Open plan loft conversion

10 Aug 2009
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United Kingdom
I am planning a loft conversion in my 1930's semi. Currently there is an unenclosed staircase (i.e. with balustades) to the first floor. I want to put a second, unenclosed staircase directly over this leading to the loft. The loft will have an ensuite shower room and the option to divide into two bedrooms in the future, but initially will just be used as a single large space (master bedroom or play room).

To enhance the sense of space and create an open-plan look, what I would like to do is have no door in to the space, and protect the stairwell with a banister, or maybe a half-height wall.

The main restriction to this would appear to be fire regulations, which as a minimum require a fire door either at the top or bottom of the stairs. Are any other solutions allowable? For example, installing sprinklers in the loft and along the protected stairwell? Fitting a fire escape to the second storey? etc.

Thanks for any advice.
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Sprinklers may be allowed to compensate for varying standard fire protection measures. However, the guidance is not that clear and you will most likely need a specialist consultant to design a system for you. Also, as far as I recall, the system must cover the whole house, not just the loft and stairs. So it may not be a very practical solution. If you can't get a sprinkler design to work you will need a fire door - and not just on the loft. You will have to fit them down the whole staircase to the final exit.
As far as I am aware the sprinkler system can cover only the ground floor as long as you have an isolated fire escape via another first floor room. In practice this means providing a fire door somewhere at first floor level between the open plan ground floor and the escape route from the 2nd floor. A floor plan would be useful if you could attach one..
Work on the concept of a fire starting downstairs, and then flames or dense smoke rapidly using the open stairs as a chimney and shooting up to the loft in no time, trapping (or worse) people while they sleep.

And plan a solution to deal with this, rather than having a pretty open plan look as the first priority
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Hi, I'm looking to do an open plan loft conversion myself more or less exactly as you described. I've seen firms web sites photo galleries with stairs going directly into rooms.

What's the latest?

Nothing has changed, without a fire door the fire and smoke still won't avoid spreading into the loft even if you ask it very nicely.

No door no Regs, no insurance, loft full of smoke. Simples.
I get the reasoning, I was planning half the space to be a bedroom (which would have a fire door) and the other half with existing stair well leading into it as a studio space.

Do the regs still apply when it is not a bedroom?

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