Updates to NHBC Foundation Publications

1 February 2023

The NHBC Foundation supports the industry by delivering high-quality research and guidance. All NHBC Foundation reports and guides are freely available to download here. 

Plugging in to the future - electric vehicle charging and new homes (NF90)

Around the end of this decade the UK government will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, and as a result there will be a rapid increase in the number of electric vehicles (EVs) needing to be charged. The infrastructure required to support this transition is significant. In 2019 the Department for Transport launched a consultation on facilitating EV charging in new homes and buildings undergoing major refurbishment, with the intention of introducing a new Building Regulations approved document in England. In 2020 the Welsh Senedd published an electric vehicle charging strategy confirming similar intentions. In 2021 the Scottish government started consultation on EV charging infrastructure, again with the intention of including provision within the Building Standards. It is expected that similar regulations will also be brought forward in Northern Ireland.

This NHBC Foundation publication, prepared by Cutland Consulting Limited, looks at what is a fast-changing landscape. As recently as 2018 the Foundation published ‘Futurology’, which talked about every home having an electric car by 2050. In February 2019 we published ‘Watts in store?’, which started to consider the role that EVs might play in household battery energy storage. At the time of writing, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has moved from trying to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C to accepting that even with significant reductions in emissions, temperatures are likely to increase beyond 1.5°C within 20 years. This reinforces the need for urgent action to implement measures which can make a rapid and practical impact on cutting emissions.This publication provides guidance on the current state of play with electric vehicles and chargepoints, and what house builders will need to provide within the curtilage of a single dwelling or where the development has off-plot or shared parking.

The report considers the safety aspects of installation and provides a comprehensive list of standards to be consulted.

It also stresses the importance of early engagement with the relevant Distribution Network Operator to ensure that there is sufficient electrical capacity to the development site. The report finishes off with a look at future technology, some of which may appear sooner than expected. We hope that this publication will prove useful in extending understanding of the challenges and opportunities for the industry in what will unquestionably be a fast-moving context.

Vehicle-to-grid schematic:

  1. The national grid may at various times have excess capacity or a shortage of supply. Electricity can flow either way, depending on the grid situation.
  2. At certain times the EV battery will be charged from the grid as normal, and at other times it will supply electricity back to the grid.
  3. The EV battery thereby acts as an independent battery store to assist electricity suppliers, DNOs and generators in managing grid supply and demand.

View the report

an image of the service card for heat pumps

Heat pump installations for multi-unit residential buildings (CIBSE AM16:2021)

Published by CIBSE with support from NHBC Foundation

Heat pumps are the most efficient way to generate heat from electricity. Consequently, they have a crucial role to play in the transition to net zero, particularly in the residential sector where traditionally their market penetration has been low. AM16 aims to help the building services engineering community understand how heat pump technology can be best applied to multi-unit residential buildings, including apartment blocks, student accommodation and care homes.

The manual begins with a reminder that a good residential building design is like any other – it starts by reducing demand. In residential buildings this is as much about reducing hot water use as it is passive building design. The guide deals with the choice of temperatures, decisions about centralisation, the use of ambient loops and the architectural implications of using heat pumps.

The manual deals predominantly with the design and optimisation of heat pump systems. It also covers the full life cycle, including installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance and decommissioning. Cost is always a key project driver – perhaps more so in residential construction than many others – and guidance on relative capital, energy and maintenance costs is included to help designers keep a weather eye on their client’s investment and the homeowners’ bills.

A  series of case studies are included detailing where heat pumps have been applied to new and existing multi-unit residential projects. In time, as heat pumps grow in popularity, so will the industry’s portfolio of success stories.

Heat pumps will be a big part of our future and AM16 provides timely guidance and resource as we start down the road to an all-electric, zero carbon future.

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Biodiversity in new housing developments: creating wildlife-friendly communities (NF89)

Building sustainable communities is essential as we transition to a better future, and the protection and enhancement of biodiversity are crucial components of the sustainability agenda.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that small tweaks to the way we do things will not be enough to reverse the double threat of climate change and biodiversity loss. We will need to rethink radically the way we do things – environmental protection will need to be placed at the centre of all decision-making. And all of society – national and local government, businesses and communities will need to play their parts.

Avoid Minimise Rehabilitate Compensate/offset

Consider location of development before purchasing land – is there important habitat present? If so, look for an alternative site.

Can alternatives to the development’s location, siting, scale, layout or phasing be used to minimise impact?

Where features of ecological value must be temporarily damaged or removed to allow the development to take place, and these impacts are deemed acceptable, every effort should be made to return these areas to as close to the original state as possible, or better.

Any residual negative impacts should be compensated for by the creation or enhancement of habitat.

Could damage to important habitats on site be avoided by considered layout, phasing, alternative technologies, reducing the scale of development?

Always make maximum effort to minimise impacts.


Preferably, this should take place on site or as close to site as possible and should be on a like-for-like basis or better.

Avoiding impact should always be the most favoured approach. If unacceptable impact is unavoidable then development should not take place. In such cases it is unlikely that relying on further steps in this process will be possible      


But for now, we must take steps in this direction, to minimise impact, to create more than we damage. If all developments were to apply the recommendations made in this guide, we would move a considerable way towards being on the right track.

The housebuilding industry is uniquely placed in having an opportunity to create not just houses, but new, sustainable communities, where people thrive alongside wildlife. We know now that people benefit immensely from the interactions with nature that we used to take so much for granted – our health and wellbeing are enhanced through contact with nature, and where better to experience this than right outside our homes?

This guide is a great introduction to the principles and practicalities of creating wildlife-friendly communities and a great addition to the sustainable housing toolkit. I hope that the industry will embrace it and help to drive positive change.

View the report

Modern methods of construction: Building on experience (NF88)

Four years since the publication of Mark Farmer’s Modernise or Die review, which highlighted the construction sector’s low productivity and declining and ageing workforce, we are at a critical time in the development of Modern Methods of Construction, MMC. The potential benefits of MMC are well rehearsed and compelling, but clearly have not been realised and conventional construction remains dominant in the UK.

This guide, then, explores why this may be so, cutting out the rhetoric and focussing on technical developments in an attempt to build on experience and explain why factory-built housing is not more common.

There have been notable periods of innovation in house building and by exploring these historic developments, we can identify elements of high-quality design as well as the social and economic influences that drive change. And it doesn’t shy away from interrogating past failures so as to avoid repeating mistakes that still stigmatise the concept of offsite construction.

This guide educates and informs consumers, builders, investors and insurers about MMC. It dispels the abiding image of post-war emergency housing that, despite its reputation, contained some clever engineering and durable details. We are able, today, to cherry-pick the best of the previous decades, and, in collaboration with advanced manufacturing methods, can transform the productivity and quality of house building. I hope that this guide can be an enabler to change.

View the report

L&G Modular Homes factory in Leeds



a photo of two new build houses

Swan’s Beechwood West, Basildon, 2019, first phase includes 30 modular homes

a photo of the new build houses in bicester's new eco town

NW Bicester Eco-Town, Oxfordshire, 2015, phase one uses Sigma® II Build System

The Future for Home Heating – life without fossil fuels (NF87)

In 2019 the Committee on Climate Change published two landmark reports which highlighted the contribution of our homes to UK carbon dioxide emissions and the opportunity to decarbonise our housing stock and for all new homes built from 2025 to be off the gas grid. The government responded with its announcement of the Future Homes Standard and an aspiration not to connect new homes built from 2025 to the gas grid.

This heralds a major change. Not just for the home-building sector, which will need to rethink and redesign its products, our homes, to meet this goal. We need to retrain its workforce and supply chain to produce and install new systems. It is a major change for homeowners, who will need to adapt their behaviour and lifestyles to using new heating technologies. It is also a challenge for those who advocate these changes to help to identify satisfactory solutions that are acceptable to consumers and to attract investment in delivering them.

This short publication begins to look at what the non-gas home of 2025 might look like. It considers the alternative heating solutions available to homebuilders; our need for hot water; and requirement for new homes to be energy efficient.

a diagram of a shoebox type heat pump
Shoebox-type heat pump systems with a shared ground loo array for an apartment block

The Future for Home Heating – life without fossil fuels (NF87)

It is a statement of the obvious, but the less energy a home needs to use, the lower the running costs, and the lower the demand for new generating and distribution capacity. And as our homes become more energy efficient, so the share of the energy bill for hot water increases. It looks at the potential role of heat pumps, solar heating and photovoltaic systems and the place of energy storage.

View the report

Thermal imaging report guide: How to interpret the results of a thermal imaging survey (NF86)

As new homes are constructed with higher levels of insulation and air tightness, and are built at greater speed, the need to ensure a quality-built, energy-efficient home is paramount. Today’s potential buyers show a growing concern not just in the build quality of their new home but also in the impact that living in it will have on the environment. Hence the widespread adoption of quality management systems and the government’s proposals for a ‘Future Homes Standard’. This will hopefully help to promote quality consistency across all areas in construction and future proof new homes with low-carbon heating and high energy-efficiency standards.

Thermal imaging, also known as infrared thermography, has been used for some time to provide a non-invasive ‘window’ at various stages of construction. It can show the thermal performance of the external walls, roofs and internal services. It is a quick and relatively easy method of implementing quality checks and tests during construction and is an effective problem-solving tool after completion.

These images show the ceiling of an upper floor at an external wall corner. The even yellow colours indicate the loft insulation has been installed to a satisfactory standard and is overlapping with the wall insulation.  

The slightly lower temperatures around the wall and ceiling junction indicate the marginally higher level of heat loss expected in this location and is not a sign of a problem.

a photo of a corner of a ceiling

Figure 1

a photo of a corner of a ceiling through a heat gun

Figure 2

NHBC Foundation’s guide, prepared in collaboration with BSRIA, aims to extend understanding of the benefits and potential applications of thermal imaging and should be of particular use to customer care personnel who may receive thermal imaging reports as part of their after-care duties. It provides guidance, and helps to identify good practice, as well as aiding interpretation of the information provided within a thermal imaging report. It also seeks to clarify what can and what cannot be done with thermal imaging in the house building process. It gives examples of what a good thermographic survey looks like, and also provides information designed to help ensure a successful thermal imaging survey, including the suitability of equipment and appropriate levels of competency.

View the report

House building: a century of innovation (NF85)

Two fundamental and related challenges for house builders are how to increase the output of new homes while at the same time ensuring that we continue to drive up standards. In this context much attention has been focused on modern methods of construction (MMC) and the contribution they can make to expanding volume and enhancing quality. In the debate about the advantages of MMC an unfavourable comparison is often made with ‘traditional construction’ – laying bricks in mortar and laboriously cutting timbers on site being characterised as dated and inferior to modular panels manufactured in a controlled factory environment.

However, this oversimplifies the argument, ignoring the extent to which new homes supposedly built in a ‘traditional’ way actually incorporate new systems and technology, very different from what would have been used in the ‘traditional’ housing of the past. The purpose of this NHBC Foundation report prepared by Studio Partington is to describe typical (non-MMC) construction used for new homes and contrast it with ‘traditional’ methods that have been used in the preceding 100 years or so. It makes clear that what lies beneath the skin of new homes is quite different from what has gone before.

Of particular note is the improved robustness of new homes and their inherent resistance to ground movement and the ingress of rainwater. Other advances include the improved efficiency in the use of materials that comes with components such as timber trussed rafters and engineered floor joists. Added to this are the enhanced comfort and lower fuel bills which flow from the higher energy performance standards of modern homes, setting them apart from previous generations of housing.

The report reminds us that all forms of construction may once have been considered to be MMC. A case in point is timber frame, which was introduced into the UK in the 1960s and currently accounts for nearly a fifth of overall output. According to NHBC statistics, about 75% of homes currently being built are using cavity masonry construction and 16% are timber framed. Based on these figures it appears that ‘traditional’ construction will continue to play a strong role, even if its components continue to evolve, reflecting advances in technology. Against this background it is important for us to have a proper understanding of what it actually is.

View the report

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Any technical information contained on this website is produced by NHBC as guidance solely for all our builder customers as to how to interpret the technical requirements in relation to the warranty cover provided by NHBC under its Buildmark, Buildmark Choice, Buildmark Link, Buildmark Solo, Buildmark Connect or any similar product from time to time. It has not been created or intended for distribution or use outside of that purpose. The technical information contained on this web page does not constitute advice and is not to be relied upon by any third party. Nothing on this web page is intended to, nor should it be taken to, create any legal or contractual relationship. Any third party who chooses to rely upon the information contained on this web page shall do so entirely at their own risk and NHBC accepts no duty of care or liability, however caused, in connection with its use or reliance by any third party.