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The New Building Regulations Explained

22 May 2023 | News

With the new building regulations now in full force, we spoke to Sean Atkinson, Architectural Manager at Stonebridge Homes, to find out more about the new rules, and highlight what impact this has on house builders and homeowners.

What are building regulations?

Building regulations are a set of legal requirements that govern the design, construction, alteration, and maintenance of buildings. They are put in place to ensure that buildings are safe, healthy, and accessible for their intended use. Building regulations cover a wide range of topics, including fire safety, structural stability, energy efficiency, accessibility, and drainage.

When did the regulations change? 

The new building regulations aim to achieve zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and act as a stepping-stone towards the upcoming Future Homes Standards by which point the installation of gas boilers in new dwellings will no longer be permitted. The latest Part L regulations came into effect on any scheme not registered with Building Control prior to 15th June 2022, with a one-year grace period, meaning housebuilders have until 15th June 2023 to install the foundations for any dwelling to be built to the outgoing 2013 regulations. This closes the ‘loophole’ that had previously been open to housebuilders and developers which allowed an entire scheme to be built to outdated regulations subject to the first foundation being installed before the end of the same one-year grace period.

What are the Future Homes Standards?

New and existing homes produce around 20% of all carbon emissions in the UK. As part of the efforts to meet the UK’s ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net-zero’ by 2050, the government has committed to introducing what they are calling the ‘Future Homes Standards’ in 2025. This anticipates that an average home will have 75-80% fewer carbon emissions than a home constructed to the current national standards for energy efficiency. Their plan is to realise this by introducing very high fabric efficiency standards combined with low carbon heating systems. Beyond 2025 further uplift is expected to form another step towards meeting the ambition for net-zero carbon in 2050.

What are the new regulations (FLOS)?

The current building regulations that have been affected/updated are Part F (Ventilation) and Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) and the new building regulations that have been introduced are Part O (Overheating) and Part S (Electric Vehicle Charging).

How have the changes affected your role? 

Our existing specification for the makeup of our houses was already a higher specification than required, so our jump to the new regulations has been somewhat easier on everyone including our supply chain.

Since the new regulations came into play, we have increased our cavity from 100mm to 150mm with the introduction of insulated cavity closers, upgraded our insulation specification across the board and have increased the window sizes/number of openable windows to address the issue of potential overheating in summer months, a new consideration through Part O. We have also included various renewable technologies on developments suitable to their location and demographic and finally, we have introduced the BREL document with geotagged photographic evidencing, allowing customers a view under the skin of their dwelling at various build stages which ultimately provides our customers with the confidence that adequate insulation has been installed to all required areas.

What do the new regulations mean for customers? 

For potential customers buying our houses, they can rest assured that everything is being built to exacting standards and meets the new regulations. It also means that their utility bills will be lower due to the increased insulation and addition of PV panels and potentially air source heat pumps. The HBF released a report earlier in the year that confirmed new builds save the owners an average of £3,100 on utility bills when compared to a second-hand property. If the customer has an electric vehicle, then they’re also in luck, as all of our houses are fitted with electrical vehicle charging points and have been for some time.

What is Stonebridge’s view on the new regulations? 

Our view is that this is a positive change, and we are grateful that this is a stepping stone to the Future Homes standards due in 2025, so that we can be as well prepared as possible to offer the very best, compliant product to our customers.

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