Regulation Update: All new buildings to produce nearly a third less carbon

Regulation Update: All new buildings to produce nearly a third less carbon

New buildings in England will have to produce significantly less CO2 under new rules announced by the government to help the country move towards net zero.

Under the new regulations, CO2 emissions from new build homes must be around 30% lower than current standards and emissions from other new buildings, including offices and shops, must be reduced by 27%.

Heating and powering buildings currently makes up 40% of the UK’s total energy use.

Installing low carbon technology, such as solar panels and heat pumps, and using materials in a more energy efficient way to keep in heat will help cut emissions – lowering the cost of energy bills for families and helping deliver the UK’s climate change ambitions.

All new residential buildings, including homes, care homes, student accommodation and children’s homes, must also be designed to reduce overheating, making sure they are fit for the future and protect the most vulnerable people. Improvements to ventilation will also be introduced to support the safety of residents in newly-built homes and to prevent the spread of airborne viruses in new non-residential buildings.

The changes announced today to the government’s Building Regulations, which set the standards in England for the design, construction and alteration of buildings, follow a public consultation and will come into effect from June 2022.

They will raise standards and are an important step towards a cleaner greener built environment, paving the way for the Future Homes and Buildings Standard in 2025, which will mean all future homes are net zero ready and will not need retrofitting.

Housing Minister Eddie Hughes said:

Climate change is the greatest threat we face and we must act to protect our precious planet for future generations.

The government is doing everything it can to deliver net zero and slashing CO2 emissions from homes and buildings is vital to achieving this commitment.

The changes will significantly improve the energy efficiency of the buildings where we live, work and spend our free time and are an important step on our country’s journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment.

The new regulations come alongside £6.6 billion of direct investment into improving the energy efficiency of buildings during this Parliament. The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, Local Authority Delivery scheme and Home Upgrade Grant scheme make grants available to low-income households for insulation, solar panels, heat pumps and other efficiency and decarbonisation measures.

Last week, a further £400 million of funding was announced for more than 200 local authority areas as part of a new Sustainable Warmth Competition.

Commenting on the changes, FIS CEO Iain McIlwee stated:

“This is more evidence of the intent of this Government to ensure Net Zero is at the heart of policy making and we are seeing similar in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  We have seen the headlines before, but this time they are being backed by cold, hard regulation.  To meet the challenges and opportunities this creates we have, in 2022 appointed a Sustainability Champion and have an engaged and active Sustainability Leadership Group.  We will work to keep our members abreast of technology through our magazine SpecFinish and will be running bi-monthly meetings of our sustainability working group next year.  You can keep up-to-date on the sustainability hub on the FIS website.”

Further information

Alongside amendments to the Building Regulations, we have published 5 new Approved Documents:

There will be a 6 month period before the new regulations come into force on 15 June 2022. Transitional arrangements are in place which mean that if a building notice, initial notice, or full plans for building work are submitted to a local authority before 15 June 2022, then provided the building work commences by 15 June 2023, work on that individual building is permitted to continue under the previous standards.

As well as setting out measures for the 2021 uplift to the Building Regulations, the government response to the Future Buildings Standard consultation also sets out plans for the implementation of the Future Buildings Standard from 2025. This includes plans to start a full technical consultation on the FBS in 2025.

You can find more information on sustainability and net zero in the finishes and interiors sector via the FIS Sustainability Hub

FIS responds to HSE issues warnings ahead of Building Safety Bill

FIS responds to HSE issues warnings ahead of Building Safety Bill

As part of work underway to establish a new Building Safety Regulator and reform the building safety system, HSE is urging those who design high-rise buildings to act now to prepare for the changes coming when the Building Safety Bill becomes law.

The Building Safety Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, aims to implement all of the recommendations set out in Dame Judith Hackitt’s “Building a Safer Future” report, and in places goes further. The reforms include a more stringent approach to the design and construction of high-rise buildings, clearer responsibilities on designers to ensure these buildings are safe, and new measures so that everyone doing design or building work is competent to carry out that work in line with building regulations.

People working on the design of a high-rise building, from the development of a planning application through to building regulations approval will need to understand the building’s intended use, correctly identify the risks, and own and manage those risks to determine the safety of a building.

There will be a requirement to record and provide evidence of decision-making during the design process, and a need to be engaged throughout a building project to handover to the end client. Prepare now for these changes.

Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings at the Health and Safety Executive, said:

“Designers have a strong influence on safety and standards, particularly during the very early planning and design stages of a building project. Their decisions not only affect the safety of those carrying out the building work, but also those maintaining, using, or living in a building after it is built.

“I encourage designers to act now and prepare for the more stringent regulatory regime. HSE will continue to work with the building design industry and related businesses to support them to deliver safe and high-performing buildings and ensure that residents of high-rise buildings are safe, and feel safe, in their homes now and in the future.”

Colin Blatchford, Operational Policy Lead for Gateways and Building Control at HSE, said:

“Everyone involved in the design of high-rise buildings must take a proactive approach to managing building safety from the earliest stages of the design process. These changes are coming. Those involved need to plan ahead through correctly identifying, taking ownership and managing the risks – ensuring key decisions are recorded throughout the process.

“Once the Building Safety Bill becomes law, there will be a requirement for a safety case report when a building is completed and occupied. It is important to consider this at the early design stage for your clients and future residents’ safety.

“Building safety changes are coming and will affect everyone involved in a high-rise building project beyond its design. We urge that you act now.”

Responding to this statement, FIS CEO Iain McIlwee said:

“The Building Safety Bill offers a huge lever for change, but it needs to start with a recognition that design is detailed through the construction process and for the detailing to be effective we need the specialist contractors and manufacturers involved (and contracted) at a far earlier stage.  Even with tighter regs, we will still see problems being resolved on the fly in difficult circumstances and under severe time pressure on site rather than designed out of the process at an earlier stage.  This has to be about changing not just the way we design and build, but vitally how we procure the services, respect specialist knowledge and collaborate far more effectively through the project.”

You can find out more about the implementation of the Building Safety Bill here

CIJC holiday entitlement 2022

CIJC holiday entitlement 2022

The Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) has published the Holiday Entitlement for 2022.  The briefing gives guidance on the programme of Public/Bank holidays and annual holidays, that apply under the CIJC Working Rule Agreement in England, Wales and Scotland until the New Year 2023.

There will be an additional paid bank holiday on 3 June to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. You can download the guidance here.

FIS Employment & Workforce Management Toolkit

FIS members can access a range of services to support them in managing people in their workforce. Some useful resources are provided below, but members can also access our dedicated Employment Law Helpline via 0121 707 0077.

Changes to the Prompt Payment Code

Changes to the Prompt Payment Code

The Prompt Payment Code has confirmed that compliance with the new requirement to pay 95% of invoices from businesses with fewer than 50 employees within 30 days is being enforced from a signatory’s next full reporting period. For companies with a financial year ending 31 December, this will be January 2022. The Code is encouraging signatories that are required to report under the Duty to Report regulations to include the information as part of their biannual report using the narrative box within the Payment Terms section.

Companies that specify the Common Assessment Standard can use it to identify their suppliers with fewer than 50 employees through Question 10 which asks ‘Are you a Micro, a Small or a Medium‐Sized Enterprise?’ Any suppliers that state they are ‘Micro’ or ‘Small’ have fewer than 50 employees in accordance with the EC definitions used within the standard.

FIS Statement: Shortages in the finishes and interiors sector, the what, why, when and how?

FIS Statement: Shortages in the finishes and interiors sector, the what, why, when and how?

Latest update 30th March

The year started with concerns around labour, which endure, but it is the material shortages of 2021 are starting to give way to energy related concerns linked to the escalation of tragic events in Ukraine.  Key areas impacting FIS members are steel and plasterboard, with major drywall manufacturers now putting metal on allocation and ceiling grids and screws, fixings and fastenings also impacted.

Globally commodities like copper and iron ore (a key constituent in steel) surged to record highs last year (iron ore prices have more than doubled since the beginning of last year) and Aluminium prices are are up by over 20%.  We are also seeing challenges with availability and lead times for bagged cement, polymeric based materials (e.g. insulation, plastics, coatings, sealants and adhesives) and composite and wood based products (e.g. timber, plywood and paper).

Due to continued high demand for plasterboard products and challenges on the consistent availability and supply of some key raw materials, some suppliers are now on allocation and price rises for summer and autumn have been announced.

In this report we look at some of the factors that are causing shortages and how companies need to be preparing/reacting to this challenge.  The aim is to keep it refreshed so our members are have a clear picture and can have informed decisions up and down the supply chain.

Demand Related Issues

The impact of higher than anticipated demand in key sectors like housing and the domestic refurbishment sector (fuelled by growing household savings) have exceeded expectation.  It notes that this is not simply UK demand, but we operate in an increasingly globalised market.  A surge in Chinese consumption is linked to faster than expected recovery from the pandemic fuelling property development and investment in infrastructure and notably by global demand for appliances and electronic goods (many of which are manufactured in China).

A similar picture is true for timber, where demand in the US and China has hoovered up material and, according to the Timber Trade Federation, in the UK DIY and Garden projects in the UK and Brexit has added to pressure on availability.  This situation has eased in 2022, but prices remain high.

Production & Energy Related Issues

Price and availability are always a balance of supply and demand and in the case of iron ore, shutdowns in Brazil related to the Brumadinho dam disaster and technical issues with plants in Australia constrained production.

For polymeric materials such as plastics and sealants freak cold weather in 2021 and storms in the US wiped out production of crude oil in February of that year crippled production of derivative products.  Whilst the majority of plants were back up and running by the first week of April this created an air bubble in supply that is still working its way through the market.

As we step into 2022 the rapid escalation of events has sent oil and gas prices into a period or rapid inflation which is now feeding through into the price of construction products and logistics.   Since 1 April 2021, wholesale gas has risen from a weekly average of 52p/therm to £2.10/therm by the end of January.

Logistical and Freight Challenges

Beyond supply and demand availability has been further compounded by a number of issues related to freight and logistics.  At the start of the year, Brexit prompted some suppliers opting to avoid shipping to UK whilst things “ironed out” and a few border related challenges (also linked to COVID).  This led to a mismatch in import and export levels (containers going back empty) which pushed up prices.

This situation has eased, but the problem has not gone away.   The Suez Canal Queue hasn’t helped exacerbating congestion at global ports and messing up vessel scheduling.  As we move into the summer, port congestion and acute shortage of containers have combined with crude oil price spikes (linked to US weather issues) has led to freight rates for both bulk vessels and containers souring to record highs.  Speaking to one supplier this week they sited an example that a consignment from the East has seen shipping costs quadruple and the shipping cost is now costing more than the product itself!  It is widely reported in the press that the container costs have in some circumstances from £1,800 – £16,000!

A shortage of lorry drivers has also been reported by the CLC with building sites struggling to receive deliveries.   The Road Haulage Association are citing Brexit as a key reason for this.

Whilst shipping freight prices have started to ease in 2022, the invasion of Ukraine has pushed up fuel and hence logistic costs.

What’s going on with shipping rates? – McKinsey’s analyse why container shipping costs are surging and give their take on what lies ahead for the industry.

Political Challenges

The fact that US and China are locked in a trade war isn’t helping either.  Trade tensions are potentially leading to stocking to build up resilience and reduce reliance on one another.  Anything that restricts or disrupts free flow of material tends to drive prices up.  Further problems in the Middle East may also end up having an impact.

Closer to home, the European Parliament has finally ratified the post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal which means we are safe in the knowledge that we will be trading tariff and quota free.  This doesn’t mean that Brexit negotiations are in the rear-view mirror as we drive towards the land of milk and honey.  Many of the potential issues related to Mutuality of Obligation have been kicked into 2022 when the introduction of the UKCA mark could present a number of new issues related to the applicability of testing and assessment for either UKCA or CE marking.  Best case, unless this element of the deal is clarified, it is going to mean increased testing costs for manufacturers, in some cases this may mean that materials and products are not imported or exported from the UK – the additional costs simply don’t justify the returns.  We had a fairly stark warning from colleagues in the timber sector this week – it is a global market, if it gets too difficult, it will simply be sold elsewhere.

What does all of this mean?

The long and short of it is inflationary pressure on materials and products, lead times are longer and some materials may be difficult to secure.  According CPA and reported in the FT,  Timber prices have risen by more than 80 per cent in the past six months, while copper and steel have jumped by 40 per cent, according to the Construction Products Association.  Costs of paints and varnishes are also up by 30 per cent, while polymers such as polyethylene and polypropylene have risen 60 per cent and we have seen significant upward pressure on plasterboard.

A key concern is that despite inflation in materials and labour and an increasingly healthy pipeline, we are not seeing equivalent inflation in tender prices, which means margins are likely to be squeezed.  The  latest tender price reports from MACE is showing that current tender price inflation is running at just 1.5% at the moment and expected to rise to a meagre 2.0% next year.

How can I track and report price movements?

There isn’t a great index of specific prices, but you can draw out the main material movements via the Office of National Statistics (next release is summer), note this is lagging and prices are changing fairly rapidly at the moment.  It also doesn’t necessarily reflect prices on the ground due to specific grades/distribution buffering etc.

The World Bank commodity price index and London Metals Exchange give a high level picture, but doesn’t get into the detail on products used in the finishes and interiors sector.

The RICS publish the annually the BCIS Material Price Index

Probably the best reference is via the merchant groups, for example :

For the sake of balance, if you publish a similar index, please don’t hesitate to pop a link over by email or in the chat and we’ll include it here.

When can we expect an end to all of this?

With such a perfect storm of complex and cumulative issues it is difficult to know when we will start to notice improvement or how much worse things may get, but it may take some time with many predicting ongoing problems throughout 2021 and possibly into 2022.  The old adage hope for the best, but prepare for the worst comes to mind.

Certainly data from the RICS (published November 2021) construction materials costs in the UK continue to escalate, reaching a 40 year high based on the annual growth of the BCIS Materials Cost Index.  According to Joe Martin, BCIS Lead Consultant “The pressure on materials prices and availability is expected to continue at least until the end of 2022. Labour shortages are expected to evolve as the significant driver for overall construction cost increases next year and the construction sector would need to compete for it with other sectors”

How do I need to react?

The advice from the statement CLC shared at the end of this article is spot on.  Plan.

Talk to your clients about the challenges in securing material and the importance of early appointment to give you time to prepare.

Be wary of Design Liability: It is also vital to consider the specification, switching elements because you can secure them as an alternative may not necessarily support full certification and warranties as a system, to fulfil programmes.  Any change to materials and products installed should be EQUAL AND APPROVED or you may be absorbing risk and design liability.  Beyond inadvertent design liability, we are also seeing (for a combination of reasons, not least cost and availability of insurance) pressure on sub-contractors to take on design liability within their contract.  Do you fully understand what is the liability and cost of this, does your insurance cover it?  We strongly urge you to  exercise caution.

Before accepting a contract, make sure you can fulfil it.  It is vital to check you can secure the material and at what price, does your supply agreement guarantee a price?

Double Check your Estimates. With pricing erratic, double check your maths – estimations need to be on point and there is literally little margin for error.  Make sure you state that the quotation is only valid for a short amount of time, and that it is dependent on material supply (do you need to update statements on estimates, quotes and to issue new advice to your team?).  If you are trimming supervision to make the maths work, what could be the risk and cost in terms of quality and safety?

Consider the resilience of your supplier, how long have you worked with them, how well do you know them, how important are you to them, how confident are you they will deliver?  There is some support and guidance on this in the FIS Project Risk Assessment Tool.

Consider the resilience of your customer, through the FIS you can get free credit checks.  This isn’t a panacea, but we have seen a number of failures in the construction sector and if margins continue to squeeze there will be more.  In the wake of the burden of retentions and aggressive tendering meaning profits will be lost and won in variation and change – will you get paid, how much and just how contractual is this job likely to be at that price?

Be realistic.  Before signing a contract with potentially onerous delay responsibilities ensure you have checked these carefully are all these risks in your control to manage?  If you are already locked into a contract and experiencing delays/inflation then look to your contracts and follow the process – remember it is likely that, regardless of blame and responsibility), you will be obliged to ensure that as soon as it becomes “reasonably apparent” that work is likely to be delayed, notice must be given to the relevant party.  If prices are spiralling, talk to your customer, negotiate.

Check for damages.  If you are yet to sign, it is well worth ensuring that supply related delays that will in many cases be beyond your control cannot be a factor in determining liquidated damages.  Remember force majeure relies on events being unforseeable.

Dust off those fluctuation clauses.  Before you sign a contract check the fluctuation clauses too (albeit they typically seem to be scratched out of the standard contracts).  If you cannot negotiate a shared risk approach with your client (and we are getting reports that clients are starting to accept fluctuations), you need to seriously consider pricing in risk moving forwards – what could worse case scenario mean to your business if prices drifted?

FIS has updated advice in our Contractual and Legal Toolkit, including advice on fluctuations, managing delays and extensions of time within contracts.  It also highlights the role that the RICS developed and CLC endorsed Conflict Avoidance Process and Conflict Avoidance Pledge can play in helping to ensure issues related to shortage and availability doesn’t flair up in unnecessary conflict and exacerbate a difficult situation to a crisis.

Bring your concerns to FIS

If you feel you are being treated unfairly, talk to us, we will do what we can.  We can, through our own contacts in the industry, the CLC and contact with the Small Business Commissioners Office and Civil Service shine a light on negative trends and poor behaviour, it can be done anonymously and handled sensitively so as not to damage your relationships.

FIS is urging the supply chain to heed the advice of the Construction Leadership Council and adopt a collaborative approach and ensure that there is ongoing and open communication through the supply chain and we are doing all we can to work together rather than tearing lumps off of each other.

Too often construction get contractual and adopts a siege mentality, parcelling up and firing risk out hoping it sticks elsewhere.  The much talked about transformation must start now, rather than pushing risk down the supply chain, we need to be communicating with clients, helping them to understand that these events are beyond the control of individual companies and we need to work together to resolve and manage.

Our supply chain has had an unprecedented and difficult year, we need to nurture it back to health, not return to old and punitive ways that will ultimately drive people out of business to the detriment of all.

Useful links:

FIS Webinar 15th June, Midday – 1pm: Managing your business in a time of shortage – Listen again here

CLICK HERE for latest Statement from Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability Working Group June 2021

FIS representing sector at Virtual Careers Fair in December

FIS representing sector at Virtual Careers Fair in December

FIS is representing the finishes and interiors sector at the The virtual Apprenticeships: Earn while you learn careers fair.  The event will allow young people from across the UK to find out more about apprenticeships within different sectors across the UK. It will serve to inspire and inform; supporting students to be better prepared for decisions regarding their future careers.

The aim of the event is to enthuse and inspire the next generation of apprentices and to provide them with all the information they need to know what will be available, what employers are looking for and how they apply.

Between 6-10 December 2021, STEM Learning are delivering an interactive, virtual reality careers fair aimed at 14–19-year-olds interested in finding out more about apprenticeships. Set in an online exhibition hall, up to 30 employers from across the UK will have the opportunity to use pre-recorded videos, ‘pull-up’ banners and PDFs to let students know more about their company or industry and the opportunities available. There is also opportunity to interact directly with young people who visit an exhibition stand through a safeguarded, text-based live chat function.

A similar event organised by STEM Learning took place in March this year and was a great success with over 27,000 attendees and more than 1,170 schools signing up to take part. That event can be viewed via this link to give you an idea of what a stand will look like and what content you could include: STEM Ambassadors: Illuminating Careers.

FIS CEO Iain McIlwee stated:

“Without doubt the biggest challenge facing our sector is the shortage of people.  There are many reasons why we are feeling it so deeply at the moment and we are certainly not alone, but we must redouble efforts and do all we can to reach out to young people and present the amazing array of career choices in trade, commercial, entrepreneurial and managerial options that await them.  The message is simple – whether you are looking to earn a good wage in the trades, excel in design, start your own enterprise or progress the corporate ladder, there is an exciting and rewarding career option in the finishes and interiors sector. ”

To support the show, FIS is reviewing and developing the careers section of the FIS website and is working on a number of virtual resources to support this work (all will be made available as an online pack for members to support their own career in the New Year).

If you are looking for an apprentice, please send details of the role and location to and she can highlight specific examples. If you are able to review existing careers information or offer additional resources (video testimonials/information to support this effort) contact or phone 0121 707 0077 and ask for Catherine (our resident STEM Construction Ambassador).

If you are already exhibiting or interested in joining FIS as an employer and recruit for your apprentice programme at the exhibition email for more information and to ensure efforts are joined up.