New Building Regulations

New Building Regulations

New Building Regulations and How They May Affect Your Extension or Conversion

Update Building Regulations for England were introduced in June 2022 and make a variety of changes to how extensions, renovations and structural additions can be enacted in and onto homes. Architects will already be well versed in the changes (and indeed will have planned this into their property project proposals for the future for a while) but homeowners too should be aware of the regulations and what they may mean for their houses.

Why have the Building Regulations changed?

The changes to Building Regulations have been implemented by the UK Government Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and were introduced to “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”. The amendments to the regulations are, therefore, to promote more environmentally-friendly building practices.

The Government is introducing two new standards – the Future Homes Standard and Future Buildings Standard – in 2025, which will require all new builds to be capable of being net-zero in terms of operational carbon, when the grid decarbonises. The changes in Building Regulations already implemented can, therefore, be considered a stepping stone toward this.

The focus of the changes to Building Regulations thus far have a heavy focus on reducing the need to heat and power buildings; and this is likely as a result of a shocking statistic released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which found that heating and power account for 40% of the UK’s total energy usage. This makes the heating and power of buildings a critical area to be addressed if the country’s net-zero carbon goals are to be realised by the 2050 deadline.

What are the changes to Building Regulations?

The changes to Building Regulations include amendments to two Approved Documents of architecture guidelines; Part F (Ventilation) and Part L (Conservation of fuel and power); and the release of two new Approved Documents; Part O (Overheating) and Part S (Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles). These changes and new guidelines are focused on primarily non-domestic buildings but do too impact on new and existing housing.

The key changes for homeowners are as follows:

  • New build homes will need to produce a minimum of 31% less carbon emissions. While the exact method used to achieve this isn’t stipulated, the installation of electric heating systems combined with renewable energy sources such as solar are noted as being enablers for doing so. Notably, this requirement is higher than that for non-domestic builds, which sit at 27% less emissions

  • A new metric has been introduced for energy efficiency. ‘Primary’ energy will now be used to measure the efficiency of a building’s heating as well as the energy required to deliver fuel to a building. This now even includes the efficiency of the power station supplying electricity to the building!

  • New minimum efficiency standards are provided. In new domestic builds, the new U-value for walls is 0.18 W/m², for windows and rooflights is 1.4W/m² and for doors is 1.4 W/m²

  • New and replacement heating systems must have a maximum flow temperature of 55°c

  • The FEES (Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard) level in new homes is now set by a ‘full fabric specification’ with SAP compliance applied to new extensioms (even where on an existing property)

  • New glazing limits are introduced for new build homes to reduce unwanted solar gain and to enforce new levels of cross-ventilation

  • All domestic new builds must now have the preparatory work completed for future installation of an electric vehicle charging point (even if there is no current need for it).

Are there any exceptions to the Building Regulations changes?

The exact requirements of the new Building Regulations varies between property types. However, these apply to all property projects planned or built on or after 15th June 2022. The only exception to the changes if is a building notice has been delivered to the LPA and granted, or if full plans have been approved by the LPA prior to this date.

Realistically, there are very few instances in which an LPA would accept plans for a structure that didn’t meet the new guidelines and for the most part, they have been driving developers toward them for some months.

How have the Building Regulations changes been received?

Architects and engineers have actually criticised the changes to energy efficiency regulations as many don’t feel they’re ambitious enough. The Architecture Journal described the changes as “a tin step at a time when we need to be making a huge leap”. As a result, there has been speculation that further Building Regulations changes are set for the near future in order to help further the construction and architecture industry’s progress toward long-term green goals.

How do I know which Building Regulations changes apply to my home project?

Architects, architectural designers and architectural technologists have been aware of these changes for quite some time and as a result, many have been creating plans and designs adhering to them well before June 2022. Moving forward, all designs will work to the new guidelines.

If you already have some designs or concepts in place and need advice on how these can be amended to meet the new changes, VERS Pro will be able to help guide you – and produce updated plans and designs in order to do so. We offer 3D laser scanning, 2D floorplan design, 3D home visualisations, working drawings, mechanical and electrical drawings and planning permission drawings in order to help create bespoke plans and designs for buildings of all types. What’s more, our team of expert staff always keep abreast of the latest industry developments, best practice and legal guidelines – so we’re always one step ahead of what to produce and how best to have development designs accepted.

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