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Part L: Could the Home User Guide become mandatory?

16 Dec 2019

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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.

 

What is a Home User Guide?

Think of it like an instruction manual for your house. The Guide explains to the occupant how to use their heating and ventilation systems efficiently to help towards reducing fuel bills. Home User Guides were a feature of the now defunct Code for Sustainable Homes assessment.

In the current Approved Document Part L, the owner of a new dwelling should be ‘provided with sufficient information about the building, the fixed building services and their maintenance requirements.’

This is quite a sketchy definition and can be interpreted in different ways. Some developers will provide the bare minimum to a buyer, while others will create a bespoke user manual for every dwelling they complete.

The Future Homes Standard is proposing to tighten up this requirement by setting out specific requirements and producing a national template that all developers should follow.

The concept of a Home User Guide isn’t new. It used to be a good way of earning Code for Sustainable Homes credits before the scheme was scrapped in 2015. As CSH was never replaced, additional nice-to-haves such as the Home User Guide were phased out by many construction companies.

Under the Future Homes Standard, they are set to make a comeback. Developers will be expected to provide a ‘consumer-friendly’ guide which explains how they can operate their dwelling in an energy efficient way.

To avoid the current issue of construction companies interpreting the rules to best suit them, it is proposed a national template will be created which everyone will need to follow. That way, home buyers could expect the same information to be presented in a similar format regardless of who they’re buying a house from.

Some user guides can be very wordy and overly complicated. We expect the national template will include illustrations, be colour-coded, offer tutorials and provide simple advice that will help occupiers reduce energy use and cut fuel bills without going into anything too technical.

We expect more information about mandatory Home User Guides will be published in the Spring when the Government responds to the Future Homes Standard consultation feedback.

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