Solar panels on the roofs of all new homes will add millions to the cost of housing developments, warns the National Federation of Builders.

The trade body is unhappy with a proposal that they could become mandatory under the Future Homes and Building Standards consultation released this week.

NFB head of policy and market insight Rico Wojtulewicz said: “They’ve pushed photovoltaic panels as a great thing, but they aren’t if they’re merely an add-on and the environment for delivery is flawed.

He said this would require developers to apply to distribution network operators who are licensed to bring electricity from the National Grid to homes and businesses.

“This could involve investment in reinforcing the grid or installing three-phase electricity. There would also be the challenge of finding and paying for an accredited installer.”

Mr Wojtulewicz said that a better use of resources would be for housebuilders to invest more in insulation and the technical details of a home such as the weight of the doors, wall thickness plus air tightness.

“This is why we have always preached a fabric first approach while lobbying for reform of solar policy.”

The UK Green Building Council, UKGBC, said the government couldn’t describe their proposals as a ‘future’ standard as they had opted for the least ambitious option possible.

UKGBC deputy chief executive Simon McWhirter said: “It’s unconscionable that the Government is consulting on scrapping the expectation that new roofs should have solar panels, when this is already widely delivered through current regulations.”

Consultation document leaves out key measures

Mr Wojtulewicz highlighted that while the government is requiring that all homes are ready for electrification by 2025 it hadn’t looked at the warranty period for heat pumps and induction hobs. He said these electrical features could have a shorter life span than their gas counterparts.

The UKGBC said it was disappointed that despite the delay in the consultation the government had not included measures to reduce embodied carbon emissions from construction. Mr McWhirter said this accounted for one in ten tonnes of the UK’s climate emissions.

“Nor has it moved to tackle flood risk or end the huge water waste from new builds that are driving shortages and so much ecological damage.

“The best developers have spent years and millions gearing up for modern green building standards which shows that higher standards are possible.”

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders were keen to fund SME developers who have often proved particularly innovative when it comes to reducing a home’s carbon footprint.

Consultation on the proposals, which includes changes to Part 6, L and F of building regulations and evidence on Par O, closes on the 6th of March next year. The government has said that once introduced there would be no further work needed for new buildings to meet the UK’s 2050 net zero target.

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash.

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