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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorjemhayward
    • CommentTimeMay 24th 2018
     
    We're renovating our newly discovered 16C cellar, and are replacing rotted beams and lintels with reinforced concrete (listed buildings are happy with this), and want to cut out part of the kitchen floor to allow head heighton the stairs, and would like to refit out downstairs loo. However, if we do either of these, we then apparently need building regs, and as soon as we do that we need to comply with the fire regs, and would need to install a fire escape that is 30 mins fire rated and has access to the outside without passing through another room. As the house is only two rooms downstairs anyway, this is essentially impossible.

    Are there any rights of appeal, or ways around this or are we just completely stuffed!

    If we proceed without getting building regs done, what would happen to us?
    • CommentAuthorgoodevans
    • CommentTimeMay 25th 2018
     
    Posted By: jemhaywardIf we proceed without getting building regs done, what would happen to us?
    As a minimum selling would be difficult the house would not be mortgageable.

    Is the cellar going to be a habitable room i.e. a kitchen /study / living room etc - if not (i.e. being used as a store room / cellar / workroom / utility) then fire regs may not apply (no heating in the cellar may help define this). I am putting a storeroom above my garage - it will have a staircase - the garage is detached and will need building regs (2 floors) but no fire escape is required because it will be for occasional use - in effect it will be used as a detached loft with a permanent staircase.

    As usual a quick plan of the proposed 3 floors would help.
    • CommentAuthorjemhayward
    • CommentTimeMay 25th 2018
     
    We have no intention of selling, and this would probably be the only bit of a 500yr old house that complies in any way with modern building practices. I think we have reconciled ourselves to not using the space as a room (for various other reasons) but we would like to heat it, as part of the strategy to keep it dry enough to store things other than cheese or wine!

    I'll try to post some plans here over the weekend.
    • CommentAuthormark_s
    • CommentTimeMay 25th 2018
     
    I would just do it.

    Lots of people do work without getting building regs sign off. The usual thing when selling is that you have to buy an indemnity policy (£150 or so?). They key thing is not to make the council/building regs people aware of things (cant get insurance for it if you've alerted the authorities).


    I can't see how the house would be unmortgageable. Our house was bought with various stuff uncertified but the seller paid for an insurance policy.
    Interestingly (or not, you decide) I later found behind a plasterboard wall a plan for building work showing a fire escape from the loft conversion. Perhaps the fact that it would have passed through a chimney and emerged in mid air was why it never happened.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMay 26th 2018
     
    Posted By: mark_sLots of people do work without getting building regs sign off. The usual thing when selling is that you have to buy an indemnity policy (£150 or so?). They key thing is not to make the council/building regs people aware of things (cant get insurance for it if you've alerted the authorities).

    I would hope that the law will change fairly shortly so that ignoring safety issues gets you put in prison, irrespective of what building regs says.

    Jem, I would find a local surveyor who specializes in building regs and talk to them. I don't think your situation is straightforward.
    • CommentAuthorgoodevans
    • CommentTimeMay 27th 2018 edited
     
    reading the guidance (part B) I think your best bet to stay within the regs is the determination on whether your new room is 'habitable'.

    For Part B, Bathrooms, cellars and utility rooms, lofts are not habitable, however studies, living rooms bedrooms and kitchens are.

    It is clear that the conversion of a cellar into a study for example means that the full fire escape rules apply - so presumably a cellar with a single internal staircase is permissible. What do you intend to use the cellar for?
    • CommentAuthorgoodevans
    • CommentTimeMay 27th 2018
     
    If it is habitable then there may be come comfort form para 0.29 of Part B - but you will need to get the opinion of an expert.
  1.  
    Second the 'habitable' part of the regs. You need to heat it to keep it dry but you're not planning on using it as a 'habitable' room (suspect lack of windows/ventilation/daylight might also be an issue for it).

    There was no issue with the back basement rooms in our new build (a store and utility, that are accessed through each other). There's nothing to stop someone sticking a desk or even a bed in the store room and using it for another purpose but there were no issues with planning or building regs as designed/built.

    if it's not a habitable room you would just need to make that clear when you come to sell. It's quite common with basic boarded out attic rooms.
    • CommentAuthormark_s
    • CommentTimeMay 27th 2018 edited
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: djh</cite><blockquote><cite>Posted By: mark_s</cite>Lots of people do work without getting building regs sign off. The usual thing when selling is that you have to buy an indemnity policy (£150 or so?). They key thing is not to make the council/building regs people aware of things (cant get insurance for it if you've alerted the authorities).</blockquote>
    I would hope that the law will change fairly shortly so that ignoring safety issues gets you put in prison, irrespective of what building regs says.

    </blockquote>

    You're being rather dogmatic. Nobody is ignoring safety here.

    I think it is clear from the OP's posts that this isn't going to be anything more than storage and in a rather special property which isn't going to be compliant with building regs in all sorts of ways.

    Am I incorrect in thinking that building regs are only guidance anyway. The legislation sets out requirements and the building regs documents set out some approved methods of complying with the legislation. It is always open to a householder to fulfil the rules in a manner outside the building regs.

    THE APPROVED DOCUMENTS
    This document is one of a series that has been
    approved and issued by the Secretary of State
    for the purpose of providing practical guidance
    with respect to the requirements of Schedule 1
    to and Regulation 7 of the Building Regulations
    2010 (SI 2010/2214) for England and Wales.
    At the back of this document is a list of
    all the documents that have been approved
    and issued by the Secretary of State for
    this purpose.
    The Approved Documents are intended to
    provide guidance for some of the more common
    building situations. However, there may well be
    alternative ways of achieving compliance with
    the requirements.
    Thus there is no obligation to adopt any
    particular solution contained in an Approved
    Document if you prefer to meet the relevant
    requirement in some other way.


    legislation is :
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2214/images/uksi_20102214_en_001
    • CommentAuthorjemhayward
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2018
     
    We've decided to engage an architect to try to reconcile the apparent physical conflict between the provision of stairs that comply with the rules as far as landing sizes are concerned and the reinstatement of the downstairs loo.

    If we could make the cellar habitable, we'd use it as a dining room, and spend money making it as habitable as possible, lowering the floor, adding heating, electrics and a glass cover over the lightwell. If it is destined to be 'just storage' if we cannot comply with the fire escape rules, then we can't justify blowing our life savings on it.

    Ironically we've now managed to clear the soil/rubble from the window and it measures about 44cm wide, so almost compliant - though at least one current member of the household couldn't fit through a 45cm window anyway!
    • CommentAuthorjemhayward
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2018
     
    legislation is :
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2214/images/uksi_20102214_en_001

    Useful link, and the legislation is remarkably vague, but the fire regs don't apply to prisons, so I think we'll use it to incarcerate the teenager.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2018
     
    Posted By: mark_s
    Posted By: djh
    Posted By: mark_sLots of people do work without getting building regs sign off. The usual thing when selling is that you have to buy an indemnity policy (£150 or so?). They key thing is not to make the council/building regs people aware of things (cant get insurance for it if you've alerted the authorities).

    I would hope that the law will change fairly shortly so that ignoring safety issues gets you put in prison, irrespective of what building regs says.


    You're being rather dogmatic. Nobody is ignoring safety here.

    I think it is clear from the OP's posts that this isn't going to be anything more than storage and in a rather special property which isn't going to be compliant with building regs in all sorts of ways.

    Am I incorrect in thinking that building regs are only guidance anyway. The legislation sets out requirements and the building regs documents set out some approved methods of complying with the legislation.

    Yes, you're incorrect. The legislation is the building regulations. As you say, the Approved Documents are simply approved ways to meet the regulations.

    I would hope the house does meet the regulations, in that they explicitly deal with incorporating modifications to existing buildings that in turn meet the requirements when they were built, whatever they were.

    Suggesting avoiding the building regs is not acceptable behaviour to my mind, it's exactly the kind of behaviour that leads to consequences down the road. Ignoring the building regulations is an offence. Buying an insurance policy under false pretences is also an offence. I don't think stating that is being dogmatic, just realistic, and hopefully viewed as constructive.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2018
     
    Posted By: jemhaywardat least one current member of the household couldn't fit through a 45cm window anyway!
    Try turning the dog lengthwise
    • CommentAuthorSap202
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2018
     
    If the cellar is existing then their is no need to take fire regs into account provided that the work that you do carry out does not adversely affect the means of escape from the the "existing basement"
    ie if there is an existing staircase then the basement can be accepted as existing
    Any other situation then the work would interpreted as "conversion" and the full gamut of regulations would apply not just means of escape
    • CommentAuthorSap202
    • CommentTimeJul 14th 2018
     
    I also note that you are lowering the floor level. This will require building regulations as it is a "material alteration"
  2.  
    Posted By: Sap202If the cellar is existing then their is no need to take fire regs into account provided that the work that you do carry out does not adversely affect the means of escape from the the "existing basement"
    ie if there is an existing staircase then the basement can be accepted as existing
    Any other situation then the work would interpreted as "conversion" and the full gamut of regulations would apply not just means of escape


    We ran into this problem when we did our barn. One building inspector said that we were dealing with an 'existing room' so fire escape regs didn't apply, and the other one disagreed. We then applied for listed building consent to alter the window to allow it to comply, and were, of course, refused.

    In the cellar we're basically fixing things, not altering things, though it looks like the floor level has actually been raised at one stage, so we may 'restore' it to the lower level when we unblock all the underfloor drainage.
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