Step out to patio

13 Jan 2016
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United Kingdom
Hi all, would a step from the house to the patio be okay at 3 courses below (approx 200mm)?

The current patio is level with the house (as when we bought it) but the surveyors report recommended for it to be dropped down to at least 150mm below DPC. So I presume a drop of 150mm from the house to the patio would be ideal BUT...

It’s a retaining patio made from sleepers so if i drop down the 2 courses it messes up the outside retaining sleepers. As it is, I could remove the top facing sleepers (200mm) & remove the containing hardcore & then relay the slabs to be level with the next sleeper down if that makes sense.

What do you think about a 200mm drop/step from house to patio?

It was only put in 2 years ago and is a large patio (9m wide x 3m out). Bifolds are 6m wide. The house is annoyingly 800mm up from ground. The only other option I can think of is to take the entire patio out then have steps from the bifolds down to a ground level patio. But I dread the think the cost of that plus all the ground currently being retained!!

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200mm sounds reasonable to me, but perhaps get in touch with a friendly architect who should be aware of any regulatory requirement. Alternatively, are you able to consider a gap (dry moat) next to the house? Such could even have clark drainage channel lids at your bifold door threshold?
Your project sounds similar to one I did a few years ago ( though I built up my patio whereas you're looking at lowering it - A dwarf wall 200mm away from the house might solve your issue but keep your patio at threshold height - would require lifting part of the patio but regain DPC integrity?
Wow, very impressive job halitosis(!) Looks a million dollars.

I’m the opposite way round, the house/patio is higher than the lawn. There is currently a French drain inbetween the house & patio, 100mm wide filled with gravel which is a pain. As well as the bifolds there is a standard door. The thresholds aren’t quite the same so the patio is flush with the main door but slightly lower than the bifolds, about 10mm.

Being 800mm up feels super high as we are higher than our neighbour (house is set further back). Just had a little one so would need to add some sort of balustrade round the edge at 800mm I guess.

Not sure what to do!
Ah I see - sorry, I'd imagined everyone has a similar situation to my own :LOL:
So you actually want to lower the patio and it isn't just the DPC issue? I gained advice from an architect acquaintance who considered the French drain/dry moat thing perfectly fine to retain the DPC's integrity (he suggests leaving it empty rather than filling it with stones). At door thresholds the drain can be suspended briefly, though I only have patio doors and not 6m bi-folds!
If you want to lower your patio regardless, I fear the latest building regs require your first step at a door threshold to extend outwards as far as a patio door opens (so a metre or so) rather than the traditional 18 inches.
I'm no expert though, so give your local planning office a quick call to confirm.
Good luck and let us see some photos as you go
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That’s it, the patio is the same level as the house. No DPC exposed, just a french gravel drain. Then steps from the patio down to the grass (house & patio are elevated by 800mm+)

My concerns are:

Will the French drain/linear drain fail the DPC in the long term? It’s a cavity wall built 2 years ago. No cavity trays. I’ve read lots on the ‘paving expert’ website but still can’t see if this is a long term solution?

I also contacted building control - he said usually we advise 2 courses below DPC unless following part M regs for new builds, then a cavity tray would be fitted to the blockwork during the build.

If so, I will have to lower the patio, but in order to keep all the sleepers in line I would ideally have to lower it by 200mm.

So there wouldn’t be a step as such, it would be house then down 200mm to patio. I’m wondering if this is manageable as I see people usually drop down 2 courses, rather than 3?

Obviously this would mean a lower patio so less of a fall off the edge for kids & less overlooking the neighbours/them seeing us.

Would give a different view from the kitchen - not sure better or worse to have garden furniture lower than the glass doors?

But then I lose the practicality of being able to walk in & out from the patio without a step.

I’m overanalysing & would really appreciate opinions on what you would do with a similar set up! Thanks
In my view, the Paving Expert site provides "best practice" advice, which meets/exceeds building regs. I've discussed the advice there with a couple of builders, who actually claimed some of it "wouldn't be necessary" (i.e. they'd cut corners but still satisfy their customer). I think you can take Paving Expert's advice as satisfying the long term.
I recall reading there the suggestion that the French drain/dry moat is better left empty than filled with stones, as such will enable periodic inspection (ensure rainwater is draining and the brickwork/DPC isn't looking at risk) and also prevents the build up of dead leaves, fag buts and other crud.
You mention that the house/extension is only a couple of years old, so presumably it obtained a building warrant/completion certificate? If so then that's added comfort that the planning office inspector was satisfied it met regulations. If it didn't get sign-off, your solicitor should have spotted and flagged it as part of conveyancing when you bought the property.
So (in my humble and amateur opinion) it comes down to whether you want to lower your patio for aesthetic reasons. I reckon there's a lot to be said for "same height thresholds", especially where there are bi-fold doors, and if I were you I'd leave it as is and maybe add some railings for child safety (you can always remove them again when the kids grow up a bit)
Thanks for the replies. That’s right Halitosis, we have been given the completion certificate for the extension. Although not sure when the patio was done! No mention in the paperwork.

The current gravel trap is about 100mm wide so would be too big to leave empty. Maybe could drop an aco/linear style in.

Notch, is that another building reg? If I did lower it, it would be 600mm. Currently just above 800mm.

I’m trying to weigh up whether it is better to have a level threshold but a higher/elevated patio which comes with the issue of height/privacy.

Or whether to add a step, and therefore a lower patio. But then the issue of a step in & out.

Plus no idea which aesthetically looks better!

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