01 January 2015

As another year gets under way, we look at what will be this coming year’s ‘need to know’ topics:

1. CE marking

CE marking to harmonised European Standards (hENs) will continue to become an established part of specification. It is already incorporated into the NBS master specification products, and will be improved to give more comprehensive coverage.

2. National space standards for housing

The impact of the UK government Housing Standards Review should result this year in a formalised position for adoption and implementation towards the end of the year. Already the subject of considerable debate between supporters and opponents, there are compelling arguments both for and against. The space standards are expected to be implemented through local planning policy and development control.

3. Code for Sustainable Homes

Also part of the Housing Standards Review, the Code for Sustainable Homes will be superseded by virtue of many of its requirements being incorporated into the Building Regulations. This includes amendments to Approved Documents G, H and M, with a new Approved Document Q dealing with domestic dwelling security.

4. Building Regulations

In addition to the changes mentioned above arising from the winding-down of the Code for Sustainable Homes, the Scottish Government’s consultation on proposed changes to the Building Standards Technical Handbooks sections 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 ends on the 21 January 2015.

5. BIM level 2 mandate for 2016

The BIM Toolkit project has been progressing at pace. In terms of our team, Mott MacDonald are providing template specification content for civil engineers so that the toolkit can serve infrastructure projects. BDP are providing guidance illustrations showing how designs should develop for particular items through the design phases of a project. The NBS technical team are working alongside our partners and we are also doing internal development work on classifications and template tasks for project teams. BIM Academy are providing tools, that are built on buildingSMART technologies, that will allow teams to view designs against requirements.

In terms of the digital developments, significant work has been done to content management systems, the library information pages and the digital plan of work tool itself. The next phase of research and development work will be looking at linking tasks and objects to project team responsibilities, creating new projects and ensuring this is all presented in a user-friendly fantastic website.

To stay in touch with these developments please see the NBS BIM Toolkit.

6. Classification for TSB/InnovateUK project

NBS have taken over the proposals for the new version of Uniclass that CPI was developing. The comments received about the tables by CPI have been added to the proposals and the following tables are now available for comment by the various professional organisations in the construction industry:

  • Complexes
  • Activities
  • Spaces/Locations
  • Entities
  • Systems

Work is still being carried out on the Elements and Products tables and these will also be offered for industry comment. The classification is being prepared as a mapping tool which is intended to facilitate links between classification systems already in use.

For more information contact Sarah Delany at the NBS.

7. Health & Safety

Some new (and forthcoming) publications in the Health and Safety area are:

  • L113 (Second edition) Published 2014 – Safe use of lifting equipment. Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. Approved Code of Practice and guidance. 2nd edition – produced December 2014
  • L122 (second edition) Published 2014 – Safety of pressure systems. Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000. Approved Code of Practice and guidance. 2nd edition – produced December 2014
  • L101 (Third edition, published 2014) – Safe work in confined spaces. Confined Spaces Regulations 1997. Approved Code of Practice and guidance. 3rd edition – produced December 2014
  • Draft CDM regulations 2015

Hazardous waste

Changes to the list of waste and hazardous materials criteria to become law from 1 June 2015 have been included in a consultation on changes to the Environment Agency’s Waste Classification and Assessment Technical Guidance WM2, which has been presented as a draft WM3. The changes include hazardous properties revisions, new chemical classification system and amendments to the list of waste. The consultation closes 2 February 2015.

8. Updates to British Standards

  • BS 65004:2014 Guidance on organizational resilience, covers issues including flooding , health estate, climate change and critical infrastructure resilience
  • Forthcoming PAS 1192-5 Specification for security-minded building information management, digital built environments and smart asset management
  • Revised BS 8536 FM Facility management briefing – code of practice
  • Revised BS 5534:2014 which supersedes the current BS 5534:2003, which will be withdrawn on 28 February 2015. Major changes include the need for mechanical fixings with mortar fixed ridges, hips etc.; amended calculation procedures to take account of climate change (in particular wind uplift) and alignment with the Eurocode; a new requirement for wind uplift resistance for underlays and the need for these products to display wind zone performance. This latter point is likely to have a major impact on the lightweight plastics underlays that have become prevalent over the last few years. NBS is currently updating content to suit
  • BS 7671 17th Edition, 3rd amendment due to be published in January 2015. Early indications of draft suggest that it will affect design and installation rather than specification.

9. Legislation

  • CDM 2015 Regulations are expected to come into force in April 2015
  • Building (Scotland) (amendment) regulations 2014 – due to come into force October 2015

10. Planning

The general election in May will probably lead to some uncertainty, but (likely) forthcoming planning issues in 2015 include:


  • Possible changes in the General Permitted Development Order 1985 and the Use Classes Order 1987 as well as the Development Management Procedure Order 2010 (as a result of the Extending permitted development rights for homeowners and businesses – technical consultation and the Technical consultation on planning)
  • Planning (Wales) Bill to become an Act – provisions include: statutory national development plan, mandatory public consultation and revised development management processes
  • Infrastructure Bill to become an Act, which includes simplified procedures for making material and non-material changes to approved development consent orders


  • Final guidance for zero carbon homes to be issued
  • Policy statement on local planning authorities role in implementing a national space standard, improved accessibility and water efficiency standards (as an outcome to the Housing standards review)
  • Planning procedural changes in Northern Ireland – planning powers will transfer to 11 district councils in April, with one planning policy statement replacing 20 separate documents
  • Further developments expected in the Right to Build policy supporting custom and self-build housing
  • Changes in SuDS to require SuDS on developments of 10 or more homes and maintenance via planning conditions

Industry developments

  • Spilt of English Heritage into two bodies

11. Emerging technologies

Drones are becoming popular in a number of arenas including film and television, but could equally have numerous applications in the construction process, particularly in difficult locations.

3D printing continues to make large leaps in scale, with prototype buildings already tested.

‘Haptics’ – touch sensitive technology. From screens on tablets to robotic fingers, it has great potential for application in the construction industry – although at present it is still largely in development via the gaming industry.

Metamaterials have the potential to allow leaps in construction material technology, offering enhanced mechanical, electromagnetic and acoustic properties. Other materials at the cutting edge of technology include nanostructures, phase change materials (PCMs) and photovoltaic paint. Advances in 3D printing should facilitate the commercial applications of these technologies.

12. Oil prices

The impact of the reduction in oil prices, should make transport – and therefore materials and labour – cheaper overall.

13. New publications

Numerous new titles – available from RIBA Bookshops – including:

  • Aquatecture: Buildings and cities designed to live and work with water
  • Being an effective construction client: working on commercial and public projects
  • Briefing: a practical guide to RIBA plan of work 2013 stages 7, 0 and 1
  • CDM 2015: a practical guide for architects and designers
  • CESMM4: handbook
  • Construction: a practical guide to RIBA plan of work 2013 stages 4, 5 and 6
  • Construction contracts: questions and answers: 3rd revised edition
  • Design: a practical guide to RIBA Plan of Work 2013 stages 2 and 3
  • Easy guide to health and safety: 2nd edition
  • Electrical installation design guide – calculations for electricians and designers 3rd revised edition
  • Guide to the RIBA domestic and concise building contracts 2014
  • Information exchanges: RIBA plan of work 2013 guide
  • Planning for community resilience: a handbook for reducing vulnerability to disasters
  • Starting a practice: a plan of work 2nd edition

14. General election

No forecast for the year ahead would be complete without considering the UK political situation. Four years of coalition rule are up for review in May, and there is very little clear lead by any one party at present. Should the Conservatives end up back in power then it can safely be assumed that it’ll be a case of ‘business as usual’, but if another party wins then, in theory, everything is up for review. However, past experience would suggest that it is very rare for a new incoming government to undo the policies implemented by their predecessors, unless they have particularly compelling reasons for doing so (such as overwhelming unpopularity among the electorate). And this is not a category that even the BIM mandate can be put in. What is more likely is that the winning party will have an impact to some degree on the economy; and, ultimately, industry confidence and growth.

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