Wales – a sneaky side-step

WalesAD72013I’ve written before on the separation of building regulations in Wales from those in England following the devolution of powers to Welsh Ministers at the end of 2011. At that time I was expecting the Building Regulations in Wales to be unchanged from the 2010 England and Wales regulations until the Welsh Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) was revised later this year. However, it turns out I’ve been blindsided by a small but unexpected side-step last summer.

The unexpected move was a response to the European Union’s Construction Products Regulation, which introduced compulsory CE-marking for relevant construction products from 1st July 2013 (relevant in this case is a short-hand for products for which there is a harmonised European Standard or European Technical Assessment). In England, the necessary changes to guidance were proposed in the 2012 consultation on Building Regulations, together with a draft Approved Document to Regulation 7 which would implement the changes. Following the consultation the new Approved Document came into effect on 1st July 2013.

And what about Wales? Not a peep. Until 29 April, when a consultation on changes to the Approved Document supporting Regulation 7 opened. The consultation also addressed changes to remove the Warranty Link Rule, which requires Approved Inspectors to check a new dwelling is registered with a warranty provider before carrying out any building control function, and to establish a central register for registration and insurance details for Approved Inspectors. The consultation closed on 21 June 2013. The new Approved Document in support of Regulation 7 came into force on 1 September.

What’s changed? Well, the main change is that the Approved Document reflects the implementation of the Construction Products Regulation, with the Ways of establishing the suitability of materials  section updated. There are a couple of other tweaks, but that’s the bulk of it. The Approved Document also has a new format: one column, sans serif type face, headings on a grey background, but mainly very blue – with the surprising exception of defined terms which are bold and green (they really would have been better in blue, but for some reason the notes to the document have been set in blue: hmm).

Some might say a coming-into-force date of 1 September is a bit late: two months late. It’s not great – Northern Ireland managed the change by 1 July 2013, but it still took until 1 October 2013 for Scotland to recognise the Construction Products Regulations in its Building Standards.