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RIBA: 'Building Regs are impenetrable and alienating'

The RIBA has called on the government simply the current building regulations, which the institute has branded ‘impenetrable and alienating’

Responding to a consultation on future changes to building regulations, the institute has written to LibDem MP Andrew Stunell, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government calling for the regulations to be put into plain English and co-ordinated with other building development legislation.

RIBA President Ruth Reed said: ‘We do not need more regulation, but better regulation.

‘The UK Building Regulations come from firm foundations, but in recent times have become complicated and disorganised through uncoordinated and piecemeal amendment and addition. Changing requirements on energy performance will require better regulation and monitoring of compliance meanwhile in other areas regulation can be simplified and reduced.’

The key issues were raised for the Minister to consider:

  • Coordinating regulation
    Review all related building legislation, including Planning, and integrate compliance under the jurisdiction of Government.
  • Reducing complexity
    Reform the Building Regulations and their practical guidance (Approved Documents) to provide clear, concise, flexible regulations, which contain all the performance standards and explanation of their objectives. They should be written in clear practical language, and co-ordinated with other building development legislation across the UK
  • Simplifying guidance
    Revise the Approved Documents to be self-contained practical guidance on compliant typical construction details for less complex projects and processes without reliance on third party documentation.
  • Planning implementation
    Establish a planned implementation process for any new or revised Building Regulations, allowing for full consultation, training and gearing-up by the construction industry, as well as for practical compliance processes.
  • Achieving compliance
    Measurement and feedback of results is a necessity, but for those who ignore, flout or stray from the required performance we must have effective enforcement and as a last resort real penalties for non compliance.
  • Improving building performance
    Establish a greater relevance for the Building Regulations in improving the existing building stock by creating targeted incentives and awareness for building owners and users to improve the performance standards of existing buildings.

Readers' comments (3)

  • John Kellett

    I am not sure that revising the Approved Documents "to be self-contained practical guidance on compliant typical construction details for less complex projects and processes without reliance on third party documentation" is such a good idea.
    As architects / chartered technologists / chartered building surveyors we should be more than capable of detailing buildings to meet the Building Regulation requirements. To provide an easy option for the untrained and unqualified to design buildings seems insane, there is enough incompetent construction detailing and design without the need to promote it!
    My local authority planning website is full of unbuildable, non-functioning and ugly projects that receive planning permission. Heaven help the poor client when the construction drawings are prepared!

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  • Having worked in Germany for the past few months, I think the UK building regulations (via approved documents) are actually very easily understood (with a few exceptions!). Try using building regulations with only text and no drawings/diagrams!

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  • John Kellett

    The 1976 Building Regulations were just as you describe, they were concise, legible and less open to interpretation. In fact the Building Regulations still are well written, it is the approved documents that are contradictory, wooly and open to interpretation.

    To use an analogy. There are many ways to skin a cat but to only go into detail about how to do it with a pair of scissors seems a bit odd.

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