Amendments to Building Regulations set to come into force in October

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Amendments to Building Regulations will come into force on 1 October 2015. Planning and Building Control Today outlines what to expect…

Earlier this year the government announced a number of changes it plans to implement in relation to building regulations. These amendments are set to come into force in October and will see some of the Approved Documents undergo significant reform. This will include the Approved Documents for G (water efficiency), H (waste disposal), M (access), and Q (security).

Changes to Approved Document G include giving planning departments the power to decide a reduced water usage allowance. Currently, the water usage per person per day is 1,251 in new dwellings. The amendment will allow individual planning departments the option to change this to 1,101 per day, taking into account local requirements.

From the 1 October, Approved Document H will require paved areas in new dwellings to be appropriately drained of storm water. This applies to any new dwelling that is built in accordance with Approved Document M.

The most significant change will occur in relation to Approved Document M. This will see the regulation split into two volumes. The first will cover dwellings (M4). This will be split further into three sections: visitable dwellings (1), accessible and adaptable dwellings (2), and wheelchair user dwellings (3). Categories (2) and (3) only apply through planning permission and will be decided by the Local Authority Planning Department. If the permission does not state a category it will be assumed it follows M4(1).

M4(2) must meet the requirements set out in M4(1), but must also incorporate a list of requirements. This includes:

  • Ensuring all occupants can approach bin stores
  • Provide adequate drainage for all paved areas to prevent standing water
  • Install lifts to flats unless planners agree to place all M4(2) and M4(3) dwellings on the ground floor
  • Living areas must have low level windows no more than 850mm from the floor
  • Bedrooms must have a minimum direct route to the window at least 750mm wide, even with furniture in place
  • Bathroom walls and around the stairs area must have room to have grab rails installed if needed in the future
  • Drainage must be provided for a ground floor shower room if needed in the future

M4(3) must meet the requirements set out in M4(1) and M4(2) as well as:

  • Provide wheelchair/scooter access to all dwellings
  • Ramps must have an incline of no more than 1:15
  • Provisions to install power assisted doors on communal entrances in the future if they are not already in place
  • A direct route in the bedroom to the window at least 1,000mm wide, even with furniture in place
  • A specific amount of storage must be provided based on the size of the property
  • Provisions for a lift with a power supply
  • Living spaces must meet a minimum size requirements
  • Bedroom ceilings must be capable of taking 200kg of weight in case a hoist is required in the future
  • Door entry systems must be installed at the front entrance with an answering system at the head of the bed in the main bedroom and in the lounge

Volume two will cover buildings other than dwellings.

From the 1 October a new Approved Document Q, which deals with security, will also be introduced. This applies to new dwellings and stipulates that “reasonable provision” should be made to prevent unauthorised access to a dwelling.

The full amendments can be viewed here.

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