What are you hoping for from this New Year?
I am hoping for some changes to the Planning System this year. Not to get more houses built, but to change the way that we build them.
At present we have a two part system with the planning separated from the Building Regulations. This has made sense historically as there seemed little sense in spending time and money on more detailed design when the whole house/scheme/project might not get Planning Permission.
An unintended, I think, consequence of this is the separation of form and function.
The Planning process covers what the building is going to look like whilst the Building Regulations cover how it is going to perform. This division was fine when the secondary process had little impact on the first but that is no longer the case.
The Building Regulations are now getting so involved that they are integral to the form of the building and can no longer be considered an applied layer and to do so causes problems for the builder, the client and the budget.
Consider a simple example that we have some across recently:
A three bed, new build house with vaulted ceilings in the bedrooms hence no attic space. The client has planning but does not yet have QA Building Regs. The client’s budget is a seemingly robust £300k.
Issue 1: The Planning Conditions have demanded a better than standard building regs performance. That will mean thicker walls or SIPS panels or maybe improved glazing. This will put pressure on the budget.
Issue 2: The Planning Conditions have demanded rainwater harvesting putting even more pressure on the budget.
Issue 3: There is no gas to the property so heating choice is oil or heat pump. The plan at present shows no location for a boiler let alone thermal store or heat pump unit. This will mean that the Utility room will become a plant room and the client will have to take on board compromises to the room layouts.
Issue 4: The specification for the insulation has yet to be set and we’ll have to hope that it doesn’t impact on the head height in the bedrooms.
All of these would have been resolved if the environmental performance of the house had to be considered at the same time as the aesthetic. The budget would have been more realistic and the whole process would have been quicker and more certain.
That would be what I’d desire to see in changes in the building industry this year. Here’s an example of when we were involved in planning permission.
What about your desired changes? Add your comments here and tell us more about what you have in mind or visit us here.