Query;Upvc DG and building regs

Hi All
We have had a recent visit from someone to quote for replacement windows.
We had hoped that we could have large glass panels at the bottom with single and/or twin top openers at the top,depending on width of window,, i.e twin top openers on the wider windows.
Our man says this is a problem though because it would not be in compliance with building control regs with regard to fire escape. The bottom line is that it seems me must have side openners on the bedroom windows to allow escape but the rest,i.e ground floor and landing windows,could be top openers. Of course this may spoil the look of the front/rear elevation of the house as we would then have a mix of top and side openers.
Apparently the above is to be in compliance with a reg change in 2002?? or something like that?.
If the windows are not in compliance with the reg then a FENSA reg/or building control cert cannot be obtained.
Our man says he usually obtains the building control cert in preference to FENSA as FENSA only inspect a small proportion of installs whereas local authority building control inspect all installs that they certify.
So the bottom line is,comply and therefore get a cert,flout and dont get a cert.
Our man says that if we dont have a cert,(not in strict compliance) then this will be picked up by a surveyor acting on behalf of any future purchaser.
I guess i'm asking,is the building control cert really necessary or is it common place to flout?.
I expect ALL installs done by big national co's would HAVE to be in full compliance?
any thoughts welcome..
joe
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Correct.
Correct and solicitors are getting ever more tough on this because of laibilty issues if clients lie.

Yes and probably.
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A couple of years ago, detailed questions were being asked. I checked with a couple of colleages who moved a few months ago, and the questions asked were very much reduced. One was specifically asked only about any structural alterations to the building and changes to underground sewers/drains (can't recall the exact term used now). The other was also asked only a few limited questions. I don't know how typical these two cases are.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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snipped-for-privacy@cucumber.demon.co.uk (Andrew Gabriel) wrote in message writes:

I'm in the process of selling my fathers house and the purchasers solicitor is more interested in planning and building control for a 30 year old kitchen extension than the recent uPVC double glazing.
MBQ
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Hi Joe - i've recently gone through the same process so maybe I can offer some useful info.
The regulations regarding replacement windows date back to 2002 and as I've owned my house for longer I could probably have got away without a building control/fensa document as I know of several instances where people have simply written a declaration, at the point of sale, that their windows predate the regulations coming into force.
That said I also know of one instance of someone who installed windows without getting the the documentation sorted out and was subsequently 'caught out' when someone contacted the local building control office (the guy was basically a bit of an arse and I think he rubbed a neighbour up the wrong way).
In practice I think thats a bit of a rare occurrance but in the end I went down the road of applying for a building control certificate, in part because its my experience that solicitors do now routinely ask about double glazing and also because the certificate was only £70 from my council (newcastle) - not alot to pay when you think the house can now be advertised as having new double glazing that meets current regulations for safety and thermal efficiency.
With regard to the design of windows you'd like to have installed the guidance notes I received from the council boil down to the following -
1] the glass has to meet the new requirements for thermal insulation - standard double glazing doesn't do this; there are some alternatives but commonly this means getting double glazed units that are constructed with pilkinton K glass
2] If you have have existing first floor means of escape (an unobstructed openable area of at least 0.33metre squared, not less than 450mm high and wide, with the bottom of the opening between 800-1100mm from the internal floor level) then you you have to keep it. If you have windows that don't meet that criteria then while you are strongly recommended to provide a means of escape when you are fitting replacement windows this is not a requirement of the regulations.
3] Glazed areas within 800mm of floor level should be either toughened or laminated
4] If your old windows have trickle vents for the puposes of ventilation, your replacement ones do as well, otherwise they are not a requirement for replacement windows
There are additional instructions, with regard to having proper structural support, particularly where replacing a bay window. This wasn't a factor for myself so I didn't look into it.
I installed two 'means of escape' windows out of nine installed on the first floor. When the building inspector came round he was in the house for two minutes, had a cursery look around, and informed me i'd get my certificate in the post within a couple of weeks. I would say the main thing he took note of were the pilkington k stickers on each double glazing unit, but he did also comment approvingly on their being a fire exit on the first floor.
What you might consider doing is having the top openers you desire, and at least one window, perhaps at the rear of the building, where the larger lower window also opens to offer a fire exit. I've done this on a previous house and it did not look out of place.
It's also worth noting that all the fire exit windows i've had fitted, in my current house and previously, have been top openers - there may be practical reasons why the guy suggested side opening fire exits but I don't think their are regulatory reasons.
Hope this helps.
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On Wed, 02 Jun 2004 19:05:22 +0100, a particular chimpanzee named
produced:

Replacement windows from April 2002 have to comply with the Building Regulations' requirements for thermal efficiency, and have to be no worse in terms of other requirements than they were previously. So if the windows didn't have openings suitable for means of escape before, there is no requirement to do so now. [IIRC there was a requirement on installers to make sure that at least one window on a first floor had a suitable opening, but this wasn't a requirement of the Building Regulations. I think it may have been a bit of Trading Standards legislation.]
With replacement windows, there are two 'routes' to complying with the Building Regulations; an application to the local Council or having the windows installed by a FENSA-registered installer.
With the first, the Council checks that the windows meet the requirements, for a fee, and issues you with a certificate if all is OK. With the second, the installer 'self-certifies' his own work (and in theory issues a notice to the Council that he's done so, and should issue you with a certificate). The Glass & Glazing Federation who oversee the FENSA scheme should do spot checks to make sure that the installers are complying, but this has nothing to do with any particular installation, rather a check on the installers.
I don't know how much it costs to register with the GGF, but given that a typical application to a Council costs about £50-70, then a reasonably-sized company would quickly rack up a bill in the £thousands in the course of a year if they weren't FENSA registered (unless they were throwing the onus onto the householder, in which case I would be asking for that money off the bill).
Whether you choose to make an application is up to you (like whether you choose to pay road tax on your car), but it may come back to bite you if you choose to sell.
--
Hugo Nebula
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Can the certificate be granted *after* the windows have been fitted?
I'm tempted to fit my own but I don't want to pay an extra seventy quid. Would rather risk it and get the cert if I get caught out.
Failing that, is there a date stamped on the windows anywhere?
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Once you removed the stickers quoting the U value you'll struggle to get one. You could take photos of the units in place with the stickers on perhaps, but I don't know if that will work. Note that the regs will be tightened up again sometime in 2005/6 so if you don't declare before that date it's likely you'll fail the new specs so won't get one anyway.

You're lucky your council has a cheap rate for windows. Some still charge at the full pro-rata whack.
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Is this 'means of escape' rule the same for a property which is rented? Or are the rules more strenous then?
If you do have a means of escape window, what are the rules about height above floor etc; because presumably Building Regs are concerned about toddlers etc opening them and plummetting from the first floor?
David
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On 1 Jul 2004 06:38:04 -0700, a particular chimpanzee named snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Lobster) randomly hit the keyboard and produced:

It's for any property.
For new work, a window opening should be no lower than 800mm above the floor (600mm for rooflights in loft conversions). Restrictors to keep the window from opening no more than 100mm are often acceptable if the opening is lower. Again, there are no continuing powers with the Building Regulations, so if the existing window doesn't comply with the latest requirements for openings, there's no obligation to upgrade.
--
Hugo Nebula
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(Lobster) randomly hit the keyboard and

Well well... this is purely a coincidence, but the BCO came round today to check on something unrelated (handrail on the staircase), and we agreed she'd be back next week for a final check and to issue the completion certificate. She's been round probably 5 or 6 times in all, over the past 3 months or so. I didn't even mention windows today, but this evening I got an email from her as follows:
"I am sorry to inform you that following my site inspection on 2nd July 2004 it came to my attention that the current first floor bedroom windows to both properties do not comply with recommended 'means of escape windows' as stated in Approved Document B. I know you are nearing the end of the project but as the work being undertaken is classed as a 'material change of use', means of escape windows will be necessary. The theory behind it would be if their was a fire in the kitchen in one property and the lounge in the other the alarm was raised but the staircase was full of smoke the only alternative escape would be the bedroom windows. I do realise the inconvenience this will cause, in either case of renting the properties or selling them, the requirement will still be the same. I have attached the section of Approved Document B that gives the means of escape window dimensions and locations." My project (which I've asked many questions about here!) is reinstating two small 1900's terraced houses from one (they had been knocked together into a single house about 30-40 years ago I think). Is that why she's talking about 'material change of use'?? It had been my understanding, in agreement with Hugo's post above, that the rules did not apply retrospectively and that the windows were fine as is. Anyone got any ideas or comments?
As I mentioned in a post a few weeks back, this is really doing my head in. Last time the BCO was round she came up with the need for interlinking the smoke alarms and an extractor fan for the kitchen (after the plasterer had been and gone). And now this... I'd had a builder in, with a scaffolding tower, about two months ago installing another window and door, which would have been the ideal time to do this work. As it is, I've now reached the decorating stage in the rooms concerned. I can only wonder what else she'll come up with... :-(
David
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On 2 Jul 2004 12:37:07 -0700, a particular chimpanzee named snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Lobster) randomly hit the keyboard and produced:

Ah, the penny drops. Changing a building to create a greater or _lesser_ number of dwellings than previously is a "material change of use", and as such pretty much all of the requirements apply. This includes the means of escape in case of fire.
It sounds like you have received less than exemplary service from, I suspect, a trainee BCO who may be unsure of the requirements herself. We've all got to learn sometime (as you are also learning about the Regulations as you carry out the work), and maybe you've been putting her on the spot to say whether something is right or not when she needs to take advice. Maybe you are a bit intimidating, and she feels she can't tell you that something needs to be done to your face. I don't know; I'm only seeing a very small part of the picture here.

Ask her (in the form of a letter or e-mail) to state the applicable requirements that your work needs to comply with, and wherever possible, ways of meeting them. Don't however expect Building Control to design your work for you; that's what an architect or surveyor is for.
--
Hugo Nebula
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(Lobster) randomly hit the keyboard and

Hmm, that would appear to be that then...

I think she's the boss of her dept actually!

What, me intimidating?! To be honest I think we've always got on very well; we've talked through quite a few issues and come up with acceptable solutions, and I've been nothing other than totally deferential to her at every meeting - I'm well aware of the Power of the BCO so have done my utmost to stay in her good books, and have always implemented everything I've been asked to, smiling sweetly when inside I've been screaming 'shit, shit, shit'! This is the first time she's emailed me rather than talk to me direct; presumably she's embarrassed about having missed this issue before.
But where will all this stop? Eg, one of the properties has an original dogleg staircase up the middle of the building, with triangular treads where it turns the corner, and only about 1.8m headroom at one point; both of which would be obvious non compliance with modern standards. The BCO commented on it herself and said that as it was an existing feature it would be OK - makes me think these decisions are made rather arbitrarily (in which case, isn't there any right of appeal or something?)
If she were to change her mind on the staircase next week, I honestly don't know how we would redesign things internally to accomodate a modern version, but it would be a huge issue impacting on every room in the building, and involving moving loadbearing walls etc, and would make the whole project non-viable, especially at this late stage. Scary.
Regarding the window issue - one of the two windows in question is actually already opens fully, inwards (I don't think she realises) although it's a bit too low for current regs, at about 600 or 700 mm. Rather than replacing the window having bricked up the bottom, is it satisfactory to attach some form of barrier (a couple of steel rails or something?) to the outside of the house to raise the effective height? I'd like to be able to go back to my 'friend' with a possible solution.

Are you saying I should ask her for a definitive written list of whatever else needs doing, or just pertaining to the windows? If the former, would that actually carry any weight if there are any more changes of mind?!
I did actually have an architect involved at the early stages, he submitted the planning application, and I used the same plans for the Building Control application. As the architect had said there was no need to apply retrospective buildings standards (which weren't shown on the plans) I didn't feel the need to use him for building control, as it all seemed pretty straightforward. Yeah, right. (I did the work under a building notice though, rather than full plans submission, although I did send in the architect's drawings along with the submission.)
Sorry, I've gone on a bit there!
David
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On 3 Jul 2004 03:25:17 -0700, a particular chimpanzee named snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Lobster) randomly hit the keyboard and produced:

Really! IME, bosses rarely go out on site. If she is experienced, then you should expect consistency, and, if you've been forthcoming with your proposals, she should have been aware of areas which were likely to be problematic before they occured.

Which is why it's probably best to get in writing confirmation of the requirements (i.e., ventilation, means of escape, etc) that apply, and what is reasonable to achieve that requirement (ie, to the standard of a new dwelling, or no worse than previously).
The decisions aren't arbitary, in that the Building Regulations make it clear whether or not any particular requirement applies to the work you're carrying out. What is more a matter for interpretation is whether something meets those requirements. For example, with a change of use such as yours, the requirements for ventilation apply. Therefore, you could be required to fit extract fans in all your bathrooms and kitchens, trickle vents to all your windows, and ventilation to the soffits of the roof. However, it could be argued that it isn't reasonable to install trickle vents in windows if they aren't being replaced for instance.
There is a right of appeal to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, but it's a bit of a convoluted process (see http://www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_buildreg/documents/page/odpm_breg_024943-06.hcsp)

Certainly, provided that the remainder of the opening is sufficiently large for means of escape (0.33m², with a minimum height or width of 0.45m).

Well, it would certainly be harder to argue that you need to meet a particular requirement if she's previously said not in writing. It will also help to clarify matters.
--
Hugo Nebula
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(Lobster) randomly hit the keyboard and

So things could definitely get worse then! (As another example of her inconsistency; you mention extractor fans in the kitchen - she's already told me that in the house where the kitchen remains unaffected I *don't* need to comply with that. Presumably they regard the MOE issue as more serious?)

http://www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_buildreg/documents/page/odpm_breg_024943-06.hcsp)
Thanks, don't think I'll be going there just yet...!

Yes, I'll give that a whirl I think. My only slight concern is that if I go all formal and ask for it in writing, she'll then go over the place with a fine toothcomb to cover her back, and end up throwing the book at me!
Many thanks for all your advice Hugo
David
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Did you submit full plans for this work at the start ? If so surely all these plans showed things like windows, ventilation and the like, and the BCO should have accepted/rejected these things then, not now.
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No, did it under a building notice. I'd been led to believe by the architect who was advising us at the time that this would be fine since there would be no need for retrospectively applying the regulations as it was an old property; the building notice therefore referred to the reinstatement of the two original properties from one, with specific mention of the two or three specific items which needed BCO approval (we thought) - new doorways, new kitchen and bathroom in one house etc. With hindsight, the full plans route would have been better (and it might have been appropriate for the BCO to point that out at the point of submission IMHO!)
David
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Lobster) wrote in message

Why? How is the BCO supposed to know what you didn't include on the building notice? She's only doing her job if she then tells you to put right things you didn't mention that come within her remit. I wouldn't expect her to spot things she's not looking for (or you haven't done yet) on each visit. Hence you get the constant dripfeed of instructions to put thing right. Come clean now with everything else you haven't told her about and life will be a lot easier.
MBQ
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (MBQ) wrote in message

Come clean with what exactly? I'm hiding nothing. The point is I'd been led to believe that I wasn't going to have to update the properties to modern buildings standards, therefore I only included things in the building notice that I thought needed mentioning, as listed above. I'd have thought that if that was wrong, then the fact that I also included "conversion of one property into two" might have been a big red flag for Building Control to say "Oi!" at the outset (or maybe after the first 3 or 4 visits?) if they disagreed with this.
David
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submit full plans for this work at the start ? If so surely all

and the

The commencement meeting with your BCO when he walks around with you going through the list of jobs on the plan you supply with a building notice would normally catch most of the missed things on the list, and also things you may have put on that don't need to be. But a building notice submission does make you fully responsible for meeting the regs, not him.
Unfortunately as we see even on this group, different people interpret those regs very differently.
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