Should home user guides be digital?

Image: Alexandersikov |

Should home user guides be digital? That’s one of many questions that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) wants the answer to as part of its consultation on the Future Homes and Buildings Standards.

The consultation is focused on energy efficiency and reducing the carbon emissions from new homes and non-domestic buildings. As such, it tackles aspects of Part 6, Part L, Part F and Part O of the Building Regulations.

As well as suggesting that home user guides should carry further guidance about energy-saving operation, the DLUHC is concerned about “the accessibility and longevity of [guides] that are provided as paper copies, rather than digitally”.

The consultation noted: “They may get misplaced; not be passed on to subsequent homeowners; and even if they are split into sections, it may still be difficult and time-consuming to navigate through them and find the relevant section.

“We are also aware that some people moving into a new home may not realise that they have been provided with detailed guidance around how to operate their home, and that people digest information in different ways.”

Thus, DLUHC is proposing that Approved Document L, Volume 1: Dwellings should be updated to specify that developers should make home user guides available digitally. “The guides could be uploaded to a central online database, which homeowners could search by address. This would avoid guides being misplaced, subsequent homeowners or tenants would be able to access the information, and they would be searchable,” DLUHC said in the consultation document.

“We recognise that some people do not have access to the internet or would find an online guide difficult to use. Therefore, we would specify that paper copies should be made available for people who need them.”

Building Regulations compliance

DLUHC’s concerns about guides stretches to compliance with Regulations 39, 40, 40A and 40B of the Building Regulations 2010. These regulations require persons carrying out work to provide sufficient information about energy-efficient operation and to homeowners, within five days of work being completed.

Currently, local authorities can issue a completion certificate without evidence that this information has been provided, so DLUHC cannot be certain that all developers are providing the necessary information to all owners of new homes.

Thus, DLUHC wants to know whether people carrying out building work should be required to notify their Building Control body that they have provided the homeowner with the necessary information before a completion certificate can be issued for the house.

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