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Part L – Where Has It Gone?

It is possible to build a brand new house in 2012 to standards that were set in place 6 years previously

Five years ago, in an attempt to give industry certainty, the previous Government laid out a timetable of changes and improvements to Part L of the Building Regulations.

This was in response from industry, both builders and manufacturers, who need a longer term view to enable product development, investment and changes in build practices.

It was also a key part of the roadmap to Zero Carbon homes and achieving the legally binding carbon reduction commitment by 2050.

We, along with other suppliers built our plans and product development pipelines based on this longer term perspective. It allowed us to invest with the ‘certainty’ that increasing standards for thermal performance would drive change.

Then, back in 2011, DCLG implemented the last ‘upgrade’ to Part L. Unfortunately due to botched transitional arrangements, builders’ registered in the region of 180,000 plots, allowing them to be built at pre 2011 regulations. At current build rates, this is approximately two years supply ………

So we have a situation where it is possible to build a brand new house in 2012 to standards that were set in place six years previously. Worse than that, the 2011 revision dealt with an inherent flaw in the construction of semi-detached and terraced houses. A flaw that will be increasing homeowners’ fuel bills.

Unbelievably, the house buyer does not have to be told! Anyone else find that odd? Would that be acceptable in any other industry?

The next key date on the Part L timetable is October 2013, but as I write nothing is forthcoming from government on the details of the changes, indeed if there are to be changes at all. They have to be published by April 1st and there is little today to suggest they will be.

My business, along with many others has invested and developed solutions for the expected changes planned this year – is this investment to be wasted, written off?

Without certainty, how am I to compete for investment against other countries? Another broken commitment and change of direction to add to the Feed in Tariff debacle and consequential improvements.

On the matter of consequential improvements, the decision by Secretary of State Eric Pickles is breathtaking. To reject a policy, a policy that had the support of the majority of consultation responders, is a move of monumental arrogance. To reject a well-supported proposal such as consequential improvements that would have led to two million Green Deals and reduced homeowners energy bills as well as reducing carbon emissions is unbelievably crass. The mass media really do write Government policy.

I hope I am wrong, and that DCLG will introduce Part L as planned & expected, as well as reinstating consequential improvements.

More importantly, I hope they will introduce it in a way that means the improved standards will be in place sooner rather than later….

Well Mr. Foster, what say you?

John Sinfield is Managing Director Knauf Insulation Northern Europe

About Guest Blogger - John Sinfield

John Sinfield is managing director of Knauf Insulation UK

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