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Consents and Regulations for Energy Improvements to Older Homes

You should ask your local planning authority about what approvals you might need for energy improvement work, particularly if the building is listed or within a conservation area.

Energy improvement measures may require consent

It is important to remember that various types of work to older buildings may require consent. Where historic buildings are designated - for example, as listed buildings or scheduled monuments - then listed building or scheduled monument consent may be required.

It can be a criminal offence to carry out work to a designated historic building without consent when it is needed.

In addition to these consents, planning permission may also be required for work to historic buildings and those in conservation areas.

You are strongly advised to speak to your local authority planning department or relevant advisory body if you are in any doubt about whether permission or consent is needed to implement an energy improvement measure, particularly if your building is designated or within a conservation area.

In deciding whether an energy improvement measure should get consent the local authority or other relevant authority will need to weigh up the need for the improvement against the impact of the measure.

They will prefer measures that are inconspicuous and do not alter the fabric of historic places.

See What Permission Might I Need? and Who Do I Contact? for more information.

Energy efficiency and building regulations

You may also need to obtain consent under Building Regulations. These set standards for how buildings must be constructed to achieve a minimum level of acceptable performance. They typically cover health and safety, energy performance and accessibility requirements.

Building Regulations only apply to new building work, and there is no general requirement for all existing buildings to be upgraded to meet these standards.

However, certain changes can trigger the need to comply - for example, if parts of a building are to be substantially replaced or renovated, or if there's a change of use. The requirements don't apply to normal maintenance and repair work.

Part L is the section of the Regulations that deals with energy efficiency requirements. 

Historic England has produced guidance, Energy Efficiency and Historic Buildings - Application of Part L of the Building Regulations to Historic and Traditionally Constructed Buildings, to help prevent conflicts between the energy efficiency requirements in the Regulations and the conservation of historic and traditionally constructed buildings.

For further information see Building Regulations.  

Energy Performance Certificates

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a legal requirement when building, selling or renting a property. However, there are exemptions for certain types of building and  since January 2013 listed buildings have been exempted from the need to have an EPC. (Please note, however, that if you want to take advantage of the Green Deal and you live in a listed building you will still need an EPC as it forms the basis of the assessment.)

See Energy Performance Certificates guidance.

An EPC is produced by an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor, who uses specialist software to turn data gathered on site into two ratings – one for energy efficiency and one for environmental impact. Each rating is on a scale of 1 to 100, banded into grades A to G, as illustrated above. The assessor also provides a list of potential energy efficiency improvements.

Being based on software modelling, EPCs may not always correspond precisely to actual performance. Recent research has shown that EPCs can significantly underestimate thermal performance in traditionally constructed buildings.

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