Housing building standards to be reformed: major changes announced

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The government has announced major changes to house-building standards, intended to simplify regulations country-wide – in a move that will also phase out the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:

‘The current system of housing standards is complicated and confusing and is ripe for reform. That’s why we’re planning to make the whole system easier to understand and follow, consolidating housing standards so that all the requirements are in one place.’

At the moment, house builders that work on sites throughout the country must implement different standards in each area. With little communication between councils, regulations may be duplicated or even contradictory.

The new guidelines aim to reduce 100 standards to fewer than 10, condensing over 1000 pages of guidance to fewer than 100. Among the regulations to be abolished are:

  • requirements for rainwater harvesting in places that don’t suffer from water shortages
  • a requirement for more than 1 phone line to be installed, regardless of need
  • a requirement for compost bins and secure sheds in gardens

Where appropriate, optional building requirements can be set, such as:

  • water efficiency, bringing more rigorous standards into play for areas facing water shortages
  • accessibility, where different standards may be applied for homes intended for older people and wheelchair users.

Energy targets – often set by local councils in addition to existing building regulations – will now be set only on a national level. The Code for Sustainable Homes is among the standards to be scrapped, and technical requirements will be assessed by building control bodies alone. The Government has asserted that there will be a period of transition to allow for existing CSH contracts to be completed, though there are no more details on this at present.

Here at Darren Evans Assessments, we welcome any move that will reduce confusion and delay for house builders, while still maintaining the high sustainability standards we champion. We’ll make ourselves familiar with the new guidelines as soon as they appear in full, so we can always offer you the most up-to-date information. And we’ll keep the blog updated too, so keep checking back here for developments.

Other sources you may find useful:

Department for Communities and Local Government Press Release

Housing Standards Review Consultation, 13 March 2014

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