The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) has welcomed the government's recent announcement that plans to introduce consequential improvement requirements to Building Regulations have been scrapped.
The proposals would have forced homeowners to carry out additional energy-efficiency upgrades on their property at the same time as having any home improvement works completed. For example, when carrying out a loft or garage conversion, upgrading a boiler or replacing windows, the homeowner would also have been required to fit more loft insulation or install renewable heating.
The government's consultation paper was published in March 2012, and many in the construction industry voiced their concerns about the impact these changes could have. In a statement released in December 2012, the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government (CLG), Eric Pickles MP, conceded that the proposals could have a negative effect on the construction industry, deterring homeowners from getting work done and potentially encouraging rogue traders.
John Thompson, chief executive of APHC, said: "APHC are happy that these proposals have now been shelved. The implementation of these proposals would have severely inhibited the plumbing and heating refurbishment market in already difficult trading conditions. I now hope the government will concentrate on supporting the industry by raising the profile of the Green Deal to the consumer market and ensuring a good take up in 2013."
In his statement, Pickles highlighted research by the Energy Saving Trust, as well as analysis by AECOM, which found that consequential improvements would deter 38% of households from going ahead with building work on their homes.
AECOM also found that most installers were against the idea of being responsible for informing homeowners of the consequential improvement requirements, warning that it could make it harder for them to win work, or encourage rogue traders to not inform homeowners of the requirements, in order to keep costs down. There were also concerns about non-compliance, with homeowners facing potential prosecution and £5,000 fines.
Pickles said: "All these concerns point to the danger that introducing consequential improvements would, in fact, discourage people from undertaking home improvements. Having considered all the representations and evidence, including the public reaction, I can inform the House that we will not be going ahead with such regulatory proposals in any way at this point in time.
"There is significant scope to promote take up of the voluntary Green Deal, which allows householders – if they choose – to improve the energy-efficiency of their home without any upfront cost. We intend to work with the industry and local authorities to help increase awareness of the Green Deal amongst householders. More broadly, it is my Department’s stated policy to make it easier for householders to undertake small-scale home improvements and conservatories.
"The cancellation of the council tax revaluation has also avoided the imposition of higher council taxes on home improvements. We have also discontinued the revaluation database and ceased the intrusive collection of data on the scenic views, gardens and patios of families' homes."