to see evidence of compliance (Safety Case Report, Resident Engagement Strategy, Mandatory Occurrence Reporting System, and Information Sharing). What is not spoken about is ‘extraordinary times’ such as a major high-rise fire any time after 1st October 2023 that could cause the new regulator to investigate. To my mind they would be entitled to ask to see evidence of compliance with the Act and it would be impossible to defend yourself if it does not exist. Therefore, all HRBs will require a Safety Case and other key documentation / Golden Thread from 1st October 2023.

What I now know: My understanding was correct. 1st October 2023 is the key date for compliance. Later in the day, Peter Baker did reference the new regulator “bearing its teeth” before going on to say: “don’t worry, we won’t be breaking down your door on 1st October.” 

What I’ve taken away: Even if you have blocks that only just classify as HRB and they are built of brick (assumed Year 5 tranche for application process) you still have to comply with the Building Safety Act from 1st October 2023. This includes developing your safety case, implementing the resident engagement strategy, implementing mandatory occurrence reporting/complaints etc. BSR was very clear that if all goes well, PAPs have 1 year to get ready, if all doesn’t go well (as I have discovered) they have just over 6 months.