Important changes to Building Regulations – duties and competence

A new Part 2A has been inserted into the Building Regulations (Amendments etc.) (England) Regulations 2023. This contains detailed requirements on clients to appoint designers and contractors who are competent, and new duties for the clients, designers and contractors which came into force on 1st October.

A new addition to the Building Regulations.

Compulsory reading

The new Part 2A of the Building Regulations should be urgent and compulsory reading for everyone involved in the construction sector who has any responsibility for procuring building work of any kind, or for designing or building it. Part 2A introduces a whole series of new regulations, 17 in total, covering the duties, competence and behaviour of clients, designers and contractors. Part 2A also creates the new roles and duties of the principal designer and contractor for every project. These were first called for over five years ago in Dame Judith Hackitt’s landmark review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

New regulation (11E) sets out in some detail the considerations that must be addressed before appointing a designer or contractor. They apply to ALL building projects and all those appointed, requiring them to be competent. Chapter 3 of Part 2A of the amendment regulations addresses the competence requirements in some detail. There are four new regulations, under 11F – I, covering competence. These are a general regulation, one each for the principal designer and contractor, and one giving requirements should either principal be unable to meet the competence requirements.

Chapter 4 of Part 2A sets out the general duties of all duty holders as well as additional legal duties of principal designers and contractors. These include sharing information and communicating effectively with other parties on the project.

Necessary behaviour

Chapter 5 at the end of Part 2A is a regulation that defines a “necessary behaviour” of anyone claiming to be competent, which is a willingness to refuse to carry out work which is not compliant with any relevant requirement, or to undertake design work that effectively cannot be built in compliance with regulations. Co-operation is now also a necessary behaviour, along with saying no to doing things beyond their skills, knowledge or experience.

This means that OFTEC technicians involved with installation work must ensure that the service provided is undertaken only by a competent person. This affects all parts of the work from design, installation, commissioning, and handover which means the whole installation must be compliant with the requirements set out in the Building Regulations. This means starting with calculating the building heat loss all the way to handover and the final works notification.

While some may feel that this is short notice, the new regulations have been coming for over five years and should not come as a surprise. With consumer safety vital, a statutory duty to appoint only those who are competent to do design and construction work is a welcome and sensible development.

The Building Regulations etc. (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2023 are available online.