What do the changes to the building regulations mean for you?

Building design and construction in the UK is changing in response to climate change

As part of the UK’s roadmap to zero carbon, changes to building regulations have now been brought in to improve the eco-credentials of new buildings. And as well as new Parts O and S being introduced relating to the overheating of buildings and the charging of electric vehicles, changes to the Part F and Part L building regulations have also been made.

Here’s a summary of what has changed, and why it really matters for your next building project.

What has changed?

Part F (ventilation) has been updated

Updates to the Part F 2021 Building Regulations took effect on 15 June 2022, with two volumes focusing on the standards for dwellings (Vol I) and other buildings (Vol II).

Part F focuses on the proper installation of ventilation systems as well as minimising the ingress of external pollutants.

One of the core features is that all replacement windows in non-domestic buildings should be fitted with background trickle ventilators. Part F provides technical specifications for extraction and ventilation rates that in effect require a much higher level of ventilation.

In hotter climates, design features like brise-soleil are common place to limit the effect of solar gain

Part L (conservation of fuel and power) has been updated

Closely linked with changes to Part F, Part L has also been updated and, together, these changes have been made in order for homes to be able to meet the government’s Future Homes Standard.

When it comes to non-domestic commercial buildings (Vol II), the new regulations cover a host of energy saving measures such as:

  • Calculating the energy performance of buildings to achieve a significant reduction in emissions
  • Limiting heat gains and losses
  • Achieving air tightness in buildings and ensuring suitable insulation
  • Ensuring efficiencies in methods of heating and cooling

We incorporate brise-soleil into the roof terrace at The Stag, Brighton

A new Approved Document Part O has been created

The new Part O 2021 Building Regulations focus on how to reduce overheating in new homes (as well as residential institutions like care homes and student accommodation). The regulations focus on how buildings must limit solar gains in summer and provide adequate means to remove heat.

The “simplified method” to demonstrating Part O compliance covers design interventions like limiting solar gain through designing windows that open, considering cross-ventilation (eg window openings on opposite sides of a room) and reducing glazing areas in order to limit solar gain.

Where standards can’t be met by window openings (for example, if open windows would be a safety risk), provisions for alternative design approaches are cited such as mechanical cooling and ventilation louvres.

In the interests of sustainable design, mechanical cooling should be a complete last resort or designed out altogether and the new regulations offer the opportunity to create interesting ways of providing external fixed or dynamic shading to minimise solar gain, such as incorporating elements of brise-soleil. At The Stag in Brighton, we incorporated brise-soleil into the roof terrace in order to shade the building and limit overheating.

A new Approved Document Part S has been created

This new Part S relates to the infrastructure needed for the charging of electric vehicles.

It sets the minimum number of 7kW charging points (or cable routes capable of providing a 7kW untethered EV charger) that must be provided when carrying out works for new residential and non residential applies to a wide spectrum of works, plus buildings undergoing either a change of use or a renovation

The regulations are intended to significantly up the supply of charging points across the country, which is seen to be a major blockage to increasing electric car ownership.

Technical considerations associated with this not-insignificant requirement include determining whether the local grid will have capacity for added charge points.

Installation costs are capped at no more than 7% of the development’s total budget.

When did the changes to building regulations come into force?

All the above building regulation changes came into force last month, on 15 June 2022.

The good news is that if you’ve already secured planning consent, you submitted your initial plans for building control approval before 15 June 2022, AND you will start work on site before 15 June 2023, you won’t have to comply with the new regulations.

For any projects with longer lead in times, you will need to revisit your plans to make sure that when it comes to securing building control, your scheme meets these new, tougher standards.

Brise-soleil can be attractive as well as functional

Why does this matter for you?

You might have to design elements of your scheme

All aspects of the new building control requirements have the potential to impact upon fundamental elements of your design.

Part O does, helpfully, cover details of a Dynamic Thermal Modelling method, which provides an element of flexibility in how a design cam be developed to prevent overheating.

However, developers won’t be able to rely on this to avoid having to make design adjustments. Fundamentally, these new regulations are all geared towards achieving more sustainable and less environmentally-impactful buildings in our nation’s bid to achieve carbon zero. That is inevitably going to mean design changes will need to be made.

For example, in order to comply with the overheating regulations you may need to reduce the amount or positioning of glazing proposed in your building, change the window design or even reorientate your building to minimise solar gain.

You might need to seek planning consent (again) for design changes

If you’ve already got planning permission you might have to seek planning permission for variations to your design in order to secure building control sign off.

Unless you’re already in the system and about to start on site within the next 11 months, any external changes such as window openings or changes in form in order to reduce overheating will need planning approval.

You might be able to avoid extra delays by bringing forward your build programme

As we’ve mentioned, the regulations provide a one year grace period to get sign off from building control under the old regulations and start on site.

For some, this grace period could be the difference between having to revisit your planning consent or not.

So, as long as you are already in the building control system, you have an opportunity to avoid these additional requirements by bringing forward your build programme.

If you need architectural support to expediate and secure building control get in touch.

Likewise, we can advise you on what needs to be done to your scheme in order to meet the new regulations, and can prepare the plans and planning application you need.

Get in touch with us if you need some advice on the best way to deal with the new changes to building regulations. Whether you need us to move things forward so you can start on site before 15 June 2023, or you need advice on what changes are needed to comply with the new regs, we can help.