Building Regulations. All change please… All change.
Whilst the UK governments bid to deliver net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 has been extremely well publicised some of the key stepping-stones to this eventual goal have received rather less coverage. One of these seminal moments on the road map to 2050 takes place next month with the first significant change to Building Regulations in England in almost 9 years.
First announced in December 2021 by the Department for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities, the changes will see a raft of new building regulations take effect from the 15th of June 2022. These changes will apply primarily to new buildings, but extensions and renovations of existing properties will also be impacted. Anyone that’s actively involved in running construction related businesses and their key partners really needs to be on top of these changes to ensure that their projects are fully compliant.
At Saxon Trust we are now working closely with our developers to ensure that they are fully aware of the new regulations – a process that starts with the initial site visit by one of the Quantity Surveyors we work with and will continue throughout the build process. Some developers may be surprised by the scope of the impending new regulations but not those working in partnership with us…
So, what exactly is changing? Guidance on how to satisfy building regulations is provided in the governments “Approved Documents” and it’s these documents that have now been substantially updated. The new regulations include amendments to Approved Documents – Part F (Ventilation) and Part L (Conservation of fuel and power), and the inclusion of a brand-new Approved Document for Overheating which has been christened as Part O.
The goals are ambitious. The new regulations aim to provide an intermediate uplift to existing energy efficiency standards in advance of the Governments new “Future Homes Standard” scheduled for introduction in 2025 and which aims to future proof new buildings with low-carbon heating systems and “world leading levels” of energy efficiency.
Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy confirm that heating and powering buildings currently accounts for 40% of the UK’s total energy use. Consequently, it’s hoped that by implementing these new building regulations which will help reduce the need for heat and power in buildings, the UK can make great strides towards its carbon zero ambitions.
The key standards required under the new regulations are as follows:
· A reduction of carbon emissions in domestic new builds by 31%.
· A reduction of carbon emissions in non-domestic new builds by 27%.
· A new metric for measuring energy efficiency, ‘Primary Energy’ will be used to measure a buildings heating, the energy used to deliver fuel to the building and even the efficiency of power stations supplying the electricity!
· New minimum efficiency standards in terms of the U-value for walls, windows rooflights and doors for both domestic and non-domestic builds.
· A new maximum flow temperature for new and replacement heating systems of 55 degrees centigrade for domestic and non-domestic builds.
· New efficiency standards for heating and hot water boiler systems through the installation of new controls
· The prevention of overheating. The new Approved Document O introduces glazing limits in new build homes, care homes, schools and student accommodation to reduce unwanted solar heat. It also requires new levels of cross ventilation to remove excess heat.
· Electric vehicle charging points. The new Approved Document S requires all new builds to have at least the preparatory work done for the future installation of an electric vehicle charge point.
Transitional agreements mean that if a building notice, initial notice, or full plans are submitted before 15th June 2022, they will still be considered under the previous regulation, provided building work starts before 15th June 2023. Meanwhile, new housing developments that gained planning permission under the old regulations must have at least one unit started by 15th June 2023, or the new regulations will apply. Aside from these concessions, for work that falls under the new regulations but is not subject to notices or applications, there will be no transitional arrangements.
It's clear that this comprehensive package of new regulations sets high standards for the design, construction, and alteration of buildings. The full range of new requirements will undoubtedly come at a cost and developers will clearly have to build this into their initial budgeting. Against a backdrop of rising prices and labour costs that’s impacting every area of the construction process this is another significant burden for developers to bear but maybe the timing is actually very good?
Spiralling fuel prices are at the forefront of the current cost of living crisis and things are only set to get worse this year and into next. What better driver for new, energy efficient homes and buildings than energy bills that seem to double every 6 months! Regulation will play a part but ultimately customer demand will ensure that developers are motivated to build homes with the highest possible EPC ratings because it’s these homes they’ll be able to sell at a premium!