With the UK’s decision to leave the European Community, there will be a tendency to focus on that alone and forget about what else this country needs to do. There may be calls to reduce regulation in order to stimulate house building if that is seen to be in decline. That would be short-sighted in the extreme.
In an ideal world we would not need Building Regulations to control people building new homes or improving existing ones. Everyone would work to high standards without this. However, this is clearly not the case and we continue to need Regulations to set minimum standards to which all must conform. This is particularly true in areas of energy efficiency. People improving and extending their home may well focus on providing a new bathroom or kitchen rather than ensuring what is built does not leak energy. The requirements in Part L of the Building Regulations in England and Wales ensure that adequate insulation is provided. Over the last 10 years Part L has seen more changes than any other Part of the Regulations, and LABC has worked hard with bodies like the Zero Carbon Hub to try and ensure that these changes are reasonable and practicable. Insulation manufacturers have played an important role in advising what can be achieved, and helping deal with issues like thermal bridging – where LABC has developed Registered Details to help builders (see www.labc.co.uk).
Regulations in themselves are of no use unless they are properly enforced by building control bodies. Here local authorities are in competition with private sector bodies, and one of the risks of such a system is that price competition leads to lower numbers of site inspections and a greater risk of defects being missed. LABC, as the representative body for the building control teams in local authorities in England and Wales, gives a high priority to encouraging our members to perform to high standards, and we have a number of initiatives going on at the present time to try and raise standards still further and to ensure consistency between councils.
LABC is proud to be a member of the NHIC as we have shared aims in trying to improve the quality of the existing housing stock. The impact of global warming means that we must do all we can to reduce carbon emissions from buildings, and working with insulation manufacturers is an important part of achieving this.