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Baker Homes Blog

The wait is over! New sustainable home building standard is announced

Posted by Richard Lupo on 21-Apr-2015 07:00:00

After over a year of disruption since government announced “winding down” of the Code for Baker Homes, a new home building standard has finally been announced.  It is called the Home Quality Mark (HQM) and is being developed by BRE.

SHIFT members gained an exclusive early presentation about the HQM and provided input at our February 2015 Health and Housing conference.  For those who couldn’t attend here is some more detail.  HQM is intended to be a mark of reassurance and quality for people who will live in a new build home.  The quality is rated using a five star system and three further value indicators namely environmental, economic and, crucially, well-being.  A full list of the issues that are rewarded is here.

The environmental indicator consists of issues that forward thinking home builders would expect to see.  It encourages performance in areas such as energy and water efficiency, ecological enhancement, waste management and the use of environmentally benign materials.

The economic indicator is dependent on the expected running (including maintenance) costs of the home.  This is an issue close to the hearts of many social landlords as it will, amongst other benefits, help residents keep out of arrears.

Uniquely, HQM also has a well-being indicator.  This is especially welcome at a time when more and more evidence is emerging that poor quality housing leads to poor physical and mental health for both occupants and local communities.  The rating will depend on issues such as ventilation, resilience to flooding and overheating, connectivity with local amenities, internal space as well as daylighting.

In addition to well-being, two other aspects of HQM make it stand out against other standards.  Firstly, HQM will require third party verification.  This means that a rating will only apply if the finished home really does meet the requirements.  This is essential if the quality of a planned new development will not suffer at the hands of the “value engineering” process.

Secondly, HQM includes post occupancy evaluation, which should go some way to closing the gap between intended design performance and actual as-built performance. A real and persistent issue for the construction industry.

Dr Gavin Dunn, Director of BREEAM at BRE said, “The standard is centred around the quality of life that a home occupier will experience.  We have seen it welcomed by house builders who want to distinguish the quality of their new build.”

Andrew Eagles, Managing Director of Baker Homes added, “The performance gap is a continuing issue for the sector.  The focus in the Housing Quality Standard on skills, communication, aftercare, monitoring and third party check is very welcome.  Those organisations seeking to provide comfort, appropriate ventilation and resilience to our changing weather may find the new standard of real use.  I would encourage them to certify their homes against it”

The exact details of HQM are being finalised and social landlords are invited to contribute to this process.  If you would like to share your views, or are interested to commit to the standard, please send your request to BRE at hqm@bre.co.uk 

If these areas are of interest to you then you might be interested in upcoming, UK-wide events to see more detail about HQM.  You can see dates here.

Baker Homes is holding two webinars focusing on understanding and reducing fuel poverty. Find out how to keep your staff up to date and how to implement our elearning courses. Join us for our free webinars on the Thursday 7th May and Thursday 14th May. Register here

SHIFT conference, health and housing, housing associations, over heating, condensation

Topics: Baker Homes, Code for Baker Homes, Wellbeing, Home Quality Mark

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