What are Building Regulations and why are they so important?

1.  Building Regulations

1.1       What are Building Regulations and why are they so important?

Building regs

Building Regulations exists to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed in accordance with the Building Regulations & Associated Legislation. They are developed by the Government and approved by Parliament.

These regulations set national standards for building work, whether it will be on a major new development or an extension or alterations to your home. They cover all aspects of construction, including foundations, damp-proofing, the overall stability of the building, insulation, ventilation, heating, fire protection and means of escape in case of fire. They also ensure that adequate facilities for people with disabilities are provided in certain types of building.  The above regulations will be covered / found through the Approved Documents.

There are currently 14 sections under Approved Document which will enable the designers to follow the guidance to ensure compliance with the Buildings Regulations.

The Building Regulations do not aim to stifle innovation. Compliance with the legislation is what is ultimately required and there may be many ways of complying, other than just using the ways set out in the ‘deemed to satisfy’ provisions within each of the Approved Documents.

Building Regulations are regularly being updated, and consist of parts A-P.

1.2       Where can I find out about the update?

You can find the latest list of Approved Documents amended list at:

www.planningportal.gov.uk

1.3       What’s changed / updated (Present)?

Approved Documents A, B vol 1, B vol 2, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, L1A, L1B, L2A, L2B and M

1.4       Which particular area within the Approved Documents do we feel is the most significant when carrying out the Building Regulations application?

Here at Sheldon Bosley we consider everything that goes into the building to ensure that not only does it fit for the Building Regulations purposes but most importantly to the best interest of our Clients and their needs. Whether it will be for an extension, conversion or new build, our approach for this exercise will always be the same. As most Building Regulations project comes on the back of obtaining a Planning Consent, we can assure you that our thinking about Building Regulations happens from day 1 at the Planning stage.

Whilst there are minor changes across the 14 Approved Documents (A-P), we feel that there are two particular area within the Approve Documents that will ultimately be a driven force in any design, this being Approved Document Part-A (Structure) and Part-L (conservation of fuel and power).

Why Approved Document Part – A?

This part is concerned with the structural stability of buildings. Areas covered include design of foundations, walls, floors and roof components and also in limiting the extent to which parts of the building may collapse if a major catastrophe, like a gas explosion occurs.

Why Approved Document Part – B?

This part provides minimum standards of energy efficiency to all parts of the building. This section also provides design criteria for space heating and hot water storage. Here at Sheldon Bosley we aim to ensure that our design (where possible) will surplus the requirement which will in the present and future enhanced the building thermal efficiency before any heating is switched on.

2. Renewable for Planning and Building Regulations

2.1 What is renewable energy?

Energy is called renewable when it comes from sources which can not be depleted such as the sun or wind.

2.2 How many renewable energy devices are there?

There are numerous renewable energy options and technology is improving all the time. Some of the main types on offer are:

Photovoltaic cells wind turbine Small scale hydro

Photovoltaic cells: this converts solar radiation directly into electricity which is fed through an inverter into the home. Any excess can be sold to an energy supplier.

Wind turbines: this can provide enough electricity for several homes but turbines mounted on a house are unlikely to produce much energy due to wind turbulence.

Small scale hydro: this needs a river or stream with a fall of 2-3 metres and enough flow to turn a turbine.

biomass solar thermal panels Heat pump

Biomass: uses wood chip or pellets made from plant material in a room heater or a boiler.

Solar thermal panels: use the sun’s energy to heat water for hot taps. This can provide about 50% of your hot water needs for a year.

Heat pumps: use a refrigeration technique to extract heat from the ground or from the air. They can produce up to 4kWh of heat energy from each kWh of energy.

2.3 Benefit renewable energy can bring?

  • Renewable energy      causes far less pollution than the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Due to the fact that it won’t run out, renewable energy is a far more sustainable option.
  • Renewable energy can be produced locally and therefore can benefit local communities and business as well as stimulating local economies.
  • The renewable energy industry creates jobs.
  • Experts suggest that using renewable energy will result in more stable energy prices.
  • Even if you don’t generate your own renewable energy, you could source it from a supplier. Many green tariffs mean that renewable energy could actually work out cheaper or the same price as using a traditional source.
  • You could even make money from renewable energy if you generate more than you need. You can sell the excess to the National Grid.
  • Using renewable energy can be a selling point for a business. Many people are now making more ethical choices and will prefer to work with a business who shares their values.
  • You may be eligible for a grant for setting up a small-scale renewable energy generator.

2.4 How will a renewable energy sources affect the future of Planning Application?

We feel that this is a positive addition to any type of buildings because there are so many positives to be gain as renewable energy is an energy which occurs naturally and therefore is not finite, as many fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are. The use of such technologies can only be good for the environment; they can also significantly increase flexibility in the design of new buildings.

What we aims to integrate into our design for new build or conversion projects (where possible) would be to conserve fuel and power used in the buildings by integrating some form of renewable energy source. There will no doubt be certain Planning restrictions but overall we feel that the Local Authority is very supportive. As a result, we have on two occasions in the past 12 months gained Planning permission with Solar PV panels incorporated into the design for new build commercial projects.

Prior to a conclusion that a renewable energy source is needed, we have to demonstrate why this is to be the case. We have to first demonstrate how we can reduce the level of carbon emissions from the provision of heating, hot water, ventilation and internal fixed lighting. If the result still proves to be less than the percentage as set out within the LA planning guidance, such emissions can only be significantly decreased through the use of renewable energy sources such as solar power and ground source heat pumps.

2.5 How will a renewable energy sources affect the future of Building Regulations?

If you are talking about a new build sustainable housing there are different Codes for Sustainable Homes which you need to follow, strictly for Planning and Building Regulation applications. Therefore this will affect Part-L of the Approved Document greatly. As this topic, like all other topics regarding renewable energy tend to leads to more questions than answers, it is strongly recommended that an energy consultant is appointed to oversee this area of the project to ensure that the level of energy performance is met.

However, we would like to talk about a simple on-site renewable energy sources that will help buildings to be better equipped for non sustainable projects. As previously mentioned, once a Planning Application has been granted for a project that has incorporated a “PV panels”, the Building Control will demand all the technical and installation detail prior to commencement. Once approved by the Building Control will more than likely condition that the work must be carried out by a qualified and competent person. Upon successful completion of the installation, a certificate of completion must be provided to the Building Control / Client for record purposes.

In summary, we should all try to be as sustainable as possible within reason.

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