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Out-Law News 1 min. read

Scottish government confirms how it will assess buildings with potentially unsafe cladding

The Scottish government has published new guidance setting out the approach to be taken when performing single building assessments (SBAs) on buildings with potentially unsafe cladding.

SBA specification document (91 pages / 4.2 MB) outlines how assessors should evaluate a building’s performance, providing a uniform standard for assessing various aspects of a potentially unsafe building.

An SBA forms part of the Scottish standards specified by the recently passed Housing (Cladding Remediation) Bill (20 pages / 1.2 MB). The Bill aims to address the risks posed by potentially unsafe cladding on multi-occupied domestic buildings, which may include mixed use buildings with commercial premises as well as residential units. The process applies to flatted buildings over 11 metres with external cladding systems containing at least one dwelling, constructed or renovated between 1 June 1992 and 1 June 2022.

The SBA is a critical, risk-based part of the cladding remediation programme, which seeks to mitigate negative impacts on the buying, selling, and re-mortgaging of properties with unsafe cladding in Scotland.

Buildings identified as having potentially unsafe cladding will undergo an SBA. The assessment will consider the condition of the internal common areas of the building and the external wall system. The assessment also includes a fire risk appraisal of external walls (FRAEW), which will be based on PAS9980 – a code of practice also used in England and Wales.

The SBA process introduces a requirement to carry out an internal fire risk assessment for the first time for in-scope buildings.  This is a one-off requirement for in-scope buildings and sits outside the regulatory regime contained within the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

Katherine Metcalfe, building safety expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “It is interesting to see the Scottish government’s single building assessment specification document, in particular the introduction of a one-off requirement to conduct an internal fire risk assessment for in-scope buildings. This has not previously been a legal requirement for residential buildings in Scotland. Another positive is that the FRAEW is to be based on PAS9980.”

Where an SBA has been undertaken and then the building is opened up to carry out work, an additional works assessment may be required where it becomes apparent that further work is needed to remediate the building.

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