From Jersey to Carlisle, readers have been sending in their support for Building’s Reform the Regs campaign. Backing has come from across the industry. Here, we publish a selection of readers’ letters.
And this week the Construction Industry Council, the Federation of Master Builders and the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering become the latest institutions to offer support – which means that organisations representing 67,000 members are now backing reform. The campaign has already made an impression. Housing minister Yvette Cooper said the government is following it closely and is listening to the industry’s views. So, it is vital you keep sending in your support and let the government know the effect it is having on your organisation.
Too complex to understand …
When I was a member of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee and in charge of the working party that produced the 2002 revisions to Parts F and L, we successfully resisted the pressure to produce an overly complex solution to the perceived need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In particular, we managed to retain the concept of compliance by reference to the U-values of constructions – something that everyone in the business could understand.
These new proposals – destined to be soon in a legal framework – are likely to be honoured only in the breach, because only boffins will understand what they are supposed to be about.
Ken Blount, general editor, Knight’s Guide to Building Control Law and Practice and Knight’s Building Regulations 2000
The regulations are now so extensive, so complex and change so frequently that I do not feel confident that any project I’m working on fully meets the requirements.
Richard Diebelius, design manager, Mitchell Design & Construct
Sadly over-complexity of regulations has turned us from a nation of shopkeepers to a nation of checkers and testers.
Colin Marshall, technical manager, Tarmac Topblock
The regulations have become too complicated and impractical to apply.
As an architect, for the first time, I can no longer guarantee to my clients that projects leaving my drawing board will comply with the Building Regulations.
The legislators seem to have lost sight of the fact that the regulations should be drafted in such a way that they should be easily understood by all those involved in the building process. We have now got to a situation where even qualified professionals need to employ further external consultants to comply with the regulations and even then there have is no guarantee that the completed building will comply. What a ridiculous situation.
Robert Falkner, chartered architect, sole practitioner
This government seems hell-bent on legislating the housebuilding industry in particular into self-destruction
BH Southall, Bloor Homes
As a sole practioner it is currently impossible to keep up with the minutae of the deluge of regulations and standards that are introduced or changed. The result? Disputes with building control, who are often not totally clear what the regulations require.
RJ Baker, Baker & Associates
Ridiculously expensive …
As “secretary” (actually just minute-taker!) to the competent persons forum that meets at the ODPM, I witness at first hand just how ridiculously expensive and unenforceable the whole thing has become. It is certainly time to say stop to any more impositions on our over-regulated sector of industry and to call for a review of an outdated system that is ignored by the cowboy brigade.
Andy Watts, chief executive and secretary, the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering
As a property management company we are swamped by the continuing tidal wave of legislation, all of which requires us to employ outside specialists – many of whom appear to be making their professions up as they go along.
John Ray, the Hitchin Property Trust
In 1997 Jersey introduced new Building Regulations that were an exact copy of England’s and has adopted England’s amendments since then. The problem here is that the approved documents are treated as though they are cast in stone. The building control officers offer no options for alternative solutions and happily let applicants pay for over-the-top construction, which benefits the public not one bit.
Philip Ahier, Department of Property Services, Jersey
And what’s more …
I do not think I have read a leader in the past few years and agreed with everything in it! Joined-up thinking went out of the window a long time ago, but unfortunately in my experience this “listening government” has never taken any notice of what anybody says.
Roger Heavens, area land manager, Croudace Homes
Both the Building Regulations and the planning system in this country have become a shambles. This government seems hell-bent on legislating the housebuilding industry in particular into a state of self-destruction.
BH Southall, manager, technical services, Bloor Homes
So what we need is …
A pause is needed so that there can be a complete rethink about the relationship between planning and Building Regulations. As both of these have become more detailed they are actively treading on each other’s toes and the old separation is beginning to make less and less sense.
Simon Foxell, the Architects Practice
Clear, concise Building Regulations, which are interpreted throughout the UK – not just England and Wales or Scotland or Northern Ireland – would assist in strengthening team strategy and partnering ethos. Keep going!
Elizabeth Russell, Russell Door Technology
Reduce the regulations to the size they were in 1976. All the “guidance” just reduces control in the long run. Take means of escape out of Part B and give it to the fire brigade, give Part P (electrical) to electrical inspection. Get the technical boiler stuff out of Part J – it’s beyond the knowledge and training given, which makes it dangerous! Revamp Part L onto a short side of A4 for just U-values for elements. The current situation is totally ridiculous and is drafted by civil servants with no concept of how it is to be enforced.
Les Clements, building control, Christchurch council
One of the curiosities of the Reform the Regs campaign is how it seems to have fired up Carlisle council’s building control department. Here’s a selection of the replies that we’ve received from Carlisle’s building control officers:
It has become increasingly difficult to understand and implement the Building Regulations. More changes will undoubtedly increase career moves – into the home inspector field! Then what?
Are the changes part of measures to justify jobs for civil servants?
I am new to building control and Part L looks like a nightmare!
Please simplify the approved documents so that they are workable and reasonable and can be understood by people who are not scientists.
Ian Davis, director general, Federation of Master Builders
The Federation of Master Builders has been campaigning for better regulation for years. We are delighted that Building is taking a strong stance on the matter, especially with regard to the new Part L and the problems surrounding it.
The pace of change in Building Regulations (and other regulation) is too fast and both industry and enforcement authorities need more time to consolidate present provisions into common practice. Although individual changes to legislation may be justified, their cumulative effect is proving onerous.
Builders across the UK are calling for a moratorium on Building Regulations. New regulations should not be introduced more frequently than every two years and there should be a period of stability in between.
Graham Watts, chief executive, Construction Industry Council
The Construction Industry Council strongly endorses your campaign. We have seen many problems of overlapping and confusing regulatory effects adding unnecessarily to the cost of construction and acting as a brake on innovation. Our longest-running campaign has been to seek harmonisation of the plethora of regulations that impact on the construction industry and encourage some joined-up thinking in government. Now we have the added problem of regulations being extended in scope with insufficient attention to compliance and enforcement. As always the good pay more to prove they are good but an increasingly large cohort simply don’t bother. We can’t have better regulation without being able to ensure effective implementation.