The wave of change – the next five years
Targets on the energy efficiency, running costs, and thermal comfort of buildings are changing. The current regulations haven’t budged for eight years and, just like the old saying about London buses, all the updates are coming at once.
In five years time, after two waves of updates, the industry will be designing and building homes very differently to how we do it today.
This timeline picks out some of the bigger announcements being expected:
Before the end of this year, there will be some key announcements from both the UK and Welsh governments.
These will firm up the final details of the new Approved Documents Part L and F, and introduce a new building regulation which sets targets to reduce the risk of overheating.
These regulations won’t come into force straight away – we’d expect at least six months between the release date and the go-live date so the industry can prepare for what is certain to bring significant changes to the current targets and processes.
In England, these new rules will apply to all new building sites. But in Wales, the regulation changes will only apply to residential sites. We’re expecting the Welsh Government to release more about their proposals for SBEM before the end of the year.
We’re also expecting news from Westminster about the next steps of ‘Planning For The Future’. This policy wants to centralise some common targets set by planners in England, and encourage councils to focus on truly local topics. This update may give us timeframes for when changes to the planning system are expected.
This is when the first wave of change hits our beach. The new Building Regulations will go live for new building sites. The SAP10 calculation method will be introduced as part of this change which will make it harder to comply with emission targets; especially if developers continue to use fossil fuel heating systems.
As well as a more difficult SAP target, the new requirements will include the collection of photographic evidence, more detailed Home User Guides, standardised SAP reports and ensure every new dwelling is air tested.
On top of this, an extra target in Wales will mean every newly build home must achieve either an A or B rated Energy Performance Certificate as standard.
While the industry unpicks these new requirements, we’re also expecting the Welsh Government to confirm how it’s going to update SBEM and AD L2. The Scottish Government is likely to announce updates to Section 6 also.
For the first twelve months, only newly registered building sites will need to meet these targets. Existing building sites can continue working to today’s regulations. But after the twelve months are up any un-started buildings will need to be redesigned to meet the new requirements. This change is to help speed up the switchover to building more energy efficient homes, but is certain to catch out a lot of developers.
In 2023 we’re also expecting further details on the second wave of change – the final part of the Future Homes Standard.
In the existing housing sector, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) will be changing so that owners of buildings with an E, F or G rated EPC will need to upgrade before they can rent them out.
In Scotland, we’re expecting Section 6 to be changed to set tougher targets (which will probably be stricter than both England and Wales) and to also implement the new SAP10 method in line with England and Wales.
By this stage, all building sites in England will be working to the new regulations. Some existing sites in Wales will still be working to the older regulations, but that will end before the end of the year.
The second wave arrives, and we start the process all over again. A Government consultation will set out plans for improving emission targets further. New homes built to these regulations will generate 75% lower emissions than houses we are building today!
The current timeline will see these new regulations released in 2025; and probably implemented from 2026.
A separate consultation is expected to set new targets for existing rentals – some buildings will need to be upgraded to achieve a C rated EPC as the MEES regulations are tightened further.
We’ll be publishing further stories to confirm the details listed in this timeline as soon as the Government starts to set their own targets in stone. Watch this space!