The Building Safety Bill received Royal Assent in late April and will change how residential buildings are constructed and maintained.
The legislation is momentous. However, this is only one step on the journey towards higher standards in building safety. Greater change will be driven by the needs of insurers and banks as they require ever-greater insight about how buildings have been constructed and maintained.
Apart from the clear ethical case for improved building standards, there is also a robust commercial reason around risk. Insurers are now frequently asking for proof that construction projects will meet quality standards, and since the cladding crisis started lenders have become more interested in what buildings are made of, and how.
Increasingly, there will be requirements for accreditation, and building owners will have to prove buildings and construction products meet quality and sustainability standards. Data and technology – the famous ‘golden thread’ – will be part of evidencing this, with clear records required to verify not only what was specified but also what went into the actual building.
Building owners will also have to demonstrate robust maintenance has taken place. While all this has been technologically possible for years, there has not been the push from financial institutions. When this element is combined with a new legislative environment, it will bring about lasting change, as without insurance and finance construction will grind to a halt.
Nowadays, there are not only the technological tools to make this a reality; there is also a movement to ensure there is consistent classification and to allow for interoperability.
As well as building safety, the climate crisis will lead to similar data requirements in the built environment, for example the need to prove that sustainable building materials and techniques have been used. This will again drive up construction data requirements, coupled with the need for banks to report on carbon emissions on their loans and investments.
Information management has never been more essential to understand a building, check its green credentials and keep it safe.
Russell Haworth is chief executive of building data specialist NBS