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Government to launch building standards review

Government to launch building standards review

2 November 2012 Email this article

A Government review of regulations affecting the construction industry could see building standards such as fire safety, wheelchair access and energy efficiency torn up in a Government plan to cut costs for the construction industry and boost the economy. 

Controversially, the review also includes the option of giving the building industry more scope for self-regulation.

Figures show that construction contracted by 2.5 per cent in the third quarter of this year, and it is hoped that pruning existing regulations will help the industry improve its performance. Among the specific themes under examination are energy, water, security, accessibility, and even the amount of space available in new homes.

Reactions to this news have been mixed. The Home Builders Federation, a member of the review group, welcomed the initiative citing several regulations that are outdated and too expensive to adhere to, such as the suggestion in the Code for Sustainable Homes that all new builds should include a home office to help owners lower their carbon footprint by working from home.  

However, some large construction firms have suggested that red tape isn’t a barrier to building and that removing standards could even slow down building by causing confusion and encouraging developers to delay starting projects. Many have also suggested that the idea that building standards are barrier to growth is a red herring, and that the Government should instead focus its attention on making it easier for small developers and homebuyers to borrow money.  

Gordon Leicester, Managing Director at Facelift, commented: “While scaling down some of the ‘nice-to-have’ rather than ‘mission critical’ building regulations may be beneficial, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that most building regulations are there for very important reasons – to keep the buildings the construction industry creates safe, efficient and long lasting. Whether this is a genuine attempt to increase the efficiency of the construction sector or a misplaced attempt to reduce regulation at the expense of standards and safety remains to be seen.”