The Building Safety Act 2022 allows apartment owners to hold building developers accountable, even for developments as far back as 1992. It also makes it illegal to use service charges to fix fire safety issues that should be the developer's responsibility. So in this blog, we consider what fire door faults you should lie at the developer's door.
Under the leadership of Michael Gove and his focus on the Levelling Up Agenda, two acts were passed. The Fire Safety Act 2021 expanded the scope of fire door inspections, while the Building Safety Act 2022 increased the time limit for leaseholders to claim fire safety issues. They can even make claims for problems that occurred some 30 years back.
Many top developers have agreed to comply with the Developer Pact (in Wales) or Developer Pledge (in England) and the Government Development Remediation Contract, which outlines the terms. What type of fire doors you should have installed FD30 or FD60 will depend on the fire strategy (the document or drawings) that explain all the fire protection measures that together afford the right level of fire protection. Doors that are not labeled as 'S' (the 'S' stands for smoke seal), can only be used for external escape routes, lift shafts, or additional spaces. Usually, an FD30s fire door suffices for low-rise apartment buildings, but if the risk is higher, or the building is taller, then an FD60s door may be required.
It's important not only to inspect the fire doors but also to compare the installed doors with what the fire strategy specifies.
Identifying which defects to a fire door is an original install fault may or may not be a component of the report your Fire Door Inspector provides. It is worth checking this before appointing a Fire Door Inspector. If your fire door inspector offers a report that lists which developer fire door install defects, then this should give you a document that you can present to the developer and potentially also use in making an NHBC or new build warranty claim. This comes as standard at Ringley, both for our Fire Door Inspectors and in our Fire Door Inspection App. The outputs of our Fire Door Inspection App split faults into two categories: wear and tear faults, which occur from continued use, knocks, propping, etc.... and 'developer install faults'.
The complete set of outputs from our Fire Door Inspection App includes:
Of course, the purpose of the fire door inspection and reports bundle is to arrange communal door faults and to call on owners to repair their doors. Alternatively, whilst in law, each Apartment Owner is responsible for remedial works to their fire doors, often there is an opportunity to run a bulk program to deal with all faults as an opt-in communal issue. Probably a specialist will need to be appointed to present a Building Safety Act 2022 claim against the developer or make an NHBC or new build warranty claim.
How to make a developer New Build Warranty or NHBC Claim
Time is critical while making a new build warranty claim. Not all aspects are covered for the policy's full duration (10 years). Fire door faults are ordinarily covered in the first two years only. You should also check if the policy includes building regulations coverage - as this can extend coverage in some respects. If a fault is found during a fire door inspection and proven to be a breach of building regulations, it may still be covered even if there is a time-out period for other faults.
Claims must be submitted to the developer and the NHBC or new-build warranty provider. They will review the claim and assess it against the available policy coverage. If the claim is deemed valid because the cover is still in place, there will be a waiting period during which the housebuilder or developer may be given a chance to assess and admit or comment on the issue. Alternatively, the NHBC might send its experts to inspect and assess the situation.
What to do if the NHBC, Premier, or New Build Warranty has expired
As benchmark reports prepared by surveyors appointed by the Welsh government under the Building Passport scheme suggest an increasing consensus on why fire door faults can be considered the responsibility of the original developer many years later. These can include fixing incorrect fire door types or gaps in the installation.
The Ringley Fire Door Inspection App collects the necessary evidence to support your claim.
Building Safety Act 2022 has retroactively extended the limitation periods from 12 to 30 years for both The Defective Premises Act and section 28 of the Building Act 1984. The Act has also prospectively extended the limitation period to five years for claims under sections 1 and 2A that arise after the Act comes into effect.
What you can claim under The Defective Premises Act 1972
According to the Defective Premises Act 1972, anyone undertaking work related to the construction of a dwelling must ensure that the work is performed.
This benefits property owners. Previously, such claims were typically pursued as "breach of contract claims which restricted the claims to the original buyers who purchased directly from the developer. One advantage of making claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972 is that claimants are not required to have a contractual relationship with the developer. This means that subsequent buyers can also make claims. However, for a successful claim under the Defective Premises Act, the claimant must prove that the defects make the dwelling or building unfit for habitation. Fire safety defects would fall under this category.
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