How will the raft of updates affect your project plans?
The government has introduced 2022 Building Regulations updates for England that affect both new-build homes and renovation projects. The rules came into force on 15 June 2022. The Welsh government’s updates will apply on the 23 November 2022. Building Standards in Scotland were revised on 1 March 2022.
The changes are accompanied by a £6.6m investment into improving the energy efficiency of buildings, the heating and powering of which currently makes up around 40% of total energy use. As part of the UK government’s commitment to meeting its 2050 net zero target, all new homes must reduce their carbon emissions by 30%, compared to the previous Building Regulations standards.
The Building Regulations updates also include new standards for home improvements, which must result in a reduction of energy use and carbon emissions (projects already in planning may be exempt).
Building Regulations updates 2022
Heat loss changes
In England the minimum standards for both new and replacement thermal elements, including the walls, floors and roof, have been raised through changes to the permitted U-values. In other words, you’ll need more or more efficient insulation. This applies when building something new, such as a new home or an extension, or when removing and replacing a thermal element – though there are exemptions for a ground-floor porch or conservatory with a floor area of less than 30 sqm. See Part L of the Building Regulations (Conservation of fuel and power). If working on more than 50% of the surface area of a thermal element or more than 25% of the entire external surface area of the building, then the whole of the thermal element should be improved to achieve at least the U-value given in Approved Document L Table 4.3 (Limiting U-values for existing elements in existing dwellings), column b.
‘Focus on reducing heat loss by taping and sealing around pipework or services,’ says Anna Thompson, head of engagement at Local Authority Building Control. ‘When installing windows and doors, draught-proof and fill any gaps that air can leak through and make sure they are well fitted.’ The guidance also requires improved U-values for work on a pitched roof that has insulation between the rafters, and for a flat roof or a roof with integral insulation. The standards for renovating pitched roofs with ceiling- level insulation, cavity walls, solid walls and floors have not changed.
New air flow rules
The 2022 Building Regulations updates standards for ventilation and new or replacement windows are detailed in Part F (Ventilation). These apply to new homes and those being extended or renovated. They include the need for all new or replacement windows to have trickle ventilators to prevent the risk of condensation.
With new and replacement windows, roof windows, rooflights and doors, if the entire unit is changed it must meet the minimum standards set out in Approved Document L Table 4.2 (Limiting U-values for new fabric elements in existing dwellings). Insulated cavity closers, which prevent cold bridging, damp penetration, air infiltration and condensation, must be installed where appropriate, especially if the building’s opening is altered.
Heating systems such as gas boilers, standalone water heaters and heat pumps must be at least as efficient as the value set out in Approved Document L Section 6. A new appliance should use the same fuel as the old one with an efficiency that’s equivalent or better – or use a different fuel. The maximum flow temperature of a new or replacement heating system should not exceed 55°C. The standards for low-energy fixed lighting have also been updated.
The issue of overheating is addressed in the new Part O of the Building Regulations, which requires an assessment of this risk in a new-build home. Your architect will be asked to supply this information to Building Control when your application is assessed.
A self-build that includes a car parking space will need to provide an electric vehicle charging point as part of the Building Regulations updates 2022 (Part S – Electric Vehicle Charging). The update also provides technical guidance on EV charging at home and the introduction of a £3,600 price cap per charge point, to prevent the cost of EV chargers becoming a barrier to electric vehicle ownership.
The full Building Regulations updates 2022 for England, Scotland and Wales – each country has different rules – are available on the central government website, legislation.gov.uk. These are lengthy and written in official and technical language, so you may prefer to use more accessible sources such as Front Door, the LABC homeowner resource or the Planning Portal. These provide general advice on Building Regulation updates and a directory of Competent Person Scheme operators. The Competent Person Scheme scheme allows some trades, such as window fitters and electricians, to sign off Building Regulations for some of their work on your behalf .
The Construction Industry Council, known as the CIC, has a list of approved inspectors for England and Wales, searchable by location. Visit the LABC website to find a contact for your local officer or council department.