01 May, 2007

THE AGE: Builders gain more time to use timber floors

Ben Schneiders
May 1, 2007

The use of timber floors in new homes has won another last-minute reprieve after the Victorian Government decided not to enforce a deadline for the introduction of green regulations.

Changes in energy-saving regulations that were to take effect from today would have added to pressure on builders to use concrete slabs rather than timber floors.

Timber floors were exempted from five-star energy efficiency standards when the rules were introduced nearly two years ago. But the timber floor exemption deadline has been extended until August 31 amid concerted lobbying from the building industry. Builders argue the end of the exemption would add to costs and reduce consumer choice.

It was the second reprieve the industry has received after an earlier 12-month extension. Only last week both the Building Commissioner Tony Arnel and Planning Minister Justin Madden said the exemption would end on April 30.

The Housing Industry Association's executive director Victoria, Caroline Lawrey, welcomed the extension but said it needed to be timed to the introduction of software — which is due for release in July — that calculates energy use and rates timber floors more favourably than the previous software version.

Mr Arnel said the exemption was not extended due to delays in the software's introduction. He said some builders and suppliers may "require a little more time" to prepare for five-star but doesn't expect more extensions."

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