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Last edited 08 Feb 2022
Standards in the construction industry
In the construction industry, the term 'standards' typically refers to published documents that are intended to define the common specifications, methods and procedures that are to be used. By establishing common standards, greater reliability and consistency is ensured in terms of the quality, compatibility and compliance of the particular product, service, material, and so on.
The Building Regulations establish minimum standards to be achieved in the construction of buildings. They are supported by a series of approved documents that provide guidance about how the building regulations can be satisfied in common building situations, and these in turn are supported by a wide range of reference documents. For more information, see Building regulations.
Specifications also typically refer to a range of standards for materials to be used, quality of workmanship, test to be performed and so on. For more information see: Specification.
There are several organisations that provide standards for the built environment, some of which are set out below:
 British standards
The British Standards Institution publishes standards and provides a range of books, self-assessment tools, conferences and training services. BSI defines a standard as 'something that is generally accepted'. British Standard (BS) publications are technical specifications or practices that can be used as guidance for the production of a product, carrying out a process or providing a service.
British Standards are often initially developed as Publicly Available specifications (PAS). These are fast-track standards, specifications, codes of practice or guidelines developed by sponsoring organisations to meet an immediate market need.
The Kitemark was first introduced by BSI (the British Standards Institute) in 1903. It is commonly found on many products, including construction products. It indicates that the product has been independently tested by BSI to confirm that it complies with relevant British Standards.
For more information, see British Standards Institution.
 International standards
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is an independent organisation responsible for the production of voluntary international standards. The standards are documents that provide requirements, guidance, specifications or characteristics that are used to ensure consistency of materials, products, services and processes.
British standards may be adopted as international standards, and international standards may be adopted in the UK.
CE marking signifies that a product complies with relevant safety, health or environmental regulations across the European Economic Area (EEA).
For more information, see International Organisation for Standardisation.
 Other standards
The National House Building Council (NHBC) is the UK’s leading standard-setting body and provider of insurance and warranties for newly-built homes. NHBC standards set technical requirements, performance standards and guidance for the design and construction of houses.
For more information, see National House Building Council.
In December 2016, the International Ethics Standards Coalition (IES) published the first set of ethics principles for professionals in land, property, construction, infrastructure and related professions.
For more information, see International Ethics Standards Coalition.
The International Property Measurement Standards Coalition (IPMSC) is a group of more than 80 professional and not-for-profit organisations working to develop international standards for measuring property. The standards are intended to establish a consistent approach to measuring buildings, particularly important given the growth of cross-border property investment and the expansion of global corporations.
For more information, see International Property Measurement Standards Coalition.
The Common Minimum Standards (CMS) summarise existing government policy on construction. CMS states that central government construction projects (including departments, executive agencies and the non-departmental public bodies for which they are responsible), should be carried out '…with full reference to the CMS'. Where public projects have been devolved to the wider public sector, reasonable measures should be taken to ensure that the CMS are adopted.
For more information, see Common minimum standards.
The minimum energy efficiency standard (MEES) was developed to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s older building stock, helping deliver carbon reduction targets for 2020 and 2050.
For more information, see Minimum energy efficiency standard (MEES)
Designing Buildings Wiki has a range of articles relating to different standards, including:
- BIM standards.
- Building control performance standards.
- Clean indoor air for healthy living - New air filter standards.
- Common minimum standards.
- Draft housing standards.
- Education, training and standards for 21st century conservation professionals.
- Housing standards review.
- International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS).
- International Property Measurement Standards.
- Lift Standards: EN 81-20 and EN 81-50.
- Limiting fabric standards.
- Low carbon building standards strategy for Scotland.
- Minimum energy efficiency standard (MEES).
- Minimum space standards.
- NHBC technical standards 2016.
- Professional standards for architects.
- Scottish building standards.
- Solid Wall Insulation: Unlocking demand and driving up standards.
- Sprinkler systems explained: A guide to sprinkler installation standards and rules.
- Technical housing standards - nationally described space standard.
- The role of codes, standards and approvals in delivering fire safety.
NB Functional Standards Common Glossary, published by the Cabinet Office, states: ‘A standard is an agreed document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.’
 Related articles on Designing Buildings
- ASTM International.
- ASTM International architectural model program standard E3223.
- Attestation of conformity.
- BBA becomes an Approved Body for UKCA Marking.
- Brexit standards, products and regulatory updates.
- British Standards Institution.
- CE marking.
- Code of conduct.
- Construction products regulations.
- Design-Build Institute of America DBIA.
- Design quality.
- Energy related products regulations.
- Quality control.
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