Get ready to have to consider yet another variable when selling doors to home owners. The planned legislation to ban low-level letter boxes is about to get a second reading in Parliament.
The currently planned Brexit day isn’t the only thing to be happening in March. The second reading of the bill is due to be heard in Parliament on March 6th. You’re reading this right. The Brexit process is as complicated as it ever has been, with no clear sign that we will now actually leave on time, if at all. Yet, Parliament is still finding ways to debate bills and create new legislation where it can, and this particular one will have an impact on how we go about our business.
The fact that this is getting a second reading means this bill has momentum and the very real potential to become law. When it becomes law will depend on the process within Parliament. Should everything kick off at the end of March then I guess proposals like this will be kicked down the road so MPs can focus on the bigger things.
That’s not guaranteed, and there is a good chance that after a second reading of the bill in Parliament that it goes to the House of Lords to be debated there. If it gets passed in that house then it goes for Royal Assent where it is then signed into law. So this thing is closer to becoming law than some might think.
For some background of why we’re here and talking about low-level letter boxes click here.
As I understand it, there is enough support in Parliament for this bill to actually pass. There was some doubt at first, mentioned on the BBC even, that it was unexpected to make any progress through the House. But here we are, with a second reading in a couple of weeks time and chances increasing that it’s voted on, passed and becomes law.
It’s going to change how we sell doors.
New design or no letter box
As I understand it, any new law passed on the height of letter boxes in doors will only apply to new-build estates first. The plan is to follow the European rules and ensure that no letter box in any new doors to new homes are no less than 700mm to the ground and no higher than 1700mm. So you have a full 1000mm range to play with.
Any immediate effects would be felt by the big house builders and self-builders. It would become a new Building Regulation to work into their plans. For the bigger builders, it would simply mean changing the design of door they were planning on purchasing in large numbers. This probably won’t register as too much of an issue for them. They won’t have an emotional attachment when it comes to the design of a door. They just want to sell plots. I would say it’s different for self-builders though. These are single projects carried out and paid for by home owners where even the very smallest details matter, including the design of a front door. Will self-builders who have plans for certain designs like to be told that the plans they will have had in place for a long time might now have to change because of where the letter box in the door has to go? I’d say not.
According to what I understand, the new-build market isn’t going to be where this legislation stops. From what I have read it is then to be rolled out to the rest of the market. Now, whether this means that all doors would have to be changed within a certain time period, or whether it’s a factor to look at only when a door is being changed is something I will need to find clarity on. I imagine it would be the latter. I can’t see a situation where home owners are corralled into purchasing a new door just because their existing letter box might be.
So, at some point, our industry is going to have to start explaining to home owners who like certain types of doors that they won’t be able to have a letter box in the door they like because of where it’s fitted in the door. At that point, home owners would have to accept it and find a way round it, like putting a box on their wall. Or, they change their door design, which isn’t ideal if they really like their original choice.
This bill has come about to support postal workers who collectively suffer 50k+ injuries per year due to low-level letter boxes. And if you think this isn’t making waves yet then you’re wrong. I had a couple visit me in the showroom at the weekend who brought this story up. We spoke about it. I can tell you that at least with those people there was little sympathy for their postie and more annoyance that at some point in their future they will have their own personal choices influenced by something as menial (as they see it) as the position of a letter box.
I feel like public opinion on this when it gains proper traction will be split on this.
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