With a government drive to recruit more than a thousand new building inspectors, installers ignore Part F at your peril. So how do you stay on the right side of the law? We report.
The Government has introduced a raft of new regulatory requirements, which kick(ed) in from June 15th this year.
Major updates to Part L of the Building Regulations, Conservation of Fuel and Power and Part O, Overheating, each have significant ramifications for installers. The most controversial, and potentially thorniest, of the three changes is, however, Part F, Ventilation.
“We know that the industry doesn’t like it, and we know that homeowners won’t want trickle vents, but the legislation is here to stay and so we must get on with it”, says Elton Boocock, Managing Director of dedicated installer CRM and business administration tool, Business Pilot.
“What’s important is that installers don’t get caught out. Competent persons schemes have a clear directive as to what’s required – they have no choice but to highlight non-compliance to building inspectorates.
“And getting it right, particularly in replacements, isn’t only going to be about what you fit but how you evidence compliance.”
What the legislation says
Part F sets out the requirement for ventilation in buildings, including new and existing homes, focussing on air quality and the replacement of old stale air with fresh air. It’s intrinsically connected to Part L and is designed to make sure that while we improve the energy efficiency of our homes, we balance it against a requirement for fresh air.
“New build is in a sense more straightforward”, continues Elton. The ventilation requirement will be specified by the architect or developer – as an industry we simply have to supply product to that specification.
“If you’re working in retail it’s far more complex, because as an installer you assume responsibility for meeting requirements under Part F.
“If trickle vents are there in the windows you’re ripping out, you need to understand what level of background ventilation they delivered – and as a minimum, match it in the windows you’re installing.
“If the windows you’re pulling out don’t have trickle vents, you need to make sure that what you’re putting in meets new requirements under Part F.
“And almost most importantly of all – you need to be able to provide an evidence and audit trail.”
From 15th June, replacement windows must provide 8,000mm2 Equivalent Area background ventilation to habitable rooms, so for example bedrooms, living rooms and also kitchens. For bathrooms in replacement projects its 4,000mm2 EA. For utility rooms and WCs, there’s no minimum requirement.
What you need to do to comply
“The first thing is you need to get it right”, continues Elton. “If you are fortunate enough to be replacing windows which do have trickle vents then you need to understand the level of performance that they delivered and make sure that you matched it.
“That means capturing evidence at the point of survey. Take pictures – lots of them – and make sure that you record them and register them against the job, so that if you are asked to evidence compliance in six, nine or 12-months’ time, you can.
“Do the same at the end of the job – something which also applies if trickle vents weren’t in the original windows – and make sure that they’re recorded.
“With a 1,000 plus new planning inspectors and the pressure the Government is placing on this, you will be inspected and you will need that audit trail.”
How Business Pilot can help
Business Pilot offers an off the shelf solution for Part F compliance. Developed by installers for installers, it delivers complete visibility on each aspect of your business in real time. That’s the status of every lead, every sale, every job, fitting team, completion – and financials, including cashflow and profitability.
This includes surveying, scheduling, pre-planning and sign-off against installation.
“Our customers already use Business Pilot as a pre-planning tool”, continues Elton. “From the minute the job is live you can see the survey date, provisional installation date, is the job complete, is the product there and good to go – everything is there and its linked.
“You make notes, you upload customer or contract details, you drag an appointment on the scheduling board to another time slot and everything is instantly updated – every aspect of your business administration is connected and in one place.
“That includes details supporting the survey, including images. You don’t need to search for it in Dropbox or your hard drive, it’s there, providing a clear route to Part F compliance.”
How the cloud can make running your business simpler
Business Pilot is unique in that it’s the only dedicated installer business management tool which has been designed specifically for the Cloud.
Using the same technologies a host of other applications including accountancy software, for example Xero or Quick Books or email and office programmes (Office 365), Business Pilot is accessible from multiple synchronised servers, to deliver ultra-secure and instant access to your data.
“This means that unlike other business admin systems, there’s no requirement to VPN in to prove who you are – just a single secure log-in. It also delivers increased resilience with everything backed up on multiple servers, rather than a single iteration of a programme”, Elton adds.
The Business Pilot app – supporting Part F compliance
The Business Pilot app. This differs to competitor systems in that it’s a single app solution for the whole business from sales through to survey and fitting teams. Functionality is turned on or off according to the role performed by its users, but everyone is on the same platform.
“The sales people will go out and use the app and it will be geared to their role, capturing basic details, the customer, the requirement, the basic details about the property and it’s automatically on the system. Sales teams don’t need to wait to get back to the office”, says Elton.
“If someone then goes out and does the survey they don’t have to input that basic detail again, it’s already assigned to the job. They’ll do the survey, take those critical ‘Part F pictures’ and its linked.
“The installation manager, the warehouse – everyone has access to the same platform but things are kept simple by switching functionality on or off depending on role.
“Installers use the app to run checks that they’ve got what they need on the van, to go to site – and then to take finished pictures of the installation, evidencing Part F compliance.”
Instant FENSA registration
Business Pilot added a new integration with FENSA to its offer in April. This means Business Pilot users can instantly register installations automatically as soon as the job is complete, based on the information they have already inputted into the system.
“You’re recording all of the information you need to complete a competent persons’ scheme registration into Business Pilot as you go” Elton explains. “That means as soon as the job is complete you can upload it with a single click, including Part F compliance.
“It’s not only about Part F. Business Pilot helps you run you entire operation smarter.”