Vital ventilation: The findings that prove housebuilders need to pay attention to Part F

Matthew Handley, Category Innovation Manager at Jewson, explains the opportunities available to housebuilders to transform homeowners’ indoor comfort, safety and wellbeing by paying close attention to ventilation.

Up until recently, legislation around the development of new homes focused on keeping heat in, and the cold out. However, last year, an update to Building Regulations Document F came into effect, which encourages the housebuilding industry to improve the ventilation in homes, to maintain air circulation and healthy air quality.

There is increased awareness on the dangers of mould, condensation and other issues relating to poor indoor air quality in the last 12 months due to some shocking news stories. But research from Jewson reinforces the further need for change. The findings show that millions of people are suffering from physical and mental health problems because of the air quality in their home. 

As such, housebuilders and developers need to closely consider the ventilation solutions being installed to new build properties, to ensure future residents can enjoy safe and comfortable surroundings for many years to come. 

Physical and emotional side effects 

Today’s new build houses are designed to be as insulated and airtight as possible to avoid heat loss. However, as a result, there can be a risk of moisture retention. As such, ventilation plays a very important role in counteracting this challenge.

Ventilation is vital to achieving good air quality, as it reduces the risks associated with moisture, gas, dust and pollutants. Not ventilating a home properly can have serious implications. According to Jewson’s research with 2,031 homeowners, in the last 12 months, 55% of homeowners have experienced problems in their homes relating to poor indoor air quality or ventilation. These issues include condensation (52%), mould in at least one room (26%), leaks (25%) and damaged walls (23%). 

And it’s not just the property that suffers as a consequence of poor indoor air quality. More than two fifths (44%) said they’ve experienced a mixture of side effects and symptoms, from allergies, dry eyes and chest infections, to poor sleep, low mood and difficulty concentrating.

Summer struggle

Mould, damp and condensation are just some of the challenges associated with ventilation that the research highlighted. Lots of homeowners are also struggling with keeping their homes cool in the summer, which many of us have experienced during heatwaves.  

According to the findings, in summer months people are using portable fans (49%), air conditioning units (8%) and even reflective film on their windows (7%) to lower their indoor temperature. Almost two in five people (39%) think keeping their home cool in the summer will become a bigger challenge than keeping their home warm in the winter in the next five to 10 years, with nearly half of homeowners (45%) saying they already feel too hot and uncomfortable in their home during hot periods.

This all comes down to the fact many homes aren’t effectively ventilated, and the issues of poor indoor air quality during the warmer months can also impact people in terms of comfort, health and wellbeing.

Futureproof solutions

With all this in mind, it’s important for housebuilders to know the solutions available to help make their customers’ homes as comfortable and as safe as possible. Today, there is a wealth of smart technology available in this area, including high-tech ventilation systems like Unohab, a single-room heat recovery unit by Airflow. 

While traditional ventilation systems use separate ducts to distribute the supply and extraction of air, Unohab uses a decentralised mechanical ventilation solution, which means that the process of supplying and extracting air is done without ducting. It can be used in a new build or a renovation project, meaning it can be installed in addition to the existing ventilation system.

It has three modes – heat recovery, cross-ventilation and supply air. The latter two are designed to bring in fresh air, with the cross-ventilation mode proving particularly useful during summer, as it draws out hot stagnant air. The supply air function also draws in fresh air when an extractor fan is activated in a wet room. Meanwhile, the heat recovery mode switches between air supply and extraction each minute, designed to improve the energy efficiency of the home.

In heat recovery mode, Unohab also has thermal efficiency capabilities of up to 88%. This not only helps homeowners save money, but it complies with building regulations, such as Part L of the Future Homes Standard – an important regulation that dictates fuel efficiency for new builds. 

Housebuilders play a pivotal role in improving the nation’s housing stock, and when poor ventilation is proven to play such a significant part in our health, there’s no room for taking chances. So while there are so many who are working hard to improve the day-to-day lives of their customers and create properties that are sustainable and comfortable, more can be done to overturn the shocking findings from Jewson’s research. Now is the time to consider your designs and ensure solutions are in place that protect people’s health and wellbeing, and keep them and their home comfortable and safe.