Just this week, during a routine audit of our Professional indemnity insurance policy ( £10m if you were wondering) our broker asked us to clarify the answer to one of the questions on the renewal form, that being, do we take adequate steps to make sure our specified detailing for fire protection are installed correctly on site.
So this is a difficult question to answer yes/no. If we are not retained for a site role in RIBA stage 5 ( construction) then we are not on site regularly to make inspections, then we need a definition of ‘adequate’ further, the majority of notifiable schemes are constructed under the design and build procurement route, which allows the contractor to make changes to specifications for cost saving and other reasons that we may not be party to.
So, the answer is yes, when we have an appointment that includes this role. In other cases, what would be classed as adequate?
So, what are the implications of the Building Safety Act 2022 that came into effect in October 2023?
The Act places new obligations on designers in respect of all buildings (with a few minor exceptions) and also introduces the ‘golden thread’ for HRB’s (Higher risk buildings). There is no need to expand on these here, they are more than adequately (adequate is used under its qualified definition here) elsewhere. The responsibility for monitoring site installation passes to either the principal designer or sole or lead designer and that appointed party must ensure an appropriate frequency of inspections of HRB design work throughout the construction phase.
In our opinion this expands the principal designer role into the competency of architects and properly qualified design professionals, and away from a pure health and safety role. Technical expertise and site experience is essential to fulfil this obligation.
Talk to us about your residential schemes, we have this expertise and experience in house.