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Consultation on changes - To Building Regulations in England

Jerry Whitlock, Technical Director at hurleypalmerflatt, keeps you informed on upcoming Government changes to Part L and Part P, which may effect you.

The Department for Communities and Local Government have issued consultation papers in advance of the upcoming changes to the Building Regulations and building control system.

These changes are due to be implemented in 2013 and the consultation gives an opportunity for those who may be affected to voice an opinion and possibly influence the decisions that are made.

It is clear that the overall drive is to deregulate and in 2010 the Building Regulations Minister, Andrew Stunnell, announced a programme of work to develop the proposals that have led to this consultation.

There are four sections to the consultation and this paper looks at Section Two – Part L (Conservation of fuel and power) and Section Three – Part P (Electrical safety in dwellings).

Part L (conservation of fuel and power) Consequential works in dwellings
This part of the consultation form looks at the difficult issue of consequential improvement, where a sum of money, usually equating to 10% of the total capital expenditure, is used to fund improvements to the building’s overall energy consumption and carbon reduction.

At the moment this applies to domestic buildings greater than 1000m². The proposal is to look at smaller buildings up to 1000m² and apply similar criteria.

The intention is to look at reducing emissions in more existing building stock and smaller properties.
The result may be that instead of complying with the requirements, there are more methods applied to avoid consequential improvements.

This may also lead to more works being carried out, without the correct permissions and involvement of Building Control, effectively taking us backward in our combined drive to reduce emissions, carbon and see real energy savings.

Part L (new build standards)
This proposal is looking to set new energy demand targets for new homes from 2013. This will impact on all elements of construction including the fabric and engineering services installed within. We are looking at a 20% aggregate improvement in CO2 performance standards for new non domestic buildings from October 2013.

There is some inevitability that this proposal will be passed, mainly due to the drive towards zero carbon homes from 2016. This is important as if we leave it much longer the target will not be achievable, making the EPBD legal requirement to have nearly zero energy homes by 2020 an impossible target.

This will lead to penalties at the Treasury for failure to comply with the Directive. An unpalatable issue for the Government of the day, let alone public opinion. The overall current thinking in the industry is that the changes are unaffordable.

The success of this proposal will be in the way that the changes are sold to an ever-cynical general public.

Part L (works in existing buildings)
This proposal links with the new-build standard in terms of what it is trying to achieve and looks at more specific issues, including raised performance standards of the following:
• Domestic window replacements
• Domestic extensions
• Non domestic extensions

It also proposes to use the Lighting Energy Numeric Indicator (LENI) as an alternative way of meeting the minimum energy performance for lighting installations. This may conflict with actual light level requirements in the various guides issued by CIBSE.

A further proposal is to introduce quality assurance processes to mitigate the risk of change between ‘as designed’ and as ‘built information.‘

Part P (electrical safety – dwellings)
As an introduction, Part P of the building regulations was introduced in 2005 and intended to ensure that persons carrying out electrical work were either registered with a recognised trade body and able to self certificate their work, or to advise the local Building Control that electrical works have been carried out for those not able to self certify.

The new proposals are interesting as they look at the impact that Part P has had in terms of cost and safety. This follows a huge number of negative comments from industry since original consultations started in 2010.

There are options:
• Leave unchanged
• Revoke
• Amend to reduce costs and burdens it imposes on installers, building control and consumers

The preference for Government is to make amendments to reduce costs to business whilst maintaining health and safety at the highest level.

This is intended to be achieved by:
• Making a greater proportion of electrical installation jobs non–notifiable
• Allowing DIY enthusiasts and other unregistered installers to employ 3rd party qualified electricians to test and
inspect the work as an alternative to using BCO

It is also proposed to lower BCO charges where the 3rd party test and certification is carried out or where electricians are qualified but not registered.

The result of the changes proposed will directly impact all of us in some way or another whether in our working lives or our personal home life.

The Part L changes are to drive lower emissions thus increase energy savings is a non-reversible issue with a legal implication and associated penalties to Government.

The changes to Part P are not tied to legal issues and it will remain to be seen. If the ground swell to reduce the cost burden whilst maintaining health and safety is adopted with the same vigour as the Part L changes.