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How the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards impact consent under the Building Regulations

15/12/2018

A client is buying an industrial unit which is unheated. The building was entirely re-roofed in 2016, but no building regulations consent was obtained by the seller. Given the lack of heating in the building, would the work require consent under the building regulations? Lodders’ Real Estate partner, Alastair Frew, explains.

The Government’s Planning Portal explains that Building Regulations consent is required for all structural works, although there is an exemption if the works are simply repairs to a roof involving less than 25% of the area of a pitched or flat roof. If the new roof is structurally different from the previous one, then building regulations consent is required, as it may affect the structural integrity of the rest of the building or change the way that the building responds in the event of a fire.

The regulations

Practice Note: Energy efficiency—Part L of the Building Regulations discusses the new regulations regarding energy efficiency. Put simply, most building works are subject to building regulations such that all new works are to be carried out in order to promote energy efficiency.

The UK Building Regulations 2010 (Building Regulations 2010), SI 2010/2214, Sch 1, Part L now requires consent to be obtained if any works are planned which will change the energy standards of the building’s fabric. New buildings are faced with increased construction standards, and these standards are applied also to alterations to existing buildings.

The query raises a slight confusion—Building Regulations 2010, SI 2010/2214, Sch 1, Part L, as with the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 (MEES Regs 2015), SI 2015/962 (see Practice Note: Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)—non-domestic property within the scope of MEES), provides an exemption for a ‘building with a low energy demand’. This means that buildings such as barns or warehouses which are typically left open to the elements, and are therefore unheated, do not have to comply with the MEES Regs 2015, SI 2015/962 and do not require an energy performance certificate. Putting a new roof covering on an unheated industrial building would, therefore, not necessarily require an application for building regulations consent.

What does this mean?

This does not mean that buildings that should be heated, but are not, also get an exemption; if the developer simply chooses not to install heating into a building, that does not magically turn it into a building with a low energy demand.

This Q&A relates to an industrial building which is unheated but which would ordinarily have heating. In these circumstances, the owner must comply with both the MEES Regs 2015, SI 2015/962 and Building Regulations 2010, SI 2010/2214. Commonly, part of the building is heated even if the main warehouse is not. Even warehouse buildings often have heating, so this is an issue which would require careful consideration.

If the industrial building would genuinely never be heated, and the new roof does not constitute a structural alteration or one which would interest the Fire Authority, then no building regulations consent would be required.

This article was first published by LexisNexis.

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For more information on this article, please contact Alastair Frew on 01789 206117 or drop him an email.