Show your workings: complying with the building safety regime

Hywel Davies considers the implications of the new rules relating to competence

Many readers will recall that, in maths, the importance of showing the workings of your solution to a problem is as important as the solution – and sometimes worth more marks! That may also soon be true for compliance with aspects of the new building safety regime.

The Building Safety Regulator is now up and running, with various duties relating to building safety. Its first priority is the safety of Higher-Risk Buildings (HRBs).

There is a specific definition of occupied HRBs in the Building Safety Act and accompanying regulations, which is: a multi-residential building more than 18m in height or of seven storeys or more. These regulations set out the description in detail, and further regulations set out the requirement to register existing HRBs by 30 September this year.

The regulator is also responsible for the building control function of new HRBs. Exact timings have not been announced, but the Act requires the regulator to act as the building control body on all new HRBs once the relevant regulations come into force – and all new HRBs will be required to go through the new Gateway process.

Planning Gateway One (PGO) is also up and running, with some interesting statistics emerging from the regulator suggesting that more than 50% of submissions at PGO are being rejected because they do not address key building safety concerns.

There is a real need to show the workings and the basis of the decision to appoint a specialist or a more general consultant

Gateway 2 will require that the full design of the HRB is completed and approved by the regulator before any construction work begins on site. This is a challenge, not least for procurement models that go to site with significant ‘contractor designed portions’ awaiting design. Put simply, that won’t get past first base – or, more accurately, Gateway 2.

Gateway 2 will require those responsible for the submission to show the detailed design working and explain how they think the submitted design meets Building Regulations, particularly the functional requirements. This is a new stipulation, and given the teething problems with PGO, we can expect to see more problems when Gateway 2 goes live.

In addition to getting the design signed off at Gateway 2, there will be further requirements. The client will need to provide submissions showing how they plan to manage and resource construction on site, as well as a change-control plan to manage – and get approved – any design changes as construction progresses.

To complete the package, there will be a need to set out the competence of the team appointed to undertake the work.

The regulator will want to dig into all of these and to see the workings clearly – how do the client and principal designer show they have competent people delivering a fully compliant design to a realistically resourced schedule? If they are not convinced by the workings, they won’t let work begin.

The expectation is that the client will set out who is in their team, starting with the principal designer, but including all of those appointed to the project. They will demonstrate why they think those appointed are competent and provide the evidence to support that conclusion.

There is a real need here to show the workings and the basis of the decision to appoint a specialist or a more general consultant. Do they have the knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours to undertake the role safely and effectively? Have they got what it takes to deliver a safe HRB? The regulator will want to see how this conclusion is reached – and we can expect a similar mindset in other aspects of building control as the Act comes into force more fully.


  1. The Higher-Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2023. These set out what constitutes ‘key building information’ in respect of Higher-Risk Buildings (HRBs)
  2. Building Safety (Registration of Higher-Risk Buildings and Review of Decisions) (England) Regulations 2023. These make provisions about the register of HRBs held by the building safety regulator, and about making an application to register an HRB, and further provisions about decisions of the regulator that may be subject to a review under section 25 of the Building Safety Act.