Skip to main content

Commercial Refurbishment & Building Regulations

News

May 2013

By Charlie Jeary
Director, Owner - Winchester, Hampshire

Charlie Jeary

At Spaceway we take building regulations very seriously and therefore we work closely with our building control partners Butler & Young to ensure your commercial refurbishment complies with all building regulations

Commercial Refurbishment Building Regulations Hampshire

Butler & Young have kindly put together an article for our customers to help them understand more about being safe and compliant with building regulations when fitting out their Warehouse or Office with a new Mezzanine Floor.

If you have a refurbishment project coming up and you would like to conduct a review of your plans to ensure you are safe and compliant with building regulations, why not take a look at the following article put together by Butler & Young and if you have any questions please call the Spaceway sales team on 01794 835 600.

What Are Building Regulations?

Building Regulations are minimum standards to ensure the health and safety of people in and around buildings.  They also provide for energy conservation and access to and use of buildings.  They are made under powers provided in the Building Act 1984, and apply in England and Wales.  The current edition of the Building Regulations is the Building Regulations 2000 (as amended) and the majority of building projects are required to comply with them.

The following is defined as ‘building work’ which requires Building Regulation approval:

  •  The erection or extension of a building
  •  The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
  •  An alteration project involving work which will temporarily or permanently affect the on-going compliance of the building, service or fitting with the requirements relating to structure, fire safety or access to and use of buildings
  •  Material change of use
  •  The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
  •  The underpinning of the foundation of a building
  •  Work relating to a change of energy status
  •  Work relating to thermal elements
  •  Work required by consequential improvements to energy performance

How Are Building Regulations Relevant?

There are many parts to the Building Regulations, however the relevant requirements applicable to mezzanine floors, office fit-outs, warehouse fit-outs and storage systems are:

  •  Part A – Structure
  •  Part B – Fire Safety
  •  Part F – Ventilation
  •  Part K – Protection from falling, collision and impact
  •  Part L – Conservation of fuel and power
  •  Part M – Access to and use of buildings

Other parts may be applicable depending on the scope of the project.  For instance, Part H (drainage) will be applicable if WCs or kitchens are installed.

Contravention of Building Regulations
Contravention of the Building Regulations is a criminal offence and the Local Authority may take action under the Building Act 1984 against a person who contraventions them.  Formal enforcement action is normally a last resort but can result in a fine or a notice to pull down or remove any work contravening the Regulations.

Guidelines for Compliance
Approved Documents provide practical guidelines on how to comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations.  The following guidance notes are extracts from the Approved Documents but do not constitute an alternative to the legislation.

Part A | structure
Part A requires the structure of a building to be constructed so that the dead and imposed loads are sustained and transmitted by it to the ground safely and without causing deflection or deformation of any part of the building, or such movement of the ground, which will impair the stability of any part of the building, or another building.

A mezzanine floor needs to be designed to make sure it can sustain the load for which it is intended.  Consideration should be given to concentrated loads in a single position, such as a heavy piece of machinery, and also distributed loads such as a length of storage racking.  In order to reduce the risk of overloading, a loading notice should be fixed to the mezzanine floor stating maximum permissible loads.

The concrete floor of an industrial building is usually of sufficient strength and thickness to support a mezzanine floor without any further foundations.  However there are circumstances when new foundations are required and it is essential that a structural assessment is undertaken at design stage.

Part B | fire safety
Part B of the Building Regulations is intended to ensure that a reasonable standard of life safety is provided in case of fire.  There is no requirement for protection of property.

Means of Warning and Escape in Case of Fire
To reduce the risk of occupants being trapped in a building by fire, there are minimum requirements for fire alarms, escape routes and provision of fire exits.

The minimum recommended fire alarm installation is manual system comprising call points and alarm sounders.  This relies on occupants in the building detecting a fire and raising the alarm.  Where building layouts are more complicated or there are areas that are not frequently occupied, the risk of undetected fire is increased and provision of automatic fire detection may be required.  The extent of the provision depends on the degree of risk.

Horizontal Escape
To help occupants escape from a building before conditions are untenable, the travel distance from inside the building to a final exit or storey exit is limited.

The maximum travel distance depends on the use of the building and the level of risk.   It also depends on the number of escape routes available.

In an office, for example, the maximum recommended travel distance if there is only one exit is 18m.  If two exits are available and they considered to be alternative exits, the recommended travel distance limitation is extended to 45m.  Exits are considered to be alternative if the escape routes are 45o or more apart.

In an industrial building or warehouse used for the storage of high hazard materials, the travel distance in a single direction is limited to 12m and 25m for two directions.  These travel distances are for the actual routes, allowing for internal obstructions, racks, partitions, corridors etc.  When this information is not known at design stage, travel distances are further limited to make allowances for future fit-outs.

The number and width of fire exits depends on the maximum number of people that can be accommodated in the building.

Protected Corridors
Corridors with alternative escape routes do not require specific fire protection.  Dead-end corridors exceeding 2m in length could result in occupants within the accommodation being trapped by fire.  It is therefore necessary to enclose the corridor with walls that are at least 30 minute fire- resisting to protect the escape route.  Doors within the corridor should be 30 minute fire resisting and self-closing.

Vertical Escape
Fire escape from upper floors is usually by means of a staircase located in a fire protected enclosure.   Storage mezzanine floors however, often have open accommodation stairs.  This may be considered satisfactory if the travel distance to the ground floor fire exit is within limitations and the number of people likely to use the stair is low.

Among other fire safety matters to consider in order to assist escape in case of fire are emergency lighting and emergency fire exit signage.

Structural Fire Resistance
In a fire elements of structure must be able to maintain their integrity for a suitable length of time.  This is to enable occupants to escape from the building and to assist the fire service with search and rescue operations.  In most situations a floor and any structural support to the floor should achieve 1 hour fire resistance.  A common approach with mezzanine floors is to provide a fire resisting suspended ceiling below the floor and to fix fire resisting column casings.

When mezzanine floors are designated for storage purposes only, the risk is reduced and structural fire protection is not required where the floor does not exceed 10m in either width or length and does not exceed one half of the floor area of the space in which it is situated.  If an automatic fire detection and alarm system is installed in accordance with BS 5839-1:2013, the floor size can be increased to not more than 20m in either width or length.  Furthermore, if an automatic sprinkler system is installed throughout, there are no limits on the size of the floor.

Compartmentation
Where there are different uses in a building and some uses are not considered as ancillary to a main use, there is a need for fire compartmentation between the uses.

For example, a factory may have offices and other accommodation associated with it.  If these uses are an essential part of the factory, and they are not compartmented from the process area, then the building as a whole would be considered industrial.  However, the same factory may have a storage area, for example, associated with it.  Again the same principle about ancillary use could apply, but there could be circumstances where this area of different use could become large relative to the main industrial use.  It might then be necessary to consider this subsidiary storage use separately it its own right.

Similarly, a building that is divided into separate occupancies should have fire separation between the occupancies if persons in one occupancy are not to be hazarded by a fire, which could develop undetected, in the other occupancy.

Fire Risk Assessment

A building control body has no on-going compliance control once a project has successfully completed.   Employers, owners, landlords or occupiers of non-domestic premises are responsible for fire safety and are known as the ‘responsible person’.

As the responsible person, there are certain things you must do by law under the Fire Safety Order, which is enforced by the local fire and rescue authority.  This includes carrying out and regularly reviewing a fire risk assessment of the premises.

Any subsequent changes to the layout of the building that have an effect on fire safety will require additional building regulations consent.

Part F | ventilation
The Building Regulations require adequate means of ventilation for people within a building.  Ventilation is the removal of ‘stale’ indoor air from a building and its replacement with ‘fresh’ outside air of reasonable quality.

The ventilation strategy can be delivered by a natural ventilation system or a mechanical ventilation system or a combination of both (i.e. mixed-mode or hybrid ventilation system).  When creating new habitable accommodation, it is important to consider ventilation at an early stage is it may require provision of a new window to provide natural ventilation, or the installation of a mechanical air supply and extract system if natural ventilation is not possible.  Comfort cooling is not an alternative to ventilation.

Part K | protection from falling, collision and impact
Stairs, ladders and ramps should be designed, constructed and installed as to be safe for people moving between different levels in or about the building.

Stairs, ramps, floors and balconies to which people have access should be provided with barriers where it is necessary to protect people in or about the building from falling.

Glazing in critical locations – below 800mm from floor level and 1500mm in doors and adjacent side panels is required to either be safety glass which breaks safety, resist impact without breaking or be permenently protected.
Part L | conservation of fuel and power
Part L of the Building Regulations makes reasonable provision for the conservation of fuel and power in buildings by limiting heat gains and losses and by providing fixed building services which are energy efficient and have effective controls.  It also makes provision to supply building owners with sufficient information about the building, the fixed building services and their maintenance requirements so that the building can be operated in such a manner as to use no more fuel and power than is reasonable in the circumstances

Consequential Improvements
The Building Regulations may require additional work to be undertaken to make an existing building more energy efficient when certain types of building work are proposed.  The requirement applies to an existing building with a total useful floor area of over 1,000m2 where the proposed work consists of or includes: an extension; the initial provision of any fixed building service; the increase to the installed capacity of any fixed building service.
Part M | access to and use of buildings
Part M of the Building Regulations makes provision for people to gain access to, and use a building and its facilities.  In the past Part M just made provision for disabled people, but now the aim is to foster a more inclusive approach to design to accommodate the needs of all people.

Part M and the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Act 2010 brings together existing equalities legislation, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, with the aims of strengthening and also harmonising existing provision into a single streamlined framework of equalities legislation to deliver deter outcomes.  Compliance with Part M of the Building Regulations does not necessarily equate to compliance with the obligations and duties set out in the Equalities Act.

When undertaking fit out works subject to a Material Alteration under the Building Regulations, the work itself must comply where relevant with Part M.  This means that alterations to features relevant to the compliance of a building with Part M, such as entrances or arrangement for people to get from one level to another within the building, must result in features that comply.  Where new features relevant to Part M are provided, there must also comply.  Some of the provisions to consider are:

  •  door and corridor widths
  •  accessible sanitary accommodation for wheelchair users and people with ambulant disabilities as well as parents with children and people (e.g. those with luggage) who need an enlarged space.
  •  door opening forces
  •  hearing loops in conference rooms, meeting rooms and reception areas
  •  heights of switches and sockets
  •  colour contrasting or important features or obstructions
  •  manifestation of glazing
  •  vertical circulation
  •  reception desk design
  •  accessible refreshment facilities

Access strategies can be used to demonstrate compliance with Part M if alternative solutions to those contained in Approved Document M are proposed.

If you would like to talk to Spaceway about your commercial refurbishment and complying with building regulations please call our sales team on 01794 835 600.