Greening future homes

Victoria Brocklesby of Origin discusses how the Future Homes Standard legislation will impact housebuilding, and offers her advice to self-builders and renovators on how to comply when it comes to windows

The UK is placing more onus on ‘green building’ than ever before, demonstrated by the new Future Homes Standard legislation which is set to push the bar higher for thermal efficiency in new properties and home improvements. 

What is the Future Homes Standard?

The Future Homes Standard is landmark legislation that was first announced in the Government’s 2019 Spring Statement. It states that all new homes built from 2025 will have to produce 75-80% fewer carbon emissions than previous regulations, and renovations to existing properties should be more carbon efficient too.

Although the full details are yet to be announced as a consultation process is currently underway, energy efficiency requirements for buildings, as of 2025, will be far more stringent.

This will impact self-builders and renovators planning new properties or home improvement projects for 2025 and beyond. Even those looking to replace windows or build an extension will also be subject to these higher standards. 

What is the Future Homes Standard consultation?

Currently still in progress, the Future Homes Standard consultation is discussing the requirements for energy efficiency within the housebuilding industry. This is to support the industry in achieving the targets initially outlined in 2019. The consultation had been scheduled to end on 6 March 2024 but was extended through to 27 March 2024. 

The consultation is a result of the pushback from the wider construction industry against the proposed changes. Many argued that meeting the higher standards may lead to increased costs, which potentially could result in higher house prices or fewer building projects. Others stated that the transition is too fast and does not leave manufacturers enough time to adjust their products or develop new ones. 

It will certainly be interesting to see how it develops, and whether the government is brave enough to stick to its original plans, despite the industry pushback. We know first hand how challenging it is to meet these stricter regulations, but it is possible.

My advice to self-builders is to be as prepared as you can be. If you’re planning a project for 2025, ensure you’re carrying out comprehensive research into how best to meet the requirements, which products you are investing time and money in, and which suppliers are already compliant or have plans in place to be as it proves their commitment to energy efficiency.

Both self-builders and renovators should pay close attention to the U-values in a project; a measure that tells us the energy efficiency of all building materials, including windows and doors. Put simply, the lower the U-value, the better the insulating effect.

The government is currently asking for window U-values of 1.2 and door U-values of 1.0. However, the consultation could bring these U-value requirements lower, meaning that manufacturers that have only just met the Part L changes, which were introduced as a halfway measure, may struggle to meet the new requirements. What’s more, as per the Future Homes Standard guidelines, retrofitting later is not allowed – so if you go ahead regardless, you may be in troubled water. 

Victoria Brocklesby is co-founder and COO at Origin