Regulations minister hints that mandatory Part L testing could be axed to cut costs and delays for housebuilders
Building regulations minister Philip Hope has hinted that housebuilders could in future be permitted to self-certify their compliance with energy rules.

If this does happen, companies will be spared having to undergo mandatory testing of their homes after they have been built.

Hope said that he had been encouraged to consider the idea for Part L regulations because of the success of other self-certification schemes, such as that for windows.

He noted: "They offer benefits to consumers and builders. They reduce delays and save the time and expense of following the building control method of compliance."

If self-certification were introduced in this field the assumption is that it would follow the "robust standard detail" method of compliance to be brought in for acoustic regulations in Part E. These rules will be introduced in July.

Under this system the elements to be tested are designed in such a way that they exceed the standards set down, avoiding the need to have outside tests. Hope said that preliminary discussions had taken place about developing Part L along the same lines as Part E. "There may be a role for robust standard details in other areas, he said."

Hope made his comments at the launch of a company that will take over the development, maintenance and monitoring of acoustic robust details from the House Builders Federation. The not-for-profit firm is called Robust Details.

Self-certification offers benefits to consumers and to builders

Philip Hope, regulations minister

Hope said he realised that the industry would prefer to use self-certification through robust details for acoustic and energy regulations, and noted that this could lead to more emphasis on training and levels of competence.

David Baker, the chief executive of Robust Details, said 1706 copies of the handbooks containing the approved robust details to comply with the acoustic regulations had been sold in 12 days, an indication of where the industry wished to go.

Baker said: "Housebuilders choosing robust details will benefit not only from happier customers but from knowing that the costs and uncertainties of pre-completion testing will no longer be necessary."

Baker said that the adoption of this method would lead to cost savings for central and local government in the enforcement and administration of the regulations.