PAS 9980 and its role in Building Safety Fund applications
The government launched its Building Safety Fund (BSF) in 2020 as part of its commitment to funding the remediation of unsafe cladding on high-rise buildings of 18 metres or more in height, with a 30cm tolerance. The fund is part of the wider Building Safety Programme, which has the objective of ensuring residents of high-rise buildings are safe and able to feel safe in their homes now, and in the future. Cladding Consulting shares the government’s commitment to supporting leaseholders in these matters.
Originally, the BSF was open for applications between June and July 2020. It then re-opened in July 2022, with a number of changes. The revised BSF will now only accept applications from eligible buildings without a funding solution in place, where a Fire Risk Appraisal of External Walls (FRAEW) can be provided which recommends that work is required to address life-safety fire risks associated with cladding, or an alternative mitigating solution.
The FRAEW must follow the methodology set out in PAS 9980:2022.
What is PAS 9980?
The Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 9980:2022 has been developed by the British Standards Institution.
PAS 9980 is a code of practice that provides a methodology for the fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of multi-storey and multi-occupied residential buildings.
The code of practice is mostly intended for use by competent fire engineers and other competent building professionals who have the task of advising on the fire risks of external wall construction of existing residential blocks, and carrying out a FRAEW.
However, it is expected that the information produced by the FRAEW under the methodology of PAS 9980 will also be of help to those in charge of making decisions based on the FRAEW outcomes. This might include, for example, building control bodies, building surveyors, architects, contractors, fire rescue authorities and fire risk assessors, insurers, valuers, mortgage lenders, building owners, landlords, housing authorities and project and facilities managers.
What is covered by PAS 9980?
PAS 9980 provides recommendations and guidance on carrying out a fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of an existing multi-storey, multi-occupied residential building (a FRAEW).
The objective of the FRAEW is to assess the risk to occupants from a fire spreading over or within the external walls of the building. It should prompt a decision as to whether, according to the specific circumstances of the building, remediation or other mitigating measures to deal with the risk are considered necessary.
PAS 9980 applies where the risk is known, or suspected, to stem from the particular type of material used to build up the external wall. This could be, for example, the presence of combustible materials.
The outcome of a FRAEW is intended to inform the fire risk assessments (FRAs) for multi-storey, multi-occupied residential buildings, as well as other types of premises, such as student accommodation, sheltered housing and buildings that have been converted into flats where the evacuation strategy would be similar to that of a purpose-built block of flats.
PAS 9980:2022 also provides recommendations and guidance with regard to the competence of those completing the FRAEWs.
What is the significance of PAS 9980 in terms of Building Safety Fund applications?
PAS 9980 sets out steps that can be taken to identify and assess risk factors, together with mitigation measures that could potentially improve the fire risk rating of a building via a holistic and fact-based assessment of a building’s construction. Prior to PAS 9980, assessments were very black and white “ for example, if a low-rise building was constructed using a material that was a known risk, it had to have remediation.
PAS9980 however, looks at a building with a traffic light system giving a more holistic risk-based approach. The intention is that fire engineers don’t feel pressured into specifying a remediation project. It has had the effect of giving some buildings an improved EWS (Cladding External Wall System) rating when they would have undergone remediation under the old system. Sometimes the risk is small enough to be left.
The Building Safety Fund will use the recommendations and advice provided by external wall assessors in a FRAEW in making its decisions on whether to award funding for cladding remediation.
For new applications, this process will replace the previous requirements to demonstrate the presence of specific materials set out in technical guidance for existing BSF applications.
This is significant because it makes the whole process of assessing buildings for remediation a great deal fairer, with the decisions and potential funding awards more proportionate to the level of risk. It could literally mean the difference between spending millions on cladding remediation or nothing at all.
For example, a FRAEW carried out under the PAS 9980 methodology may identify that, whilst there is indeed combustible material present on a building’s faÃ§ade, the location of that material, say at the very top of the building where fire would have no further scope to travel upwards, may mean that it poses less of a risk than if the material were located at the base of the building.
The holistic appraisal would also look at other risk factors within the building, such as means of escape, and factor this in when deciding on the overall risk to residents. So, rather than simply basing the funding decision on the presence of a certain type of cladding material, a whole host of factors are taken into consideration.
For BSF applicants already part way through the application process and who applied before June 2022, there is a choice as to whether to continue with the original scheme, or switch to the new procedure using a FRAEW. In some cases, taking all of the above on board, it may be favourable to do the latter.
Need help with a Building Safety Fund application for cladding remediation?
Currently, only residential high-rise buildings of 18 metres or more in height are covered by the Building Safety Fund. Applications are known to be complex and time-consuming and, as a leaseholder, managing agent, freeholder, or right-to-manage company, whilst you know how important it is to address the safety issues with your building, you may find the entire process of finding out about and applying for government funds daunting.
At Cladding Consulting, we share the government’s commitment to supporting leaseholders to a position of safety and reassurance by expertly managing the entire cladding remediation process, from initial appraisal to completion of works, with minimal outlay for the applicant.
Whether you are at the beginning of your journey towards peace of mind, part way through a cladding remediation fund application, or entering into negotiations with a developer for funding through the Developer Pledge, we can help.
To arrange your free, no-obligation consultation, please get in touch.