Timber-frame housebuilders say Raynsford has caved in to pressure from brick-and-block sector.
Timber frame housebuilders have reacted furiously to construction minister Nick Raynsford's climbdown on changes to the energy regulations.

The timber-frame specialists claim that Raynsford has bowed to pressure from traditional housebuilders and increased the insulation requirements for walls by a smaller amount than originally planned (What Raynsford said, right).

A spokesperson for Wilcon Homes said the firm would be lobbying the DETR about the issue, adding: "We're going to be asking lots of civil servants what's going on." Geoff Pitts of timber-frame consultancy Mtech Services said: "It's pathetic if the DETR is going back to a U-value of 0.35 W/m2°C.

"It's a major cop-out. I can only speculate that some major sectors of the housebuilding industry have been lobbying the government in a big way." The Wilcon spokesperson agreed: "There has been a lot of lobbying by the brick-and-block people and the government has backed down." Pitts said that by relaxing the U-value for walls, the government had ensured that brick-and-block construction could still be used for them.

The Wilcon spokesperson added: "A U-value of 0.35 is within the margins of what is acceptable for brick-and-block construction but 0.3 is right on the margin. Most housebuilders might be a bit upset if they've committed to timber frame, and some will be very upset." Andrew Warren, director of the Association of the Conservation of Energy, said: "It does send a curious signal when those sectors of the industry that respond to government proposals get kicked in the teeth." A spokesperson for the DETR denied that it had bowed to pressure. He said: "We are not being held hostage by anybody; we have considered all representations from industry. This is not the be-all and end-all. We are looking to bring down U-values even further in the future."

What Raynsford said

The DETR’s proposals to revise Part L of the Building Regulations included a tightening of wall U-values to 0.3 W/m2°C. However, Nick Raynsford has since diluted this measure to 0.35 W/m2°C. The new Part L will come into effect next February.