A devolution of Building Regulations

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Andy Thomas, Building Regulations Manager covering Wales, examines the changes to Part L and the differences between the English and Welsh versions.

With the transfer of powers in 2012, the Welsh government now has full responsibility for Building Regulations. They have been working on the changes to regulations and guidance, and designers and developers should be aware that none of the raft of 2013 changes to the Regulations and Approved Documents in England applies in Wales. Over the last 2 years there has been an evolution of separate law and guidance resulting in all of the Approved Documents being unique to the respective countries. The 2 key, and perhaps most important changes are in Part L – conservation of fuel and power and Part B – Fire safety where the introduction of sprinklers in residential premises commences on the 30th April 2014.

The new Part L Wales will commence at the end of July 2014 and will have different standards and approaches. There are 2013 versions of SAPw and SBEMw NCM assessment tools for new buildings and there are a number of technical and legal differences in the Welsh system.

The changes deliver:

– Tougher standards on commercial buildings;

– A more sympathetic approach to meeting onerous and expensive standards on the new housing market;

– Steps to upgrade the existing housing building stock;

Improvements in clarity and simplicity for compliance and understanding of the documents.

These key decisions and strategy for future changes can be found on the Wales.gov website Key differences in technical approaches to England are:

– The structuring of a timetable for zero carbon homes and non-domestic buildings by 2019/2021. (Note – England have targets for zero carbon homes by 2016);

– A target for 2013 – the domestic uplift over 2010 standards is 8% and the non-domestic is 20%. (England targets are 6% and 9%) Note that domestic standards are different – the actual targets within SAP are identical and the variation results from the different build mix delivered in Wales (e.g. flats, detached, semi-detached and link houses).

This will assist national house builders to deliver consistent designs across England and Wales;

– Mandatory Criteria 2 standards in dwellings limiting options for the flexibility of choices on U values;

– Measured as primary energy targets ensuring fabric standards are maintained (note this is in lieu of the TFEES system in England);

– Consequential improvements required on dwellings;

– Consequential improvements on commercial buildings under 1000m2;

– Modelling of unique building types in SBEM based on the Welsh build profile.

We now therefore have a dedicated approach to the unique build profile in Wales and we are looking at the next necessary changes such as reviewing TAN22 (Planning Guidance requiring CSH and BREEAM standards).

Andy Thomas is the Building Regulations Manager for the Butler & Young office covering Wales. He is also the representative on the Building Regulations Advisory Committee for Wales, advising ministers on the changes and technical approaches to delivering new Regulations for Wales.

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Andy Thomas

Building Regulations Manager (Wales)

Butler & Young Group Ltd

Tel: +44 (0) 2082 534900

www.butlerandyoung.co.uk

www.twitter.com/butlerandyoung

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