178,400 homes pre-registered with Building Control before the introduction of 2010 Part L will be built to lower energy standards

Housebuilders will save £892m by exploiting a loophole allowing them to bypass tough energy standards introduced in October.

A survey carried out by local authority building control body LABC’s members revealed that housebuilders had pre-registered 178,400 homes before the introduction of 2010 Part L in October.

Once registered, the loophole allows housebuilders to build to 2006 Part L providing they start work onsite within a year.

After work starts the whole scheme is allowed to comply with 2006 Part L regardless of how long it takes to complete.

Local authorities reported thousands of plots were registered in the run up to the deadline including many without planning permission.

LABC said 178,400 homes were registered between 1 July and 30 September 2010 compared with 24,240 for the same period last year. It also said building to lower energy standards would save housebuilders an average of £5,000 per home.

LABC also said it had only surveyed half the local authorities in England in Wales so the final numbers of pre-registered homes could be much higher than shown by the statistics.

Paul Everall, the chief executive of LABC blamed the communities department for the loophole. He said, “The Department for Communities and Local Government has created a situation where tens of thousands of new houses are likely to be built to old standards over the next few years.

“All previous important changes in Building Regulations have been careful to create a level playing field for industry. In the competitive housebuilding market, it is really important that no advantage can be won or lost according to how legislation is introduced.”

He also said private approved inspector NHBC had been privately briefed by the communities department about the arrangement. NHBC then wrote to house builders and developers alerting them to the loophole.