The Building Safety Act 2022 inserts new provisions into Schedule 1 of the Building Act 1984 to provide powers for building regulations to set out the information and documents that must be created, obtained and kept, and the standard to which these documents and information must be stored and obtained.

The UK Government are proposing to use this power to require those designing and constructing higher-risk buildings to develop a golden thread of information to prescribed standards.

What is the "Golden Thread"?

The golden thread forms part of the new government gateway regime which intends to streamline and clarify the risk management process in a higher risk building project.

The term refers to information about the building's design, construction and management that will be required to demonstrate compliance with specified building regulations. This information must be collated and held digitally.

The collated information must cover the original design intent and any subsequent changes relating to the building. Once the building is complete, this thread of information is passed to the Accountable Person for use in the ongoing management of the building.

The purpose of the golden thread is to safeguard residents and others against building risks (including fire and structural safety issues) by providing a framework which requires transparency of information and easily accessible documents throughout the lifetime of a building. The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety chaired by Dame Judith Hackett identified the importance of persons responsible for building safety having access to accurate and up to date information and concluded that a "golden thread" of good quality information would ensure effective building safety management throughout a building's lifecycle.

Who is responsible for the "Golden Thread"?

The person responsible for the Golden Thread will change throughout the lifecycle of a project, with different persons (dutyholders) responsible at different stages.

During the design and construction phases, the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor respectively will be responsible for the development of the golden thread. At handover between construction and occupation responsibility for the golden thread will be handed over to the Accountable Person. By this stage the golden thread should be a substantial body of information. The Accountable Person will continue to be responsible for maintaining it and ensuring the information remains accurate and up to date.

Handing over a comprehensive golden thread of information is crucial for dutyholders during construction. The Building Safety Regulator will use the information to determine whether a completion certificate can be issued for the works and the Accountable Person will need it to apply for a Building Assurance Certificate (BAC) from the Building Safety Regulator which allows the building to be occupied.

Any failure to provide the golden thread of information may delay or prevent a project's construction or prevent occupation if the building has already been completed.

What information will the "Golden Thread" need to contain?

The UK Government intends to publish regulations and guidance setting out the scope of the golden thread including the specific documents, data and information that it ought to contain and the standards it needs to be stored in accordance with. However, these documents have not yet been published.

What is clear is that dutyholders will be required to have effective information management systems in place to create and maintain the golden thread and so steps ought to be taken now to ensure that these systems are in place.

Contributors

Claire Rice

Senior Associate

Eric Johnstone

Legal Director