Following the recent update to Part F ventilation regulations that came into force this year, Gardinia General Manager Allan Hinchliffe reviews the standard for fabricators and installers.
As part of The Future Homes Standard 2021, a government led project aiming for a 31% reduction in CO2 by June 2022, there have been updates to Part L, F and O building regulations. At the time of writing, the changes apply to installations in England, with other nations in the UK predicted to revise during 2022. The goal for fenestration products is to reduce U values from 1.6 to 1.4 by 15th June 2022, with reports of this goal further reducing to 0.8 by 2025.
In this article I will try to simplify what installers and fabricators, who intend to supply to England, need to be aware of now the June 15 2022 deadline has passed.
As we continue to manufacture windows and doors with improved U values by offering better compression and insulating properties, they have become more airtight. This has a knock-on effect in the building fabric with overheating, increased condensation and health implications from potential mould build up. Circulating air is good for us, and that is what Part F is looking to achieve.
The new standard requires additional ventilation to circulate air in living spaces and this can be achieved in a number of ways, through mechanical ventilation, extractor fans or trickle vents. By far the most economical and practical solution is to use trickle ventilation in both new build and the replacement market. The impact of building design is limited, the cost of product and installation is also a lot easier to control.
Over the years there have been many attempts at enhancing ventilation standards in the past and due to ineffective communication, grey areas & interpretation of building regulations, some installers have managed to avoid following them or simply ignored the requirement.
It seems to me that enforcement is likely to be far more steadfast than ever before, with Local Authority Building Control (LABC) in charge of policing New Build installations, requiring confirmation that each building complies. While for the replacement market competent persons schemes will also be involved in ensuring installations follow the rules, alongside LABC’s.
The ultimate responsibility falls with the installer to guarantee their installations comply with regulations and we feel it’s our obligation to ensure that we make the homeowner aware of the necessary arrangements to supply compliant product and understand the regulations now required.
The old criteria was as below prior to the June 15 2022 deadline:
Current building regulations state that it is only mandatory to install trickle ventilators within a replacement window if there was a trickle ventilator within the existing window. This is so buildings that were originally designed to have background ventilation continue to do so. Removing such vents could lead to serious problems with condensation at any point of the room where it loses heat (a thermal bridge) and not just on the windows themselves.
Be aware – Homeowners note that this is no longer acceptable and document F now supersedes and replaces the above criteria. It is not optional and responsibility has been passed to all building control authorities to police this and the inspection bodies for all home installations I:E Fensa, Certass GGF etc are now duty bound to inform building control that the installation carried out has been done below the required standard and therefore has failed inspection.
What does this mean to the homeowner?
In basic laymen’s terms replacement windows and doors now have to be installed with trickle vents to the same regulations as a new build / extensions otherwise the installation will be registered as failed & therefore cannot be issued as a building control fit for purpose certified installation. This means that the local council may impose a fine and a requirement to make the installation fit for purpose.
Doing this after the event will be extremely costly and will likely mean that the new windows and doors are damaged as they will need cutting routing and fitting in situation and may even require scaffolding erecting to gain access to the elevations.
However the more worrying issue for the home-owner will be that the installation remains on file as a non-compliant project which means when the homeowner comes to selling the property they will find that the property is un-able to be sold as the home has been filed as not correctly compliant. This will be both stressful and costly to correct especially should you have a buyer or be part of a chain.
Does this make it better for customers and their properties in the long term? well time will tell, there is certainly a rational argument to be made for ensuring that homes are properly ventilated and that mould, condensation and harmful spores are eradicated to properties. However we also need to keep these same buildings quiet, insulated, warm and energy efficient. I am not sure making holes through the top of windows and placing trickle vent covers over them is the best way to tackle this, especially in a time of rocketing gas and electric prices.
However, there is no going back and I suspect it will become one of those “it is what it is items”, without a shadow of doubt the answer is to get it right at the beginning and to make the customer aware of the requirement to fit the trickle vents as part of the installation. Not to do so would make me question who I was dealing with and would stop me even considering using them as a company.
It certainly will not be something levelled at Gardinia Windows.