The concept of the golden thread of building safety information was born in the wake of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, and it has continued to evolve to provide a framework of building and fire safety standards in the construction industry ever since.
In late 2017, Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report conveyed a crucial message:
There needs to be a golden thread for all complex and high-risk building projects to prevent disasters, like Grenfell, from happening again.
The final report of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety in 2018 underscored the significance of the golden thread.
Now, new building legislation requires developers to provide an up-to-date golden thread of information which spans the entire lifecycle of old and new facilities.
This demand for creating, curating, maintaining and providing access to extensive information has added pressure and confusion to the construction industry, with many not knowing where to begin or what to do to comply with the new rules.
In this guide, we aim to demystify the golden thread, looking at:
- What is the golden thread?
- Why is the golden thread important?
- Who is responsible for creating and maintaining the golden thread?
- When should golden thread information be created?
- How should golden thread information be stored?
- How should golden thread information be accessed?
What is the golden thread?
All higher-risk buildings (HRBs) are required to have an accurate, digital building information audit trail that spans its entire lifecycle.
The golden thread holds the information that those responsible for the building need to:
- Show that the building was compliant with applicable building regulations during its construction.
- Provide evidence of meeting the requirements of the new building control route throughout the design and construction, and refurbishment of a building.
- Identify, understand, manage and mitigate building safety risks to prevent or reduce the severity of the consequences of fire spread or structural collapse throughout the life cycle of a building.
Examples of golden thread information includes but isn’t limited to:
- Specifications – detailed construction products, materials and component information, including important fire performance capabilities.
- Safety plans – relating to how fire and structural safety risks will be managed.
- Models – digital 3D BIM representations of the building ‘as planned’.
- Fire Statement – details on fire service access and firefighting water accessibility, which form the foundation of the fire and emergency file.
- Construction Control Plan – how compliance with Building Regulations will be achieved and how changes will be controlled and recorded.
Why is the golden thread important?
Weaving together critical information about a building’s safety and compliance, the golden thread has many benefits:
Reducing and minimising risk – By proactively demonstrating that a building is compliant with building safety regulations and that the people responsible for the building have identified, understood and mitigated building safety risks, we can reduce and eliminate the risk of tragedies like Grenfell.
Accountability – The golden thread establishes clear lines of responsibility, making it clear who is responsible for each aspect of the building’s safety.
Transparency – Storing and managing the information digitally allows for transparency between building owners and facilities managers and their residents.
Better, safer decisions – Developers, designers and managers can use the information to make informed decisions about maintenance and future upgrades.
Public confidence – The commitment to building safety bolsters confidence among the public and trust in our buildings and their construction and maintenance.
What are the golden thread requirements?
Your golden thread information must be:
- Stored digitally.
- Kept securely.
- Be a single source of truth.
- Reviewed and managed so the information is accurate and up to date.
- Accessible to many different people throughout its lifecycle, including but not limited to building managers, architects, contractors, residents and emergency responders.
- Accessible by people who need information to do a job.
- Readily accessible when the person needs the information.
- Presented in a user-friendly way.
Who is responsible for creating and maintaining the golden thread?
The person responsible for creating and maintaining a building’s golden thread changes depending on the phase of the building.
During design and construction, it’s the responsibility of the dutyholder, which could be:
- The client/building owner
- Principal designer or designer
- Principal contractor or contractor
After handover, during the occupation phase, the golden thread is the responsibility of the Accountable Person (AP), which could be a company, partnership or person who is responsible for the building, such as:
- Building owner
- Building safety manager
- Facilities manager
The AP is the dutyholder, but they can appoint a person or company to be the Building Safety Manager (BSM) to continue maintaining and updating the information to record the ongoing safety of the building.
We have created an in-depth guide to who is responsible for the golden thread and how to appoint dutyholders here.
When should golden thread information be created?
Golden thread information spans the entire lifecycle of a building, from its initial design to demolition.
For new buildings, there are three gateways which the dutyholder must submit golden thread information to the Building Safety Regulator:
Before building work starts
Before any construction begins, you need to submit a design application to BSR. Among other things, the application must include the golden thread of information about the building.
Ongoing requirements during construction include identifying and storing the golden thread of information.
Golden thread information must be accurate and up-to-date, requiring a clear change control process that sets out how and when information is updated and who should update and check the information.
How should golden thread information be stored and accessed?
Golden thread information must be stored digitally and securely and in a way that is simple to access.
Operance has built the world’s first purpose-built golden thread platform, designed to help you define, curate, access and maintain building information in one single source of truth.
The simple, four-step process helps you create, maintain and use golden thread information:
- Define – Create bespoke organisational data templates to help you create accurate, structured data required by the Building Safety Regulator.
- Curate – Manage and collaborate on new and legacy building projects to gather accurate information from key stakeholders.
- Access – Share golden thread information in a user-friendly way with anyone who requires access.
- Maintain – Manage and update your golden thread information throughout the building’s lifecycle.