BESA welcomes planned review of Building Regs

BESA, Building Regulations
Weaknesses in the regulatory framework — Paul McLaughlin.

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has welcomed BBC reports that a full review of the Building Regulations is to be carried out following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Chief executive Paul McLaughlin said that BESA had been flagging up weaknesses in the regulatory framework for many years and had long been a champion of tighter enforcement.

‘It is hugely depressing that, once again, it requires a catastrophic incident to force changes that many in our industry have been urging for years,’ said Mr McLaughlin. He pointed out that while the focus at Grenfell had fallen on the cladding, the failure of one building component was often symptomatic of wider weakness in the process.

‘Inappropriate and unsafe specifications contribute to the “performance gap” our industry has been flagging up to the authorities for many years,’ he said. ‘For example, we have often argued that poor energy performance is a “canary in the cage” that should alert anyone responsible to other failings in the design and operation of the building. If we are missing energy-efficiency design targets, then what else is wrong? What else are we missing?’

The Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) is expected to focus on all parts of the regulations and consider how weak enforcement is exploited to cut project costs. However, no timetable has been announced for the review.

‘Repeated delays to the revision of regulations and the history of incidents are symptomatic of a wider culture of neglect and under valuation of the expertise of building engineers,’ said Mr McLaughlin.

BESA also believes that many of the approved documents, which provide the technical details needed to comply with the Building Regulations, encourage a culture of ‘box ticking’ and corner cutting because they leave too much room for interpretation.

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