Clinteastwood

Building Standards - fire escape window and a step

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In my new-build house one of the upstairs bedroom windows has ended up with a bottom edge a little higher than the mandated 1100mm - which was picked up by the Building Standards officer on his sign-off visit. The architect's drawings were correct, but the joiner got it wrong by about 100mm. Moving the window down will be a nightmare [it's a Velux in the slate roof], the joiner/builder has retired, and the mess/disruption would be phenomenal [the house is finished, plastered, decorated] , so I want to install a step under the window to raise the floor height.

The Technical Handbook simply states the 1100mm rule and is silent on the use of a step, but the officer says he thinks it's unlikely to be approved. I've seen a precedent for using a step approved/recommended by an authority in England, but that won't wash with the inspectors here in The Highlands.

Does anyone have any advice or, better still, a real example of where this approach has been signed-off in Scotland?

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I did the wiring for a loft conversion with a similar issue and building control accepted and signed off with a fixed step in front of the window making the rise from the top of the step to the window less than the 1100mm.

 

I think the important thing is the step is made as a permanent fixed feature so it's not going to disappear the day the completion certificate arrives.  i.e don't just screw the step down on top of the carpet.

 

I think it's a load of nonsense because if there was a fire, I very much doubt anyone is just going to stand in front of the window and burn because they can't get up the 1100mm to get out.  But rules are rules.

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It does seem harsh 

unfortunately it’s down to the individual inspector Another inspector may not of noticed Or would have let it slide 

 

I worked on large house in the Lake District over lockdown and all but one window where to high 

We have finished the plastering and all the exterior timber cladding  was finished 

The site manager just said leave it with us 

 

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most officers are very, very resistant to letting a step go in now, I've had it a few times where the joiner for some reason hasn't managed to figure out the height of the opening (even one where we had to trim out the vertical ties on the roof to get the opening low enough!!)

The last time this happened, the solution offered by the officer was to raise the internal floor level of the whole story! needless to say the joiner just moved the window in the end!

Always worth asking, and explaining the build error rather than design error, you might get a charitable officer signing it off!

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One of our bedroom windows was slightly too narrow. Somehow my builder persuaded the BCO to allow it by upgrading the fire rating of the bedroom door.   

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13 hours ago, Temp said:

One of our bedroom windows was slightly too narrow. Somehow my builder persuaded the BCO to allow it by upgrading the fire rating of the bedroom door.   

 

Maybe it gives the occupant time to lose enough weight to squeeze through the narrower gap.

  • Haha 2

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We've had the same problem, although in this case, the window sill is too high because it's a dormer on a low pitch roof, so it's physically impossible to make the window any lower. The BCO's suggestion in this case is to provide a protected means of escape from this room - which comes down to fire doors on any habitable room that opens on to the stairs. 

 

The irritating thing is that the rooms where the window is too high open on to a roof that you could simply stroll down if you needed to escape. The other rooms - with the acceptable sill height - you'd plummet to your death if you tried to get out of them. Though at that point you're outside of the house so I guess the BCO doesn't need to worry any more...

 

(Wales, not Scotland though)

Edited by James Newport

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