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Clapham Construction Service focuses on fire safety for loft conversion projects

14 January 2021

THOSE INDIVIDUALS contemplating loft conversion projects are no doubt incredibly excited at the prospect of additional property space. While most of us would like to sink our attentions into colour swatches and furniture magazines without a second thought, there’s a somewhat more pressing matter that will need to be addressed in the first instance: fire safety. 

Loft conversions bring with them many regulation requirements and fire regulations are very much among them. While not everyone will be wanting to think of how they might escape should a fire occur, this needs to be considered and considered professionally.

In essence, there are six important considerations to bear in mind. 

Fire doors

Replacing all doors with fire safety doors is perhaps one of the most commonly known steps when it comes to a loft conversion. This is to protect the hallway in the event of a fire.

The Building Regulations state that an escape route must be provided from the loft. Further, that route cannot be through a window. As such, an escape route can only be achieved by using a fire door that’s connected to the main door through a safe space. Note that this doesn’t apply to the actual loft door itself.

Smoke alarms

Generally speaking, there should be a smoke alarm on every single floor of the property. New regulations state that those alarms need to be connected such that, should one trigger, they will all trigger. This is mandatory, too.

Further, alarms need to be mains-wired and have back-up batteries to ensure they still work in the event of a power cut. They need to be positioned away from radiators and light fittings and located flat on the ceiling rather than being placed vertically on a wall.

Fire sprinklers

While sprinklers are not an actual requirement within the fire regulations, they are indeed a ‘nice to have’. Installing a sprinkler system will not only provide that added protection, but also afford real peace of mind.

When looking at sprinklers, it’s a good idea to make sure there’s an adequate water pressure for them to run smoothly. It’s also worth noting that such fire protection systems are not cheap. Making sure that an expert checks out the space and assesses where the installation is to take place will realise a much better idea of where they should go (and, in some cases, if it’s actually possible to install sprinklers).

Containment

If there are walls connecting the property with a neighbouring development then they need to be fire-resistant in the event of a blaze. This is not only to limit damage to the host property, but also to others.

There may be a desire to include fire-resistant curtains and fire extinguishers where possible, although it should be emphasised that the London Fire Brigade’s advice in the event of a fire is to exit the property, stay out and dial 999. Under no circumstances are individuals encouraged to try and tackle fires themselves.

Escape routes

As mentioned, escape routes are an incredibly important aspect of any loft conversion. The Building Regulations insist that the entire escape route, including loft staircases if there are any, should have a fire resistance of at least 30 minutes. As a bare minimum, the staircase should lead to the main front door and the walls should be fire-resistant.

If the property is already built in this way then so much the better, but if it’s not, the installation of fire-rated plasterboards will be required. Ceilings and floors will have to be plastered as well.

Expertise and professionalism 

While it wouldn’t be impossible for non-specialists to wrap their head around the current fire regulations and laws, it’s no surprise that it could prove difficult for those who are not completely familiar with the discipline.

It follows, then, that having an expert on hand who knows the fire regulation laws inside and out would make the process a lot less stressful and far smoother from the offset.

Clapham Construction Services are one of London’s leading loft conversion specialists. The company’s consultants look at every consideration that needs to be taken into account to ensure the observance of – and compliance with - all necessary fire regulations to help create the safest space possible.

*Further information is available online at www.claphamconstructionservice.com or by telephoning 0203 950 7957. Alternatively, send an e-mail to info@claphamconstructionservice.com
 
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