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Release of Future Home Standards - What does it mean?

07 Jan 2022

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The first phase of the Future Homes Standard will launch in England later this year. New buildings, both dwellings and non-residential, will need to be constructed using less energy, have lower fuel bills, a lower carbon footprint, and are comfortable to live in.

Over the coming months, the Energist team will be writing articles to answer your questions about the regulation changes. We’re starting with a fundamental question:

When do the new rules apply?

The key date to remember for England sites is June 15th, 2022. We’re expecting Wales to confirm their switchover date shortly.

 

There are four Approved Documents changing on this day. Part L (covering SAP, SBEM, U-Values and air testing), Part F (ventilation and air quality), Part O (a new section for overheating) and Part S (a new section for electric car charging points).

But this won’t apply to every building project straightaway. It will only apply ‘where a building notice or an initial notice has been given to, or full plans deposited with, a local authority’ on or after June 15th, 2022.

If notice is given to Building Control before this date, you can continue to work to the existing requirements of Part F and Part L, and you can completely ignore Part O and Part S.

However, the clock will be ticking. You will have until June 15th, 2023, to commence work on every building on your development. Any buildings that are not started by this date will be required to swap to the new regulations which could mean thicker wall cavities, changing window sizes and installing heat pumps.

The wording of this ‘Transitional Arrangement’ is different to what has been applied previously, which has always been defined sitewide. In other words, you could start the first plot of a 100 plot site and the remaining 99 plots would use the same version of the regulations. By changing the requirement to apply to each building separately, builders will either have to race to get their foundations laid before the deadline, or be forced into building neighbouring homes to meet different energy requirements.

And this Transitional Arrangement will also apply to older construction sites. Any building which is assessed against AD L 2013 that hasn’t been started by June 15th, 2023, will need to be upgraded to meet the new requirements, even if you gave notice to Building Control years before.

This change is designed to push forward the new energy efficiency requirements and avoid the situation we currently have where new homes on large sites are built to older regulations with more relaxed emission standards.

Just to add an extra layer of confusion, the new Part S (car charging) will use the sitewide transitional arrangements rule.

 

Two follow-on questions you may have… what is a ‘building’, and what does ‘commencement of work’ mean?

A ‘building’ can mean a detached house, or a terrace of houses, or a block of flats. Multiple dwellings can form one building. If you’re halfway through building an apartment block on June 15th, the building is classed as ‘started’ so changing to the new regulations won’t be required for the remaining dwellings.

‘Commencement of work’ is trickier to define, but examples include the excavation work for foundations of the building, digging out groundworks, pile driving or boring, and drainage works that are specific for the building.

Commencement of work does NOT include removal of site vegetation, demolition of existing buildings, soil removal, or construction infrastructure (temporary roads and drainage).

 

After June 15th, if you have an existing construction site, you can voluntarily upgrade to the new regulations before the 2023 deadline, but keep in mind these new rules push developers towards low carbon heating, solar panels and enhanced fabric specification, so will have higher build costs.

If you have any questions about these changes feel free to contact the Energist team. Otherwise keep an eye out on our ‘Articles’ page where follow-on information will be published.

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