Part L: Are Transitional Arrangements changing?
07 Nov 2019
In this series of articles, we aim to answer some of your questions about the upcoming changes to Approved Documents L and F, SAP methodology and the Future Homes Standard.
Current proposals suggest these regulations will be coming into force in England from October 2020. Contact us with your own questions about the regulation changes, or to discuss our training seminars and workshops.
Are Transitional Arrangements changing?
The consultation papers suggest changing transitional arrangements to apply to individual buildings rather than overall developments. This could have big implications for sites which are on the drawing board today.
The Future Homes Standard isn’t just looking at updating the current Approved Documents F and L but is also considering the process of how these new regulations are brought into force.
When an updated building regulation is released, ‘Transitional Arrangements’ are put in place to define when a construction site should use the latest version, and when the previous regulations can be kept.
The usual process – as was the case when AD L was last updated in 2013 – means a site can continue under the guidance of the previous Approved Document providing a building notice, initial notice or full plans deposit has been submitted to building control before the new regulation goes live, and providing work has commenced on site before the agreed cut-off date.
‘Commenced’ is currently defined as excavation work for foundations and drainage work but doesn’t include demolition of old buildings or ground clearance works.
The ‘agreed cut-off date’ is a grace period between when the new Approved Document is released, and when the previous version can no longer be used. These time frames haven’t yet been confirmed but historically it’s been a 12-month window.
Transitional Arrangements give construction companies the advantage of consistency. Providing a site has been started within the grace period, the entire development can be built to the same laws, using the same specification.
However, it does mean larger sites with hundreds of plots can be built to the older versions of the regulations years after the Approved Documents change.
This entire process is under review, which means we could be using new Transitional Arrangements when the regulations change next year. But under the proposals it will be individual buildings that are considered instead of the entire site.
In other words, if you have a site of 50 buildings and you only commence works on 30 of them before the cut-off date, the other 20 must be upgraded to meet the new tougher targets.
From the Government’s perspective this means construction sites will be more quickly brought online with the latest set of regulations. But builders could be faced with changing wall thickness and heating systems on some of their plots at the eleventh hour if they don’t get started on every plot before the grace period expires.
In this context, a ‘building’ means a block of flats, a terrace of houses or a detached house. You wouldn’t be expected to switch regulations halfway up a tower block.
This new process is one of 69 questions covered by the Future Homes Standard public consultation which is open for feedback until February 7th.
(External link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-homes-standard-changes-to-part-l-and-part-f-of-the-building-regulations-for-new-dwellings)