Friday, 28 May 2021


Part L Future Homes Standard **UPDATE**


The Future Homes Standard exists to ensure all new homes meet the higher energy standards set out in the Building Regulations. Basically, all new homes which are built after 2022, will have to produce 31% less carbon, compared to the current regulations. 


The Regulations will again be reviewed and updated in 2025 with new stricter standards. 


The new Part L, which will be live in 2022, will have a set of new targets which we must all reach! We are moving closer to zero carbon and although we are all au fait with TER, this is becoming less important. We now need to have new targets so we can get a TER of zero!


When do the new regulations start?

From June 2022 the new regulations will be in place. These will affect individual dwellings, but not developments. 

How will the new standards impact new builds?

·      Air Testing is vital in ensuring that a build is energy efficient so it is of no surprise that this features high on the list. All new builds will have to have an air test and sample testing will no longer be allowed. This will ensure standards are kept throughout all new builds!


Builds which don’t have Mechanical Ventilation won’t get any benefits in their SAP scores below 3 m3/ (h.m2).


·      Over-glazing is where you exceed the maximum amount of glazed area, in an extension for example. There are restrictions on the amount of glazing allowed and this is relative to the floor area. The idea behind this is to stop overheating. There are ways in which you can get around this through dynamic simulation thermal modelling. 


Essentially, thermal modelling is used to work out how a building’s design will react to heating, cooling and hot water loads. Then a system is built/designed which is able to meet the requirements of said building. 


·      As stated above, Part L of the Regulations will need to have a 31% reduction in C02. In 2025 there will be an uplift of 75% reduction (75% compared to our current TER). These steps are in place to ensure we are meeting the deadlines. The more work you put in now, the easier the transition will be down the line. 


·      The Target Primary Energy Rate will consider the build’s heating system. The chances are it isn’t going to like standard electric heating systems where you have no renewable offsetting. It will likely favour electric heating systems such as heat pumps etc. But what you have to remember is that regardless of what heating system you have installed, if you haven’t got the fabric of the build right, then you’ve already lost the fight!


·      This brings us nicely on to the Fabric Energy Efficiency. These targets will be increased although we, as of yet, don’t know the actual figures. Ideally you will need to build as air tight as possible and have higher levels of insulation! Don’t forget how important your materials are in order to achieve this! 


·      Minimum standards for building services will come into effect. This means that the badly performing systems will be banned from use. The most energy efficient systems will lead the way into the future homes.


·      Thermal Bridging can be responsible for up to 30% of a home’s heat loss. Taking away thermal bridging with a well-designed build and excellent materials/products, can be effective in meeting the stricter requirements. Specific details on thermal bridging will be required in order to pass the SAP Calculations.


·      The performance gap on builds needs addressing. This is where you have a difference between the intended and the actual performance of a build. These figures can be found, and compared, in the Design Stage SAP and the As Built SAP. 



The government, later this year, will also provide more details on changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations so keep an eye out for those. This will give us information of overheating in residential buildings and will detail tougher guidelines for commercial builds, change of use, extensions and renovations.  


The idea behind these changes, as stated, is to ensure that all new homes meet the high requirements and bring us closer to our target of net zero emissions. Covid19 has had an impact on these targets already. Initially the interim date was 2020 but it was delayed due to the unprecedented factors caused by the pandemic. 


What we have to remember is that ensuring that a home is more energy efficient to start with, is actually far cheaper than retrofitting at a later date. This isn’t only good for the environment but also for your energy bills.


These changes will be made to Part L of the Building Regulations and the final version will be available from December 2021, but come into force in June 2022. In 2023 the technical specification will be discussed, with the regulations coming into force in 2024, ahead of the deadline in 2025. This is the basic current timeline, but as with anything, it is subject to change.



Friday, 21 May 2021

 Sustainable Living; what’s it all about?


You often hear people talk about sustainability, but what does it really mean? 


The Dutch have a great ethos with sustainability and are some of the leaders in this field. We could learn a lot from them. But how do they do it?


The Netherlands, with a relatively low population, and small (ish) economy, manages to hit targets way beyond its remit. But why can they seem to be so forward thinking when it comes to green living, leaving the rest of us trailing behind? 


The first, and probably most important contributary fact, is education. Sustainability is actually written into the school curriculum. This is vital when trying to take back control of our environment. The more understanding you have, the more co-operation you’ll get! The cross-sector co-operation between businesses, governments, charities and the general public is what drives the initiative; “Many hands make light work”.


Alongside the daily ‘sustainability’ duties to ensure that, individually, they are looking after the planet, the Dutch have many other innovations which can be seen across the landscape! 


Who has heard of a Green Roof?


Now, the Dutch can’t claim the concept of the Green Roof itself, and nor do they try to do so. But what they can do is improve on the idea, and improve on the idea they have!


A Green Roof is a living roof and it is often installed, not only because it is attractive, but because of the positive environmental impacts it can have. For example, it reduces the stormwater, which can have a positive effect on the local sewer systems by reducing the stress put on them. Essentially, these roofs absorb the rainwater through the plants and the drainage layer. So, if you were in a high-risk flood area, and everyone had this type of roof, you could potentially help to reduce the flood risk. These small changes, collectively, can have quite an impact. 


We all know that certain plants can help dramatically with air purification. So, having a roof covered in plants will ultimately contribute to the conversion of CO2 into Oxygen! Can’t say fairer than that!


Not only do Green Roofs add value to your property, they also extend the life span of the roof as the plants offer protection to the material underneath. This will not only save you money, but also reduce your impact on the environment. This type of roof also acts as a sound barrier, reducing the noise by absorption! Who doesn’t want to hide away, somewhere quiet, yet beautiful?


The maintenance required for this type of roof is actually very low. This is sometimes a fact which is overlooked, or misunderstood. It is often assumed that there will be a lot of upkeep to ensure they don’t become overgrown, or covered in weeds. But by using the vegetation blankets, you can easily create your roof. The mats are pre-cultivated, which means weeds don’t really have the chance, or ability, to grow, or get established, which is ideal. You don’t want a roof to look like an overgrown weed jungle! 


As we all know, plants contain quite a bit of moisture, and there is something that doesn’t like moisture, Fire! So, these roofs actually create a fire-resistant layer! As you can see there are quite a few benefits to having a green roof, not to mention the feelings of well-being and healing which are often felt when living in a green environment! But the problem is that green roofs were mostly seen on either flat roofs, or slight pitched roofs. Now, thanks to a unique Dutch concept, you can get a roof tile which is supplied with overgrown plants! You can read about the concept here (you may need a translator)


This concept gives you the advantages of a roof tile but with all the positives of a Green Roof! You can use this tile on any roof type. No longer is it just for a particular roof style. The Green Roof tile can be used in addition to your existing roof tiles and the installation is exactly the same as any normal roof tile. 


This is why the Dutch are so good at sustainability. They are always pushing for more. They’re never satisfied. They always want to better the existing materials and concepts, as well as come up with new ideas. They’re not the only country that takes sustainability seriously, but we can learn a lot from them. They have, like many of us, got a lot to master, but they also have it right in so many ways. Education is where they lead. Ensuring the future generations are interested, knowledgeable and sympathetic to the green initiatives and sustainability, will help to prolong the longevity of our environment and essentially our planet!  





Friday, 14 May 2021

 Top Tips For Passing Your Air Tightness Test!

A question I often get asked is how can I pass an Air Test? Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix, but if you follow the steps from the beginning, then this testing shouldn’t give you any problems! 


First and foremost, you need to work out what you expect from your build. Are you building passive? Do you expect your build to be highly energy efficient? These are questions which will come into the planning of your project. If you have stated you’re building a Passive House then it goes without saying that you will need to ensure you’re building to Passive Standards. The Passive House Air Test has tougher targets than the standard Air Tightness Test. 


Planning for your Air Tightness Test is sometimes overlooked. What you must remember though, is that your Air Test results are actually significantly impacted by the design of your build, as well as by the materials used for the construction. If you haven’t done your research you could find your Air Test result is greatly affected by lack of planning at the initial stages. This would be such a shame and not something which could easily be fixed. 


Why does this matter?


Building better is never a bad thing. The tighter we build, the better the energy efficiency, which is beneficial not only for the environment, but also for your pocket! Obviously, there are many other building compliance services which I will discuss individually in another blog. 


For now, I want to talk about the preparation, or tips if you like, for passing your Air Test first time, and with flying colours!


1.     As I have stated below you need to make sure you get the help and advice from a professional at the earliest possible stage!

2.     Avoid gaps, sounds simple enough doesn’t it? This begins at the design stage, and continues through to construction. You need to ensure there are no gaps in your design or issues which could throw up complications. This is where speaking to a professional early on can reap the biggest rewards!

3.     Minimise penetrations, which again makes perfect sense. Any holes in the fabric of the build will allow air to pass through. Also consider products such as PipeSnug to help with sealing pipes, flues etc. You will have a certain amount of penetrations from your service pipes, which is unavoidable, but you can ensure you seal them correctly prior to undertaking your Air Test. 

4.     When the super structure has been erected it is your best opportunity to seal the block work wall with either a liquid membrane, such as Passive Purple, or you could plaster directly to the wall rather than dot and dabbing plasterboard.  If dot and dabbing, and you don’t use a liquid membrane, please use a continuous bead of adhesive around the board.  If timber frame has been erected it should have a VCL (vapour control layer) on the inside wall, which needs to be sealed completely.  This is very tricky, especially when lapping joints, wrapping around floor cassette and different junctions and interfaces.  A pre-formal Air Pressure Test when the timber frame is water tight, will establish the desired air tightness before covering up the VCL with plasterboard.  Make sure you have a service gap between the VCL and the plasterboard.  This ensures that all water and electrical 1st fix don’t puncture the VCL.

5.     Make sure the skirting boards are sealed. This is a precautionary measure and should not be relied upon as the primary air barrier. Not only can unsealed skirting boards allow for air leakage, but they can also negatively impact your Sound Insulation testing.

6.     Think about your loft hatch, or doors in the eves (warm roofs will have this in the roof giving more storage space). Make sure you have an airtight door and it is fitted correctly. The amount of air leakage into and through the roof can be costly. 

7.     Windows and doors need to be fitted and the EDPM secured and sealed.  You are then not reliant on silicon or caulk.

8.     All controlled ventilation sources, such as trickle vents and extract fans, need to be securely taped up prior to testing. 

9.     If you don’t have a standard shaped door, inform your tester beforehand. This just makes things easier on the day as our frame fits square doors. We have, on occasion,  encountered church style arched doors.

10.  If possible, make sure there is parking available close to the site. There is a lot of equipment involved and this isn’t light!


There are many companies out there which can help with building compliance; I should know as I have run one for many years. ATSPACE, and similar companies, will be able to advise you throughout all stages of your build. 


Don’t get stressed with air pressure testing. If you know what you’re doing and what you want to achieve, there is no reason why things won’t go in your favour! Just make sure you’re prepared because as the saying goes, ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail!’ 


Here is a link to a checklist to assist in your preparations!  ATSPACE-Air-Testing-Checklist-Residential   

Friday, 7 May 2021

Last week I wrote a blog about Veritherm. This week I wanted to write one about a product I was introduced to a few months back, PipeSnug! Check them out here!


PipeSnug is, in their own words, (and I tend to agree), an innovative new product which provides an air-tight seal whilst maintaining a professional looking finish. This product is designed to fit ‘snuggly’ around pipes and flues where they exit a wall. From what I can see, this is really quite an exciting concept. You need not worry as this is completely compliant with the new changes to Part L of the Building Regulations, and in fact can make compliance a doddle. As you know, I am very stringent on air testing, and all things ‘building compliance’. I can sometimes be like a broken record, constantly reminding you how important it is to ensure your build has no air leaks. This product is designed to help with this process. This simple, yet effective concept, really does help to ensure the airtightness of your build. To top it off, the product and packaging is made from recycled or biodegradable materials! When we live in a world where recycling and looking after our planet is vital, this factor is not to be ignored! 


The other bonus to this product is the fitting. The actual installation takes less than 5 minutes. That’s 5 minutes in return for an air-tight seal around your pipework and flues. That really does seem like a fair exchange to me! It’s great to see a product which not only works, but is actually simple to put in place!


PipeSnug has kindly sent me some more information about their products. Currently they have the following versions on the market.


·      32mm (1¼”):  used for solvent weld waste pipe fittings and also boiler condensate pipe where it feeds into larger diameter pipe to avoid freezing.

·      40mm (1½”):  (as above)

·      110mm (4”):   for all push-fit and solvent weld soil pipe fittings.

·      FlueSnug:  for 100mm boiler flues, endorsed by Worcester Bosch, Ideal Heating and other leading boiler manufacturers


I love it when I find companies with the same ethos as me and I really will do everything I can to show everyone exactly what these products can do. If you would like more information you can check out the PipeSnug video here



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