What do we know about The Home Quality Mark so far?
The Home Quality Mark will be a voluntary scheme for developers to demonstrate their sustainable credentials to prospective customers. A great deal of the marketing for the scheme has so far been toward consumers, with BRE urging us to look for the Home Quality Mark when looking for a ‘high quality, cost effective’ new home to buy or rent. It is set to launch in October 2015.
What about the ‘new technical standards’ and the end of the Code for Sustainable Homes?
This date coincides perfectly with the launch of the governments ‘new technical standards’. As part of some sweeping changes to how planning works this month, local authorities can no longer demand the Code for Sustainable Homes or BREEAM through planning. Instead from October they will be able to pick from ‘optional building regulations’ to enforce alongside existing building regulations. Eric Pickles MP of DCLG has named water and access as two issues common to both the outgoing Code and incoming options regs.
We strongly suspect that BRE will wait and see what these standards will be, and position the Home Quality Mark as a means to demonstrate compliance with some of the new regulations to your local authority. The ‘optional’ nature of these new building regulations will mean that in this event BRE continues to award performance above the regs, and that the planners still have a one stop solution without falling fowl of this months changes. BRE calling a scheme voluntary has not stopped local authorities asking for it in planning conditions before, as both BREEAM and BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment are ‘voluntary’ schemes that you may have had to complete to get planning consent in the past.
In the event that the scheme remains entirely voluntary, it will none the less be used by developers to show off their green credentials as well as by organisations such as housing associations to specify the quality of the homes that they require from developers. A great many housing associations have until now relied on the Code and BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment to fulfil this role, the end of the Code leaves a gap in the market which BRE will be keen to fill.
What will The Home Quality Mark contain?
The scheme is split into three main areas, these are ‘Knowledge Sharing’, ‘Our Surroundings’, and ‘My Home’. We will explore these in more detail soon, but in the meantime you can find a breakdown of each of the issues and their contents here.
How will I get my build certified under The Home Quality Mark?
BRE report that ‘independent, fully trained licensed professionals will assess and score wide ranging aspects of a new home to give an overall quality rating’. This is identical to current CSH and BREEAM schemes, and BRE have announced that current Code assessors will be able to easily switch to the new scheme. In this regard the process of working with our clients to deliver a build to the standards they require will be much the same.