Industry voices concerns over cost of implementation, effect on house prices and emergency access to homes

The government is considering the addition of a security category to the Building Regulations to force contractors to install security systems in all buildings by 2007.

Building Regulations minister Phil Hope said: “We are in conversation with the Home Office to see what we could regulate in practical terms, such as window locks. Initial discussions are going quite well.”

The regulation is likely to include standards on security systems and is expected to be based on elements of the police’s Secured by Design initiative.

John Tebbit, industry affairs director at the Construction Product Association, warned there were potential problems with domestic security regulation. He said: “There will be issues if the home is secure enough to prevent break-ins but it takes the fire brigade 15 minutes to get in in the event of a fire.”

Tebbit said the police, fire brigade and industry agreed that security regulations would not prove such a problem for non-domestic buildings because facilities management and advanced security products are more likely to be in place.

Tebbit added that there were technical solutions to providing appropriate security in residential buildings, but that these were expensive. He said: “Mr Prescott might want a £65,000 home but he will have difficulty if a security system alone costs £1000.”

With house prices as they are, extra cost is unwelcome

HBF spokeperson

The House Builders Federation also warned that a security regulation would increase the cost of building. A spokesperson said: “With house prices being what they are, any extra cost will be unwelcome.”

The HBF also suggested that such security rules would be outside the remit of Building Regulations. The spokesperson said: “We approve of the need to improve security but there is some concern about the scope and extent of changes.”

The spokesperson added that regulations were becoming too prescriptive. “Homeowners may not appreciate being told what level of security is incorporated in their new home.”

The government is able to enforce security through Building Regulations under the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act, which became law in September.

  • Later this month BRE is set to announce the latest revisions to its EcoHomes green performance measurement system for new homes. Among the revisions is a change that will make it harder for housebuilders to collect points for building close to public transport systems, as it will require that such transport services run every 15 minutes during the morning and evening rush hours to qualify.