Uncertainty has been cast over the future impact on the construction sector of planned changes to the Building Regulations following calls to move the 2013 Part L review forward a year.

As reported in Building magazine, Minister for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Stunell, has instructed civil servants to check the feasibility of bringing the next Part L review forward to 2012.

Changes to Part L introduced this year will require a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions for dwellings and non-domestic buildings. The changes originally planned for 2013 will see a further 20% reduction. Bringing these forward by 12 months promises massive disruption to the planning of product manufacturers, contractors and developers who are already enduring tough economic conditions.

Industry experts quoted by Building predict that bringing forward the next revision by a year would introduce a lot of uncertainty, with such reviews increasing the cost of construction. Simon Rawlinson, senior partner at Davis Langdon was quoted as saying: “If you only have two years to buy a site and design the scheme, it might make people more nervous about the earlier stages of development opportunity.”

HCD Group Director, Steve Highwood, agrees: “Achieving the next set of Part L changes by 2013 was always going to be challenging. This move will introduce a lot of uncertainty into the industry, making it even more difficult to ensure cost certainty for many new schemes. In a fluid situation such as this, it makes sense to follow the Government’s transitional arrangements to minimise the cost hike of meeting the higher standards by satisfying the criteria that will allow contractors and developers to continue using the current 2006 standards once full appreciation of the Part L implications and software are understood.”

The news comes as the Communities Department confirmed that this year’s planned Part L revision was still awaiting approval from the Government’s Reducing Regulation Committee. Nevertheless, Stunell maintained the 2010 revision would take effect from October this year.