More than half of SME builders feel unprepared for imminent changes in building regulations to improve energy efficiency, claims the Federation of Master Builders, FMB.

New rules on ventilation, conservation of fuel and power, overheating and infrastructure for charging electric vehicles come into force on the 15th of June.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Over 50 per cent of small, local builders are not yet prepared or are not aware of the changes. This puts them at real risk of delivering new homes or projects that fall short of the new regulations.”

Mr Berry described the latest practical guidance on the changes as complex and difficult for ‘time-poor’ smaller builders to get their heads around.

“We are urging the government to provide clear guidance to help make sure small builders are informed of the changes.”

Repairs, maintenance and improvement sector up against it

He said this was especially important as the repairs, maintenance and improvement sector would be hit on the first day of changes, 15th June. Those in the housebuilding sector who submit plans before that date have one year to construct their development under the existing rules.

The changes are interim measures ahead of the future homes and building standards expected in 2025.

Property finance intermediary Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders backed the campaign for the government to make guidance clearer for SMEs so they could build with confidence.

The concern among smaller builders about the new regulations was a key feature in the FMB’s latest quarterly state of the trade survey.

Rising prices and material costs were also a major concern for respondents. Nearly all the FMB members, 98 per cent, reported an increase in material costs with 61 per cent experiencing a rise in wages and salaries. About four out of five said they had increased their charges for work.

Although the FMB has welcomed the scrapping of VAT on energy-efficient improvements on the 1st of April, it would like to see this extended to all repairs and maintenance work.

“Removal of VAT on all repairs and maintenance jobs, would lower costs for consumers ensuring work doesn’t drop off for builders,” said Mr Berry.

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