Landlords are required to conform to the safety and environmental rules set-out in these regulations so it’s important you understand the law regarding the building regulations. The rules are in place to ensure that buildings meet a certain standard of safety to protect residents and members of the public and to comply with environmental controls.
Do you know about the latest changes to the Building Regulations 2010, Part L?
Landlords who fail to comply with the building regulations are not only putting tenants’ lives at risk, they face prosecution and significant fines. Before letting a property and completing renovations or new building works you should familiarise yourself with the building regulations and consult your local authority.
Failure to conform could result in your local authority prosecuting both you the landlord and the installer (builder, contractor etc.) in the Magistrates’ Court. The penalty is an unlimited fine under sections 35 and 35A of the Building Act 1984.
What are building Regulations?
Most building work being carried out in England must comply with the Building Regulations of 2010 made under powers in the Building Act 1984. These Building Regulations are designed to protect the health and safety of people in and around buildings, they also provide for energy and water conservation and access to and use of buildings.
The Manual to the Building Regulations gives an overview of the building regulatory system in England. You can access the most recent version of the manual at: www.gov.uk/guidance/building-regulations-and-approved-documents-index
Building regulation approvals – Full Plans
Your local authority will check and approve plans before the work starts. This will avoid costly errors and corrective work. An application deposited under the Full Plans procedure must contain detailed plans and other information showing all construction details and materials, preferably well in advance of when work is planned to start.
If the plans are approved a notice stating that they comply will be issued and work can proceed, followed by regular inspections at various stages either by the local authority building control inspectors, or an approved private firm. Once the work is completed a Completion Certificate must be obtained. This is a vital document needed when the property is sold.
Building regulation approvals – Building Notice
If the work is not over complicated and your building contractor is competent with a good knowledge of the regulations, then a Building Notice form can be adopted. The advantage of this method is speed and low cost as detailed drawings will not be required, though some basic details such as materials and structural calculations may be needed.
Retrospective regularisation applications
If work has already been carried out without proper consent, then a retrospective application can be made using a Building Regulations Regularisation form. This may be necessary even when the work was carried out by a previous owner.
Before starting any building work involving substantial alterations to a property it is always best to consult your local authority building control team to discuss your intentions before submitting an application.
What are the pending changes in Part L?
The latest changes follow on from the The Future Homes Standard 2019 Consultation on necessary changes and are part of the Government’s progress towards their target to deliver Zero Carbon Ready Homes by 2025.
From 15th June 2022, all new homes must produce 31% less CO2 emissions than what is currently acceptable in the present Part L regulations. Therefore, the construction of new dwellings must comply with the increased energy performance standards as set in the new regulations.
Building inspectors will require an on-site audit to confirm that the design details have been constructed, and photographs must be taken at stages of construction as evidence to form the BREL report. The Building Regulation England Part L (BREL) report is produced from approved SAP software to demonstrate compliance against the requirements. However, a significant change is the addition of photographic evidence provided to the energy assessor and building control.
Under the new rules, all newly constructed buildings and building work in existing buildings must be energy efficient. This includes a significantly higher standard for extensions work. The government wants to reduce carbon emissions in new homes by 31% in comparison with current standards and by a further 75-80% by 2025.
Low-carbon heating systems will need to be installed in new homes. Existing properties will be expected to upgrade to new technologies such as heat pumps and cooling schemes to tackle the problem of overheating without the use of air conditioning in order to drive down costly bills and meet its climate change goals.
A consultation on higher performance targets for non-domestic buildings, to ensure they are zero carbon-ready by 2025, has also been announced following the original consultation.
If a building notice or full plans for building work are submitted to a local authority before 15 June 2022, then provided the building work commences by 15 June 2023, work on that building is permitted to continue under the previous standards.
The Approved Document L, Conservation of fuel and power, Volume 1: Dwellings is for use in England. Compliance may be different to the standards required in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.