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Time for guidance through the maze of revisions to the regs

As CABE gathers momentum, and with an increasingly outward-looking RIBA, architecture's relations with government are at an all time high. Initiatives such as the government's commitment to design champions or to better public buildings have not only been established but, crucially, have been eloquently explained. Yet the new-found expertise in the dissemination of information appears to have bypassed a rather more mundane, but essential, aspect of governmental involvement in construction, namely the constant revision of regulatory guidance.

This week's technical and practice article on the revisions to Approved Documents Parts H and J (combustion appliances and drainage) may not instantly grab your attention. But since the DTLR is relying on the press to advise the profession of such changes, you would be well advised to keep it to hand.

As with our supplement on changes to Part L (AJ 28.2.02), finding the information for the article was something of a challenge. It took months of phone calls to establish when the changes might be available and, once the information was finally released, the DTLR declined to send a hard copy on the basis that the document was on the Internet and therefore possible to download. It is. But at 126 pages it might be tricky to find the right moment in the working day. Getting hold of the paperwork, however, is relatively simple compared with deciphering the documents. The latest version of Building Regulations Approved Document Part J, for example, is meticulously researched and infinitely more informative than the version which was issued two years before. But it is also some five times thicker - with few clues as to how to pinpoint the key points of departure from its predecessor.

It is flattering that the architectural press has been entrusted with the task of translating and disseminating regulatory change, but it is a decidedly arbitrary means of circulating essential information. Having proved so adept at talking to government, perhaps the RIBA or CABE could devise a means of working with the DTLR to keep architects up to date with regulatory change.

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