InSite | What is the golden thread?

What is the golden thread?

Published date: March 29 2023

The term ‘golden thread’ is one many builders and developers will have become familiar with over the last several years.

The model of gathering, storing and maintaining the key information of a building’s lifecycle was put forward by Dame Judith Hackitt in her Building Safety Review.

Following Dame Judith’s recommendation, the Government committed to implementing the golden thread in the construction industry.

The Building Safety Bill put a legal duty on dutyholders and Accountable Persons to create, obtain, store and share documents and information about their building, in a prescribed format.

Though the term ‘golden thread’ is on the lips of many this year as the Building Safety Act comes into force, the finer details of what the Building Safety Regulator expects of you may still be unclear.

In this article, we detail what the golden thread is, how best to manage the information within it and what the Building Safety Regulator expects from you.

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What is the definition of the golden thread?


The Government defines the golden thread as ‘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’.

The Government’s golden thread definition is as follows:

1. The golden thread will hold the information that those responsible for the building require to:

  • show that the building was compliant with applicable building regulations during its construction and 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 in order to prevent or reduce the severity of the consequences of fire spread or structural collapse throughout the life cycle of a buildingerson with other relevant people including residents and emergency responders.2. The information stored in the golden thread will be reviewed and managed so that the information retained, at all times, achieves these purposes.3. The golden thread covers both the information and documents and the information management processes (or steps) used to support building safety.

2. The information stored in the golden thread will be reviewed and managed so that the information retained, at all times, achieves these purposes.

3. The golden thread covers both the information and documents and the information management processes (or steps) used to support building safety.

4. The golden thread information should be stored as structured digital information. It will be stored, managed, maintained and retained in line with the golden thread principles (see below). The government will specify digital standards which will provide guidance on how the principles can be met.

5. The golden thread information management approach will apply through design, construction, occupation, refurbishment and ongoing management of buildings. It supports the wider changes in the regime to promote a culture of building safety.

6. Building safety should be taken to include the fire and structural safety of a building and the safety of all the people in or in the vicinity of a building (including emergency responders).

7. Many people will need to access the golden thread to update and share golden thread information throughout a building’s lifecycle, including but not limited to building managers, architects, contractors and many others. Information from the golden thread will also need to be shared by the Accountable Person with other relevant people including residents and emergency responders.


Find out more about the Building Safety Act in our recent in-depth report

What does good golden thread information management look like?

The following is subject to secondary legislation however, according to the Building Safety Regulator at Premier Guarantee’s most recent InSite event, the intent is that good information management will involve the following:

  • It will be kept digitally

    The information maintained must, according to the golden thread principles, be simple to access.

    This means that the information needs to be stored in a structured way so people can easily find, update and extract the right information. To support this the government will set out guidance on how people can apply digital standards to ensure their golden thread meets these principles:


  • It will be kept securely

    The golden thread must be secure, with sufficient protocols in place to protect personal information and control access to maintain the security of the building or residents. It should also comply with current GDPR legislation where required.


  • It will be a building's single source of truth

    The single source of truth should prevent duplication of information by storing all information in a single place.

    It will record changes (i.e. updates, additions or deletions to information, data, documents and plans), including the reason for change, evaluation of change, date of change, and the decision-making process.

    Persons responsible for a building are encouraged to use common data environments to ensure there is controlled access to a single source of truth.


  • It will be available to people who need the information to do a job

    The golden thread of information needs to be formatted in a way that can be easily handed over and maintained over the entire lifetime of a building.

    In practical terms, this is likely to mean that it needs to align with the rules around open data and the principles of interoperability – so that information can be handed over in the future and still be accessed.

    Information should be able to be shared and accessed by contractors who use different software and if the building is sold the golden thread information must be accessible to the new owner.


  • It will be available when the person needs the information

    The golden thread needs to support the user in their task of managing building safety and therefore the information in the golden thread must be accessible so that people can easily find the right information at the right time.


  • It will be presented in a way that person can use

    The golden thread needs to support the user in their task of managing building safety and compliance with building regulations. The information in the golden thread must be clear, understandable and focused on the needs of the user. It should be presented in a way that can be understood, and used by, users.

    To support this, dutyholders/Accountable person should where possible make sure the golden thread uses standard methods, processes and consistent terminology so that those working with multiple buildings can more easily understand and use the information consistently and effectively.

Though the above is subject to secondary legislation, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government have previously specified that the golden thread will:

  • 'use digital tools and systems' to enable key information ‘to be stored and used effectively to ensure safer buildings’
  • support dutyholders and Accountable Persons throughout the life cycle of a building (during the gateways process, building registration process, the safety case approach and throughout occupation) ‘by recording the original design intent and ensuring subsequent changes to buildings are captured and preserved’
  • incorporate all the information needed to understand a building and how it should be managed so that the building and above all the people in and around a building are safe, both now and in the future
  • 'make information easily available to the right people at the right time'
  • put in place a new higher standard of information-keeping which will support the building safety regulator in being assured buildings are being managed safely

Who is responsible for maintaining the golden thread?

During the design and construction phase, the duty to keep and manage the thread of information rests with the dutyholder.

This could be the:


  • the client
  • the Principal Contractor
  • the Principle Designer

During occupation, the Accountable Person is responsible for the golden thread.

They may be an individual, partnership or corporate body and there may be more than one Accountable Person for a building.

What does the Building Safety Regulator say on the golden thread?

At InSite, Colin Blatchford-Brown from the regulator said: "It’s important to understand, from the design and construction stage, that this is all part of the building regulations. It’s not just fire and structural. It’s everything."

The thread of information will not be owned, stored or managed by the regulator.

Colin said that each golden thread will be 'individual, bespoke, specific to your particular building and group of residents and occupants'.

"No one-size-fits-all and there certainly won’t be any template for it." Colin said. "It’s not something we are going to keep for you."

It is about the 'right people having the right information when they need it'

  • Right people – those who require the information to carry out a function
  • Right information – presented in a way that the receiver can use
  • Right time – when the information will add value

"It’s not about keeping everything, it really isn’t," said Colin. "Please don’t get that impression. It’s keeping the information that you think might be useful to someone at some point."

"We don’t see this as a gold painted filing cabinet in the corner that contains everything in it. We see this very much as a moving feast."



To learn more about the golden thread and other pressing matters relating to the Building Safety Act and the future direction of our industry, join us at our next InSite conference.

Get your tickets for the September event here

InSite: Building Safety and Standards will shine a light on a range of pressing matters including fire safety, gateways 1 and 1, FLOS, 2025 Future Homes Standards, and achieving net zero carbon in the built environment.

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Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication (March 2023). Guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. For the most up to date Premier Guarantee technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the Premier Guarantee Technical Manual.
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