Without a trace of irony or remorse, the press release for the launch of the new draft Part L last month proudly states that the documents have been released 'two years ahead of schedule'.
Blind to the fact that everyone else in the industry recognises that they were, in fact, three or six months late (depending on your point of view), screwing up a lot of scheme proposals and messing manufacturers and contractors around in the process, the ODPM seems to think that everyone should have been gearing up already anyway.
But gearing up for what? Even this document comes with the proviso 'subject to amendment' and will not be definite until its implementation in April 2006.
We have to work on the assumption that nothing will change, but who knows?
Ted King, the ODPM officer in charge of producing the Approved Document Part L (ADL), kept on telling me, even up until a few days before the scheduled date of release, that they were still aiming for a launch at the end of July and implementation on 1 January.
He then went on holiday for three weeks. Nonchalantly building in such uncertainty is not good for an industry that is not fully confident about the rapidly changing nature of regulatory advice.
The ADL (Fuel Conservation) documents are downloadable from the ODPM website, as is the Draft Part F (Ventilation). The site is a maze to navigate - and it refuses to date documents - but the downloads are of a manageable size. Links are available at www. ajplus. co. uk The documents comprise:
ADL1A for construction of new dwellings and extensions;
ADL1B for work in existing buildings; ADL2A for construction of new nondomestic buildings; and ADL2B for work in existing non-domestic buildings.
More detail is given about these various documents overleaf, but, in brief, the key points of ADL make airpressure testing mandatory;
include just one calculation method for dwellings and non-domestic buildings - instead of the three currently available to architects; set maximum carbon dioxide emissions for whole buildings;
insist that government-funded residential buildings need to comply with the more stringent Code for Sustainable Buildings (yet to be published) and create a self-certification scheme 'to ensure a high level of compliance'. Even though there is no mandatory requirement to include renewables - described as 'Low and Zero Carbon' (LZC) technologies - there is a clear moral pressure so to do.
The ODPM has published some guidance on LZC on its website 'to help designers'.
Other documents to look out for are ADF: Means of Ventilation, which is issued on the same timescale as the ADL series; and the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD) which comes into effect on 1 January 2006.
This sets an energy rating for all buildings that needs to be placed in a visible location.
Also, SAP tests are being revised to factor in weather, orientation, lighting and indoor climate; the 'Secure and Sustainable Buildings Act 2004' will have untold repercussions and the Housing Act's requirement for Home Information Packs includes a Home Condition Report that will document various measures that might improve the building's performance. Finally there are the semi-independent local legislative measures such as Ken Livingstone's demands for 10 per cent renewableenergy use in new buildings, coming to a planning department near you soon.
Please turn over for more detail, or should I say, please roll over for more regulations.