The Government are keen to promote self builders.

Its becoming increasingly popular to build your own home, getting the home you want, at a fraction of the cost of buying from a developer.

But self building can be daunting to those who have never done it before.

Don’t fall fowl of the building regulations. For specialist advice regarding Part L, SAP calculations and EPCs, get in touch. We can offer the best advice to help you achieve your brief, comply with the regs and stay in budget.

 

The Greenest Government Ever?

This Government promised to be the Greenest Govt ever. Increasingly, this comment seems to be more of a joke.

The Green Deal and ECO schemes have proven to be massively flawed, and near collapse.

The 2012 Part L upgrade of the Building Regulations were watered down so much, you can’t help but think what’s the point. All it did was knock more confidence out of small / self builders.

And now they are even talking about exempting some new homes from parts of the regulations. ( No wonders there’s a performance gap when no one high up considers energy reduction in homes a serious matter.)

So it appears that things that might make perfectly good sense get scrapped because “being green” is no longer as fashionable as it was a few years ago.

 

Housing market booming. Really?

We are constantly being told that the housing market is booming, mainly by the London-centric media. The truth is that away from London it is still struggling, if anything its getting worse, thanks to the sometimes insensible new mortgage rules.

And both main political┬áparties have policies that will have a negative impact on the housing market after the election.┬áLabour’s mansion tax, and the Tories subsidised new homes will drag houses prices down across the sector and remove what little confidence there is.

Our response to Dyfrigs blog, re performance gap.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; The biggest reason for the performance gap is a total lack of policing or education on building sites.
BCOs a complete waste of space for policing.
Time and time again I have done assessments only to find that the house doesn’t comply, (though the build is finished) so I advise the builder to speak to BCO only for them to come back and say the BCO only wants the EPC, ie not bothered about the compliance report. They get the EPC, box ticked, irrespective of whether or not Part L is passed.
And part of the problem was meant to have been addressed with the last changes in 2010, the requirement to get SAP calcs at design stage. So many builders, especially those building >3 houses per time, don’t have a clue about Part L. Mention ACDs for example, and many just don’t know what you are talking about. Fair enough, they are builders by trade, not SAP assessors/ architects, etc. But if there was some way of ensuring that the developer DOES get a SAP done at design, we, in our roles, could educate them as to what is required. That doesn’t happen though, again, lack of policing. It appears they get given consent without a design stage calc and off they go. 12 months later the house doesn’t comply and all the BCO is interested in is getting the EPC to put in his file.
Until they can properly address the issue of policing and controlling what actually happens on building sites, there is no point in increasing the demands through SAP, all that does is put more pressure on the OCDEA and leading to corners being cut, such as accepting evidence though you suspect the evidence is just the builder saying what you want to hear.
Sadly in these days of economic pressures I can’t see Govt putting any pressure on LAs to do anything with BCOs, so many in the industry will carry on seeing a SAP assessment as nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

Performance Gap on Building Sites.

Below is the latest blog from Dyfrig Hughes of NHER, kindly reproduced due to their spam filter not allowing me to respond.

The government has funded a 15 month project to look at how to close the “performance gap” for new homes. This is the gap believed to exist between the predicted and actual performance of newly built homes. For this project this is roughly speaking the difference between the performance predicted by SAP and the actual performance under standard occupancy when the keys are handed over. This of course ignores the key role role of the householder who takes ownership of those keys, but the line has been firmly drawn at handover. This is probably wise are there are plenty of issues before handover to be addressed and there is a limit to what can realistically be achieved in one project.

The work is being facilitated by the Zero Carbon Hub, and NES are contributing to the “Design Tools” and “Verification” groups. The “Design Tools” group is mainly concerned with whether or not the SAP tool is up to scratch. In our view SAP is not too bad although there is always room for improvement. We think the bigger issue is around the veracity of the data entered into SAP.

At the first meeting of the Verification Group, four key areas were defined as the main focus. Number one on the list was issues around SAP assessments, in particular ensuring that the data entered matches the actual build. There are many issues here including incomplete SAP conventions, conventions not being applied on the ground, SORs being woolly in places, unclear rules around required documentary evidence and commercial pressures on SAP Assessors leading to corners being cut ……. all issues that will be familiar to SAP Assessors and which NES is addressing through various other initiatives.

The second item on the list is the role of Building Control. For example, the limited amount of “energy” checking done by most BCOs, some developers not even being asked for an EPC by building control.

A key aim for NES in all of this is to ensure an even playing field between Assessors and Accreditation Schemes and a gradual improvement in both quality standards and fees for our Assessors. We will keep you informed as things develop.

The Green Deal is on its way.

There is a lot of scepticism about The Green Deal, but its going to happen and there will be a lot of Govt. support to get it off the ground. At N.E.S we have just started our training ready for the launch in January, anyone wanting to know how GD can help you, why not drop us a line.

Will the Green Deal be delayed.

There is so much uncertainty in the business about Green Deal. The idea is that homeowners could borrow money for efficiency improvements with the payback being met by the savings on the fuel bills. However, so many elements are in disarray, as the Govt seem not to have thought the process out.