RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) has caused signifcant disruption to the start of the new school year with over 100 schools having to shut this week. RAAC now poses a similar threat to Registered Providers (RPs) and local authorities.

This insight highlights the urgent need for action to safeguard affected residents and buildings, including exploring legal options under the extended 30-year limitation period introduced by the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA 2022) for claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA 1972).

Ensuring the safety of the buildings and their residents

The primary concern is the safety of individuals living in or using RAAC-affected buildings. RPs and local authorities should urgently consider conducting a thorough review of their residential portfolio, including an examination of all their as-built drawings and specifications. Where RAAC is found, structural surveys should be commissioned to gauge its condition and plan necessary remedial work.

Funders and the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) will expect housing providers to ensure they have this information at their fingertips and are taking action to safeguard their residents. The RSH has already (on 7 September 2023) written to all RPs to confirm their expectation that RPs must understand the extent of RAAC in their stock and the safety risks that arise from this. RPs must “develop proportionate mitigation and remediation plans” where RAAC has been identified, taking advice if needed. It is also entirely possible that the RSH will ask housing providers to supply information about any RAAC in their stock, as they did for damp and mould earlier this year, and to evidence that they are using the data proactively to resolve any issues.

You can also expect property buyers to start asking questions about RAAC.

Beyond the non-residential structures such as schools and hospitals, RAAC was equally widely used in the construction of social housing from the 1950s to the 1990s. As a result, RPs and local governments may well unknowingly contain RAAC within their property portfolio.

Implementing a strategy and considering legal claims

The RAAC issue raises significant legal questions, with some claims now time-barred. Nevertheless, a potential avenue for recourse exists. The DPA 1972 offers a chance for claims to cover remedial work costs where RAAC is in residential buildings. With the introduction of the BSA 2022 claims under the DPA 1972 can now be brought within a 30-year timeframe, commencing from practical completion.

Claims should therefore target dwellings completed from September 1993 onwards. To prevent RPs and local authorities from shouldering the entire financial burden, they must act swiftly to explore these legal avenues. Claims must be issued promptly to recover costs from the parties responsible for designing and constructing these buildings. The urgency cannot be overstated.

How can Capsticks help

We are construction and building safety experts, with experience in a full range of development projects for employers, contractors and subcontractors. We advise on:

  • devising tactics
  • exploring options against design defects
  • ascertaining the claims available
  • applicable limitation periods
  • “stopping the clock” through a standstill agreement.

We commonly assist our clients in dispute resolution processes, ranging from adjudication through to High Court proceedings. Please contact David Firth or Mathieu Quenin for more information and to find out more about how Capsticks can help.