What are we going to do?
We want residents to be safe and feel safe in their homes. To ensure safe and high-quality buildings, it is important that anyone involved in design or building work is competent to do their job properly and in compliance with Building Regulations. This is vital to underpin our reforms of the building safety system.
We will use powers within the Building Safety Bill to make regulations regarding competence requirements and have published these, in draft, alongside introduction of the Bill. We are doing this to ensure the public, industry and Parliamentarians have full sight of our proposals during passage of the Bill. An updated draft of these regulations will be subject to consultation once the Building Safety Bill has gained Royal Assent.
What will these regulations do?
These regulations will impose a requirement on Principal Designers, Principal Contractors and anyone carrying out any design or building work to be competent for their roles. They also place a duty on those who appoint them to take reasonable steps to ensure that the people they appoint meet this requirement.
Under these regulations, individuals will need to have the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours necessary for their role.
For organisations, they will need to have the organisational capability – the ability of an organisation to carry out its functions properly.
For example, having appropriate management systems, processes, policies and resources to carry out its functions under these Regulations and ensuring that individuals who carry out the work for them have the appropriate skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours for their roles.
These regulations will also require organisations appointed to the roles of the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor to ensure that the individuals leading or managing the work or project have the appropriate skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours to manage the organisation’s functions as the Principal Designer or Principal Contractor.
These regulations do not specify the detail of the competence needed for specific roles or sectors. The industry is best placed to set the competence frameworks for each sector and role, based on a national framework. This work is underway in safety-critical sectors and will be key to support this legislation.
How are we going to do it?
The Bill amends Schedule 1 to the Building Act 1984 to create powers for the Secretary of State to impose, in Building Regulations applying to England, competence requirements on the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor, and any other persons, and to impose duties on those appointing them to ensure they meet the competence requirements.
These regulations will:
- Place a duty on those making appointments under these Regulations, or permitting anyone to carry out work, to take reasonable steps to ensure they meet the competence requirements
- Require the people who carry out any design or building work to have the relevant skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours, and/or organisational capability to carry out work in the way that ensures compliance with Building Regulations
- Require the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor to have the relevant skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours, or organisational capability to carry out work and fulfil their duties under these Regulations
- Where the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor is an organisation, require it to designate an individual under their control who is competent to manage its functions as the Principal Designer or Principal Contractor
- Require those carrying out design or building work to notify the relevant people when they are no longer competent for their roles or work arises for which they do not have the competence
These regulations also cover the requirements for dutyholders. Please see the dutyholders factsheet for this topic.
For higher-risk buildings, we intend to require a signed declaration from the Client, at the Gateway Two stage, that they have assessed and are content with the competence of the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor. This will be included in secondary legislation relating to the Gateway Two requirements.
It is a criminal offence to breach the requirements in Building Regulations, contrary to section 35 of the Building Act 1984. Contravening these duties will therefore be a criminal offence. Enforcement of these duties will likely arise largely through observations of the building control authority’s building inspectors during inspections. Further details will be included in the factsheet on enforcement.
Key safety-critical sectors have been leading work to improve the competence of those working on higher-risk buildings, including developing sector-specific frameworks and setting up competence schemes or registers.
The government intends to provide guidance to support these requirements. The guidance will give examples of the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours and organisational capability needed to work on higher-risk buildings, in particular, for the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor. Where appropriate, the guidance may make references to industry-developed competence frameworks and schemes.
The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety identified the need for improvements in the competence of those working in the built environment. The current landscape is complex and fragmented. There are various routes for assessing and demonstrating competence that are not always clear, consistent, or sufficiently robust. This makes it difficult to be confident in the competence of those working on higher-risk buildings.
Building Regulations currently only have minimal provisions relating to how design and building work should be carried out. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 include general duties relating to the competence of designers and contractors, as well as duties on contractors to ensure the competence of those they appoint to work on construction sites. However, these duties focus on good management of health, safety and welfare during construction projects, rather than on the safety and quality of buildings, and do not have specific provisions for higher-risk buildings.
These new regulations set out requirements relating to the competence of those carrying out any design or building work on all buildings to ensure compliance with Building Regulations.
To whom will these requirements apply?
These requirements will apply to anyone carrying out design work or building work. They do not apply to those carrying out work in their own home, where the work consists only of work described in Schedule 4 to the Building Regulations 2010.The Regulations also do not apply to exempt work (defined in Schedule 2 to the Building Regulations 2010), and make special provision for domestic clients.
“Design work” includes drawings, design details, specifications and bills of quantities (including specification of articles or substances) relating to a building, and calculations prepared for the purpose of a design of the building work. “Building work” is defined in Regulation 3 of Building Regulations 2010.
What about people who are training or are in the process of obtaining experience for more complex buildings or projects?
We recognise that competent individuals may be supported by those who are being trained and who need to be given the opportunity to gain experience. Regulation 8(3) provides an exemption for these individuals in training, provided that they are appropriately supervised by a competent individual.
This exemption does not apply to the Principal Contractor or Principal Designer. Individuals need to be fully competent to take on these roles.
How will the appropriate level of competence be defined for the different roles involved in design and building work on higher-risk buildings?
Industry, with government support, has been leading a significant programme of work to improve the competence of those working on higher-risk buildings through the Competence Steering Group (CSG) and its sub-working groups.
The CSG published its final report in October 2020. The government has agreed the core underpinning principles and is taking forward some of the recommendations through the Bill, and continues to support the industry to implement the industry-led elements of the recommendations.
The government is working with the British Standards Institution (BSI) to create a suite of national competence standards for higher-risk buildings. These include the BSI Flex 8670: Core Criteria for Building Safety in Competence Framework – Code of Practice, which sets out key principles to be used by different sectors to develop their sector-specific competence frameworks.
The work also includes a set of standards under development covering the competence requirements for the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor, which are expected to be available in mid-2022.
The industry should continue to develop sector-specific competence frameworks which can be used to assess the competence of individuals. Organisations wishing to assess individuals against these frameworks should be third-party accredited by a publicly recognised body such as UKAS or the Engineering Council.
The Health and Safety Executive has established the Interim Industry Competence Committee as a precursor of the statutory Industry Competence Committee within the Building Safety Regulator.. The Committee will support the industry work to raise competence and contribute to a pipeline of competent people for the new regulatory regime.
What assurance will support the assessments of competence of the individuals working on higher-risk buildings?
Professional and trade bodies should develop suitable ways that their members in safety-critical roles can demonstrate their competence, with robust assurance processes, building on the industry-led work to date.
The third-party accreditation and registration proposed by the Competence Steering Group (CSG) should support this, and we encourage the industry to implement this recommendation. We expect organisations wishing to assess individuals against the national competence standards and sector-specific frameworks to be third-party accredited.
The CSG was set up in May 2018 to lead work to raise competence in the built environment industry, as recommended in Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report. It brought together over 150 professional and trade bodies. Twelve working groups were set up covering the safety-critical professions and trades involved in the design, construction, maintenance and management of higher-risk buildings, to review and raise levels of competence within their own disciplines. The CSG also developed proposals for a system for competence oversight.
The Government agreed with the high-level principles of the recommendations and consulted on these in the Building a Safer Future consultation, which launched on 6 June 2019 and closed on 31July 2019. The group published its final report in October 2020.
- 95% of respondents agreed that an overarching competence framework, formalised as part of a suite of national standards, should be taken forward
- 94% of respondents to the consultation agreed that enhanced competence requirements should be developed for the key dutyholder roles with oversight of building safety, and that these should be developed and maintained through a national framework
- 91% of respondents agreed with the CSG’s recommendations for establishing an industry-led committee to drive competence