What is the Golden Thread?

What is the Golden Thread?
To create safer buildings, we need to create and maintain a digital record
of building safety information throughout the entire lifecycle.

Following the Grenfell tower tragedy on the 14 June 2017, Dame Judith Hackett led an independent review of the building regulations and fire safety. The review provided various recommendations on how to design, build and operate Higher Risk Buildings (HRB). This resulted in the development of the Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Bill. Three and a half years on and we now know that radical change is on its way with the ‘golden thread‘ central to building and fire safety changes, but what is it exactly?


One of the most common terms within the report is undoubtedly the ‘Golden Thread‘; a digital package of building safety information collated during two particular phases;

The development of this package of building information will be the responsibility of the ‘Dutyholder‘ during the Design and Construction Phase. The information collated by the project team will be verified by the Dutyholder at the end of the specific ‘Gateways‘. At the end of these gateways, the dutyholder must present this information when registering the building with the ‘Building Safety Regulator (BSR)‘ in order to successfully obtain a ‘Building Assurance Certificate (BAC)‘.

The ongoing development of the information package throughout its lifecycle during the Occupation Phase becomes the responsibility of a new dutyholder who becomes the named ‘Accountable Person (AP)‘. The AP nominates a ‘Building Safety Manager (BSM)‘  to continue maintaining and updating the information to record the ongoing safety of the building.

Don’t worry, we know that’s a lot to take on board at once, so here’s a guide to not only help you understand what the ‘Golden Thread’ but what the changes entail, who is responsible and when and how you need to implement it…

The Golden Thread

The ‘golden thread’ or the ‘golden thread of information’ will be further defined in secondary legislation, but it is normally defined today as accurate and up-to-date information about the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of buildings in order to help ensure building safety.

It is likely that the legislation will require information from the following areas:

  • Building Safety
  • Fire Safety
  • Structural Safety

It is anticipated that, in time, additional information will be required by clients as part of the golden thread (although, not required by legislation), such as;

  • Asset Information (for assets that do not fall within one of the above categories)

The golden thread of information will be maintained and assessed at each of the design and construction phase gateways and then maintained during the life of the building.

The Golden Thread is essentially a digital way of working that enables a systematic, controlled approach to construction, refurbishment and management of occupied buildings, to manage Building Safety information.

It is important then, that you create a standardised digital golden thread in order to ensure all your buildings and assets within your estates portfolio develop uniform building safety information, the best way to do this is at the component level.

Documents and data need to be controlled at the component level in three ways: the what, the when and the where;

  1. To control what information is required, we need to embrace the use of templates and checklists to define and audit uniform information.
  2. To control the timing of when and who supplies the information and approves the information, submittals tools linked to master project programmes need to be used.
  3. As for where information is stored, you need to implement an easy to use, open format and non-proprietary digital platform.

Now let’s break down the golden thread between the two lifecycle phases, the design and construction phase and the occupation phase to understand what main elements of information are required and when…

The Design & Construction Phase

Before construction can commence, the dutyholder will, under the new legislation, have to submit key golden thread information to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR), this information could include:

  • Specifications: detailed construction products, materials and component information including important fire performance capabilities.
  • 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 fire fighting water accessibility which will 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.

Major changes affecting any of the above items in relation to safety will need to be agreed with the principal designer and client and approved by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) in advance.

In order to obtain and validate the information in a timely manner, the process includes the introduction of three ‘Gateways‘ during the Design and Construction phase as follows;

  • Gateway 1: before achieving planning permission.
  • Gateway 2: before construction begins.
  • Gateway 3: before handover.

This key golden thread information as listed above must be submitted to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) at the first and second of the planned approval ‘Gateways’. Then, at the third gateway, the updated key information is again presented by the dutyholders before discharging their specific duties to the Accountable Person (AP) to ensure that the regulatory requirements beyond the gateways are met during the next Occupation phase.

The Occupation Phase

With all information updated and reviewed throughout the Design and Construction Phase, it is presented to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) for review, once they are satisfied, the BSR will issue a Building Assurance Certificate (BAC) permitting occupation. It’s important to note that this certificate could include certain conditions, such as requiring last-minute test certificates before a certain date. The certificate and safety case (identification of hazards and how to control inherent risks) will be subject to review every five years.

Finally, it’s important to understand that the golden thread never stops. It is not something you can develop and complete, you cannot employ someone to create it and ‘hand it over’. In fact, the recording and updating of building safety information will continue up until the final decommissioning and demolition of the building, it is an ever-evolving process in order to develop a complete golden thread of the facility’s full life story.

For information on how our cloud-based Operance O&M web-application can help you define, coordinate and handover your estates Golden Thread into our Operance FM mobile-app to easily search, share, update and utilise your information for really simple property management, please contact Scott Pilgrim on 07939 808441 or via email on scott@operance.app to discuss further.

Have you downloaded Operance FM app yet?

It’s free to upload your own BIM models and helps operatives access, search, share edit and update their information, utilising it for simple planned and preventative maintenance:

👉 Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.bimsense.operance&hl=en

👉 App Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/operance-yourdigital-o-m/id1462738041

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