The Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017 caused the avoidable loss of 72 lives. In its wake, the UK government vowed to introduce stricter and more robust laws that would hold housebuilders to account and prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.
The Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) aims to fix the building safety regime. It was granted royal assent on the 28th of April 2022 and represents what the government described as the “greatest set of reforms in a generation”.
The public inquiry closed in November 2022 after 400 days of evidence. It covered every aspect of the disaster, from fire response to the accountability of constructors, designers and legislators.
But how does information access and the ‘golden thread’ principle apply to the BSA and what does the principle actually mean?
Information Access and the Building Safety Act
It refers to maintaining a clear and consistent thread of information about buildings covered by the Building Safety Act 2022. These are higher-risk buildings that are at least 18 metres or seven storeys high, with two or more residential units.
This information should be stored digitally for easy future reference. In this way, the Act ensures transparency throughout the lifecycle of the building.
Core ‘Golden Thread’ Principles in Construction
As set out by BRAC in its 2021 report, the government has agreed to introduce the principle of the golden thread into the Building Safety Act, even though the term ‘golden thread’ doesn’t appear in the current version of the Act.
1. Comply With BSA Data Requirements
Key people involved in the construction of a site, from stakeholders to principal designers and principal constructors, must have the latest and most accurate data to ensure continual compliance with the BSA.
Data will need to be approved and overseen by the regulatory bodies, and specific dead-stop points (‘gateways’) introduced to make sure compliance has been achieved.
2. Share Building Information
To reassure residents that their building is safe, monitored and held to high standards, building information must be shared with residents and construction professionals alike, without unnecessary bureaucracy.
3. Encourage Collaboration
The BSA requires different companies working on-site to be more collaborative and to share information more openly.
4. Provide a Single Source of Truth
Rather than information being held at different points by different people, all information must be stored in one place, with an audit log showing changes and updates.
5. Protect personal data
The UK’s Data Protection Act 2018 complements the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It means that anyone who is responsible for using personal data must follow seven principles of data protection, the first of which centres on the need for lawfulness, fairness and transparency.
Maintaining building information is part of the BSA: those who update and maintain data are accountable for meeting the required standards.
6. Store Information in a Digitally Accessible Way
Stored information must be easily understood by multiple parties and ‘digitally accessible’ (this term is still being defined).
7. Make software migrations easy
Information must be kept only if relevant. It must also be easy to migrate from one software solution to the next so that, as technology develops, information can be transported easily between platforms.
Three Proposed Gateways
To strengthen regulatory oversight of design and construction, the following three building gateways are proposed:
- Planning stage
- Pre-building commencement
- Final completion (before occupation).
Gateways two and three are stop/go decision points. They involve a rigorous inspection of building regulations requirements, to make sure building safety is considered at each stage of design and construction. They must be passed before a development can proceed to the next stage.
At the time of writing, the proposed gateways are not in BSA.
What Does the Golden Thread Mean for Your Construction Project?
Information access is essential to any new building project. Even if a building does not come under the new BSA regulations, maintaining a continuous thread of information remains important – it signifies a culture shift.
Collecting and maintaining easily accessible information on every building (including designs, plans, material records and companies used) should become part of every build. This level of accountability and regulation will help to prevent further tragedies like Grenfell.
Construction Management Software Maintains Building Information
The government has called for digital storage to ensure the longevity of building information. Implementing construction management software is by far the best way to begin your transition to the digital age.
RedSky’s construction management software will enable you to store building information data logically and securely, eliminate silos and ensure clear accountability at every stage.