Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Code for Sustainable Homes a barrier to small businesses

Tough eco targets could push small house builders out of the market, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned.

The Government’s competition watchdog says in a report published last week that small home builders are “unlikely” to meet new green standards set out in the controversial Code for Sustainable Homes.

The report states that regulatory obstacles are likely to present the “highest barriers to new entrants” and existing home builders looking to expand.

The Code for Sustainable Homes, it says, is cited by many home builders as a barrier that they will not be able to clear unless significant additional help is provided.

According to the OFT’s findings, many home builders consider the code’s highest levels – Code Level 5 and 6 – to be technically impossible to achieve.

“If this is the case, it seems essential that the benefits of any support are made available in particular to smaller firms and new entrants in order to prevent the Code for Sustainable Homes from becoming an insurmountable barrier to entry,” says the watchdog.

One of the recommendations put forward by the OFT is to allow micro home builders and self builders to buy ‘off-the-peg’ green solutions to help them meet targets.

“Currently the majority of the products available come from abroad and small home builders and those undertaking self-build projects may not have the required contacts or knowledge to explore these solutions,” concludes the OFT.

The findings have been endorsed by the cross-industry Zero Carbon Hub which is urging the government to focus on achievable targets – namely Code Level 3.

“There’s a need to refocus. Levels 5 and 6 are hugely ambitious,” says Neil Jefferson, Zero Carbon Hub chief executive. “Sustainability has to be considered with supply and there is a real need to focus on the SME sector which needs research and development support.”