Spotlight on NHBC Building Control - celebrating 30 years and looking ahead to the new building regulations

NHBC has grown to become the largest single Building Control Body in the UK and this year celebrates its 30th anniversary. Diane Marshall, the organisation's Head of Technical Services, looks back over the last 30 years and ahead to how the changes implemented by the Housing Standard Review, which came into effect on October 1st, will impact the house building industry.

Optional Requirements - Part G2 and Part M4 - Dwellings

With effect from 1 October 2015 the Building Regulations in England are amended with the introduction of 'optional requirements' in respect of Part G2 (Water Efficiency) and Part M4 (Access to and use of dwellings). These optional requirements impose a higher level of provision than the Building Regulations default requirements, but will only apply where they are specified as a condition of planning.

A planning condition may specify a proportion or all of the dwellings on a site must comply with an optional requirement. Optional requirements, so specified, are enforceable by the building control body.

The duty to tell the building control body that an optional requirement has been imposed falls on the person carrying out the work, this may be the developer, builder or applicant.

Part G2 (Water efficiency)

The default requirement for Part G2 (Water efficiency) remains at 125 litres per person per day.

A more stringent optional requirement (requirement 36(2)(b)) has been introduced which is set at 110 litres per person per day and applies where specified as a condition of planning.

Guidance on how to comply with both the default and the optional requirement can be found in the new Approved Document G 2015 edition (Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency). The guidance now includes for a 'water fittings' approach in addition to the existing 'water calculator' approach.

Part M4 (Access to and use of dwellings)

Access provisions for new dwellings are divided into three categories.

Category 1 (Visitable dwellings) - (Requirement M4(1))¿ this is the default requirement for access and use.

Enhanced provisions for access and use and have been introduced in the form of the following optional requirements;

Category 2 (Accessible and adaptable dwellings) - (Requirement M4(2)) and;
Category 3 (Wheelchair user dwellings) - (Requirement M4(3)).

These optional requirements apply when specified as a condition of planning.

Supporting guidance on how to meet both the default and optional requirements can be found in the new Approved Document M 2015 edition (Volume 1 Dwellings).

The guidance for Category 1 dwellings remains broadly similar to that contained in ADM 2004 edition (as amended 2004 and 2013).
Guidance for non-residential buildings is now contained in Approved Document M 2015 edition (volume 2 - Buildings other than dwellinghouses). No changes have been made in respect of non-residential buildings.

Transitional Provisions - England

The new Part Q does not apply to building work that is subject of an initial notice, amendment notice, building notice or full plans submission served before 1 October 2015, provided that the work is commenced on site before 1 October 2016. (see definition of 'commencement of work' below)

The changes to Part G2 and Part M4 do not apply to building work that is subject of an initial notice, amendment notice, building notice or full plans submission (relevant notice) served before 1 October 2015.

Where a relevant notice has been served for the building work prior to 1 October 2015, planning conditions attempting to apply any of the building regulations optional requirements to the work will not be enforceable by the building control authority.

You should inform the local authority planning department should this situation arise, as these planning conditions may still be enforced directly by the local authority planning department. In such cases, it would not be the statutory requirement under the Building Regulations that may be enforced, but rather the supporting guidance for the optional requirements. The supporting guidance is published in Approved Document G 2015 (Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency) and Approved Document M 2015 (Volume 1 Dwellings).

What is Commencement of Work - England and Wales

The English and Welsh Government have confirmed that in their opinion commencement of work would usually be marked by work such as;

In their opinion, the following sorts of work would not be likely to constitute the commencement of work;

In some cases applications will be in respect of a number of buildings on a site, for example a number of houses. In such cases it is the commencement of work on the first of the buildings within the application which determines whether all the building work can take advantage of the transitional provisions, not each individual building.

News Date: 17/08/15