This month, our expert property team looks at important new Building Regulation changes which have come into force that will impact new homes and some existing homes.
What changes have been made to the Building Regulations and why should we take notice?
Following changes implemented in June 2022, builders in England will need to follow updated rules as the government strives to make homes more energy efficient. New buildings, extensions and alterations will need to meet revised regulations to help homes reduce their carbon emissions by around 30%. Here’s our guide to what you need to know:
What are the Building Regulations?
The Building Regulations are a set of approved documents and related technical guidance intended to protect people's safety, health and welfare in and around buildings. They are also designed to improve conservation of fuel and power and promote sustainable development. Most building work being carried out in England must comply with the Building Regulations 2010 made under powers in the Building Act 1984.
The Building Regulations are likely to apply when constructing a building, extending or altering an existing property, or providing fittings such as drains or heat-producing appliances. They may also apply if you wish to change an existing building to a different use. Building Regulation approval is completely separate from planning permission. In circumstances where both are required, achieving one does not necessarily mean you will obtain the other.
Why have they changed?
According to numbers from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, heating and power account for 40% of the UK’s total energy use. Therefore, the regulations have been updated to increase energy efficiency in our homes and help reduce CO2 emissions emitted by domestic residences by nearly a third. These are interim measures ahead of the Future Homes and Building Standards expected in 2025. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities says the changes ‘mark an important step on our journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment and it supports us in our target to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to Net-Zero by 2050’.
What changes have been made?
From June 2022, all new residential buildings, including homes, care homes, student accommodation and children’s homes, will have to be designed to reduce overheating. The regulations are introducing a limit on glazing to reduce unwanted solar gain, as well as introducing passive measures such as fitting shutters for shade and glazing design and enforcing new levels of cross-ventilation to improve air quality.
The updates will see more energy efficiency through better insulation, better performing windows and more efficient building services, as well as encouraging the early adoption of low carbon technology such as heat pumps and solar panels, lowering the cost of energy bills for families and helping deliver the UK’s climate change ambitions. There is also now a requirement for all domestic new builds to have the preparatory work completed for future installation of an electric vehicle charging point.
What impact will this have on the industry?
Projects already in motion can benefit from the transitional arrangements in place, meaning that if a building notice, initial notice, or full plans for building work were submitted to a local authority before 15 June 2022, then provided the building work starts by 15 June 2023, work on that individual building is permitted to continue under the previous standards. Projects that do not need a notice or application will need to follow the new rules from 15 June 2022.
For projects not yet at this stage, the updates come at a difficult time for the industry alongside issues regarding the price and availability of materials as well as skills shortages. Delays and increases in prices could put off consumers, some of whom are already reluctant to commission new work as their own costs spiral.
The BCIS undertook its Private Housing Construction Price Index survey, in which housebuilders were asked about their readiness to meet the new standards and their assessment of how much adhering to the updates is likely to increase their costs. The average cost uplifts respondents reported for each part were as follows: Part F, 0.6%; Part L, 4.4%; Part O, 0.9%; and Part S, 1.5%. These increases could create a strong pressure, which may result in increased house prices.
In conclusion, achieving the Government's aim to deliver Zero Carbon Ready Homes by 2025 will be challenging for the industry. The initial stage of the process will be particularly demanding in an environment of rapidly increasing material prices and general supply issues, as well as the strain on supply chains for new technologies. In the short term, there may well be supply constraints on materials as well as a lag in the time taken to train the labour to deliver the new technologies brought in by the Building Regulations update. Nevertheless, in the long term, it is a step in the right direction by the government in their efforts to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions and tackle climate change.
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