On 19 February 2016, the Department for Communities and Local Government launched its objectives for 2015 to 2020 announcing the ambition to deliver 1 million new homes over the next 5 years. However, there are a number of factors that determine the future of effective housing supply in the UK, from the availability of land to construction speed, and from keeping up to date with new technologies to knowing the latest version of each building regulation.
Although many aspects of life have changed in the last half-century, the basic processes of house building remain the same. We still need to lay foundations, carry out groundwork and landscaping, erect walls and framing, fit windows and roofs, install electrics, plumbing and other services. And, where speed may be of the essence, since a lack of housing is imminent, we cannot lose sight of the quality of our buildings. The need to provide quick delivery whilst also maintaining building quality, highlights the requirement to not only keep track of new technologies, but also adapt building regulations accordingly in line with such technological advances.
Building Regulations in their current form for England and Wales were introduced by the Building Act 1984, though national regulations were first introduced in the late 1950s, with Scotland being the first country in the British Isles to adopt them. The regulations have been periodically updated over the years, with the latest, category Q (Security), being introduced in October 2015. All building processes need to be conducted to an acceptable standard and must pass the test of Building Control Regulations. These Regulations cover every aspect of building construction, from the structural fabric of the building to the electrics and plumbing. They are designed to ensure that the health, safety, welfare and convenience of people are not compromised in the building space and the work is of a high standard.
Building control officers keep an eye on proceedings and pass or fail the work as outlined in the Regulations, because for ongoing building to be sustainable, it’s not just where we build, but also how we build.
Building Control when times are changing
There have been a lot of changes in the building sector, but what’s changed most perhaps are the products and supplies themselves used to carry out the work. Understanding more and more about building technology, applying scientific theory to building construction, has led to new and innovative products being required and developed. For example, the last 50 years have seen a move towards addressing environmental issues and a greater understanding of the energy savings home-owners can make, like the use of improved building and insulation material. Innovations in the building industry add to the home comforts, but they are also parts of the process that must be closely monitored by Building Control officers.
Besides keeping track of the changes in the industry, builders and developers must also address and meet the high expectations of customers wanting more value from their investments. Aspects that might once have been deemed luxuries – such as secondary glazing and sound-proofing – are now commonplace. In turn, Building Control needs to keep up with all the new developments, and be flexible and familiar with upgrades and amends. New products and methodologies are being enhanced and introduced all the time, and keeping up to speed is all part of Building Control’s role in an era where building homes is high on the Government’s agenda.
We know that staying up to date with regulations can be time-consuming, but other aspects of building control shouldn’t be.
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