Grenfell Inquiry leaves a lot to be desired

The Government response to the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 report is an important first step, but there is more still to be done.

The report details the actions the government has taken since the tragedy of the Grenfell fire, and the recommendations made to the Emergency Services, as well as the newest announcements:

  • Dame Judith Hackitt has been appointed to lead the creation of a new national building safety regulator, which will make building owners criminally liable for safety.
  • A ban on the use of combustible aluminium composite material on new buildings of any height, instead of just residential buildings over 18 metres.
  • All building owners must check the combustibility of external walls and apartment front doors for the first time.

But whilst it condenses advice into one document, there is still more to be done to see full implementation of what is required.

In due course, it is clear there is going to be a call for evidence on the approach to risk assessing buildings, which landlords will need to ensure they are prepared for; and the response signals the coming changes to responsibility.

It clarifies that balconies, spandrel panels, and external wall insulation are to be considered, which is useful when agreeing responsibility and scope of replacement with contractors.

There is also a suggested reduction in the height of new residential buildings required to have sprinklers from 18 metres to 11 metres, but it is unclear if this is confirmed.

What is most evident, but should be obvious, is that landlords need to have solid information regarding the construction of their buildings and should not wait to start collecting and assembling this information.

Of course, once an issue is uncovered, landlords can no longer ignore it.

However, the report does not acknowledge the impacts facing leaseholders and residents including potentials implications for the value of homes and who is to be held accountable for remedial work.

Phase 2 will shine a light on the refurbishment works, the products used, their suitability and who is responsible for the decisions to use them, to ensure a disaster like this never happens again.

However important questions remain around when remedial works will happen on numerous buildings around the country and who will ultimately bear the costs.

As published in 24Housing