Building Regs changes – what you need to know

On 1 October 2015 further revisions to the Building Regulations for England come into force, mainly driven by the Government’s promise to reduce the burden of regulation on business.

Following the Housing Standards Review, the Code for Sustainable Homes is being abolished, and a number of requirements for sustainability and accessibility are being incorporated into Building Regulations. At the same time, national space standards for housing are being introduced (these are part of the planning system and do not form part of Building Regulations). Planning authorities will no longer be able to impose additional technical standards or performance requirements for new dwellings (although they will still be able to impose energy performance standards that exceed Part L until late 2016).

Optional requirements

The most significant procedural change in the Building Regulations is the introduction of optional requirements in Schedule 1, which require higher levels of provision than the standard requirements. Optional requirements may be imposed as conditions of planning consent, but the planning authority must have evidence which justifies that imposition.

To ensure the Building Control Body is aware of the imposition of any optional requirements, the building notice or full plans submission must include a statement as to whether they apply.

Major changes

The major revisions to the procedural requirements are in Parts G, M and Q of Schedule 1.

Requirement G2 and Regulation 36, which limit the consumption of wholesome water in dwellings, have been amended:

  • There is now an optional requirement for a lower level of wholesome water consumption of 110 L/person/day, which may be imposed instead of the default of 125 L/person/day.
  • Compliance with G2 may now be demonstrated using a fittings approach: provided all water fittings meet specified consumption rates there is no need to use the water consumption calculator. A full calculation will still be required if one or more water fittings exceed the specified consumption rate.
  • The water usage calculator has been revised and is now included as Appendix A of Approved Document G.

Part M has been revised to introduce three categories of provision for accessibility in dwellings:

  • Category 1 – Visitable dwellings: enables most people, including wheelchair users to enter the dwelling and access rooms and sanitary facilities on the entrance floor.
  • Category 2 – Accessible and adaptable dwellings: enables most people to access the dwelling, which has features making it potentially suitable for a wide range of occupants, including those with reduced mobility.
  • Category 3 – Wheelchair user dwellings: suitable for wheelchair users, either at completion or at a subsequent point.

Categories 2 and 3 are optional requirements, which only apply if imposed as a condition of planning consent. In all other cases Category 1 applies.

In order to accommodate the additional guidance for Categories 2 and 3, Approved Document M has been divided into two volumes: volume 1, dwellings and volume 2, buildings other than dwellings. There are no new requirements for buildings other than dwellings.

A new Part Q – Security – requires new dwellings to resist unauthorised access by opportunistic or casual burglars. Accessible doors and window must be physically robust and fitted with secure hardware. Approved Document Q lists relevant security standards.

Minor changes

There are minor changes in other parts of Schedule 1:

  • E4 – acoustic conditions in schools: reference is now made to the latest edition of Building Bulletin 93.
  • F1 – ventilation: a new guidance document from the Building Control Alliance presents recommendations for dwellings that, on testing, are significantly more airtight than predicted.
  • H6 – solid waste storage: the design of bin storage should address its impact on visual amenity.

Transitional arrangements

The revised regulations come into effect on 1 October 2015. Building work which has been notified to the BCB before then continues under the existing regulations, however, that exemption will only apply for Part Q if work begins before 1 October 2016.

Huw M A Evans is the author of Guide to the Building Regulations. He can be found at