New measures will save UK house builders and councils £114 million per year by cutting red tape and ensuring homes are built to demanding standards.
The current system of rules on how new homes can be built encourages wide differences across the country with councils able to select from a range of standards in a ‘pick and mix’ approach that gives an unlimited number of permutations in local rules.
This creates cost, uncertainty, bureaucracy and duplication for house builders. So Communities Minister Stephen Williams has announced that the government is consulting on the details of how it will consolidate this mass of standards into a core range of five standards.
‘We need to build more homes and better quality homes and this government is delivering on both. It’s now time to go further by freeing up house builders from unnecessary red tape and let them get on with the real job building the right homes, in the right places, to help families and first time buyers onto the property ladder,’ said Williams.
‘The current system of housing standards creates a labyrinth of bureaucratic rules for house builders to try and navigate, often of little benefit and significant cost. We are now slashing this mass of unnecessary rules down to just five core standards saving house builders and councils £114 million a year whilst making new homes safer, more accessible to older and disabled people and more sustainable,’ he explained.
‘Current housing standards required of new development can be unworkable, including demands for solar and wind energy sources that can’t physically fit onto the roofs of apartment buildings, or unnecessary including compliance regimes which add thousands to the cost of building a new home without any benefit,’ he added.
A national regulation on security standards in all new homes will be introduced with the aim of protecting families from burglary and for the first time ever, a national, cross tenure space standard that local authorities and communities can choose to use to influence the size of new homes in their local area.
There will be new optional building regulations for accessible and adaptable mainstream housing to meet the needs of older and disabled people and the introduction for the first time of an optional building regulation setting standards for wheelchair housing.
The consultation seeks views on the detailed technical requirements supporting this new approach to housing quality. The government proposal is for the security standards to become a new mandatory regulation, and for councils to be able to decide whether to apply the other remaining standards to developments built in their areas.
In addition a new zero carbon homes standard will come into force through the building regulations from 2016, building on the 30% energy efficiency improvements already introduced into building regulations in 2010 and 2013. These will save householders up to £200 on energy bills.