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Fire Safety Building Regulations in New Build Houses

When buying a new build home, ensuring it meets fire safety regulations is crucial. This blog explores the key aspects of fire safety from a home buyer’s perspective, focusing on NHBC (National House-Building Council) standards and Building Regulations. While this article covers the basics, there is a wealth of additional detail available. If you have more insights or questions, please use the comments section below.

Key Fire Safety Elements:

  • Protective routes
  • Fire doors
  • Window functionalities

While builders must consider many other fire safety issues, such as fire barriers and access arrangements, this post will focus on aspects that home buyers need to understand or may have questions about.

1. Means of Escape and Protective Routes

NHBC standards and Building Regulations ensure that occupants have clear and unobstructed escape routes in case of fire, leading to a place of safety, typically outdoors. There are three main options for means of escape:

A. Protected Routes: Protected routes are fire-resistant pathways within the building that minimise exposure to smoke and flames. These include corridors, stairwells, and lobbies constructed with fire-resistant materials.

B. Fire Doors: Fire doors are essential for compartmentalisation, creating fire breaks to slow the spread of flames and smoke. They must be self-closing and certified to withstand fire for a specific duration.

C. Window Functionality: Windows play a vital role in fire safety, providing emergency egress options. Key considerations include:

  • Non-locking Windows: Regulations may require windows in habitable rooms (bedrooms, living rooms) to be non-locking or have a keyless release mechanism to facilitate easier escape.
  • Opening Size: Minimum opening sizes for windows are often specified to ensure a clear escape path or facilitate fire service rescue.

2. Fire Safety in Three-Storey Houses

Specific fire safety requirements for three-storey houses vary depending on factors like occupancy type (single-family dwelling, multi-unit dwelling) and local regulations. Here’s a general overview:

Escape Routes: A minimum of two escape routes from each floor are typically mandatory, with at least one leading directly outside.

Stairs: Stairs in escape routes must be constructed with fire-resistant materials and designed for safe descent under duress.

Fire Doors: Fire doors should be strategically installed, such as between living areas and garages, and at compartment walls within the house.

3. Fire Doors: Regulations and Installation

Fire doors are crucial for fire safety, and their proper installation is vital. Key points include:

Regulations: Fire doors must comply with relevant British Standards (BS) like BS EN 1634-1 for fire resistance performance.

Installation: Fire doors should be installed by qualified professionals to ensure correct fit, functionality, and compliance with fire safety regulations. This includes checking for proper intumescent seals.

Intumescent Seals: These heat-activated seals expand in a fire, closing any gaps around the fire door and preventing smoke and flames from spreading.

Importance of Professional Guidance

Building regulations and NHBC standards can be complex. Consulting with a qualified architect, building surveyor, or fire safety professional during the design and construction phases is highly recommended. They can ensure your three-storey house adheres to all fire safety requirements and provides safe escape routes for occupants.

Note: This blog provides a general overview. Specific regulations may vary depending on your location. Always consult with the relevant authorities and building professionals for the latest requirements in your area.