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knowledge base

Understanding the Building Regulations

Gaining an understanding of the UK Building Regulations is vitally important when considering a building development project – for new builds, extensions and conversions. They are a key stage in the build process and, without a Building Control Approval or submission, works cannot start on site.

Complying with these regulations is essential to the success of any design project. It’s crucial to understand what the building regulations entail and more importantly, how they affect the build process, the programme and the build costs of any residential or development project.

The building regulations now also need to be considered at the planning stage. Gaining planning permission approval is dependent on us proving to the Local Authority that a proposed building can be developed into a Building Control Compliant and deliverable solution.

Here at ATSPACE we recognise that gaining an understanding of the Building Regulations and the terminology used can often appear to be somewhat confusing. Therefore, throughout our website you will find answers to many questions – see our knowledge base for FAQ’s, downloads and checklists.

To help you on your way, we have listed below the most commonly asked questions that we encounter with regard to the Building Regulations.

What is a Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP)?

The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) forms part of the methodology for calculating the energy performance for dwellings in order to demonstrate compliance with the Building Regulations Part L1.

What is a Predicted Energy Assessment (PEA)?

A Predicted Energy Assessment (PEA) is produced during the design stage SAP. In order for building companies to sell properties before construction i.e. off-plan, a valid PEA must have been produced.

What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is produced to show the energy efficiency and level of CO₂ emissions of the property upon completion of construction and forms part of the as-built SAP. The EPC will also make recommendations regarding improvements to the property’s energy performance. Before a property can be signed-off or sold, the EPC must have been issued and lodged with the Landmark database.

When do I need to start planning for SAP/EPC?

At the start of the design stage. In order to comply with the Building Regulations Part L1, SAP Calculations are required at 3 stages: start of the design process, during construction and once the build process has been completed. This 3-stage process enables you to take account of and be aware of any changes that may affect the overall energy rating of the project.

Do I need a SAP Assessment for a conversion?

In order to demonstrate compliance with Part L1B of the Building Regulations, SAP Calculations are required for all buildings converted to new dwellings e.g. flat conversions and barn conversions.

Do I need a SAP Assessment for an extension?

Not in all circumstances – because compliance with Building Regulations Part L1B is satisfied if:
• the envelope of the extension is sufficiently well insulated
• the glazing is within the extension does not exceed 25% of the floor area
• the building services within the extension are of a sufficient standard

When you are considering an extension it is advisable to speak with your local building control who will advise upon the level of detail that will be required in the SAP Assessment submission.

Do I need a SAP Assessment for a conservatory?

When considering the addition of conservatories and porches a SAP Assessment is not required – provided that:
• the conservatory is at ground level
• the floor area is less than 30M²
• the heating system does not extend into the conservatory

Why do I need to have an Air Pressure Test carried out?

Minimum standards of air tightness need to be achieved in newly constructed buildings and dwellings in order to comply with the UK Building Regulations Part L. All new buildings and dwellings need to achieve a minimum level of air permeability (10m³/(h.m²)) – which is carried out through on-site, pre-completion testing and the production of a pass test certificate. These tests must be carried out by an appropriately certified Air Test Engineer.

When do I need to start planning Air Leakage Testing?

During the design stage for your project – since one aspect of the SAP Calculation will be to determine the Air Permeability Rate (APR) that must be achieved during the final Air Test itself.

When will the Air Leakage Test be carried out?

At the end of the construction process – we will happily carry out the necessary Air Test/s at a date and time to suit you. All you need to do is to book your testing slot with our customer services team and we will email full details of our engineers arrival time, together with a final pre-test checklist to help ensure that you are fully prepared.

What happens after the Air Test is carried out?

Once the Air Test has been completed, our Engineer will know whether or not the building has met the required standard for achieving a pass and will inform the site contact accordingly. Following the test, we will invoice the client on the next working day and test reports and certificates issued upon receipt of payment.

What happens if the test fails?

If the Air Test fails to meet the required standard our engineer will immediately inform the site contact to discuss the result and offer to identify areas that may be causing the failure. Our engineer will be happy to offer the client a walk and talk through the building to identify the engineers concerns and to recommend a course of remedial action e.g. sealing of gaps between skirting boards and floor.

What are Daylight Calculations all about?

Many local authorities are now requiring that light issues are addressed as part of a planning application and Part L of the Building Regulations places responsibility upon the designer to maximise the use of natural daylight and to achieve a balance between adequate light levels and controlling solar heat gain.

What is an Energy Statement?

Before granting planning permission for building to commence many local authorities are now requiring the provision of an Energy Statement alongside the planning application. The Energy Statement should act as a valuable and accurate working document which details the predicted CO₂ emissions and identifies potential improvements for reducing energy consumption and emissions. This may be achieved through use of efficient fabric construction, efficient heating, ventilation and lighting, and also through the deployment of renewable technologies.

What is Sound Insulation Testing all about?

Sound Insulation Testing is carried out to quantify the resistance to the passage of sound through the walls and floors of adjoining buildings. For example, this can be between adjoining walls of a pair of semi-detached houses or through the floor which links an upstairs flat to the commercial office below.

What is Ventilation Testing Part F all about?

Increasingly, MHVR Systems (Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery) are being installed. Part F of the Building Regulations requires that equipment such as intermittent extractor fans (e.g. kitchen and bathroom) have their flow rates checked and are working efficiently. The relevant test results are then submitted to building control as part of the overall building compliance process.

What is Water Efficiency Part G of the Building Regulations?

As part of the drive for increased energy efficiency Part G of the Building Regulations now includes water efficiency for the first time. For a new dwelling you will need to demonstrate that it will have a predicted water consumption of less than 125 litres per person per day.

What is the Code for Sustainable Homes all about?

The Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) is an environmental assessment rating method for new homes which assesses environmental performance. Introduced in 2008, the CSH is aimed at reducing carbon emissions and promoting higher standards of sustainable design – 9 major areas of environmental impact are considered during the assessment process:
• Ecology
• Energy & CO₂ emissions
• Health & Well Being
• Management
• Materials
• Pollution
• Surface water run-off
• Waste
• Water

Upon completion, a rating system of 1 to 6 levels is applied – with code level 6 being the top rating and classified as a zero- carbon home.

What is Passive House (Passivhaus) all about?

The Passivhaus Standard (Passive House) was developed in Germany in the 1990’s – and has now become the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world. The Passivhaus Standard promotes a ‘robust approach’ to building design – in order to create a dwelling that has excellent thermal performance and exceptional air tightness – together with heating which can be recovered and circulated by a Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) Unit.

What are SBEM Calculations?

The Building Regulations Part L2 require that SBEM Calculations (Simplified Building Energy Model) are submitted to building control at 2 stages in the development process for commercial buildings – prior to sign-off. SBEM is an approved software tool that is used in the calculation of monthly energy consumption for: space heating and cooling, water heating, ventilation and lighting. It also estimates the annual total of CO₂ emissions for the building.

What is BREEAM all about?

BREEAM is the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. It is used for buildings and large scale developments – such as student and sheltered living accommodation, offices, schools and commercial premises. BREEAM sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and has now become recognised as one of the most comprehensive measures of a building’s environmental performance.

What does BREEAM entail?

BREEAM is carried out at 3-stages during the overall construction project:
• Pre-Assessment – Initial discussions + advice and guidance ⇒ agreed action plan
• Design Stage – Drawings review + assessment of development + assign credits ⇒ interim report
• As-built review – On-site review + review evidence of construction and commitments made ⇒ final report for submission to BRE

What is Commercial Air Testing all about?

The UK government has a long-term goal of achieving a 60% reduction in UK CO₂ emissions by 2050 and Air Leakage is one of the major components affecting overall energy consumption within buildings. In order to satisfy Part L2A & L2B of the Building Regulations – all commercial and public buildings over 500m² must now successfully pass a Commercial Air Pressure Test to achieve the required level of building compliance.

What are the regulations for Commercial Air Leakage Testing?

Part L2A of the Building Regulations details the requirements for new build commercial premises and Part L2B covers those requirements that are necessary for conversions and extensions. All commercial and industrial buildings with a gross floor area in excess of 500m² must be tested for air permeability and achieve a minimum standard of – ≤ 10 cubic metres per hour, per m² at a pressure of 50 pascals.

What happens if the Building fails the Air Test?

If your building fails to meet the required standard we are able to carry out diagnostic testing, including:
• Smoke Tests – where the Engineer uses a combination of smoke and/or smoke pencils to identify leakage points from the building
• Thermographic Surveys – where infra-red cameras are used to identify hot/cold spots to highlight areas of air leakage.

Have we missed anything?

If you feel we should include something please give us a call on 0800 917 8922