A brief guide to recently issued regulations with pointers to upcoming changes in regulations and consultation documents

What’s new …

Part B – Fire safety

2004 edition effective from March 2004

This integrates the two volumes previously in use, but does not introduce any changes in the regulations.

Part E – Resistance to the Passage of Sound

New Approved Document 2003. Amendments effective from 1 July 2004

The 2003 edition introduced post-completion testing (PCT) for noise transmission between separating floors and walls in “rooms for residential purposes” and houses and flats formed by converting existing buildings. Testing for new-build houses and flats was deferred until January 2004, and subsequently to 1 July 2004, until the ODPM was satisfied that its alternative scheme using approved design details, called Robust Details, was an adequate substitute for site testing.

The Part E amendments now require all “dwellings” to be either constructed using Robust Details or subjected to PCT. Building Control retains the power to request PCT in situations where they believe the Robust Details have not been properly applied. The transitional arrangements for current projects are:

  • Dwellings covered by a Full Plans Approval issued before 1 July 2003 must comply with Approved Document E 1992 and are exempt from PCT or Robust Details.
  • The same applies to dwellings covered by a conditional approval that has had all conditions discharged by 1 July 2003.
  • Dwellings started before 1 July 2003 subject to a valid application (Building Notice or Full Plans) and commencement notice must comply with Approved Document E 1992 and are exempt from PCT or Robust Details.
  • Dwellings approved after 1 July 2003 but already started before 1 July 2004 must comply with Approved Document E 2003 and are exempt from PCT or Robust Details.
  • Dwellings approved after 1 July 2003 but not started before 1 July 2004 must comply with the 2003 version, so PCT or Robust Details apply.
  • Dwellings started after 1 July 2004 must comply with the 2003 version, including PCT and Robust Details.

Part M – Access to and use of buildings

New Approved Document effective from 1 May 2004

No change has been made to domestic provisions of disabled access but there are now more onerous requirements for commercial buildings based on the recommendations of British Standard 8300: 2001 “Design Of Buildings And

Their Approaches To Meet The Needs Of Disabled People”.

All applications are now required to have an access statement from the building owner, designer, specifier and manager to indicate how they have met, or intend to meet, the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Part M’s scope has also been increased to cover historic buildings.

Control of Asbestos at Work regulations

2002 edition effective from May 2004

Regulation four of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations came into force in May 2004. Duty holders are now required for all buildings, to control, manage and review asbestos for any building owner. The regulations establish

the principle that asbestos is present until proved otherwise.

In order to prove this, surveys by specialists are now required. If the decision is taken to remove asbestos, the work must be carried out by a licensed specialist.

Disability Discrimination Act

Effective from October 2004

The last part of the act comes into force today, 1 October 2004. By now, all building owners should have implemented changes to comply with the DDA. The most obvious way of doing this would have been to physically alter buildings to make them accessible to disabled users. However, building owners can also comply with the act by making their services available in other ways – for example, by offering home delivery. It will be interesting to see how the courts enforce this regulation, as there are no direct principles of compliance but only guidance until the establishment of case law.

… What’s coming up

Part A – Structure

New Approved Document effective from December 2004

This edition contains a significant change to Requirement A3 on disproportionate collapse. This states that if part of a building should be damaged, then any resultant collapse should not be disproportionate to the cause of the damage. Instead of applying to buildings of five storeys or more, this will now apply to all buildings, irrespective of the number of storeys. Numerous other aspects of the Part A guidance have also been revised, the most significant being the requirement for cavity wall ties for dwellings up to three storeys to be of stainless steel, regardless of the location.

Other changes include:

  • Updated guidance on domestic, masonry garages that spell out approaches to openings and pier arrangements in more detail than before.
  • Introduction of minimum foundation depths to counter the impact of predicted climate change.
  • Improved guidance on the re-covering of roofs (including advice on material alteration).
  • Tables of timber sizes for traditional housing now appear in the separate Trada publication, Span tables for solid timber members in floors ceilings and roofs. This includes references to forthcoming European codes.
  • References to BS6399 now fully replace CP3 (Wind loading of buildings).

Transitional arrangements are described in ODPM Circular 04/2004. A summary of the main changes can be found inside the front cover of the Approved Document.

Part C – Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

New Approved Document, effective from 1 December 2004

A summary of the main changes can be found inside the front cover of the Approved Document. The format has changed and interstitial and surface condensation has been brought into Part C from Part F.

The structure of Approved Document C is now:

  • “C1 site preparation and resistance to contaminants”, covering site preparation, resistance to contaminants and sub-soil drainage. Includes detailed guidance on the evaluation and elimination of radon gas and other contaminants.
  • “C2 resistance to moisture” covering ground moisture, precipitation including wind-driven spray, interstitial and surface condensation, and spillage of water from or associated with sanitary fittings or fixed appliances. (This is a new requirement to deal with the decay of wooden floors caused by leaks from appliances that use water). There is additional guidance on providing better weather resistance for walls’ cavity junctions.

Transitional arrangements are described in ODPM Circular 04/2004.

Part P – Electrical safety in dwellings

New Approved Document effective from 1 January 2005

To be compliant, all electrical work in dwellings must be carried out by persons qualified to do the work. Small jobs, such as replacing a socket outlet or a light switch on an existing circuit, will not need to be notified to Building Control, with some exceptions for high-risk areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. They should, however, still be checked by a competent electrician.

All work involving adding a new circuit to a dwelling will need to be notified to and inspected by Building Control, or carried out by a Part P self-certified contractor.

Part L – Conservation of fuel and power

Consultation document to be published July 2005

The “elemental” method of conforming to Part L is to be replaced by a whole building calculation. This will require significant analysis of even the simplest buildings.

  • Increased performance standards for cold bridging, infiltration, windows, boilers, lighting and heating control.
  • New U-values for dwellings will be 0.27 W/m2K for walls, 0.22 W/m2K for floors, and 0.13 W/m2K for roofs.
  • Includes proposals for increasing the scope to existing dwellings, dropped before the current Part L became law.
  • More emphasis given to using alternative energy forms.
  • Changes to L2, the non-dwellings section, include an attempt to tighten up air infiltration standards by making the set standard a mandatory requirement rather a target.

The document includes a lot of detail, but it remains to be seen how much will reach the approved document.

Part F – Ventilation

Consultation document to be published July 2005

Details for required ventilation in specific areas and per occupant are given for all types of buildings.

  • For non-dwellings, consideration must be given to all types of ventilation in every room, including trickle ventilation from outside; purge ventilation (the facility to quickly ventilate a room to purge pollutants); general ventilation through a central ventilation system.
  • Several types of ventilation systems, including purge, whole building, and local, are illustrated for dwellings, with five different options for houses and one for flats.
  • A clear distinction is made between controllable and uncontrollable air flow.
  • Ventilation area is measured by how efficiently air passes through the unit rather than the unit’s geometric area. Other effects such as water vapour and volatile organic compounds are also considered.
  • Ventilation rates for dwellings are given for the whole building and per room.
  • Transfer grilles or other means are required to ensure inter-room ventilation is maintained.
  • Vents for car parks and other types of building are considered in more detail than before.


Subject guides similar to this are available from Barbour Index as part of its Construction Expert and Specification Expert services.

For further information contact Barbour Index on 01344-899280 or visit www.barbour-index.co.uk