Building for Life

Building for Life 12 is the  industry standard, endorsed by Government, for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods that local communities, local authorities and developers can use to stimulate conversations about creating good places to live.

BfL12 is quite different from the old Building for Life. It is not just that there are 12 questions instead of 20.  The approach is different with the emphasis less on assessment and more on facilitating a discussion that can raise design quality. This means there is much greater support for the standard from house-builders. But that is not because BfL12 is a softer option. Potentially it is a tougher test of quality.  The new ‘traffic light’ scoring system means no scheme should score a red against any of the questions, so no part of the scheme should be sub-standard.  The discussion will focus on how to achieve green lights against all of the criteria. Simple, practical advice should make that easier to achieve.

With many local authorities in the West Midlands already signed up to Building for Life, effective use of the new version can help smooth the way to planning approvals. In addition, for the first time Building for Life can now be used as a marketing tool. Schemes that get 12 green lights can achieve a Built for Life award to demonstrate to buyers that it is a quality development.

Local authority planners, house-builders, planning consultants and architects who design volume housing schemes should all be using BfL12.  You can dowload the guide to BfL12 here.

How can you start using BfL12 or make the transition from old BfL?  MADE, along with other members of the Design Network is playing an important part in rolling out BfL12 and is here to help.  As an independent not-for-profit organisation whose only interest is promoting well-designed developments MADE is uniquely placed to provide expertise and as an honest-broker in BfL12 conversations.


MADE has held training days at our office in Birmingham, and has run in-house training for Sandwell and Malvern Hills Councils. We have also be delivered two in-house training days for staff and management at Barratt Homes.

We can arrange in-house training for planning or design teams or perhaps start with a short briefing for planners, designers or elected members.

BfL12 Reviews

Getting used to using BfL12 as a tool for discussion is not always easy.  MADE can help facilitate a collaborative review, a type of design workshop in which all parties jointly assess where a scheme stands against the BfL12 and what needs to be done to achieve 12 greens.  Depending on the size of the scheme we will involve members of our expert panel to support the process as well as pre-meetings, site visits and follow up desk assessments. BfL12 reviews can be integrated with MADE’s Design Review service so that the Design Review panel can concentrate on the aspects of the scheme that need to be improved to achieve green lights.

BfL12 Assessments

There may be times when an independent expert opinion is needed: to validate a developer or local authority view, to mediate where there is disagreement or check that a scheme has achieved 12 greens and can go forward for Built for Life accreditation.  MADE can provide that independent assessment.

If you have a housing development in the pipeline or need to train your people please email David Tittle or call 0121 348 7980 to discuss how MADE can help.  If you are outside the MADE area, do not dispair, our colleagues in the Design Network will provide the same services wherever you are.