A greater insight into the golden thread

Advisory group publishes report setting out the principles of the golden thread intended to form part of a ‘pivotal’ culture change in the building industry.

The Building Regulations Advisory Committee along with the Housing Ministry, HSE and others have developed a new report setting out the detail of the golden thread, first mooted by Dame Judith Hackitt in her independent review of building safety.

The golden thread working group was established in November 2020 with a remit to develop policy and come up with ways to implement it in the built environment.

The report provides a definition of the golden thread:

“The golden thread is both the information that allows you to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future.”

It goes on to expand on this brief definition under seven headings. It will be the duty of those people who are responsible for a building to put in place and maintain a golden thread.

As a duty, the golden thread will need to be enshrined in law. The Building Safety Bill is currently going through Parliament and had its second reading in the House of Commons this week. The requirements will be set out in secondary legislation and will need to be consulted on later. There will also be supporting guidance for duty holders and accountable persons, new roles that are being introduced as part of the overhaul of the building safety system.

Underpinning the golden thread definition, the BRAC working group have produced a set of ten golden thread principles. These include the need for the golden thread to be accurate, secure, accountable, understandable, simple to access as well as shareable over a long period of time and it needs to be proportionate.

Acting as a ‘single source of the truth’, the golden thread should lead to a cultural change within the industry as it requires increased competence and greater collaboration. By providing residents with information from the golden thread, they should feel secure in their homes.

There is some discussion about the data standards required for the information contained in the golden thread. The report acknowledges existing data standards, but that there are no standards that specifically apply to higher-risk buildings. Further work is being done in this area to see how existing standards can be applied.

The publication of this report at this time is part of a concerted effort by BRAC and others to engage with industry about the golden thread, noting that it needs to be owned by industry to be successful.

“Whilst it will take many years to embed these changes in the sector it is essential that those who will need to put in place a golden thread for their building understand what is required and can begin to prepare for the legal duty to provide it.”