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07 Apr 2022 < Back

Approved Document F - the key changes

There are an estimated 25-27 million homes in the UK and new ones are built at the rate of approximately 180-200,000 per year. The vast majority of ventilation equipment goes into solving ventilation related problems in existing homes, yet most guidance in Approved Document F (means of ventilation) relates to the relatively small number of new builds per year. For some time one of the key objectives of the PCA’s Residential Ventilation Group (RVG) has been to get Approved Document F to reflect this and provide greater focus on existing buildings. At the end of 2021 and to virtually no fanfare, the revised version of Approved Document F was released and we are pleased to say, does provide the much needed focus on existing buildings.

The role ventilation plays

The PCA has a membership of over 400, who between them, visit thousands of existing homes each year suffering the consequences of poor ventilation. It is rare, if ever, they will survey a property where all the above conditions of Approved Document F have been achieved. With the demand to make our buildings more airtight, the Homes Act, changing expectations of occupants, growing pressure on housing providers and the role that proper provision of ventilation plays, is becoming increasingly significant and this trend is only set to continue. Whilst published at the end of 2021 the changes take effect from 15th June 2022. So let's take a look through the revised document....

But what are the key changes?

Well first off, the document is now split in two: Dwellings and Buildings other than Dwellings. Our focus has very much been about residential building, therefore, we will focus on Volume 1: Dwellings. The document now starts with an introduction, an explanation of the approved documents and the role they play in complying with the building regulations. At first glance, another obvious change is it now has a much simpler layout and is easier to understand and to follow - another big win. The document has changed quite significantly and we cannot cover all the changes in this short blog. Importantly though, the requirements remain the same and in simple terms - provide enough ventilation and test and commission to establish you have.

Welcomed improvements

One of the biggest improvements is the clarity given for when it applies in existing buildings. For example, if replacing part of an existing ventilation system or when works are being carried out, will reduce the levels of ventilation in the building. Combining the information from domestic ventilation compliance guides is also a welcome step. Providing the information in this document, rather then sending the user off somewhere else, reduces the number of hurdles and should encourage greater compliance.

Missed opportunity?

Unfortunately there is still some silliness suggesting that if a building has lime render or mortar, it may not need ventilation! Greater acknowledgement of Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) would also have been beneficial, as this is one of the most common ventilation strategies used in existing buildings. Providing clarity on minimum standards around this would have been a forward step and most certainly, a missed opportunity.

Overall

Whilst the majority of these changes must be applauded, it has always been my personal view that the issue has never been the content of the approved document, but rather the lack of enforcement of it. Ventilation has always suffered from this “great race to the bottom” and the changes to this document alone, will not be enough to change this. If we are serious about improvement to the standards of ventilation in our existing building stock, then we need a systematic culture change...

Approved Document F - Volume 1: Dwellings >>

 

Keen to know more?

The role that ventilation plays in providing a "moisture safe" environment has never been more significant and as we continue to adapt our existing building stock to our modern day needs, this will only become more so. If you are keen to know more about how the world of dampness in buildings is set to change going forward, as we embrace future technologies and look to solve our sustainability challenges, then come along to the Property Care Conference, which this year takes place on Thursday 22nd September 2022. The PCA conference programme delivers a series of dedicated conferences for all sectors of the property care industry it represents. Conferences are open to all, including both PCA members and non-members.

PCA Conferences - Find out More >>


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