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Building Regulations Approved Document B (Fire safety) – What Does it Mean for Me?

Building regulations can be overwhelming. You must keep up with them to ensure that your property is safe and legal. Otherwise, you can spend a lot of money on a construction that is inhabitable. If the property is new, this may be easier as you can put measures in place early on. If you’re updating an old property, it may be more difficult, but it still must be done. Approved Document B of the UK Building Regulations, sets out the requirements for ‘dwellinghouses’ or buildings other than dwellinghouses.

Approved-Document-B

A dwelling house is a house used as a residence rather than for business. Usually a residential building that is occupied by up to 6 people, not including flats. Under English law a dwelling is defined as a self-contained ‘substantial’ unit of accommodation, such as a building, part of a building, caravan, houseboat or other mobile home.

Buildings other than dwellinghouses can be hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, hotels, things run as a trade and offering services, whether by the owner-occupier or by a tenant. A block of flats is not a dwelling house although the individual flats within the block may be.

For the two categories, regulations and requirements differ.

Dwelling house

Let’s break down the first volume of the document:

  • In a dwelling house environment, there must be sufficient provisions for the early warning of a fire as well as easily identifiable routes to a safe place, away from the building. This means clear exits and fire escapes and easy entry for emergency services.
  • There must be something in place to reduce the spread of fire in the internal structure of the building. You could do this with flame retardant paints and treatments, even if it’s a metal structure.
  • As with the interiors, the external walls must have preventive measures. Again, you could look at paints and treatments.
  • Remember to consider roofing, walls to adjoining buildings and the structure itself.

Approved-Document-B-3

Non-Dwelling houses

As with a dwelling house, some of the rules are similar.

  • Multi-occupancy buildings must have the same warnings for fires, such as alarms, and escape routes. Be wary that the regulations for non-dwelling house are more strict.
  • You must consider the interiors, the lining of the building and the structure as with a dwellinghouse.
  • Larger buildings with many floors and so on will need similar protection from the spread of fire, with preventative measures to stop a fire from spreading to adjoining buildings.
  • Access for the fire services and other emergency services is important. You must remember the requirements will be more strict for these types of properties.

This is a simple overview of the regulations, make sure you do thorough research and meet all requirements. There are special measures and requirements depending on the type of property, whether it’s a home or a multi-storey car park. If you keep on top of this, it’ll keep your property safe and save you money!

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