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Building Regulations in The News – January Recap

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Building Regulations in The News – January Recap

Here is the next in our series of Building Regulations in the news where we have summarised all the latest building regulations news from January. This month’s article focuses primarily on the continued discussion around fire safety in high rise buildings due to the ongoing Grenfell talks, however, also looks at ANC’s Guide to Acoustics, Ventilation and Overheating.

The B4 Requirement

There were significant changes made in December to Building Regulations in respect to the use of combustible materials in external walls of ‘relevant’ buildings, this being a residential building having a floor level exceeding 18m above external ground level.

These changes were developed in a manner that was to work alongside (not instead of) the pre-existing requirement B4-(1) of Schedule 1, Part B of the regulations, the requirement being: “The external walls of a building shall adequately resist the spread of fire over walls and from on building to another, having regard to the height, use and position of the building”.

Although the focus on recent months has been on buildings over 18m, it is vital that as an industry, you do not lose sight that the requirement relates to building of all heights.

The Proposal of New Fire Safety and Building Regulations

In June 2019, a building safety regulatory reform consultation paper applicable to both existing and prosed multi-occupied residential buildings 30m in height or more was issued by the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government. Within this, the consultation indicated the trigger height could potentially be reduced to 18m.

The consultation paper is a further development of the findings in Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report and considers both the structural safety and fire safety of a building. If the reform proposals are accepted, they will become mandatory requirements.

The consultation paper also set out a series of proposals, one being the forming of a new regulatory body called the Building Safety Regulator (BSR). It will be responsible at a national level for:

  • Oversight of building safety and wider regulation
  • Oversight of operation and enforcement of the new regime for high-rise residential buildings and setting guidance
  • Advising government on what buildings should be included in the scope of the new regime, by developing and analysing evidence on risk
  • Oversight of competence of people working on buildings, including keeping a register of those competent to take on key duty holder roles in the new system and providing guidance on where to find qualified people to work on buildings in scope

ANC Guide to Acoustics, Ventilation and Overheating

ANC began 2020 by launching their Acoustics, Ventilation and Overheating(AVO) Residential Design Guide. The guide was produced after nearly two years of research and provided a resource for practitioners and designers to balance the interdependence of noise, ventilation and overheating in the acoustic assessment of new residential developments.

However, it is primarily intended for the consideration of new residential developments that will exposed to airborne sound from transport sources and to sound from mechanical services service the specific dwelling.

The issue of noise, ventilation and overheating is becoming more and more important due to increasing drive towards more energy efficient homes as well as the changing climate patterns. The AVO guide will provide a useful reference point in an issue of growing significance. Please click here to view the guide.