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Building Regulations seem to be in a constant state of change. Hywel Davies explores what’s next up for review

Late last year the Department for Communities and Local

Government (CLG) published a programme for reviewing the Building Regulations, which came out of several hundred responses to a call by the new minister Andrew Stunell for ideas for change. The review timetable sets out several workstreams, including the latest review of Part L. A particular emphasis of the programme is ‘a significant deregulatory workstream’, which will focus in particular on Part P, which covers domestic electrical installations. Part P was introduced in 2005 in an attempt to reduce the level of incidents arising from poor electrical installation work in homes. On Part P, responses to the

minister’s call for ideas were evenly divided between those who favour the status quo and those who either consider Part P to be unnecessary, or argue that electrical work should be treated in the same way as gas

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To see the full CLG plan, Future changes to the Building Regulations – next steps, visit planningandbuilding/buildingregsnextsteps

work, and only suitably qualified and registered people should be allowed to work on electrical installations. But a clear majority of those commenting on the Your Freedom website supported revision of the existing regulations. The majority view was that the cost

of demonstrating compliance, either in building control fees or registration as a competent person, is an unfair burden on those who seek to comply, who tend not to be those who are most likely to carry out unsafe or sub- standard work. As a result of this, CLG plans to

review the outcomes of introducing Part P to establish whether the regulations have had the desired effect. They will also review the implementation and compliance mechanisms to ‘determine whether there is any case for change’. The deregulatory strand will also

look at rationalising Parts K (staircases and balconies), M (access to buildings) and N (glazing), where there are concerns about possible conflicts and contradictions between these parts and a ‘desire to reduce the regulatory burden’. There is also a relatively high level of queries from both industry and building control professionals, which

suggests that there is scope for review of these parts, but only to address these concerns and not to undertake a wider review. The Part L work strand will also consider, among other issues, the various responses received that advocated introducing security requirements into the regulations under the provisions of the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act 2004. A further task for 2011 is to review

the existing regulations against the Construction Products Regulations and to consider the impact of the new Eurocodes on Parts A and C. The purpose of all this work is to

decide where there is a case for further changes in 2013. Any such changes will have to be consistent with the ‘one in, one out’ principle and the overall deregulatory tenor of the current administration. What is becoming increasingly clear

is that even where there is a consensus of industry leaders who support regulation – and a clear argument for the benefits of such rules – the challenge for all those who seek to improve the Building Regulations will be to demonstrate the clear cost benefit case for future changes. Are CIBSE members up for the challenge?

l Hywel Davies is technical director of CIBSE

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CIBSE Journal June 2011

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