Dame Judith Hackitt, who is leading the independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell fire, has provided her interim report to MPs. Here are some of her key quotes:
“I have been shocked by some of the practices I have heard about and I am convinced of the need for a new intelligent system of regulation and enforcement for high-rise and complex buildings which will encourage everyone to do the right thing and will hold to account those who try to cut corners.
“A cultural and behavioural change is now required across the whole [construction] sector to deliver an effective system that ensures complex buildings are built and maintained so that they are safe for people to live in for many years after the original construction. The mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings to others must stop.
“Changes to the regulatory regime will help, but on their own will not be sufficient unless we can change the culture away from one of doing the minimum required for compliance, to one of taking ownership and responsibility for delivering a safe system throughout the life cycle of a building.
“At the heart of this required change is a shift of ownership. Despite being advised at the outset that the regulatory system for building was outcomes and performance-based, I have encountered masses of prescription which is complex and in some cases inconsistent. The prescription is largely owned by government, with industry – those who should be the experts in best practice – waiting to be told what to do and some looking for ways to work around it.
“We know that many building owners and landlords are taking responsibility and initiating remedial work where required. But even now I am aware that some are waiting for direction from this review on what materials should be used to replace cladding that has been identified as inadequate. I would urge them not to wait but to consider what materials have already been identified and tested as safe.
“A systemic review of the regulations by a non-expert in construction was never going to recommend detailed changes to the technical requirements – this is beyond my area of competence. Any attempt to modify details of the regulation without addressing the clear systemic failings would be akin to adding a paint job and decorations to a fundamentally non-roadworthy vehicle. My goal is to ensure that we create, within a much more robust overall system, a process that ensures there is effective oversight of materials, people and installation.”