12th July, 2023

Taking a collaborative approach to Part L


The deadline to comply with the updated Part L building regulations passed last month and there has been an enormous effort across the industry to adapt to the changes. So, we were curious to find out how the changes are being received and whether installers feel that they have been supported through the transition.

Well, according to our research, almost three quarters (71%) of heating installers in the UK do not think that the updates to Part L are a step in the right direction for the industry. Conversely, almost a quarter (23%) think that the updates to Part L need to go further to have a real impact.

Despite the updates to Part L being the biggest step towards sustainability that the industry has seen in years, the research also found that more than 1 in 4 (27%) think that we have a long way to go to keep up with our European counterparts, and a quarter (25%) believe we need more innovation to effectively heat homes and comply with the new guidance.

Although our research found that there are some installers who believe the updates need to go further, it is a fact that this year the industry has experienced the biggest update to building regulations in over a decade. Therefore – like it or not – it is vital that individuals and organisations from across the industry work together and support one another to ensure a smooth transition.

Encouragingly, almost three-quarters (71%) of installers said they have felt supported by the industry through the changes. Yet, this still leaves almost a third (29%) feeling as though they’ve lacked support during the transition. While it is positive that this is a minority, we wanted to understand what more the industry can do to support them as they continue to navigate the new regulations.

Where do installers source information about updates to Building Regulations?

In a bid to understand how installers can feel more supported, we asked where they believe advice on the building regulations should come from. A third of installers said that trade bodies (32%) should be providing this information (34%) and a further third (31%) cited that employers should be leading the way.

However, the reality of where information about Part L is coming from doesn’t quite align. When we asked installers where they are currently receiving information on the Part L building regulations from, 27% said that they source information from manufacturer websites, 25% look to trade bodies and 23% receive information from colleges or places of education.

The findings suggest that there is a disparity between where installers think they should be getting information from, and where they actually find it. A number of manufacturers have increased their communications around Part L so it is unsurprising that installers have sourced information this way. However, trade bodies, places of education and employers need to take note of this and ensure they’re playing their part in supporting installers in the uptake of more sustainable heating methods.

However, this doesn’t need to be done in silos. With manufacturers constantly innovating and developing low energy systems, there is no reason why trade bodies, employers and places of education couldn’t work alongside manufacturers to ensure members, employees and students receive the correct training. Ultimately, the effort from all parties is there – so, what we need to focus on now is collaboration.

With all of this in mind, we wanted to find out more about the barriers in place. So, as part of our research, we questioned installers on what, if anything, would be most helpful to increase the usage of low-energy systems in the UK. They said:

  • Better education – 35%
  • More heat pump training – 32%
  • Lower prices for renewables – 27%
  • More support from manufacturers – 27%
  • Government incentives for installers – 27%
  • Government incentives for homeowners – 25%
  • More technical support from merchants – 23%

It is unsurprising to see the need for better education taking the top spot, as lack of training within the industry is something that comes up regularly during our conversations with installers and the wider industry. This is where we can see an even more critical need for us to collaborate more as an industry. To truly enable a shift in direction, we must ensure that installers are aware of industry innovations and are able to access the training to diversify their skills and move towards more sustainable methods of heating homes.

A collaborative approach

Although it is positive to see that the majority of installers feel that they have been well supported through the transition period, our research highlights that there are undoubtedly areas where the industry could improve its approach.

While we are, indeed, behind our European counterparts, a lack of innovation is not the problem. Of course, innovation is a critical tool, but when you look at the industry today, we already have a number of tools, heat sources and systems that are able to operate efficiently using renewable or low energy heat sources. The challenge is ensuring installers, merchants and specifiers are aware of the new solutions and have received adequate training or CPDs to fully understand where they can be applied.

With such pivotal changes to our ways of working already underway, we need to consider how we can better work together. All parties have a responsibility to support installers with the transition, whether that be through information and education or training opportunities and product developments, we all have a part to play in meeting our ambitious targets.

At Polypipe Building Products, we’ve been working alongside industry professionals throughout the year to support them through the regulation updates. In fact, we’ve recently planned a series of educational events and published a number of blogs to educate the industry on key updates to Part L right here on our Future Homes Hub.

If you need advice or technical support, our team are also on hand to help. Please get in touch with us below.

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