ODPM calls for consultation on regulatory reform, as industry awaits final Part L document

The government has taken its first steps towards reforming the Building Regulations, by tabling a meeting with top industry representatives.

Interested parties, which are likely to include Local Authority Building Control and National Federation of Builders, will meet the government in the coming weeks for exploratory talks on how to change the system.

The news comes a month after the ODPM responded to a campaign by Building that demanded that the regulations, and the system for formulating them, be reformed.

The government faces a struggle to finalise details of the regulation governing energy use. The revised Part L document has yet to be published, even though it comes into force on 6 April.

John Tebbit, Construction Product Association industry affairs director, said: "We are fewer than three months away, and we are still trying to finalise really important things, such as dealing with thermal bridging."

Tebbit said the government only asked industry last week to update documents on thermal bridging.

We’re working with the ODPM but we’re doing this too late

John Tebbit, CPA

He said: "We're working well with the ODPM but it's frustrating that we're doing this too late. It's crucifying us. Why did we have this big gap between March and September? We knew there would be an election but that should not have affected uncontroversial issues such as Part L."

There are also problems with the IT tool that aids the calculation of carbon emissions of non-domestic buildings. The Simplified Building Energy Method was released just before Christmas but is prone to crashing.

As the deadline draws nearer, further details are emerging about the final form of the regulations. The robust details that appeared in the 2002 version will be renamed "approved construction details" in the 2006 version of Part L. This is to avoid confusion with testing company Robust Details Ltd, which is still in discussions with the government about implementing a scheme that may offer housebuilders an alternative to air-pressure testing.

However, any scheme is unlikely to be up and running by 6 April, and it is expected that the government will insist that housebuilders pressure-test homes.

The ODPM has announced the implementation of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 will be delayed. The order was meant to have taken effect on 1 April 2006. An industry insider said it was now unlikely it would come into force until October. This legislation will make non-domestic building owners responsible for ensuring their buildings comply with fire safety legislation.