Anyone self building needs to ensure that their project is meeting the new Building Regulations, as announced by then Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick earlier in the year. The are intended to pave the way for the Future Homes and Buildings Standard in 2025, which should, in time, mean all future homes are Net Zero ready and will not need retrofitting.

The new regulations require new homes to cut carbon emissions by 31% and extensions, existing building and non-domestic buildings by 27%, with the regulations coming in via Approved Documents L (Energy Efficiency), F (improved ventilation) and O (overheating).

Not only will they affect self builders, but extenders and renovators will need to ensure that works meet the required standard too.

One of the ambitions of the regulations is to address overheating, which is increasingly an issue, especially on homes with large south facing windows.

Any self builders need to ensure that their contractors are aware of the new regulations, and, for new projects, ensure they are meeting them. There is a grace period for builds in progress that had Building Regulations before the commencement (on 15 June 2022), in which case you have until 15 June 2023 to start the work before the approval lapses, and the new regulations apply.

However, it’s important to know that Building Regulations are a set of minimum standards, and many self-builders choose to build beyond these to secure better results, knowing that they are investing in their property. This is borne out by recent research by NaCSBA that demonstrated that over half of all self builders included a sustainable source of heating in their build.

As well as the regulations above, self builders also now need to ensure that they are meeting Building Regulation Part S (Electric Vehicle Charging), which requires new homes to have an electric vehicle charging point. 

 

Any self builder responsible for their site will be interested to read the latest findings from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to ensure workers and visitors to their site are safe.

The report found that fatal injuries to UK construction workers have risen 8.3% since 2016/17, with half of these fatalities due to falls from heights.

With such a high-risk factor, it is essential that any self builder – or contractor, carefully plan any work at height, ensures relevant training has been undertaken and that the right equipment is used and procedures followed.

Many self builders like to help on site even if they are not working there in the day – and jobs like fixing gutters and painting can all involve working at height risks.

Safety first

In Great Britain construction is framed in law by the The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, a comprehensive suite of legislation embracing health and safety, and the risk assessments that mitigate risks. And even in line with this, the number of fatalities and accidents is still increasing.

Herts Tool Hire reviewed the data from the HSE (and produced the above infographic), looking at the impact of non-fatal construction accidents on construction industries. Read its analysis here.

construction accidents infographic

 

It reported that injuries and ill health cost £16.2 billion in 2018/19 – with 20% borne by employers, 22% by government and the remaining nearly 59% end up being a cost to the individuals themselves. This could be because of the high-number of sub contractors and self employed in the construction sector.

For more on Health & Safety visit our advice section

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

Government has announced a series of measures to boost the output of the custom and self build sector, including a Help to Build equity loan scheme. 

The Self and Custom Build Action Plan includes:

  • A Prime Minister-commissioned review of the custom and self build sector, including challenges and opportunities
  • A review of the Right to Build legislation to improve how it is applied in practice
  • A Self and Custom Build Land Release Fund for local authorities to bring forward plots on land they own
  • Funding for the Right to Build Task Force (www.righttobuild.org.uk) so it can continue to work with English local authorities to advise around delivery and policy
  • A Help to Build equity loan scheme.

Together, the Action Plan represents the biggest push to allow more people to create a home of their own that suits their needs, budget and tastes. NaCSBA believes that the plan will help custom and self build scale up so that it is seen as more of a mainstream choice for people’s housing needs. 

 

Andrew Baddeley-Chappel, CEO of NaCSBA said, “The action plan that has been announced today represents the single most important announcement for the custom and self build sector since the establishment of NaCSBA over 10 years ago.

 

“England has for too long been out of line with the rest of the world with regards the lack of consumer choice in our new homes market. The consequences of this have become all too clear as has the need for change. This action plan should help ensure an environment exists in England that delivers more and better homes.

 

“Our focus now is ensuring that, as in every other country, the wider public see this as a natural approach to ensuring their new home meets their aspirations and needs. We also need to do more to build the business capacity and structures that underpin the choice that exists elsewhere. Finally we need councils to do their bit to ensure the plots that are needed are permissioned so that these homes can be built.”

For more detail about the individual elements of the Custom and Self Build Action Plan visit NaCSBA’s member’s website. 

 

Image credit: A Potton home being erected

 

In the recently published Planning for the Future White Paper, Government sent out a radical proposal for planning in England to change. NaCSBA welcomed the potential changes, saying that the ideas should improve the outlook for custom and self build.

The reforms put forward are based around a distinct change in how we deliver planning in England, relying on a simplified idea of zoning for land, combined with design codes that will frame what can be built, where.

If they go ahead, the reforms would be the biggest shake up of planning nationally since the 1940s, when the present system was created.

NaCSBA welcomes the proposals, saying that change is needed, and will result in more custom build and self build homes being built.

Planning proposals for self build

Under the proposals put forward by Planning for the Future, custom build and self build will be supported by:

In addition, there would remain a commitment to the Right to Build, although NaCSBA maintains that this needs to be strengthened to make it more robust and give more people access to self build. This would build on the successes made so far.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA CEO, said: “For too long our planning system and our housing market has been stuck in a rut.

“Consumer choice is the key to more and better homes that more people aspire to live in and that communities are happier to see built. There is huge potential to be unlocked. With choice comes responsibility and the local design codes will help ensure that these cherished new homes are fitting additions to their surroundings.

The message to the public is clear, the choice that you expect with every other product is now coming to the housing market – prepare to be excited and inspired.”

 

Planning for the Future is in a consultation stage, and is inviting people to respond to its recommendations. 

Energy efficiency is top of the housing agenda right now, with a series of regulations and standards around the efficiency of newly built, and extended, housing, both in the UK and in Ireland. This will affect Part L and Part F of the Building Regulation, which all homes must meet, which is actually set of minimum standards for the expectations of all building work. However, for environmental efficiency, the benchmark minimum is about to get much higher in 2020.

In October the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced the UK Government’s ambition to drastically overhaul building with a new environmental Future Homes Standard for new build homes. Currently under consultation, if it goes ahead the new standard will ban fossil-fuel heating systems, such as the classic gas-boiler, to be replaced with renewable energy sources, such as air source heat pumps, by 2025.

Then Chancellor Philip Hammond first announced the scrapping of gas-boilers earlier this year, in favour of the increased use of heat pumps and shared heat networks, and the Future Homes Standard follows through on this commitment by Government. However, it was only in 2016 that a Labour-initiated policy to achieve Zero Carbon in new homes was dumped by David Cameron.

The consultation is calling for views on the challenge around banning fossil fuel heating systems, changes to Building Regulations with regards to reducing the carbon footprint of homes built after 2025, and also on the reality of a process that would  restrict local planning authorities from setting higher energy efficiency standards for new homes in the future.

New National Design Code

In addition the Government has launched a new National Design Guide with 10 points that set out new expectations for new development with 10 core points. This will feed through at a local level with local authorities expected to develop their own design guides to reflect their setting, character and history, while also fitting into this new national standard.

Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland new regulations have come into force, with the European Union (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations coming into effect on the 1 November, affecting all new builds and any major renovations. Effectively these amend the Part L of the country’s Building Regulations to EU-level requirements that newly built homes be nearly zero energy buildings (NZEB).

The regulations will make new housing 70% more energy efficient when compared to 2005 performance requirements, through a combination of the use of more renewable energy source together with better air tightness and the increased use of ventilation systems.

While creating more environmentally sound buildings, there will be increased costs associated with compliance that should be factored in to planned work.

What are Building Regulations

New buildings are controlled by a set of standards that govern how they are built, which apply to all forms of building work including new-builds, renovations and extensions – both residential and commercial. The Building Regulations are a set of minimum standards of what is expected to create a safe, healthy and high-performing building – and many self-builders build to a higher spec than the Regs.

The regulations cover a range of topics including structure, accessibility, electrical and gas safety, and crucially energy peformance, and it is this latter element that is driving the current changes. The Energy Saving Trust states: new homes use a carbon standard that’s worked out using an official methodology to get a calculation that gives the carbon emissions for a home. The goal is to ensure that your home is built so that the expected emissions are below the target emissions rate (TER).

This TER is set for types of home, and has been gradually been tightened over the years to encourage better efficiency and the uptake of more renewable energy measures, such as solar panels or heat pumps. Read its blog on Building for Future Energy Efficiency, here.