(Image: SEE Monster)
What with war, inflation and an energy crisis we now have the new Building Regulations, a since aborted review ‘ala Gove’ of the NPPF (beautiful) and suggestions of a fundamental overhaul of planning policy (welcomed but be careful what you wish for). There are anecdotes from both sides of the fence – client’s sensing a further imposition on their lifestyles (‘the Chinese dictating how we live’?) to builders predicting a 10% increase in costs while lamenting a happier time when there was no need to demonstrate compliance. And us? We just see it as business as usual then.
The new slogan ‘fabric first’ is not misplaced but it joins a lexicon of others – ‘build back better’ for example. Carbon is not reducing though the rate of growth may be slowing. There is nothing wrong with the changes to the Building Regulations but whilst performance is nominally improved (thermal and airtightness targets a little better) there is little recognition of passive design and meeting the standard does not signify zero carbon compliance. Driving around I see more and more exemplars of the ‘beautiful’ popping up in the most unlikely of places and not dis-similar to any house built in the last four decades.
The single most important change and the least anticipated or welcomed by some is the obligation to evidence - it is what Architect’s already do under contract, POLICE. Quality is poor in construction in the UK (no it really is) and at last Inspectors and the Government have realised that out of sight need not be out of mind. Bravo.