Experts suggest regulations on energy efficiency too lax

It has been suggested by surveyors and building experts that poor building methods are resulting in sub-standard airtightness in new homes across the country and that issues are not being picked up due to building regulations rules that are weak.

The Government has stated that UK homes are now more energy efficient than ever with 83% of new homes meeting Energy Performance Certificate ratings of “B”, compared to existing dwellings where most rated at a “C”. This appears to indicate that new build homes are more energy efficient and that those buying these homes should expect to have lowered energy bills.

However, this has been refuted by experts who say that some new builds have suffered from poor construction methods that are leaving homeowners in the cold. This has been put down to housebuilders trying to meet targets and cutting corners.

Thermal imaging surveyor Paul Buckingham has said that the “dot and dab” method of applying plasterboard is most often the culprit. This method involves applying plasterboard to brickwork with adhesive that is not liberally applied. According to Buckingham, this leads to airtightness gaps. He says that this is not seen in homes built during the 60s and 70s. In fact many homes built in the past are more airtight than today’s building regulations expect.

Buckingham went on to say that housebuilders are often filling gaps with decorators caulk or masking tape in order to pass air leakage tests and that this then deteriorates or is removed. This is backed up by a study by the Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA) which found that temporary sealing was common.

Barry Cope from the ATTMA also points out that building regulations are too lax and allowed air leakage the equivalent of a 20p sized hole for every square metre of wall. He considers this to be too much. Additionally new homes can be subject to sample testing, meaning many homes are never tested. He also points out that home builders are unlikely to change their ways as the time and additional cost are not worth it.