Feature: Common Challenges and Disputes
How to Use Tech to Prepare for the Upcoming Building Safety Regime
Written by Simon Bushell, Sales Director at Fixflo
The block management industry faces a huge shakeup in the next eighteen months, as the Building Safety Bill (BSB) and its new requirements for how we document building safety come more sharply into focus.
With the Bill set to come into effect in May 2023, and the beginning of the transition expected in October 2022, time is of the essence. That’s where tech comes in, with digital solutions the key to helping all parties stay safe and compliant.
The Building Safety Bill and the ‘Golden Thread’
The Government has heralded the Bill, as creating a generational change, setting out a clear pathway for how buildings should be constructed and maintained safely, with harsher penalties for non-compliance. The Bill is currently at the Report stage in the House of Commons, during which the House is able to discuss it and make amendments. Key to the Bill is the ‘golden thread’ of fire and safety information that building owners must provide. This should be accessible at every stage of the building’s lifetime, from design and planning to construction and management.
The BSB calls for clear lines of responsibility and accountable individuals to check compliance and make sure the construction is safe at every stage. Those who are unable to evidence that they have enforced effective, proportionate measures to mitigate safety risks could face criminal charges. Residents in high-rise buildings will be able to raise concerns about safety directly to the owners/managers of their building. If they cannot find a resolution here, they can raise issues with the Building Safety Regulator.
How PropTech Can Help Managing Agents
When it comes to evidencing and documenting safety procedures, technology has a dual role to perform, streamlining and advancing the process for managing agents, leaseholders and building residents and providing greater control and coordination for all parties.
Help Accountable Persons Check Compliance A suitable block management solution will create audit trails to allow the Principle Accountable Person (PAP) and Accountable Persons (AP) to track what has been done and when. The Principle Accountable Person is the named person responsible for the safety of the building. They may appoint additional Accountable Persons to help them manage this.
Reporting features can provide an overview of progress towards compliance, demonstrating areas where further work or remedials are needed. Having a record of every correspondence and inspection is the safest way to protect a building.
Arrange Maintenance and Inspections A dedicated repairs and maintenance management system will make it easy for a property manager to organise the repair works needed to maintain building safety, whether these are reactive issues arising through wear and tear of the common areas or planned maintenance to ensure assets remain compliant and safe. Store and Share Important Safety Information Important and accurate information such as the outcomes of fire safety inspections can be stored digitally, minimising the risk of losing paperwork. This can be consistently accessible to the parties who need to see it, including contractors, property managers, leaseholders, residents, and Accountable Persons.
Engage with Residents Following the Hackitt Review of 2018 as a result of the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Building Safety Bill requires the Principle Accountable Person (PAP) to prepare and review a resident engagement strategy to involve them in making building safety decisions.
Software solutions can make this process simple, with one-click communications that can be sent to all residents in a building. These can be used to send relevant safety information or surveys to capture feedback on safety measures.
Improved Reporting of Fire Safety Issues Key to a successful building safety solution is to allow residents to easily report any issues they encounter. This can be done through a dedicated repair reporting portal accessible from any device with an Internet connection. A specialist system will walk a resident step by step through the reporting process to allow as much information to be captured as possible, leading to faster fixes of issues before they can escalate into major risks.
Making the Most of Technology
One of the biggest advantages of adopting technology is that its implementation can be bespoke. No two blocks are the same, and tech allows property managers to provide services highly tailored to the needs of their residents without increasing their workload. Fixflo’s block management solutions support effective repairs and maintenance, allowing easy communication, reporting and management of repairs and scheduling of inspections. With new penalties stipulated for the named persons who are accountable for a building’s safety, the journey towards compliance begins now —– and proptech is your vital partner.
Managing residential blocks is a huge responsibility. You could be in charge of the health and safety of thousands of residents in one building alone. On top of that, you need to make sure that communal facilities are serviced regularly. Manage proactive and reactive maintenance tasks, communicate with stakeholders and stay compliant easily with Fixflo’s leasehold and block management solution.