Compliance with the building regulations in the UK is something that every builder or developer has concerns about and with so many building regulations vying for priority on a development just how do you ensure you get the right windows and doors that are fully compliant with, not one, but all of the current building regulations, ensuring you get sign off from building control?
To try and answer this let’s start with an overview of the current building regulations that apply to new windows and doors in new homes in England.
The Window and Door Regs
Part B – Fire Safety
The most talked about building regulation this year due to the Grenfell Disaster; Part B has been brought firmly into the limelight with people’s safety at risk due to fire. In order to ensure fire safety, provision must be made to allow emergency escape via a window or door in habitable rooms. To comply the window should have an unobstructed openable area that at least 0.33mm2 and at least 450mm high and/or wide.
Part F – Ventilation
Yet another regulation of increasing importance due to recent studies showing the correlation between health and wellbeing and the air we breathe in our homes. There are two types of ventilation regulations to consider 1, purge ventilations and 2, background ventilation. Purge ventilation relates to the overall clear opening provided by the window when open and background ventilation relates to the airflow provided by a trickle vent which is known as EA (Equivalent Area) and is measured in mm2.
Part F do not generally recommend a night latch option because of the difficulty of measuring the equivalent area (mm2), increases the likelihood of draughts and increases security risk in some locations. However, many architects request night vents as they are more discrete than a trickle vent. And despite Part F not recommending them many Building Officers approve them.
Part K – Originally (N&K) – Protection from Falling, impact & Collision
This regulation relates to safety and security, I,e safety from falling and security from getting in. In terms of windows and doors this relates to areas that fall below 800mm from FFL. Guarding must be provided in these areas. Windows are often being used as a barrier in place of an actual barrier or balustrade and building inspectors are now looking for evidence that the glass in the windows can withstand the forces of impact set out in British Standard BS6180.
Part L – Conservation of fuel and power
Where new build homes are concerned this typically relates Approved Document L1A which states that reasonable provision must be made for the conservation of fuel and power by limiting heat gains and losses. Part L1A (new dwellings) gives a target value U value of 1.4 W/m2 K and a minimum requirement of 2.0 W/m2 K. This is an overall u value rating, not a centre pane value of the glass but the most significant factor affecting energy performance is the specification of the glass.
Selecting the correct composition of the double or triple-glazed unit, sometimes referred to as the IGU (insulating glass unit), is crucial. The glass can be specified to maximise solar gain, or to control it, as well as to minimise noise transmission, self-clean and provide additional safety. The choice of glass, the spacing between the panes and the gas used in the unit, all affect the energy values and window energy ratings.
Part M – Access and the use of Buildings
This regulation is designed to ensure accessibility. This principally relates to access doors which must provide a clear opening of 775mm and a step of no more than 15mm. This is where the overall frame size of the doors will need to be considered to ensure compliance and the appropriate threshold design should be incorporated.
Part Q – Security – Dwellings
The newest of the building regulations, Approved Document Q was recently published and came into effect in England on 1st October 2015, bringing a minimum level of security into new dwellings. This is perhaps the most mis-understood of all the regulations.
The document is designed to ensure the prevention of unauthorised access to dwellings (including flats). As part of this, doors and windows which could be accessed will need to resist physical attack by a casual or opportunist burglar. They therefore must be sufficiently robust, fitted with appropriate hardware and most importantly, be proven to have security performance
What about The British Standards & CE Marking; where do these fit in?
In addition to UK Building regulations you will want to ensure your supplier is in compliance with the relevant British standards. Those that relate to new builds and windows are:
- BS644 (Fully Finished Factory Assembled Windows – Specification) – By selecting a supplier with this compliance, this ensures the highest level of quality assurance.
- BS6375 Part 1, 2 + 3 (Performance of Windows) – This relates to air permeability and wind load and ensures that the windows are tested to the highest levels of weather performance to ensure longevity.
- BS8213 (Code of Practice for the Survey and Installation of Windows and External Doors) – This documents serves as guidance and recommendation to ensure the correct installation of windows and doors.
- CE Marking – It is a legal requirement to have a CE mark and to publish certificates. Look out for the CE Mark on your order paperwork and check that you have access to correct certification
- In summary, choose a supplier that can prove compliance with all UK Building regulations, consider British Standard and make sure you can locate all relevant documentation and certification.
Who is responsible for window and door compliance The Architect, The Builder, The Client, The Supplier?
The first port of call for any client for advice and design of a new home is the architect. Architects are relied upon very heavily by both clients and builders/contractors to know and understand the most extensive range of building products and how to specify them to ensure compliance with the current building regulations for windows and doors. But with so many different products from different companies with different specifications just how are they supposed to do this? They have tools at their disposal such as Ribaproductselector.com.
As a developer have their regular suppliers those they have worked with over the years; those that they know and trust but with more and more developments being client led and marketing playing a big part in a client’s decision making just how do you balance the designs of the architects, with the desires of the clients and the wrath of the building inspector?
An architect cannot usually be held responsible for compliance as this can only be ascertained as work is signed off by the Building Control Officer (BCO) throughout the life of the project.
However, part of an architect’s process will be to develop a design based on guidelines from the local authority and statutory requirements in order to provide the best chance of gaining planning permission if required whilst also ensuring that the proposed works can be carried out in accordance with the Building Regulations.
How can I check my windows and doors comply?
Well you could spend hours and hours reading the approve documents but in my experience that will just leave you more confused; even with 13 years of experience reading and interpreting Building Regulations; British Standards and Test Reports I struggle to interpret what they actually mean.
My advice; leave it to the experts. Ask your supplier to prove compliance.
What Bereco do to ensure you comply?
- We train our staff to quote to ensure you comply and offer advice and guidance if we see a problem.
- We test, with UKAS certified body BlueSky.
- We show u values; certificate numbers and air flow on our quotes. By declaring the total EA on our quotes and order document we help you ensure you achieve the levels required to ensure compliance.
- In terms of Part M, we print the clear opening widths on the order documents and will highlight compliance to ensure this is met.
- In order to prove fully and without doubt that our wooden windows are fully compliant with Part K we have undertaken the testing of our sash window to the British Standard BS6180.
- CE Marks are displayed on all order and quote paperwork and certificates can be downloaded via our website.
- To ensure compliance with Part Q we have the most comprehensive range of products tested to PAS 24: 2016.
Look out for the next instalment on Building Regulation compliance in replacement doors and windows.