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An Introduction to HQM

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

Previous Legislation & Regulation

The Code for Sustainable Homes is a credit-based environmental method of assessment, used for rating and certifying the performance and sustainability of new homes in the UK. It was introduced by the Government in 2006 and became the national standard for the design and construction of new homes.

Although the Code was never adopted in Scotland, it became mandatory within England and Wales for all new homes until 2014, when Wales abolished the scheme entirely. In 2015, England followed suit and dropped the scheme as a mandatory practise for new-builds, however English Planning Officers can insist on CSH for existing buildings. 

We can provide consultation, strategy and guidance for achieving the requirements of the Code for schemes where this is mandatory.

With the winding down of the Government-owned Code, BRE launched the new consumer-facing scheme – the Home Quality Mark (HQM).

The Home Quality Mark

The HQM is a voluntary assessment and certification scheme, recognising new homes where performance meets best practise standards – often significantly above that required by regulation.

Using a simple five-star rating supported by a number of performance indicators, it provides impartial information from independent experts on a new home’s design, construction quality and running costs.

The Indicators

The star rating provides an overall depiction of the home’s quality, with five starts being an outstanding home of this era. The indicators focus on three key aspects of interest to home occupants:

1. My Cost

Considering energy costs, material durability, maintenance, access to transport and amenity, and the performance of the home in extreme weather, this indicator focuses on the overall cost of living in the home. This could influence mortgages, insurance and financing for the development.

2. My Wellbeing

This provides an indication of how the home will impact the wellbeing and health of the occupier. It considers the quality of the living space (based on air, temperature, light and noise) as well as local amenities.

3. My Footprint

Taking into account the local and global emissions in use as well as the impact of the homes construction, this indicator analyses how the home will impact the environment throughout construction and in its use. This element of the assessment also focuses on the protection and enhancement of ecology.

For the Occupier

The HQM system provides consumers with a means of comparing running costs and environmental impact, as well as a measure of a healthier and more ethically constructed home. This allows them to make informed choices when buying or renting with confidence. In addition, HQM certification has potential to attract a better mortgage, with potentially lower interest rates.

For the House Builder

Using the HQM, house builders can assess and evaluate their operations and differentiate their products by supporting performance claims and articulating the advantages of new homes to their customers and others, as well as potentially increasing property value.

For the Landlord

Public and private sector landlords can use HQM to set priorities and monitor performance against the indicators in new build properties, throughout the design and construction stages. This ensures the properties they take on meet the expectations and needs of their tenants.

Assessment: Start to Finish

Prior to an application for a certified assessment and rating, a pre-assessment can be carried out in the early stages of design to estimate the likely HQM performance. This is often useful to support an outline or detailed planning application or tender bid.

The interim assessment and certification takes place during the design stage and ensures that opportunities for performance are identified. An interim stage certificate shows with confidence the predicted assessment rating of the home based on the design intent and specification.

The final assessment and certification occurs in the post-construction stage of the building. It ensures the specified level of performance is achieved in the most cost-effective manner.

All HQM assessments must be carried out by an independent expert, who has been trained and licenced by BRE. The assessment involves the use of SAP calculations, which also must be undertaken by an accredited and certified SAP assessor.

NOVO’s Sustainability Manager, Paul Arnold, meets these criteria and is certified by BRE Global as a SAP and HQM assessor. Paul is one of only eight currently certified HQM assessors in the county of Yorkshire.

To discuss how HQM could enhance your project, or book a consultation with Paul, please visit our Contact Us page to make an enquiry.   

‘HQM ONE’ is currently out for consultation and proposes significant changes to the scoring within the HQM scheme so it can better achieve its aims.


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