Build Safe Live Safe | The Building Safety Bill: How golden does the 'golden thread' need to be?
Published on 11th Nov 2021
Quality of information will be the first line of defence against complaints, claims and alleged breaches of the proposed legislation
A key part of the Building Safety Bill (BSB), is the "golden thread", this is the information to show that a building in scope was compliant with applicable building regulations during its construction and to be used to identify, understand, manage and mitigate ongoing building safety risks throughout its life cycle.
When thinking about the golden thread it's useful to understand what encompasses building safety; it should be taken to include the fire and structural safety of a building and the safety of all the people in or in the vicinity of a building (including emergency responders).
The information in the golden thread is fundamental to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future. It is evidence of what's been done in the construction and then what is being done to manage the ongoing risk.
Will set information have to be contained?
The BSB provides for a raft of secondary legislation, part of which, it is proposed, will include the golden thread regulations. These will set out the principles that the duty holder or accountable person must follow and also define the information, data and documents that should be stored in the golden thread. There will also be guidance on implementing the golden thread will sit underneath the regulations. However, at this stage the detail is not known.
Who is it for?
In design and construction and refurbishment the golden thread should contain the information needed to demonstrate compliance with specified building regulations (required through the gateways or refurbishment process). When the building is completed this information will be handed over to the person responsible for the completed building (the accountable person).
The golden thread information will be the data bank from which to evidence compliance for the Building Safety Regulator and, in Gateway 3 (occupation), to form the basis of the safety case.
It will also be a resource used more widely, many people will need to access the golden thread to update and share information, including building managers, architects, contractors and many others. Information from the golden thread will also need to be shared by the accountable person with other relevant people including residents and emergency responders.
How should the information be stored?
The golden thread information should be stored as structured digital information. The government will specify digital standards in its guidance. We expect this to be quite strict; obviously, for existing high-rise buildings, some information may be in paper form. However, we can see, potentially, that this may have to be converted or new data may have to be obtained from new inspections so it can be held digitally.
The system will not be set up for incomplete lever arch files of papers being dusted off from various store cupboards. The golden thread should be a living resource that is updated as changes occur – and it is the duty holders that will have to fill in the gaps.
The current guidance talks about the need for duty holders and accountable persons to have strong, standardised and holistic information management systems in place throughout a building’s life cycle.
Being able to evidence that your building is safe and to easily communicate this status is almost as important as the safety measures themselves.
Those with an interest in high-rise residential property need to begin preparing for the upcoming legislation now by considering the way they currently manage and exchange information.
It will become increasingly important to consider how designers and contactors are recording their work. For instance, can they show that a building is being built to design and where the record of materials i?, Has fire stopping been photographed as it is installed and before it becomes inaccessible behind walls and cladding?
The quality of information will be the first line of defence against complaints, claims and alleged breaches of the BSB, so having a process that ensures its integrity from the outset has to be given renewed focus.
This Insight accompanies the third video in our Build Safe Live Safe series on issues arising from this major change to building safety regulation. In the next video and Insight in the series, the Building Safety Team will focus on claims for defective work.