The Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced interim uplifts to Approved Documents L and F. It also announced the introduction of the Approved Document O, which is a new regulation concerning overheating in residential properties. This is part of the government’s effort to enforce a 30% cut in carbon emissions for all new homes. The changes will be implemented in June 2022. There will be a one-year transition period to allow for planning applications underway at that time. The hope is that the changes will help us to achieve the 2025 Future Homes Standard, which will see new homes emit 75-80% less carbon than under present regulations.

But what are these new regulations? How will they affect London homeowners? Is your dream home improvement project now no longer viable? In this article, we hope to settle your concerns. We’ll be breaking down each of the regulation updates and explaining which home improvements can keep your home up to date.

First things first…

What are building regulations?

Building regulations are a set of government requirements that a new construction project must adhere to in order to go ahead. They are concerned strictly with the safety and structural integrity of the build. They are different from planning permission, which is concerned with appearance and is controlled by local council authorities. If a building or extension does not follow the building regulations, it is not allowed to be built.

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What is Approved Document O?

Approved Document O has been introduced to diminish the risks of overheating in residential areas. The new regulations will affect new homes, care homes, children’s homes, and student accommodation blocks. The regulations split the country into areas of ‘moderate’ and ‘high risk’. Some urban and suburban parts of London are included in the list of high-risk areas.

There are two key implications for homeowners to consider.

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Minimising solar gain heat

The new regulations stress the importance of preventing overheating as a result of over-exposure to the sun. There are strategies in place for limiting solar gain in the Summer:

  • Limiting the amount of glazing in one room
  • Ensuring capacity for shading and other means of UV-ray absorption (these cannot include things that can be removed later, such as blinds and trees)

Restrictions to amounts of glazing could see a surge in popularity for orangeries and conservatories with tiled roofs, as these use less glazing than a typical all-glass conservatory. Any new glass conservatories that are installed will have to use extraordinarily energy-efficient glazing. Thankfully, at Unique Glazing, we only install glass conservatory roofs with A++ energy ratings.

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tilt and turn window

Safety and usability

The government are concerned that windows with poor functionality will discourage homeowners from opening them. This will increase their risk of overheating. Therefore, all new windows must be safer, more secure, and easier to use. This level of quality can easily be achieved by any of our windows. Our tilt & turn windows, for example, are a great example of windows that combine functionality with style.

What are the changes to Approved Document L?

The updates to Approved Document L concern the ‘minimum fabric efficiency’ of new homes and home improvements. In other words, they are to do with the energy-efficiency of windows and doors. New windows and roof lights must now exhibit U-values of 1.4 W/m²K (energy rating B), down from 1.6 W/m²K (energy rating C). New doors must achieve U-values of 1.4 W/m²K, down from 1.8 W/m²K. Fire doors are being allowed to remain at 1.8 W/m²K.

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What are U-values?

U-values measure the rate of thermal transmittance through a surface. The lower an object’s U-value, the less heat can pass through the object. Windows and doors with lower U-values are more energy-efficient, as they don’t allow as much heat to escape a property, thus minimising the need for central heating usage.

double glazed windows

Thankfully, all our windows and doors already achieve energy ratings of A and above. So, these new regulations will not affect us or our customers in that respect.

Energy-efficient extensions

Also part of the Document L updates, extensions must adhere to higher standards of efficiency. This is to ensure that ‘direct electric heating systems are not used in unsuitable circumstances.’ This is a change with only positive benefits. It will surely put an end to sub-par conservatories which are too cold in Winter and require electric heaters to stay warm.

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What are the changes to Approved Document F?

The updates to Approved Document F concern ventilation in residential homes. Now, when work is done to improve energy efficiency, installers must not make the property’s ventilation worse in the process. It is recommended that replacement windows are fitted with background trickle ventilators. However, this is not mandatory. It is not required if doing so would not make the ventilation any better.

It is unlikely that these new regulations will have a noticeable impact on London homeowners. Again, any effects will only be positive, resulting in better ventilation for London homes.

lean to conservatory

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If you live in or near London, and have more questions about the new building regulations, Unique Glazing are on hand to answer any questions. For more information on how this new legislation could affect you, please feel free to contact us.

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