The often-dreaded Part L is to become yet more onerous for developers of new build properties from April 2014. A 6% improvement over the current standards of energy efficiency is anticipated.

Changes announced by the government at the end of July are intended to save businesses £16m through reduced energy costs and save the release of 6.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Whether the former is really going to be noticed given the rate at which energy costs are rising is questionable and the latter is certainly an impressive number, whether or not you believe carbon dioxide is really the #1 evil in the world…

The changes follow a consultation and are perhaps more lenient that some had feared. They are intended to trail a move towards zero carbon homes becoming a realistic target however, so further revisions may not be too far away. Energy savings pursuant to the new regulations are said to outweigh the costs of compliance, but only time will tell if that is the case. The cost of compliance is also of course an up-front capital cost, whereas any energy savings can only be recouped over a lengthy period of time. Further, such savings will only materialise if the building performs as the calculations suggest that it should, which, just like the official fuel consumption of most new cars, can be very far indeed from reality.

Those extending existing homes and replacing windows have escaped a threatened strengthening of minimum energy efficiency standards, which would indeed have been inconsistent with the extended permitted development rights, aimed at boosting work for local trades people and giving people the opportunity to increase the size of their homes more readily. The prospects of making savings outweigh the costs were also considered unlikely.