The Building Regulations have been amended to secure a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions for all new build homes, which comes into effect in June 2022.

The changes represent government’s response to the consultation to the Future Buildings Standard, which examined new homes in relation to energy efficiency, ventilation and overheating. Its response sets out a vision for construction to support the country to deliver its climate change ambitions.

With heating and power in buildings contributing to 40% of the UK’s entire energy usage, the new regulations require a 30% reduction against current standards for new homes, with other new buildings reducing output by 27%.

NaCSBA knows that self builders are, typically where finances allow, ahead of the curve in creating more sustainable homes, frequently building above Building Regulations – which are a set of minimum standards. As such they are pioneers in low carbon technology, including solar panels and heat pumps.

In previous decades heat retention was a major driving factor behind regulations, but increasingly overheating has become a topic of debate, with many new buildings creating uncomfortable living environments that fail to respond to climate change.

Consequently, building design must take overheating and improved ventilation into account to meet the requirements of the updated Building Regulations.

The regulations are an important step in the preparing to meet the Future Homes and Buildings Standard in 2025, which will mean all future homes are net zero ready and will not need retrofitting.

Housing Minister Eddie Hughes said: “Climate change is the greatest threat we face and we must act to protect our precious planet for future generations. The government is doing everything it can to deliver net zero and slashing CO2 emissions from homes and buildings is vital to achieving this commitment.

“The changes will significantly improve the energy efficiency of the buildings where we live, work and spend our free time and are an important step on our country’s journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment.”

Credit: Arron Beecham

In an effort to meet the climate challenge, all new homes will, from 2022, need to include an electric vehicle charging point, including self builds.

Announced by Boris Johnson in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) last month, the regulations – which have been billed as world-leading by the government – calls for a revolution for electric vehicles.

Under the new legislation, new homes, supermarkets and workplaces, including those undergoing major renovation where there are over 10 spaces upon completion, will be required to install electric vehicle charge points from next year – although it’s not clear at what point in 2022 these will be required.

Government believes that the new measures could lead to the installation of 145,000 extra charge points across England annually, helping to meet demand as we reach 2030 when the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be phased out.

Boris Johnson said: “The force driving that change won’t be government, it won’t even be business…it will be the consumer. It will be the young people of today, who can see the consequences of climate change and will be demanding better from us.”

While the news was welcomed in general, The Guardian reported that this new legislation must be just one approach to change, but one that needs additional measures to ensure that charging needs are fair, in socially disadvantaged and rural areas as well.

Image: Pixabay

With the planned decrease in the usage of gas as a fuel source, government recently launched the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, a new scheme that will give homeowners up to £6,000 towards the cost of an upgrade to low-carbon heating systems. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released its Heat and Buildings Strategy with £450million in funding for heat pumps, both ground source and – more realistic for most people – air source heat pumps.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is designed to transform our energy usage in homes, although government has stopped short from requiring the banning of fossil-fuel boilers. The expectation is that by 2030 heat pumps, and other cleaner technology, will cost the same to run and buy as current gas systems. The other major alternative is hydrogen, which could power some existing systems, but the technology is still in its experimental stage, with products not yet available to buy.

Essentially Boiler Upgrade Scheme is a boiler upgrade scheme, which comes with many associated challenges around upping the spec in existing houses to make them compatible with these heat sources. This is because heat pumps work best in houses with high levels of energy efficiency and insulation.

Fortunately most self built houses are built to a far higher spec than to Building Regulations, which is a set of minimum standards. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which is a renaming of the Clean Heat Grant, is available in England and Wales, and is part of a wider £3.9bn funding pot set out in the Heat and Buildings Strategy.

How does this affect self builders?

While homeowners in new builds are not able to apply, self builders are eligible, and will have a three month period in which to apply. In addition, self builders won’t need an Energy Performance Certificate, which is a requirement for existing home owners.

Eligible homeowners will be able to receive government grants for the purchase of low carbon heating systems, with applications running between April 2022 and April 2025. This will replace the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which officially closes next March.

The funding allows for either £5,000 for Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP) or £6,000 for Ground Source Heat Pumps (including the rarer Water Source Heat Pumps), with more funding allocated for ASHPs as these are more compatible with most homes, due to space limitations.

In addition, biomass boilers in rural areas with low populations should also qualify for support.

It looks like grants will be on a voucher system that are applied for in advance of installations, with the vouchers – which have a usage date – being redeemed on completion. The scheme will also work on a first-come-first-served availability basis.

 

Scotland-based Allan Corfield Architects is expanding its national coverage with a permanent presence at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) in Swindon, and the launch of its first seminar for self builders wanting to develop their skills.

Architect Jenny Chandela has joined ACA, working out of its brand new NSBRC stand three days a week, and is able to answer questions or chat to you about your project. Alternatively, if you cannot get to Swindon ACA also offers a free initial online consultation.

In line with ACA’s ethos of supporting self builders, as seen in its online Learning Centre, it has launched its first self build seminar at the NSBRC, How to Self-build Successfully*.

The one day event runs from 8:30 – 4:30, and is repeated on the Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 October, and costs £80 per person, and is designed to educate novice builders all the key elements of the self build journey.

Topics covered include:

Speakers at the event:

Allan Corfield, AC Architects, Self Build and Low Energy Expert

Tom McSherry, BuildStore, Finance Expert

Brian Singleton, ADM Systems, MVHR Expert

David Gallagher, AC Structures, Structural Engineer

James Bryden, CLPM, Project Management and QS

David Hilton, Heat & Energy, Renewable Heating Expert

 

To find out more visit Allan Corfield Architects website and register your interest for the event, or get in touch with your questions to Kim via email or call 03333444217

* The How to Self-build Successfully seminar is not suitable if you are already working with an architect.

Graven Hill has revealed that one in three of the self-built homes completed between 2018 – 2021 used modern methods of construction (MMC), reflecting that self build leads the way in the adoption of innovative methods. MMC refers to non-traditional methods of building, which includes both off-site manufacturing and innovative on-site techniques, such as insulated concrete formwork (ICF).

MMC is high on the government’s agenda, and it announced the launch of an MMC taskforce in the most recent Budget to examine the ways in which uptake of MMC can be improved. Graven Hill hopes to be part of this research as it feeds into the wider debate.

In 2021 a specialist supplier at Graven Hill is aiming to complete 25 prefabricated homes on site, and since 2018, there have been 34 self and custom build projects built using MMC.

Typically, these houses take 2-3 days to assemble to the watertight stage, with a further 6-7 weeks to finish on site. This is faster than the average bricks and block home, and the builds meet or exceed the high-quality building standards set by Graven Hill.

Building at Graven Hill

Each self build at Graven Hill comes with a ‘Plot Passport’ that sets the parameters and guidelines for that specific plot, all of which is pre-approved by the council. Working within this framework, self builders can get planning permission in just 28 days, as opposed to the usual 8-13 weeks. Choosing to build with MMC further increases the speed of completion.

Off-site methods in general are popular with Graven Hill builders, as they offer quick and simple route to construction, with minimal disruption on site.

Karen Curtin, managing director at Graven Hill, said: “The announcement of the MMC taskforce was positive news. All of our Plot Passports allow for the use of MMC techniques, and we believe it will play an important role in the future of housing developments.

“With the help of our specialist suppliers, we have proven that prefabricated homes can be just as high quality and aesthetically beautiful as traditional homes. Offering both speed and affordability, MMC certainly looks to be the way forward for housing and we’re proud to be part of the revolution.”

Not only do the site’s self-build homes benefit from MMC, but so do its custom build new homes. A range of ‘move in ready’ new build homes are available to buy now, with many eligible for Help to Buy. From two- and three-bed terraces to five-bed detached homes, accessibility is at the core of Graven Hill. The flexibility and affordability of MMC ensures this can be achieved without having to compromise on quality.
For more information, get in contact with the Graven Hill team.

Heating and ventilation specialist Zehnder brings you its take on how to ensure your Self-Build project is sustainable, ensuring it provides the optimum comfortable climate for you.

Self-Building your own home offers you the opportunity to factor in a range of measures that you wouldn’t find in a typical open market home. Top of the bill for many Self-Builders is the ability to spec elements that make your home more sustainable, making it greener, more comfortable and cheaper to run.

There’s a trade-off here between cost and outcome, but Self-Builders tend to stay in their homes longer than most, and also invest more in them. What’s more, Self-Builders, as NaCSBA acknowledges, are innovators in greener building, championing new materials and micro-renewables to ensure they get the home they want. As such, they are the green heroes of UK housing.

Self-Building requires careful budgeting, but money spent on sustainability is typically money well spent. The Passivhaus Trust states that Passive /house builds can be achieved on a range of budgets that can bring a 90% reduction in the energy needed for heating requirements, which means savings from year one.

So if you want a greener home where to you get started?

Zehnder specialises in heating and ventilation solutions that can help you achieve your goal. Jason Bennett, National Business Development Manager for Self-Build at Zehnder explains a bit more: “Building regulations and legislation set out sustainability standards that must be met, but these are minimum standards that many self-builders use as a starting point.

“Passive House advocates would argue that energy usage is as equally important as the focus on carbon emissions, giving a more rounded approach, that’s a helpful way to look at the bigger picture.”

Zehnder has put together fives steps for Self-Builders to consider when planning to build greener.

1. Fabric-first

Think about what you will use to build your home. Timber remains an extremely environmentally friendly building material, as long as it is sustainably sourced. In contrast, the production process for cement is extremely carbon intensive, which should be weighed up in terms of sustainability.
Even when used as a form of biomass, timber should result in very little net carbon emissions as long as replanting replaces lost trees.

2. Heat Recovery

The Renewable Energy Hub states that a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system (MVHR) can save up to a whopping 50% on energy bills in a home. This will vary significantly depending on the building itself, meaning that time spent at planning a whole house approach is always time well spent.
For optimum results, MVHR is best suited to an airtight and highly-insulated building, designed from the outset to utilise an MVHR system.

MVHR unit

These work by removing stale air from the house, which is replaced with filtered fresh air. But the clever bit is that the heat is extracted from the stale air, and retained to warm the incoming air to minimise heat loss. This ensures a constant supply of warmed fresh air, with the internal temperature remaining comfortable and stable. Although you can open windows and doors in such homes, the system is designed to be used within the house as a sealed unit with the MVHR doing the hard work, while opening doors and windows less frequently can help minimise noise and air pollution too.

Highly efficient MVHR units, such as Zehnder’s ComfoAir Q range, can recover up to 96% of the heat from extracted air that would have otherwise been exhausted outside. This reduces heating bills, which keeps costs down for the homeowner.

What’s more, MVHR systems are great for keeping allergies at bay, as they extract excess moisture, pollutants and pollen from the air.

3. Insulation

Passive House builds are based on the principle that insulation is vital for a building’s performance, keeping heating requirements to a minimum.

Insulation comes in a range of materials, including environmentally responsible products, such as sheep wool. The U-values wool can achieve compare favourably to those of rigid board insulation or fibreglass, which have a far more carbon-intensive production process.

4. Heating

Designing your home from scratch means you can make the most solar capacity. And when combined with air-tight, insulated construction, solar energy can be used to run an efficient electric heating system, such as an air or heat pump.

Heat pumps can also run on electricity generated from solar power, making them 100% renewable.
While more space intensive, ground source heat pumps use the stable ground temperature as their heat source, making them even more efficient than air-based pumps. These need careful planning from the start of a project, and installation costs are higher, so it’s a decision each Self-Builder must make as part of the wider picture.

In rural areas where space is less of an issue – and especially if you’re off-grid, biomass can also be a good eco-source of heat. Systems can be expensive to install, so check with manufacturers the time period by which the installation costs will start to be paid back by savings.
Finally, for hot water, solar thermal remains a highly sustainable way to heat your hot water.

5. Rainwater harvesting

Water is a relatively cheap utility in the UK, especially in comparison to heating, but the costs to the environment remain high due to the carbon emissions and energy used to produce and supply it.
A rainwater harvesting system is simple to plan into a self-build early on, ensuring you capture free water that can be used for a range of uses, such as flushing toilets, watering the garden and cleaning the car.
Again, it needs to factored in early as the containers are large, and will need major plant to install, which you will inevitably have on site at some point.

For more information visit Zehnder 

This is an update from a NACSBA member.

Have you completed a Passivhaus project in the last few years? Then get set to enter the Passivhaus Awards 2021 – the first since 2018. The Awards are open for entries right now, with the deadline of 20 April 2021 – enter here. 

With the declaration of the climate emergency and the importance of building more sustainably, the need for better building has never been clearer.

The Passivhaus Trust, the organiser of the awards, states that it is estimated that construction the size of Paris will be built weekly for the next 40 years, and it’s imperative that we act now to ensure hat as much building is net-zero as possible. And building to Passivhaus standard is a great route for a self builder.

Passivhaus construction supports the delivery of net-zero by significantly reducing energy requirements and therefore the carbon emissions from houses.

The Passivhaus Trust has now been around for ten years,  and the awards make a welcome return.

Homeowners, including retrofit properties can enter in three categories: Small Resdential (under 500m2) or Large Residential (500m2 and/or under 10 homes). There is also a Non-residential category.

There are strict eligibility requirements to ensure that projects meet the Passivhaus standards, including certification and proof of performance.

Check out previous award winners and their videos

 

New research into the aspirations of those that want to self build has revealed that 1 in 3 adults in Great Britain are interested in self building at some point in the future.

Released to mark Right to Build Day on 30 October, the research reflects the appetite of the public for a home in which they have had a role in designing and commissioning.

NaCSBA and the Building Societies Association (BSA), who commissioned the research, wanted to get a fresh perspective of  self build intentions and the effect of COVID-19 on people’s feelings about their home.

In terms of people’s aspirations to self build, the data found that:

In response to COVID-19 and the way we see our homes, the data showed that:

Younger interest

NaCSBA and the BSA welcome the news that it is the youngest generation of 18-24 who are most interested in self building (48%), as they represent a new market. However, there is a disconnect, as it is the younger generations who tend to have the least amount of savings and less earning potential due to their age.

This marries with the perception that financing the build project is the most significant limiting factor preventing people from self building. 59% cited this as the most significant barrier.

To help meet the deposit gap, the 2019 Conservative party manifesto promised that the Help to Buy scheme would be extended to the sector, which NaCSBA continues to push for.

Greener building

Having a smaller environmental impact was also a key factor behind the ambition to self build, with a third (33%) of people identifying it as a core benefit of building a home. Almost 9 in 10 (89%) of people said it was important that their newly built home was energy efficient, when asked to envision building their own home.

Housing diversification is a core part of the Government’s wider housing strategy, as England has the lowest known rate of self-commissioned homes in the world. The Right to Build legislation requires councils to grant sufficient planning permissions to match the demand evidenced on their registers.

However, despite legislation in 2015 and 2016, the survey found that 83% of people had never heard of the registers held by local authorities of people who would like to build their own home. NaCSBA urges all those looking to self-build to sign up to their local Right to Build register via www.righttobuildportal.org.

THE PANDEMIC AND OUR HOMES

It is no surprise that the COVID-19 crisis has affected people’s perceptions of what they want out of their home, with the need for a home office being important for 39% of people.

Further to this, the lockdown inspired almost 1 in 3 British adults to consider making home improvements as they re-evaluated their living space (31%), while 1 in 20 (5%) considered going on to design and build their own home as a response to the crisis. Clear evidence that the pandemic has made many of us reassess what we want out of a home.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA’s CEO said, “The current lack of choice in our new homes market makes it different from every other country and every other consumer market. Only when there is diversity of choice will we get the diversity of homes that we want and need.”

Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgages and Housing at the BSA said, “It’s great to see that there are so many aspiring self and customs builders, particularly among the youngest generation (18-24yrs). Increased levels of home working this year have led many to realise the importance of future proofing their homes to suit their individual needs.

“Mutual lenders are leading the way to help these self-build dreams become a reality, with 21 building societies currently lending to people building their own homes, they are the clear choice for many and are leaders in this space.”

For a full breakdown of the research download the powerpoint of findings.

Download an infographic of the findings & share

Building societies offering self and/or custom build products:

Bath Building Society Beverley Building Society
Chorley Building Society Darlington Building Society
Buckinghamshire BS Earl Shilton Building Society
Dudley Building Society Furness Building Society
Ecology Building Society Ipswich Building Society
Hanley Economic Building Society Mansfield Building Society
Loughborough Building Society Penrith Building Society
Melton Mowbray Building Society Saffron Building Society
Progressive Building Society Scottish Building Society (Scotland only)
Stafford Railway Building Society Swansea Building Society
Vernon Building Society

Start your self build journey by signing your local self build register – find yours at www.righttobuildportal.org

About the survey:

NaCSBA and the BSA commissioned YouGov to conduct the survey. Data is based on total sample size of 2017 adults, with the survey carried out online on 9th-11th October 2020. Figures are weighted and representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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Package home design and build firm Baufritz has been awarded a local Cambridgeshire business award in the category of Architectural Design Company of the Year 2020, for its Treehouse home.

For anyone looking for a company to design and build their self build home, industry awards are a great way of establishing the reputation of a company and its work, in the same way as viewing their gallery of case studies. Both offer an insight into the quality and reliability of the company.

Choosing the manufacturer and/or builder of your future project is one of the biggest decisions that you will make on a self build, with the biggest price tag. So getting it right is crucial, and awards can be a good piece of additional evidence.

Don’t be afraid of asking a package manufacturer if you can visit one of their built homes, or even whether they have show houses or open houses available to visit. For example, buyers of a Baufritz can, by appointment, visit its factory in Germany, to support them with the process of choosing design elements (but buyers must either have a plan or plot first). They can even choose to stay in one of Baufritz’s houses as means of trying the home, with a range of homes across the county to rent/experience.

Oliver Rehm, CEO of Baufritz in Cambridge said: “We are delighted to have won this local business award, which recognises our involvement and commitment towards the community since the arrival of Baufritz in the UK in 2006. It also proves that our approach to create prefabricated and sustainable eco houses of the highest quality are as sought after in the UK as they are in the rest of Europe.”

The Cambridgeshire Prestige Awards recognise businesses located in the East of England that provide a personal approach towards their customers to maintain a high quality level of service and experience. The judging panel based their decisions upon areas such as service excellence, quality of the product/ service provided, innovative practices, value, ethical or sustainable methods of working, as well as consistency in performance.

“Baufritz built our extraordinary eco family house in Central Cambridge five years ago. Every single day we express our disbelief and grateful thanks that we live in this gorgeous space. It truly is a modern house with soul.” Owner of Treehouse Cambridge

The Treehouse will be featured as part of Cambridge’s Open Eco Homes event – online this year due to Covid.

Check out the timelapse video of the Cambridge Treehouse being built on site