As you may now well be aware, updated Building Regulations were published last week. I explored some of the major points that will directly affect the UK fenestration sector and you can read that particular article here.
The major revision that has got everyone talking is Part F and background ventilation. Specifically, trickle vents. Not only has there been a great deal of pushback against the new regulations, but questions were also quickly raised about how companies are going to be policed in complying with new trickle vent regulations.
Who can police new trickle vent regs?
A reminder of what the new Part F regulations say:
1.52 All rooms with external walls should have background ventilators. If a habitable room has no external walls, paragraphs 1.42 to 1.44 should be followed.
NOTE: A window with a night latch position is not adequate for background ventilation, due to the following:
- The risk of draughts.
- Security issues.
- The difficulty of measuring the equivalent area.
Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1040932/ADF1.pdf – pages 22/23
There are alternatives window companies could use instead of trickle vents, such as mechanical ventilation systems in each room or extractor fan systems, but this is unrealistic and so the default option when it comes to background ventilation is going to be trickle vents.
We will come on to the merits of this particular revision to Building Regulations in another post. But for this particular article, we need to address how this policy is going to be enforced and policed.
It was pointed out very quickly in forums that homeowners who strongly resist the use of trickle vents will likely go to the next window company who will simply say yes to their demand not to have them, knowing full well the chances of being caught are slim and will then take business away from companies who intend to work by the new rules.
This is a very likely scenario in my opinion. We know there is a lot of homeowner resistance, and we know there are a lot of installers who dislike trickle vents. It will not be difficult for homeowners to find an installer who will agree to not fit trickle vents.
It’s going to need more than persuasion to change the minds of installers and homeowners on this one. As an industry, we can learn to talk up the benefits of ventilation and try and tackle the upcoming hesitancy that way, but realistically that won’t be the cause of a complete change in attitudes. However, if we can convince installers that this particular rule is going to be enforced properly, via a method that has teeth, with significant chances of installers being caught flouting the new rules, then perhaps you could coerce a larger portion of the installer community to abide by the new regulations.
That is a massive “if”, and if we use past performance, we know that the ability for the industry to police itself is incredibly poor.
The reality of the situation is that this kind of regulation is going to be almost impossible to enforce and police properly. Whether it’s fenestration trade bodies or organisations above that level, the people-power required to check up on installers to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to is massive, and no one has that ability.
Something like this is going to require goodwill and trust. Whilst some installers will get on board with the changes, many won’t, knowing that their customers won’t be swayed and with the knowledge that getting caught is only a slim chance.
Bodies like Certass and FENSA do have to go out and check a certain number of installations per year. But that is only a fraction of a percentage of the installations carried out per year covered. And certain bodies give prior warning of when inspections are going to take place, so it would be easy to fake compliance given the prior notice.
Trade bodies also will not want to see mass action taken against many of their own members. That would cause chaos. So my suspicion is that at some point before June 15th there may well be some changes that would allow background ventilation to be classified as something else which would save a raft of installers being penalised. This is not guaranteed to happen, but I think trade bodies may already be speaking with Government and explaining that in the current timeline allowed, and with the current prospects of compliance being very uncertain, alternatives should be allowed. We will have to wait and see.
To get weekly updates from DGB sent to your inbox, enter your email address in the space below to subscribe:
By subscribing you agree to DGB sending you weekly email updates with all published content on this website, as well as any major updates to the services being run on DGB. Your data is never passed on to third parties or used by external advertising companies. Your data is protected and stored on secure servers run by Fivenines UK Ltd.
The issue of enforcement has been an ongoing issue particularly with the fenestration market and ultimately the wider construction industry. This is why the government have, since Grenfell, accepted all the recommendations from the Hackett report and passed them into law. (The Building Safety Bill is before Parliament) with the new building safety regulator which is part of the HSE. In the first instance the likes of Fensa will start to make assessments to the new regulation. However the government have gone further. You as installers are responsible for the compliance to the regulations (All) “Those responsible for building work… Read more »
If you read the approved documents correctly, it is clear that installers who self-certify their work, if secondary checks are made by FENSA or CERTASS the failure to comply will result in very expensive remedial works and loss our reputation. New build companies will come under more scrutiny from third parties who’s work complement the installed background ventilation I.e more air testing of properties. Correct ventilation should be an “up sell” for a professional organisations the same as the benefits of security hardware. Yes, you will always get the cowboy operations that will short cut the regulations but hopefully these… Read more »
Hi Lee Many thanks for your comment and input into this debate. This is an issue that is going to rage for the next few weeks and months I’m sure! My issue here is that the capacity of FENSA, Certass and others is limited. There are only so many checks a body can make on all their members, which in reality makes up a tiny percentage of all installations carried out per year. It makes it very easy for companies not to abide by any of the new rules. Naturally, the professional companies will in all likelihood carry out work… Read more »
The first Two comments on this post are from Trickle Vent suppliers so are bound to be happy with change in regulations. The main issue for installers are consumers do not like the current trickle vents on offer and do not want them at any cost. I have sat in many homes to be told “you are the first to say we need them” when discussing trickle vents. Non registered jobs have not stopped house sales. Installers can only say no to so many jobs before they have no work and then what happens ? How many salespeople have been… Read more »
What confuses me is, if it is deemed necessary that habitable rooms require 8 or 10,000 sq mm of ventilation, why can the vents be closed.