Net-zero rules will skyrocket the cost of new homes and extensions | Silver
New building regulations aimed at improving energy efficiency are expected to increase the price of new homes, as well as those of extensions and loft conversions on existing homes.
The rules, which came into force in England on Wednesday, are part of the government’s plans to cut the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. They set new standards for ventilation, energy efficiency and heating, and stipulate that new residential buildings must have charging points for electric vehicles.
The moves are the biggest change to building regulations in years, and industry experts say they will inevitably drive up prices at a time of material shortages and labor costs. high works are already driving up the bills.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, a trade group for small and medium-sized builders, said the measures will require the installation of new materials, test methods, products and systems. “All of this comes at an increased cost at a time when prices are already very high. Inevitably, consumers will have to pay more,” he says.
Gareth Belsham of Naismiths Surveyors says people upgrading or extending their homes will be directly affected.
“The biggest changes are in heating and insulation,” he says. “There are new rules regarding the amount of glazing used in extensions, and any new window or door must be highly insulated.”
The changes could mean an extra £3,000 added to the bill for an average home extension, according to Jonathan Rolande of the National Association of Property Buyers, a group of professionals aiming to raise building standards.
Homeowners who expand may see less space available to them, as the walls will need to be thicker in order to comply with the requirements for better insulation.
Andrew Mellor of PRP architects says the exterior walls will need to be around 7cm thicker than before.
Windows and doors will have to meet higher standards, while there are new limits on how much glazing you can have to reduce unwanted heat from the sun.
Thomas Goodman of MyJobQuote, a site that provides quotes, says this will lead to new restrictions for extensions.
“The glazing of windows, doors and skylights should not cover more than 25% of the floor area to avoid heat loss,” he specifies.
As properties become more airtight, there are also measures to ensure good air circulation, such as having small openings (air vents) on windows that allow ventilation when a window is closed.
For people expanding their homes, they may be required to install a new or replacement heating system depending on the size of the build, Belsham says. These will need to use lower temperature water to provide the same heat, which will require increased pipe insulation.
“We will see more insulation, better lighting design and restrictions on the amount of glass used in certain areas. But with more thermally efficient houses, there can be a risk of overheating due to solar gain, and so ventilation is also covered,” says Rolande. “As a result, double-glazed windows will require trickle vents to let the heat escape and also to provide fresh air for sanitary reasons and, of course, to reduce the risk of condensation building up in a ever tighter property.”
When the rules came into effect last Wednesday, property developers rushed to file plans just before the deadline, according to Belsham. Any plans submitted before that date are considered to fall under the previous rules and can go ahead as long as work begins before June 15 next year.
Builders who have priced the projects but haven’t filed the paperwork may need to go back and submit new estimates, says Marcus Jefford of Build Aviator, which evaluates the projects.
As the changes are aimed at making homes more energy efficient, they will ultimately reduce heating bills. But in the short term, owners are likely to face higher construction costs.
Material prices have already risen 25% in the past two years, according to figures from the Construction Products Association.
It is unclear how the overall prices will increase as a result of rule changes. “Although admirable in their intentions, they will increase the cost of building homes at a time when many already feel they are overpriced,” says Rolande. “An average extension will probably incur an additional cost of around £3,000 thanks to the new regulations.”
John Kelly, a construction lawyer with the law firm Freeths, thinks prices will eventually come down. But not immediately. “As the market adapts to new requirements and the technologies that support them, scaling these technologies will eventually bring costs down, but in the short term we will all have to pay the price for the necessary transition” , did he declare. said.
However, the long-term effects of the changes will be more comfortable and energy-efficient homes, adds Mellor. “Homeowners will likely recoup this cost over time by saving on their energy bill. It will obviously be very volatile at the moment, but they will have that advantage over time.
Going forward, there will be increased competition between companies to supply insulation technology, Belsham says, which should drive prices down.
Failure to comply with building regulations may result in prosecution. Local authorities have the power to serve an enforcement notice requiring the owner to modify or remove the offending works.
The measures are part of the government’s plans to cut carbon emissions as part of its bid to make the UK net zero by 2050. Last week’s rule changes apply to England. Scotland and Wales recently introduced similar changes.