Are we ready for the future homes standard?


The task of decarbonising our new building stock cannot be underestimated. REHAU UK’s Martin Hitchin says a new industry survey and white paper shows that construction needs to step up to achieve compliance with the Future Homes Standard when it’s implemented in 2025.

Ever since its announcement in 2019, the Future Homes Standard (FHS) has been regarded as a potentially transformational force within the Building Regulations landscape. The amendments it proposes concerning property ventilation and energy efficiency – covering Part F and Part L of The Building Regulations respectively – have sparked ongoing and vital discussions within the housebuilding sector. 

Industry debate has further intensified following the introduction of substantial adjustments to these regulations in 2022, and the publication of a further consultation document on the standard in December 2023. This most recent update contains potential changes that will affect practices across the whole construction industry, as well as its progress to meeting important net zero targets by 2050. 

Such new measures represent a sea-change for housebuilders and developers, and all parties involved in the housing construction and retrofitting must adapt their practices ahead of the FHS’ introduction in January 2025. 


Undoubtedly, this will add a further layer of scrutiny on a sector under pressure to deliver the Government target of 300,000 new properties built annually by the mid-2020s. Yet it cannot be denied that the objectives behind the FHS are commendable. Its primary goal of ensuring all new homes emit 75-80% less carbon than previous benchmarks is a key part of the housing sector’s efforts to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

But a focus on new-builds alone risks missing the woods for the trees. Indeed, it must be noted that most housing stock in England alone was built before 1919, and 80% of current buildings will still be in use by 2050. Any decarbonisation plans that do not account for these properties cannot truly be regarded as fit-for-purpose. Bringing these existing homes into the picture, however, will undoubtedly pose further challenges for developers carrying out retrofit works.


Given the scale of the task in hand, close collaboration will be required across the supply chain to build or upgrade new and existing properties to meet decarbonisation targets. But as the countdown to 2025 continues, it is disconcerting to see that over two-thirds of the sector appear unprepared for the imminent changes mandated in the FHS. This concerning statistic is set out in the ‘Future Homes Standard: Preparing UK Housing for 2025,’ the latest market readiness report from polymer solutions provider REHAU.

Taken from a survey of 200 decision-makers spanning various sectors within the housing industry and conducted by our independent research partner Censuswide, a concerning 79% of respondents expressed that meeting the current FHS timeline would be ‘somewhat challenging’ or ‘very challenging.’ While these findings are valuable for establishing sector preparedness, the continued scrutiny the housebuilding sector faces around property shortages may further magnify any concurrent issues in housing construction, including this.

Adapting to meet FHS standards is therefore imperative for sector stakeholders, necessitating awareness of all components that comprise housing design, and their roles in meeting the upcoming regulations. Yet despite this need for awareness, other findings from REHAU’s latest white paper demonstrate further challenges. Notably, none of the respondents said they were aware of the availability of a window frame system capable of achieving the required FHS U-value of 0.85 W/M2K, with 65% saying ‘no’ when asked and 35% stating they were uncertain. 


In response to these challenges, housebuilders and developers must recognise the evolving sector landscape and proactively engage with experts in their supply chain to identify best practices and solutions ahead of 2025. These collaborative efforts extend beyond the direct stakeholders involved in new build and retrofit projects to a wider range of professionals. 

Architects, specifiers, and key component suppliers play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between existing housing stock and FHS compliance. Leveraging third-party expertise during the design stage also allows for thorough and precise specification practices. In turn, this can instil greater confidence that required thermal performance levels can be met before site works commence. 

But to make this consultative and collaborative approach a reality, housing sector stakeholders must conduct thorough research into their current supply chain. As a non-negotiable baseline requirement, housebuilders and developers should assess whether organisations within it can be relied upon for high-quality components. This is especially the case when it comes to window specification, where compliant, high-performance frames may stand to have an outsized effect on whether newbuild or retrofit projects can meet the FHS’s stricter thermal requirements.

The stringent criteria for compliant products in housing construction require a proactive approach means this is a must if potential pitfalls are to be avoided. For instance, certain window systems that claim ‘high performance’ may not necessarily align with the FHS due to external factors such as inadequate building structure surveys, or the removal of existing frames. Engaging experts throughout the building and upgrading process can help identify and address these potential issues.


Though the findings from REHAU’s report expresses concerns about readiness when it comes to the FHS, this does not indicate shortcomings or reluctance on the sector’s part. Instead, it simply underlines just how transformative the FHS will be. The pronounced uplifts set out in the standard will undoubtedly lead to difficulties around what constitutes best industry practice, especially with these increases required to happen within very compressed timescales.

Yet as the 2025 deadline looms, a collaborative approach becomes imperative for achieving the ambitious objectives the FHS sets out. Housebuilders and developers currently stand at a critical juncture, and the proactive measures taken today will shape its ability to meet the challenges and commitments into 2025.

To read REHAU’s report ‘Future Homes Standard: Preparing UK housing for 2025,’ please scan the QR code below.

Martin Hitchin is CEO of REHAU UK