When first considering a loft conversion, it is essential that you consider and implement fire regulations during the construction. In this article, we have provided an overview, but it is important that you consult with the building control officer in your area.
When building a loft conversion, attention needs to be paid to the entire escape route through the house, not just within the loft area. This means extra fire protection will be required on the floors below. The construction company will need to ensure a protected route all the way to the external door.
The Loft Conversion Must be isolated from the Rest of the house
The loft conversion must be isolated from the rest of the building with fire-resistant materials. Beams, floors, walls, and ceilings should use fire-resistant construction. Some councils are allowing more leeway in the construction if a small sprinkler system is installed instead. You should consult with the local authority on this.
Smoke Alarms, and Fire Alarms
Each loft conversion must have smoke detectors and at least one fire alarm. Alarms should be connected directly to the mains, so that batteries may not be removed or become dysfunctional. These should be in places such as hallways and landings. All the smoke alarms must be linked in a way that ensures they all sound, even if only one of them is triggered by the fire.
Unlike ground floor home extensions where it is possible to quickly get outside, a loft conversion will have a much longer escape route. The whole escape route from the loft conversion down to the ground floor external door must have fire protection that functions for at least 30 minutes in case of a fire.
Fire Door to the Loft Conversion
Doors to the loft conversion must be fire doors. All doors facing the planned escape route must be fire resistant for at least a duration of twenty minutes. The fact that the loft conversion has an escape window does not affect these requirements.
Stairs to the Loft Conversion
If the stairs to the loft are situated away from the existing stairs, the loft stairs should have thirty minutes of protection from a fire and there should be a fire door at the bottom.
It is now possible to purchase a new kind of escape window that works in the same way as traditional ones but does not cost as much. Loft conversions are required to have escape windows that are at least 450mmx450mm and are constructed of fire-resistant materials.
It makes a lot of sense to consider regulations at an early stage of planning, by consulting with local experts or working with recognised loft conversion specialists, who can ensure full compliance with regulations. This way leads to greater peace of mind and the reassurance that at some future stage you may have to carry out expensive and disruptive remedial works.