Are the new Building Regulations confusing you?

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It would seem that a lot of people, throughout the construction industry, are finding the new Part F1 of the Building Regulations relating to dwellings very confusing! These regulations are concerned with the thermal performance of the building and are applicable to both new builds and extensions.

There are also many product and service providers muddying the waters telling people you need to do this, you need to do that, you need to buy this in order to pass…..  Quite frankly this is bunkum!

Before we go any further let me just say that the Building Regulations are only a minimum standard for thermal performance and I would encourage people to exceed the minimum standards by as much as their budget allows – after all a house with improved thermal performance will mean lower running costs, increase the houses value and mean that you or your clients need not worry quite as much every time the cost of crude oil goes up.

However you do not have to do what all these ‘experts’ are telling you. I will let you into a secret – most of these ‘experts’ are trying to sell you something!

There is one main way to show compliance with Part F – that is through SAP 2009. I have been providing SAP Calculations for well over decade. Admittedly there is a lot of jargon in the Building Regulations and within SAP 2009 but strip it all down and although it can seem quite daunting it can be broken down into two simple parts: fabric and services.

Fabric is the walls, floor, roof, windows, doors, etc… That is anything which separates the inside from the outside. It considers how airtight (or how well built) the building is and also, and very importantly, the design of the junction where two elements meet (wall and roof, or wall and window, etc…) to make sure this is not a weak spot. This is called ‘thermal bridging’.

Services are not only heating systems within the house but also the ventilation and the lighting of the house.

There is no right or wrong way to build indeed there are infinite choices ahead of you but if you get the fabric one right it makes it so much easier to get the second one right. We can help you make these choices but as we are not affiliated with any particular method or product what you will get is good, straightforward, honest advice.

Most of our clients have a budget and a tight one at that! The best advice we can give is build a well insulated, airtight house. Build as good a house as your budget allows. You can always improve and add to a well designed future proofed heating system with minimal intervention but upgrading the fabric is both disruptive and expensive.

Size – we almost forgot that one but it is one of the most important ones. Never mind initial building costs consider running costs. A 1,500sq ft house will cost half as much to run as a 3,000sq ft house with the same proportions and built to the same standards. Do you really need all those rooms? How often will the guest room and en-suite be used is it really needed? The bottom line is the smaller the house the easier it will be on your pocket to run.

Some myths we commonly hear and which are not true are:

“Traditional 300mm cavity walls will not pass without significant carbon upgrades.” Simply untrue! it is possible to pass the Building Regulations with a 300mm cavity wall.

“I want to extend my house with a sun room that is open into my house but I am told I cannot.” Simply untrue! You will have to make a carbon saving elsewhere in your home but this can be very simple and economical and make an overall improvement to the thermal performance of your home.

“You need to install a Heat Recovery Ventilation system in a new house.” Untrue! Perhaps not a bad idea but these systems are expensive and for those on a limited budget they may not be feasible.

“A new house needs to have some form of renewable like solar panels.” Once again a myth and completely untrue! I am not saying that renewables are not a good idea only that it is your choice and no one else’s as to what you install.

If you are confused with the vast array of choices you have or are struggling to meet the Building Regulations please feel free to contact me to discuss your requirements.