With new Building Regulations coming into play on 15th June 2022, Certass Trade Association hosted a special Facebook live event in their award-winning forum to answer member queries about Approved Document F. Below, we take a look at some of the most common questions, answered by Certass TA Chair Jon Vanstone.
What’s happening in ventilation?
Ventilation has been at the forefront of discussions around improving the health of homes for a while now and the guidance in Approved Document F has certainly caused some upset within our industry.
As a sector, we have spent many years telling homeowners how important it is to improve the energy efficiency of our homes, making them airtight, adding extra insulation, removing draughts and helping to keep heat inside. With climate change and going green high on everyone’s agenda, this messaging has worked in our favour.
Unfortunately, this has now caused an opposite problem – unhealthy homes caused by a lack of ventilation. Bad ventilation in a building doesn’t just mean that we may have excess condensation and mould on our window sills – a recent study found that poor housing conditions costs the NHS more than £600m a year, with damp and poor ventilation being one of the top three biggest issues.
Many of those glazing parties who took time to respond to the consultation on ventilation back in Summer 2020 pushed trickle vents as a solution for improving ventilation within homes, saying it’s one that was within easy reach of our sector.
Unfortunately, there was little consideration given to homeowners’ aversion to trickle vents and the fact that fitting trickle vents into windows generally involves punching holes in good, high-performance products and ruining their thermal and acoustic performance – often the reasons why they are investing in new windows in the first place.
There are other methods of ventilation that can be fitted in homes instead of trickle vents in windows, and we are advising members that like-for-like replacements are ok under the rules, as long as the property is suffering no ill-effects from poor ventilation and homeowners are made aware that alternative means of ventilation should be installed in the home.
But we do need to remember that as part of the home improvement sector, we should be striving to help improve the quality and health of the homes we work in.
Certass TA has released a thorough guidance document which is available for all members to download in the Members’ Area, as well as guidance for homeowners and additional document templates.
The guidance features simple flowcharts and document templates to help installers and surveyors decide whether trickle vents can be omitted from the installation as well as alternative ventilation strategies.
What are the alternative ventilation methods?
Where window replacement is taking place as part of a wider whole house renovation, it may be possible that background ventilation is to be provided by air bricks or even whole house mechanical ventilation. This work may be carried out at a later stage than the window replacement. Where this is the case, evidence will be required by work registration schemes, such as Certass, that the consumer intends to carry out this additional work.
What if the windows have night vents?
Approved Document F does not consider a window with a night latch position adequate for background ventilation based on security issues.
How do we educate homeowners?
There is work to be done to educate homeowners and consumers on why these regulations have been put in place and promote a unified message alongside the likes of TrustMark, Which?, the National Home Improvement Council and Local Authority Building Control.
What if homeowners refuse trickle vents in their windows?
There are document templates to help installers prove that they have advised the homeowner to include trickle vents and agreed that the homeowner has taken responsibility for installing additional ventilation instead.
How will the rules be enforced?
I am currently talking to key government figures to understand how these new regulations will be enforced. If we do not toughen up on enforcement, the goal of safer, healthier and more energy efficient buildings is unlikely to be achieved, as those who follow the rules cannot compete with the ‘cowboys’ who will ignore the regulations and see it as another commercial advantage that can be played to the homeowner.