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item1Government Legislation

Building legislation is  changing all the time but in just the last few years it has adapted to environment change more than many people realise. Some of the new laws are well known, like the HIPS pack for a house sale. Much of it is complex and buried in the small print of government-speak. An architect can help you to find your way through the maze of rules and regulations which could apply, whether to your dream home extension or a major housing project. 

For example: within the HIPS pack there is a Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for all new dwellings and an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) that any home is now required before being put on the market. All new homes constructed and/or converted have to set up these during the design work, before construction stage. It is calculated by approved software and you will need a specialist, and often architectural drawings, to gather the figures to feed in and to authorise the results.

SAP is a calculation based on the materials, volume, openings and efficiency of the heating system to arrive at a value of the energy efficiency of a building.  Ratings vary from 1 to 120, with 120 being the most energy efficient.  A rating of 100 indicates a building with zero costs for space and water heating (difficult!) anything above that at 100-120 needs to generate energy from a renewable source and export it back to a supplier, usually electricity generated by solar power.  The accepted norm for an energy efficient home is 80. Older properties are presumed to have a rating of 40-60, to reach the top end of this any home would need upgrading if more than 20 years old.

There's a lot more than this if you are wanting any significant building work. Much of the  environmental changes over what you can and can't do with your home is set up via the Development Control system, ie your Council's Planning Department. There were always hundreds of national, regional and local rules and regulations that have determined permissions on  your property, supposedly to ensure fair use of our overcrowded island. In the last decade there has been a revolution in approach which puts environment into the heart of this control: a GOOD THING, but inevitably a potential nightmare of bureaucracy, especially with Councils  themselves trying to catch up. Some Local Authorities were well ahead of it all and have set the example to others, eg the London Borough of Merton; others almost imploded with the changes and lack of funding to encompass it. The new regime is beginning to settle in now and can be seen in the different look and quality of recent development in our urban spaces.

On the bright side, there are ways to make these regulations work for you - for example: grants for the introduction of renewable energy production on your property, improving the insulation in your home or the introduction of combined heat and power options for your energy needs. To the relief of architects it has also loosened up the way a building can look and function, sustainability has replaced conformity. 

Another underlying advantage in the new system is the increased accessibility for professionals and the public: you can find the whole process on the internet, find information, download forms, check progress of applications, even appeal decisions - well, that's on the way. Go to our useful links page for some of the resources available on the web to investigate these for yourselves.

You can look it all up, then somehow you will need to synthesise it into a real building project. That's where we can help; contact us for an informal discussion, and perhaps we can deliver the results that you desire.

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Clifton Design Associates
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