Fire regs and staircases - HELP

5 Nov 2005
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United Kingdom
Hi there
I think I posted this in the wrong place before, in building: hope you can help in here. I've found the forums a huge help before when I was trying to buy a house but have a new problem.

Have had an offer accepted on a house I really like, 100 year old terrace, lovely open plan reception/dining room with a staircase leading directly up from the living area.

Trouble is, it also has a large loft conversion and I remembered from another house I viewed that where there's a third level, the main staircase should be fully enclosed to allow escape route in the event of a fire. When I asked the vendors, they admitted that their builder had created a stud wall 'hallway/corridor' from the front door that enclosed the staircase, got Building Regs completion cerficate, and then immediately demolished it - because this corridor eats considerably into the space in the living room/is generally a nasty eyesore.

So, if I want to buy the house, I have two choices: feign ignorance (but my bank valuation may flag it up - plus might this non-compliance mean my house insurance might be invalid if there was a fire AND it may cause aq problem when I sell) OR have them reinstate it/reinstate it myself and therefore affect the appeal of the house.

If it was an upstairs room affected I wouldn't mind, but this would definitely make the entrance much less inviting.

Is there another way round it ie sprinklers or an emergency staircase into the garden? And how much might a wall cost (it's about 10 feet from the front door to the bottom of the stairs, plus the handrail/balustrade would also need boxing in I guess).

I need to make a decision very soon so would really appreciate any comments.

Thank you very much
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Is the room in loft open plan or has it got a door ?

Do you know if the wall which got knocked down, had a door at the bottom of the stair case, ?
I can not see any problem with the staircase on the ground being open-plan .It would be the staircase leading to the loft conversion that will come under the fire regulations
Markie, I think it went: front door, corridor, side door into living room, but no door to staircase that would be ahead of you as you walk into the there was a clear escape route via the stairs that avoids going into the living room that I guess is where many fires start.

Splinter, I hope you're right if that's the case, I wonder why they (by their own account) built a wall that stayed up less than a week, and was knocked down the day after the building inspector signed the Completion cert.
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If the stair case had no door at the bottom, that means the door into the loft must be a fire door, or should be,

The loft will OK, providing it has an a escape window, and a door closer fitted,

Has the stairs well got a smoke detector at the top of the stairs, ( mains )
pumaowner - you are right, the staircase needs to be enclosed by 30 minute fire resistant construction from the loft to the ground floor and final exit.

a fire foor to the loft and an escape window would be needed aswell as the protected staircase. Also self closers on all other doors (except bathrooms).

as you say, your insurance may well be invalidated - but be more concerned about how you would escape if a fire occured, then think about how to finance a rebuild/refurb.

I cant imagine that stud wall + fire door would be more than £1k.
If the stair case is in the living room now that the wall has gone, then it's has to be rebuilt, with 1/2 " plarster boards and 1/2 hour fire door and self closer.
I have asked this question on another forum ,and it seems that there are no national guide-lines for fire regs for loft conversions .It really comes down to what you're local BC stipulate .So I would recemend you contact you're loca lBCO :)
the building regulations are a nationwide set of regulations its how they are interpreted by each local authority that varies. They are quite together on part B though and the main crux is.

That for a second storey loft conversion the loft room must be half hour fire protected from the first floor and have an alternate means of escape from the loft (eg escape velux).
The passage way to a ground floor exit must also be half hour protected from all habitable rooms and the loft room and full escape route must have interlinked smoke alarms fitted. This is the minimum requirement and certain situations may have further requirements.
I have posted some other stuff in the building post but essentially you could use a sprinkler system or an alteranate stairway from the first floor.
with regards to the validaty of your insurance I doubt that would be a problem as many houses don't comply with the current fire regs.
splinter said:
there are no national guide-lines for fire regs for loft conversions .

there are national guidelines for england and wales

its called Approved Document B - listed under loft conversions
you don't always need an alternate form of escape. We've just had our loft approved, and we don't have an escape window. We do however have stairs above the stairs we already had, and it's a sealed tube (in effect) from the loft to the front door.

Basically there is a route from top to bottom that is completely sealed with fire doors, and smoke alarms - like a tower block but on a smaller scale.

As someone else said, see what your local BI says - you may be surprised. Partly at how much they charge you for a 30 sec visit, but partly on the interpretation. Our builder certainly was.
BOB NUTS said:
splinter said:
there are no national guide-lines for fire regs for loft conversions .

there are national guidelines for england and wales

called Approved Document B - listed under loft conversions

BOB NUTS ,bit of a miss quote there.I did put the word "seems" in front of that sentence!!!!!!! ;)

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