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Briefing note: Changes to Part L of the Building Regulations and Approved Documents for Parts A and C

Date: 30/07/13

Changes to Part L of the Building Regulations and Approved Documents for Parts A and C

DCLG Minister Baroness Hanham has today issued two Written Ministerial Statements to parliament relating respectively to changes to requirements under Part L of the Building Regulations (conservation of fuel and power) and to the Approved Documents for Part A (structure) and Part C (site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture) of the Regulations.

Copies of the statements can be read in full via (Part L) and (Parts A and C) respectively.

Part L 2013

A decision on any changes to Part L requirements has been awaited for more than a year following the closure of the consultation on Part L 2013 last spring. A change in Part L requirements was always envisaged as a step towards the implementation of the zero carbon homes policy from 2016.

DCLG has today announced:

  • For new homes, changes in performance requirements to deliver a 6% improvement on 2010 standards across the build mix, with compliance targets differentiated by home type to take advantage of the most cost effective savings. This compares to a recommended option for an 8% average improvement in the public consultation.
  • For new non-domestic buildings a 9% improvement on 2010 standards aggregated across the build mix (compared to an average 20% improvement proposed in the consultation).

  • A decision not to proceed at this time with a strengthening of the minimum energy efficiency standards for extensions and replacement windows to existing homes.
  • A decision not to proceed with regulation at this time for a new homes quality assurance process – proposed in the consultation as a means for helping to close the perceived gap between designed and as built performance of new homes under Part L. The Government is instead expressing its support for the Zero Carbon Hub led industry programme set up to look at the issues in more detail with a view to achieving the industry’s own target that 90% of new homes should meet, or better, their design performance from 2020. The Hub has today published a progress report providing a summary of the collaborative work carried out to date and initial findings.
  • The existing partial relaxation of targets for homes built off the gas grid, the so called ‘fuel factor’, will stay at current levels to help rural home builders.
  • Updated statutory guidance and calculation methodologies will be published during the course of this summer with the changes coming into force on 6 April 2014.
  • Its assessment that the changes are projected to deliver savings of £16 million per year to business and 6.4 million tonnes of carbon di-oxide.
  • Amending regulations will be laid before Parliament shortly and the associated Impact Assessment published at the same time.
  • The Government intend to publish a consultation shortly on the next steps to take forward zero carbon homes, including the means of delivering allowable solutions.

Further details of the proposed changes, including in respect of the performance requirements for different dwelling types, are not yet available. Our initial assessment is, however, that the changes announced today would not themselves take standards the whole way to meeting the minimum Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES) under the zero carbon policy.

The need to clarify next steps towards realisation of the zero carbon policy therefore remains pressing and we will need to see how far the further consultation on this promised today will advance that process. A central question will be what can reasonably be achieved from 2016 given the current position and today’s announcement. We will brief you further on this in the light of the promised consultation and assessment of the detailed implications of today’s Part L announcement.

We also need to understand how the Government has come to the view that its approach to the changes will result in £16 million of savings to business – and how far such benefits would accrue to home builders as opposed to other areas of construction.

Approved Documents for Parts A and C

On Part A, the key changes are:

  • updated of the guidance so Approved Document A refers to the new generation of British Standards and Eurocodes.

  • to introduce the changes so as to minimise the impact on business. Government will make clear how, given the functional nature of the Building Regulations, use of the withdrawn British Standards remains acceptable for some time, providing industry with a number of years to adapt. Secondly, it proposes to provide reassurance that engineers and Building Control might agree, subject to the requirements of the Regulations being met, continued use of the withdrawn design standards is appropriate for smaller-scale, less complex structural work for the foreseeable future, thereby avoiding the additional transitional costs. DCLG is writing to building control bodies and industry setting this out.

On Part C, the key change is:

  • To update the guidance so as to align it with the most up-to-date radon maps to provide clarity on where it is necessary to incorporate measures to reduce peoples’ exposure to radon.

John Slaughter
Director of External Affairs