Electrical Contractors & Air Permeability tests – How to make the right choice

July 26th, 2017 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in Electrical, Energy Saving, Housing Policy, Property Developers | No Comments »

Are you in the preparatory stages of a new build? Maybe you’re ready to bring in an electrical contractor but are worried about how they’ll fare coming up against Part L of the Building Regs? In this article, I’ll be covering how to choose an electrical contractor for a new build that will be required to pass an air permeability test.

What is Part L

In 2006 the government passed Part L of the Building Regs setting the standards for air permeability in certain new builds and extensions in the UK. The Regulation is concerned with the conservation of fuel and power through limiting heat gains and losses via the building’s fabric. Split into 4 parts the documents lay out guidelines for both new and existing buildings.

Air Permeability

A building’s air tightness or air permeability rating is a measure of the uncontrolled flow of air through gaps and cracks in the fabric of the building. Air Permeability testing plays a vital role in determining the energy efficiency of a building. At the end of the building process your building will need to pass and Air Permeability test.

Air Permeability test

At the conclusion of each build that is covered by Part L, the building must pass an air permeability test before it can be signed over. The air permeability rating is arrived at by dividing the amount of uncontrolled air leakage recorded over the total envelope area of the property. To pass an air leakage test, a dwelling must achieve an air permeability result of 10 m3 /(h.m2 ).

What has this to do with electrical contractors?

Gone are the days of each service contractor ‘getting in, getting it done and getting out’. With the passing of Part L of the Building Regs, constructing a successful build that will pass an Air Permeability test means there needs to be a proper collaboration between all trades. Arguably, the trade that has more interaction with Part L during its duties is electrical contracting.

Electrical Contractors vs Air Permeability

Electrical Contractors vs Air Permeability
The electrical work of all new builds effects every room and space of the property. It’s because of this, and due to the fact that electrical contractors must penetrate walls for their pipe and cable work, that their work can have a huge consequence on a build’s airtightness. When choosing an electrical contractor for your build you need to be sure that they are familiar with Part L of the Regs and are experienced in maintaining the demanded standards.

4 things you can do

  • When choosing electrical contractors try and avoid cowboys at all costs, checking through the company’s website should give you plenty of answers. For example, this Sunderland electrician website displays all the accreditations you would expect to see for an approved and reliable installer.
  • Use an electrical contractor that has experience working on new builds under the latest regulations.
  • Keep ahead of things. Ask questions and regularly inspect work that has been carried out. If you’re unsure about something, or feel that a portion of work may affect the Air Permeability test, then enquire about it.
  • Don’t cut corners. Budget is very important, but cutting corners in order to save a few quid on materials or making good a penetration, could come back to haunt you. The cost of remedying a building that has failed the Air Permeability test can be significant.

Things to know and verify

If your electrical team needs to penetrate the envelope of the building have them discuss it with your builders. Make sure that once they have brought in their cables that the breach is made good and is air tight.

All sockets, switches and light fittings need to be tightly fitted and secured.

Consumer/fuse boxes. As the consumer unit is kept out of sight and often conceals the entrance of the main incoming cables, it is important that you carefully verify its installation.

Electrical sockets, switches or fittings should never be temporarily sealed prior to the Air Permeability test. Any build found using such sealants will be instantly failed.

Downlights may be designed to draw in air and must never be temporarily sealed for an air test.

Commercial Builds

If your new build is a non-dwelling property that will be used for commercial purposes then extra attention must be taken concerning all pipework that penetrates the building’s envelope and leads into plant and electrical switch rooms. In these larger builds, poorly sealed pipework can collectively account for a lot of leakage.
Roller Shutter Doors: although roller doors are regulated by British Standards concerning their air permeability, their installation still needs to be closely monitored as they pose more air leakage problems than conventional door types. Always ensure the company fitting your roller door is familiar with working on new builds that will be tested for air permeability.

How to ensure the AP test is passed first time

Although your electrical contractor has an important role to play in helping your new build pass the Air Permeability test, the electrical work is just one of many elements. Passing the test will be the result of careful planning from the outset coupled with good building practices and the correct choice of a contractor. Below is a list of things that must be considered if your building is to pass first time:

Make certain there are no gaps around:

  • Doors, frames, windows and sills
  • Pipes and cables
  • Loft hatches
  • Extraction units
  • Ceiling and wall joints at the eaves
  • Electrical sockets and fittings. All incoming cables
  • The porosity of all exposed mid density breeze block can be greatly improved with a coat of sealant or even thick paint.

On test day

Being properly prepared for test day cannot be underestimated. Check for the following before commencing with the test:

  • Surfaces (floors, walls, ceilings) must be complete with no voids or gaps
  • All trickle vents must be closed
  • Skirting boards need to be correctly sealed
  • All light and power fittings are properly fitted

Is a failed test the end?

A failed test is obviously not the end of your build, but it may be the start of a whole new series of problems. The first will be pin-pointing the problem and discovering which contractor’s work (if any) is responsible for it. This can be a time-consuming and energetic process and you may be looking for one more than one point of vulnerability. This is precisely why you need to keep a constant eye on the construction process.

Summary

  • Good preparation and design. This begins with the architects and the planning stages.
  • Choose a tried and trusted electrical contractor that has a proven history of working on new builds and providing work that complies with Part L Regulations.
  • Show an active interest. It’s your build and the expense of a failed test will fall on your shoulders. Remain vigilant without imposing your presence on your contractors. If you come across work you feel may pose a problem… Ask!
  • Prepare for test day. Good preparation can often be the difference between success and failure.

Garage Insulation – An Expert View

July 14th, 2017 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in Energy Saving, Home Improvements, Insulation, Roofing | No Comments »

It’s a well-known fact that a properly maintained garage can add serious long-term value to your property. However, if fallen into disrepair, or poorly insulated, garages can also act as parasites, siphoning off your fuel energy and allowing the elements in.

First Things First

Before insulating any garage, it is important to know what that garage is going to be used for. Garages can double up as workshops, exercise spaces and games rooms, offices and studios. To know what type of insulation to use it is essential to know what it will be required to do.
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Property conveyancing and legal process – Part 2

June 28th, 2017 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in Guest Articles, Land Registry, Property Conveyancing, Property Market | 4 Comments »

In part 2 of our property conveyancing guide we look at what is involved in the closing stages of the home buying and selling process. You may wish to read Part 1 of the Property Conveyancing Guide here.

Signing the contract

signing contractOnce your lawyer is satisfied that all of his enquiries have been dealt with; he has seen satisfactory search results and he is in possession of his copy of the formal offer of mortgage you will be invited to sign the contract and various other papers. This will either be in person or through the post. You should also receive a report, often called a “property report” at this stage which will set out any salient points arising from the searches and enquiries.

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Property conveyancing and legal process – Part 1

June 22nd, 2017 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in Guest Articles, Land Registry, Property Conveyancing, Property Market | 5 Comments »

What is “conveyancing”? – Simply, it is the legal process of transferring ownership of land and property.

Instructing a lawyer

Once you have decided on a property, made an offer and had that offer accepted it’s time to instruct a lawyer. This can be either a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer. You should try not to pay over the odds for property conveyancing work. When obtaining a quote you should be given a fixed fee but ask for a list of any additional fees charged for different aspects of the transaction.

Instructing a lawyerSome firms might charge an extra fee for completing the SDLT1 form for example, even though this will not need to be done in every case. These additional fees can really push up the final bill. An average bill for professional fees only (i.e not including addtional search fees, land registry fees etc) would probably be around £300-£400 at the moment.

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Can Five Minutes Of Your Time Really Save You £100s A Year?

May 19th, 2017 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in Energy Saving, Top Tips | No Comments »

We are helped out in this day and age when it comes to wanting to switch energy suppliers, but most of us are still very cynical of the whole process. Did you know it can take as little as five minutes to switch, and you could save around £200 in the process over the whole year? Think what else you could spend that money on. Home interiors? Holiday money? Clothes? For just five minutes of your time, it’s silly not to save yourself some money.

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Energy efficiency: how to make your house more efficient

March 22nd, 2017 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in Energy Saving, Home Improvements | No Comments »

At the end of 2015 the Daily Mail asked a simple question: Has Britain created the most efficient home?The four-bedroom home described in the piece allegedly cost a total of £15 a year to power – including heating, lighting, cooking and water – thanks to a pump for pulling in heat, solar panelling, triple glazing and other insulation.

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Accountants call for clarity over scrapping of class 2 NICs

February 6th, 2017 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in News, Press Releases | No Comments »

Top 40 accountants Bishop Fleming are calling on the government to be open and honest about its plans to reform National Insurance Contributions (NICs) paid by the self-employed.
The firm fears that the promised £145 a year saving for the self-employed from the scrapping of Class 2 NICs in April 2018 will be cancelled out by a corresponding tax rise. Whilst some will be better off, many could face an effective tax rise of up to 2%

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M&G Real Estate installs largest shopping centre solar panel system in UK

January 26th, 2017 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in Energy Saving, News, Property Developers | No Comments »

M&G Real Estate, one of the UK’s largest property investors, has announced that it will install the UK’s largest shopping centre solar panel system on the roof of The Galleries shopping centre in Washington, Tyne and Wear.

The system will comprise 1,317 individual photovoltaic panels, covering an area of 41,000 sq ft – equivalent to a professional football pitch – on an otherwise unused part of the centre. New technology to save 165 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually

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Planning Applications for Home Improvements – What’s Hot and What’s Not

January 19th, 2017 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in Home Improvements, Housing Policy, Property Market | No Comments »

In the latest house price index, it was revealed that property in the UK had seen an annual price increase of 6.7%, with the average property now valued at £217,928. Naturally, with a rise in house prices will come an increase in home improvements. Recently, home services marketplace, Plentific.com, ran a survey which found that 1 in 3 renovate their property with the aim of increasing its value. As such, whether buying a new property or updating their current one, many homeowners will plan to renovate to take advantage of the increasing value. Consequently, many areas will see an increased rate of householder development planning applications being submitted to the government. Through these statistics, we can see the latest trends of home improvements in different regions across the UK.

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Canyon Bikes lose Christmas Cheer; profit rules

December 20th, 2016 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in News | No Comments »

So after detailing last week how Canyon Bikes sold me wheels they decided they no wanted to supply in various places across the internet. For eg my open Facebook post to Canyon (which they were asked to comment on) after they deleted my comments on their Facebook page which obviously didn’t fit in with the image they are trying to portray; lets be honest they are doing a good job on the marketing front and I know many are tempted. However, marketing and spin is one thing but backing those claims up are where from my experience they are lacking.

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The Year That Was: PCL prices hold but transactions plummet

December 19th, 2016 HIP-Consultant.co.uk Posted in Buying Property, News, Selling Property | No Comments »

2016 proved a challenging year for the Prime Central London (PCL) property market. The past 12 months not only witnessed a marked slowdown in sales activity as Stamp Duty changes dramatically affected sentiment, but uncertainty has been a recurring theme, both before and following the UK’s Brexit vote.

With the headwinds it has been encountering, this year has seen the PCL market fragment with different dynamics driving the performance of property at the lower end and the luxury end. This has created a watershed at £1m, above which tax is having the most significant effect on investor decisions.

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