Part L – Where has it gone?

By John Sinfield: Managing Director of Knauf Insulation Northern Europe

5 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 2 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 6 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.

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 2 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?

4 thoughts on “Part L – Where has it gone?

  1. “…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….”
    What is this flaw please? As a training DEA and prospective GDA I imagine it would be useful for me to know. Thanks.

      • Thanks very much. I once saw a different case of thermal bypass : A top floor flat in a small block, where all the walls (internal / external) were lined with plasterboard on dabs. The boards extended to loft joist level and the voids behind them were open, so the heat energy only had to pass through the plasterboard in the rooms, to have a direct route to the roof space above the loft insulation. I presume this was incorrect detailing but i’m no technician so I don’t really know.

      • From Dave Khan – Technical Marketing Manager

        Thank you for your comments David. The detail you refer to is indeed a thermal bypass and just goes to show that the saying “the devil is in the detail” is both apt and accurate when it comes to delivering well designed and energy efficient buildings.

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