Brian Berry: The new standards will hit smaller developers harder and faster than the rest of the industry.

Low-carbon regulations will hinder housing supply

Published:  31 July, 2013

New building standards announced yesterday (30 July) will hinder the supply of new housing, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said.

Reforms to Part L of the Building Regulations, to be implemented in 2014, will involve a new target for fabric energy efficiency and a 6% improvement on 2010 standards.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, warned the new standards will hit smaller developers harder and faster than the rest of the industry: “FMB surveys of housebuilders indicate the cost implications for smaller developments will be significantly above those estimated by the government’s impact assessments.

“In a still fragile housing market, in which homebuyers are not prepared to pay the extra for energy efficiency, these extra costs will continue to come off the bottom line of builders, threatening the viability of many developments and further hindering hopes of a boost in housing supply. Smaller housebuilders without large banks of prior planning consents will be hit first by these changes.”

Mr Berry added: “As well as increased costs, the new fabric energy-efficiency standard will involve complex calculations and a steep learning curve. For those small housebuilders who have not been building recently, the barriers to re-entry will be raised again.

“The new standards will kick in next year, with a further change in standards already being planned for 2016. Yet very few homes in Britain have been built to the 2010 standards as it is. There is simply too little evidence of how current standards are working on which to base decisions about a further uplift in standards at this point.

“We support the idea that ‘zero carbon’ should be the end destination, but the timetable for achieving it must be realistic and deliverable. The overwhelming feeling in the industry is that policy is running well ahead of the industry’s ability to deliver on these commitments. There was some hope that the long delay in an announcement meant that the government had seen sense and realism had prevailed. Instead we seem to have ended up back where we started, with potentially serious consequences for capacity and supply within the housebuilding industry.”

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