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A Brief Guide to Building Regulations: Updated for 2022

Posted on: September 28, 2022

What are building regulations?

The UK building regulations are a set of statutory rules intended to ensure that the policies outlined in the relevant legislation are carried out. Building regulations approval is needed for most building work in the UK.

A series of technical guidance documents, commonly known as Approved Documents provide guidance on what is required to meet UK Building Regulations. Most construction work will require compliance with Building Regs in some form.

When did building regulations change?

Updated National Building Regulations in the U.K. came into force this year in June 2022. The new rules may significantly impact people wanting to build, extend or renovate their homes, as well as architects and those working in the trade.

The changes, first announced in December 2021, have been backed with £6.6m of direct investment into improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

As well as the changes to building regulations, many may have missed the introduction of two new Approved Documents O (Overheating) and S (Infrastructure for the charging of electric vehicles). We’ve included all of these in Building Regulation in Brief 10th Edition with a third of the book completely updated for 2022.

Why have building regulations been updated?

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities says, "the changes mark an important step on our journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment. It supports us in our target to reduce the U.K.'s carbon emissions to zero by 2050".

Most of the updates are part of the initial stages in the government's Future Homes Standard and Future Buildings Standard – planned for 2025 – for which an essential factor is that all new builds are capable of being net zero in terms of operational carbon when the grid decarbonizes.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy says, "heating and power make up 40 percent of the U.K.'s total energy use". Therefore, the government aims to implement the new building regulations to significantly reduce the need to heat and power buildings to help the U.K. reach its zero carbon goals.

Although these updates mainly pertain to new non-domestic buildings, they also include policies for existing non-domestic buildings and new and existing housing.

What are the changes to Building Regs 2022?

The government says that 40% of the U.K.'s energy use currently comes from heating and powering buildings. Hence, the enormous investment into this project aims to reduce this number vastly.

From 15 June 2022, all new-build homes will need to reduce carbon emissions by at least 31%. Whilst all new non-domestic buildings will need to reduce carbon emissions by at least 27%.

The updated building regulations include changes to Approved Documents Part L (Conservation, of fuel and power), Part B (Fire Safety), Part F (Ventilation), and the release of two new Approved Documents (O), Overheating and (S), Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles. They are typically concentrated on new non-domestic buildings but also include policies for existing non-domestic buildings and new and existing housing.

The new building regulations are to be enforced for applications made on or after June 15, 2022. However, the new requirements will not apply to applications made before as long as considerable building work has begun before June 15, 2023, on all aspects of the application.

In addition, the new Building Regulations include new standards to reduce the number of carbon emissions and overall energy use during home improvements. Although, the previous rules may still apply to specific home projects depending on how far along you are in your planning process.

Do I need Planning or Building Regulations Permission?

Building Regulations and Approved Documents for planning are constantly changing due to changes in legislation. In addition, reactivity to unforeseen national or international emergencies such as climate change, the COVID pandemic, and the Grenfell Tower tragedy must also be considered.

 

A-Z Guide to Planning Permission and Building Regulations Approval

A-Z Guide to Planning Permission and Building Regulations Approval

We’ve created a free checklist, based on chapter 5 of Building Regulations in Brief: 10th edition, to help you stay up to date with the recent changes. 

 
DOWNLOAD FOR FREE

 

The checklist will help to keep you updated. However, over the last three years, significant legislative updates and revisions have been made, such as the complete revision of the terminology and what is permitted under the change of use regulations as well as updates to four Approved Documents.

Approved Document L (Conservation of Fuel and Power)

The updates to Building Regulations Part L include reformed insulation requirements for new homes. These will be assessed under a new Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) calculation called SAP10.

Self-builders must also conduct on-site audits to confirm that the design details in their plans have been properly constructed. In addition, photographs must be taken as evidence. U-values have been increased, and the new regulations discourage thermal bridging.

For all existing homes, minimum 'new fabric efficiency standards now apply if you want to install new or replacement thermal elements to your home, including new windows and doors. This will therefore create a tightening of U-values.

Furthermore, new regulations are in place for the amount of glazing included in extensions, as well as improvements in lighting design and a new low-flow temperature requirement for heating systems. The maximum flow temperature in a central heating system is now 55°C, which was previously over 75°C.

Approved Document F (Ventilation)

The uplift to Building Regulations Part F is intended to make it easier for self-builders and renovators to understand the impact of ventilation in a home.

Arguably the primary requirement for renovators and extenders is that when energy efficiency work is done in existing homes, the ventilation must not be made any worse, in line with existing measures for controlled services and fittings.

Mandated checklists will now make it easier to install mechanical ventilation products - both in new homes and existing homes - and will come with guidance on why ventilation is essential.

New recommendations are also outlined for all replacement windows to be fitted with trickle vents. There are some acceptations to this, for example, if there is an alternative form of ventilation, such as air bricks or whole house Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR). Or if the works do not result in the ventilation being worse than before the works were completed.

Approved Document B (Fire Safety)

On June 1, 2022, the government introduced several improvements to strengthen fire regulations and fire safety guidance in the U.K.

Following a broader review of the building regs, the government has introduced regulations to strengthen the ban on combustible materials used in and on the external walls of buildings. This ban, introduced initially in 2018, will now apply to hotels, hostels, and boarding houses – in addition to blocks of flats, hospitals, student accommodation, and dormitories in boarding schools.

These amendments will also ban Metal Composite Material panels with an unmodified polyethylene core, known as MCM PE, on all new buildings at any height.

These changes follow the evidence from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on the severe and tragic fire safety risks associated with this material.

In addition to these changes, the Building Safety Act 2022 also sets out further requirements regarding fire doors. For a full breakdown of all the fire safety changes, it's worth checking out Building Regulations in Brief. This book reflects all the latest amendments to the Building Regulations, planning permission, and Approved Documents in England and Wales.

New Approved Documents

In addition to the changes to Part B, Part F, and Part L of the building regulations, there have been some changes to Approved Document B and two new Approved Documents, O (Overheating) and S (infrastructure relating to charging electric vehicles), have been created.

How can I be sure I’m compliant with all of the building regulations?

The Building Regulations Pocket Book: Second Edition was released just in time to help you adhere to the new building regulations. The new edition has been fully updated with recent changes to the U.K. Building Regulations and Planning Law. This handy guide provides you with all the information you need to comply with the U.K. Building Regulations and Approved Documents. On-site, in the van, in the office – wherever you are – this is the book you'll refer to time and time again to check the regulations on your current job.

For a more in-depth look at the changes to the UK building regulations check out -

Building Regulations in Brief. This tenth edition of the most popular and trusted guide reflects all the latest amendments to the Building Regulations, planning permission, and Approved Documents in England and Wales. This includes coverage of the recent changes to use classes, updated sections on planning permission, permitted development, and application fees. We have included the revisions to Approved Document B (as a result of the Hackitt Review), as well as the latest changes to the building regulations Approved Documents F and L, and the new documents O (overheating) and S (electric vehicle charging points), which come into effect in June 2022.