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2014 Part L changes in practice

The long awaited announcement relating to the implementation of the next Part L has indicated that it will be implemented from 6th April 2014 with an estimated 6% improvement over the current 2010 edition of part L.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have already advised that the supporting documentation will be available six months before the release date.

The reality is that 6% is an insignificant improvement and many developers already achieve over and above this standard to meet Code for Sustainable Homes and other carbon reduction incentives, which although not mandatory have driven developers to be more innovative in achieving carbon reduction.

So what need to happen before the implementation of Part L 2014?

Initially the approved document must be released supported by the second tier documents such as the Building Services Compliance Guide, SAP 2012 (the calculation methodology)which is currently in draft form will be required to be amended to reflect the latest changes to Part L, the SAP software suppliers such as Stroma, Elmhurst, JPA etc will then have to re-write software programs to reflect the new changes. If the government is to release documents six months prior to implementation, the window for amending software finalising SAP 2012 and testing is particularly small.

Transitional Arrangements

The transitional provisions for 2014 are the same as the 2010 transitional arrangements, effectively, if you make  a Building Regulations submission prior to 6th April 2014, the current regulations apply providing work on that application commences within twelve months. A valid commencement would be considered as building work such as excavation of foundations or laying of drains. The transitional provisions will apply to the whole Building Regulation application which means that only one plot on a site would need to commence to validate all of the plots on the application under the current Part L requirements.

The latest part L changes have again not dealt with improvements to existing properties particularly well with consequential improvement to existing dwellings been omitted again for any dwelling under 1000m2. The improvement to new dwellings under the 2014 requirements will have an overall insignificant impact on the total carbon reduction of all buildings, if there is to be a further improvement, DCLG must develop a solution to improving the existing housing stock.

In summary, it may be difficult to produce all documentation in time and again the implementation of Part L in 2014 could become strained, the energy savings in new dwellings is now insignificant compared to the large savings that can be made in existing dwellings, though these proposed changes present less of a challenge than feared.

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