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Robust Details set to cut Part L costs

MATERIALS - Construction methods could be pre-approved for energy efficiency regs

CONTRACTORS could soon be able to use standardised construction methods to build houses and commercial buildings that comply with the latest building energy eff iciency requirements.

The methods, which have been proven to meet stringent new energy efficiency criteria under the latest amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations, will make expensive energy tests on buildings before handover unnecessary.

The Government is in discussion with monitoring company Robust Details to look at methods of enabling house builders to get around carrying out pre-completion air-tightness tests, which will check for compliance with the air leakage requirements of approved document L.

Any proposals would work in a similar manner to those that enable contractors to assume compliance to acoustic rules under the Robust Details scheme for Part E of the Building Regulations.

Robust Details will create a list of methods that comply with Part L.

The body will also help monitor existing and future construction methods to make sure they meet minimum standards set out under the acoustic regulations and now the scheme could be rolled out to cover energy eff iciency regulations.

This should allow house builders to avoid carrying out a full range of expensive tests.

David Baker, managing director at monitoring body Robust Details, claimed the move would be met with a 'sigh of relief' by house builders.

He said: 'Robust Details has been extremely well supported by the industry for Part E and I see no reason why this should not be the case with part L.

'The draft approved document clearly gives leeway for the development of a Robust Details scheme to help house builders avoid the time and expense of testing homes for air tightness prior to sale. This is great news for the industry.' John Garbutt, divisional marketing manager at Kingspan Insulation, welcomed the move but called for more urgency and transparency in the approval system.

He said: 'It is important the Robust Details system does not stifle innovation.

They will be a boon to the industry but new products must be able to be tested and approved for use quickly and easily.'