Follow building regulations for new construction or renovations

If you’re planning new construction or a major renovation, there are rising legal standards you must follow.

These rules ensure that future buildings run more efficiently and produce fewer carbon emissions.

This page applies to rules in England only. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are introducing their own changes.


  1. Make a plan for construction or renovation
  2. Comply with Building Regulations
  3. Meet the requirements of the ‘interim uplift’
  4. Understand what’s required for building fabric and services
  5. Work out if your extension counts as a ‘new building’
  6. Decide if you need to do ‘consequential improvements’ in addition to planned work
  7. Understand what’s required for electric vehicle chargers
  8. Get finance and support

Make a plan for construction or renovation

You should be aware of technical and legal standards if you’re considering an expansion through a new building, addition or major renovation.

Usually, SMEs should hire professional help to guide the feasibility, design, budgeting and construction stages.

Hired professionals can also help model energy performance to check if improvements make long term financial and business sense.

After work has been completed, contractors must provide information on how to run the building effectively.

For advice on homes visit the Future Homes Hub for guidance on domestic buildings.

Comply with Building Regulations

In England, new non-domestic buildings and most types of renovations qualify as ‘building work’ and must comply with Building Regulations.

Renovations include:

  • additions or extensions
  • changing the ‘use’ of a building
  • replacement of a heating or cooling system
  • improving insulation, doors or windows

Buildings that are not occupied, temporary, or don’t require heating or cooling might be exempt from the regulations.

Check the full list of exemptions on the Planning Portal.

Meet the requirements of the ‘interim uplift’

In England, new energy efficiency requirements for non-domestic buildings came into force in June 2022.

Taken together these changes are designed to eliminate about 30% of the carbon emissions currently created by non-compliant buildings.

The government refers to these as the ‘interim uplift’. They are meant to start the process of achieving ‘net zero ready’ buildings by 2025.

This means that buildings constructed from 2025 onward won’t require substantial changes to achieve ‘net zero’ status.

You should decide whether to carry out construction or renovations with the current ‘interim uplift’ standards or wait for the more rigorous ‘net zero ready’ standards from 2025.

Find out more about future building standards on GOV.UK.

Understand what’s required for building fabric and services

Under the 2022 ‘interim uplift’ there are new standards for building fabric and services. These apply to new non-domestic buildings and existing ones undergoing renovation.

The new standards are found in ‘Part L’ of the ‘approved documents’ for Building Regulations.

These includes updated rules for:

  • insulation, air tightness and solar gains
  • building controls, zones and submeters
  • heating, ventilation and cooling systems

Under the regulations you must comply with performance targets for each of these categories.

These include ‘primary energy’ and emission measurements for heating systems, and thermal conductivity values for building fabric.

This aims to increase the use of more:

  • all-electric heating and cooling systems
  • renewable non-fossil fuel energy sources
  • district heating or cogeneration systems
  • specific building controls
  • energy efficient materials

‘In-use’ energy performance and ’embodied’ carbon are not currently part of the requirements for Part L, but may become so pending future government consultations.

Check the full approved ‘Part L’ document on GOV.UK.

Work out if your extension counts as a ‘new building’

According to Part L, extensions must be considered new buildings if they are both:

  • larger than 100m2
  • more than 25% of the total useful floor area of the existing building

Extensions need to satisfy all Part L requirements of new buildings, including any heating services extended into the new space.

Check section 10.7 of Part L (Volume 2) for more guidance.

Decide if you need to do ‘consequential improvements’ in addition to planned work

Proposed work in buildings with more than 1000m2 of usable floor space can trigger the requirement for ‘consequential improvements’.

These are improvements you must undertake in addition to the planned scope of work. You need to do this when proposed work includes:

  • constructing an extension
  • providing a fixed building service for the first time
  • increasing the capacity of a fixed building service

Fixed services include lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation systems. You must make added improvements so that the entire building complies with Part L.

You do not have to do these improvements if:

  • the existing building is already compliant
  • you can prove improvements are not “technically, functionally or economically feasible”

Check section 12 of Part L (Volume 2) for more guidance.

Understand what’s required for electric vehicle chargers

Under ‘Part S’ of the interim uplift, electric vehicle charging infrastructure will be required in:

  • new residential buildings with associated parking
  • new non-residential buildings with more than 10 parking spaces
  • non-residential buildings undergoing a major renovation

For new non-residential buildings you must:

  • provide access to 1 EV charging point
  • install cable routes for 20% of the remaining parking spaces

The same regulations apply to major renovations of non-residential buildings, but only if:

  • the renovation includes work to the car park
  • the cost of installation is less than 7% of the total cost of the renovation

For more guidance, check:

Get finance and support

Check our retrofit funding page to find what financing is available from banks, government schemes and local councils for retrofitting.

Find finance and support for your region.

Check our case studies page for examples of other SMEs that have successfully cut their costs and carbon emissions.