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The Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy Rating of Dwellings (the SAP rating) is now out and hidden away on the BRE's website. Those expecting the ODPM - the arbiter of the Building Regulations - to notify them of its release should be aware that it has been sneaked out as a publication for DEFRA.

That's the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Coincidentally, DEFRA has no reference to the document on its website.

At the recent Chartered Institute of Building Engineers (CIBSE) conference to discuss Approved Document Part L, Ant Wilson, Faber Maunsell's director responsible for the applied research at the private company charged with effectively overseeing the research and writing of the ADL, criticised those who complained there were 20-odd second-tier documents related to it published by firms other than the lead company.

The benefit of this system, he said, was that every time there was an advance in one area of energy efficiency, there would be no need to reprint the entire ADL, as the revised second-tier upgrade would simply slot into the main document format.

This would be fine if only the system of making architects aware of the forthcoming changes was a little more straightforward and transparent. As it stands, second-tier documents could be published, questioned, amended, legally challenged and revoked for all anyone would know and we'd still merrily be referencing an undated download copy from a government website.

Perhaps we need to build into our ISO:9000 documentation the stipulation that every document must be checked for validity before referencing it.

The bullishness prevalent at the CIBSE conference, by those with vested interests in making the audience dependent on their services, was palpable.

A cynic might conclude that 'confusion', nowadays, is a marketing device. Fortunately, Ted King, the officer within the ODPM responsible for Part L, assured us that there will be 'an extensive dissemination campaign'. Too little: too late.

The new Part L is definitively published in six weeks and comes into force four months from today.

King told the audience the ODPM was reviewing 'with lawyers' how to limit the impact of ADL:2006 on projects already in progress. He said that the 'best advice at present' is that the new amendment will not apply if you have already obtained full plans approval; 'possibly' if you have conditional approvals that do not relate to Part L; and if you have started on site. This possibly relates to 'substantial' starts on site as was the case with ADL:2002, given that the recommendations of the DTLR (Department of Transport Local Government and the Regions) Circular 3/2001 Annex E still apply.

Extrapolating from Annex E implies that the new regs will not apply to work commenced before 1 April 2006 if the building works are in accordance with a building submission and include a commencement notice.

For works commencing after 1 April 2006, the revised regs will not apply, provided that Building Regs approval has been granted without conditions, or that a letter confirming the satisfactory compliance with conditions has been issued and a plans certificate has been accepted by the local authority.

If constructing an estate of houses under a building notice, any of the constituent buildings comprising part of that estate that have not substantially started on site before April 1 2006, will need to comply with the new Approved Document.

At least the man in charge seems to think so?

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