With effect from June 2022, new building regulations will apply to new and existing homes, as well as offices and shops. The new regulations are a significant component of the government’s strategy to decarbonise and achieve the target of net zero by 2050.
The proposals include requirements to reduce the CO2 emissions produced by certain buildings through better insulation, more energy-efficient heating systems and better ventilation. These changes will also require infrastructure for electric charging points, and all new build homes will have to include charging points for electric vehicles. This is just the beginning of the ‘green industrial revolution’. Further changes are coming into effect in 2025 to make buildings more energy-efficient; these upcoming changes are deemed to be an interim measure.
Regulations are a type of secondary legislation. Secondary legislation is created using delegated authority bestowed on ministers, public bodies, or the Crown by primary legislation. Secondary legislation is law but must be approved by, but cannot be amended by Parliament.
The government website describes the Building Regulations 2010 as covering ‘the rules for building work in new and altered buildings to make them safe and accessible and limit waste and environmental damage’. This definition highlights the emphasis placed on environmental responsibility that must be considered when undergoing building work. The result of disregarding building regulations may be legal action or an enforcement notice from your local council.
For housebuilders, the new Building Regulations will mean additional work to redesign properties to comply with the new regulations. They also mean greater investment in the supporting infrastructure to ensure that it can meet the higher demand for electricity as electricity displaces oil and gas to heat homes and power cars.
The cost of building new houses will be higher as builders use better quality materials for insulation and glazing and are required to provide electric car charging points. Whilst Boris Johnson believes that the ‘net zero strategy will trigger £90 billion of private sector investment’ and the ‘creation of high wage high skilled jobs’ (in his speech to the Confederation of British Industry in November 2021), ultimately, these additional costs will be borne by the homeowner. What remains to be seen is whether the market will support a pricing differential between the houses built after June 2022 and those built before. Are markets ever that sophisticated? If not, only those who are lucky enough to buy a new house will benefit from lower, longer-term running costs. For the remainder, homeowners will need to invest in their current property and build in compliance with the new building regulations to reduce their running costs and support the global efforts to decarbonise.