What Building Regulations do balconies need to comply with?
There are multiple requirements within the building regulations that balconies need to comply with. Including the new British Standard BS 8579 which has just been launched.
1. Deflection/Structural Requirements
Balconies need to meet two requirements from a deflection and structural perspective.
a. BS/EN Standards. Including BS 5080-1,2:1993 & BS EN 1090 & BS EN 1990:2005 – Learn more about BS EN Standards
b. CE Marking. Read BS EN 1090. Typically buildings require EXC 2 compliance. – Learn more about CE Marking
2. Thermal/Environmental Requirements
a. Thermal Bridging. See Part L section 1 A. See BRE Information Paper IP/06 106. Thermal performance must consider entire buildings. Ensure all components with a thermal role work synergistically. Bet a balance between thermal and structural performance.
b. Sustainability. Conduct visual checks periodically. Design with maintenance in mind. Avoid single drainage outlets. Drip tray inspection is advised.
c. Lifespans. Balconies are one of the few structural elements exposed to weathering. Lifespan duration depends on maintenance and mid-life replacement. CAB say the recycling rate for architectural aluminium is 92-98%, as only 5% of the original energy is required to recycle it. – Learn more about balcony lifespans
3. Balustrade Guidance
a. Approved Document Part K indicates a balustrade should be 1100mm high, 100mm sphere should not be able to pass through the balustrade, avoid using midrails, safe breakage and glazing sizes.
b. BS6180:2011. Is the main Standard affecting balustrade design. 100mm sphere should not be able to pass through the balustrade and should not easily be climbed.
c. Use of glazing. Common benefits of using glazing are; its relatively low cost, low maintenance/long life span, high impact resistance and strength, wide range of colour and obscurity options, creates openness and enables views, can easily be printed or customised, and easily customisable and easy to process.
d. CDM regulations. It is essential to know what the replacement strategy is and how this affects your design.
4. Fire Requirements
a. Approved Document B: Most of the regulatory guidance concerns balconies forming part of, or affecting, an escape route. Sapphire balconies are rarely used in this context i.e. they are not common balconies as deﬁned in AD B1. They do however extend the travel distance (distance from any point in the ﬂat to the ﬂat entrance door) Balconies are mentioned in several clauses i.e. 2.7, 2.17,2.22, 4.8, 8.13 and Table 17.
Balconies are now regarded as part of the external façade, and the regulations regarding use of non-combustible materials should be applied. This means that any balconies located within 1m of a relevant boundary, or buildings with balconies that are above 18m, must be entirely formed from non-combustible materials. The cladding ban exemption list confirms that materials used in the thermal break are exempt from the requirements for non-combustibility and indicate that laminated glass is also exempt in windows, but this exclusion does not seem to extend to its use in balustrades.
b. Combustible Cladding Ban. The “Combustible Cladding Ban” is the Amendment to the Building Regulations that came into force on 21st December 2018. Banning the use of combustible materials in external walls of high rise buildings above 18m. – Learn more about the Combustible Cladding Ban
c. Advice Notes: In June 2019, the MHCLG issued an advice note on balconies in residential buildings. Building owners should be aware of the materials used in the construction of ..balconies (regardless of height) and the potential for any horizontal and vertical fire spread due to their arrangement on the external wall.
The removal and replacement of any combustible material used in balcony construction is the clearest way to prevent external fire spread from balconies, and…this should occur as soon as practical. Where there is doubt over the..risk presented, building owners should seek advice from an appropriately qualified and competent professional. Building owners should have policies in place as to what cannot be stored and used on balconies and communicate with residents to develop their understanding of the risks. Barbeques should not be used on balconies.
The January 2020 Advice note states “Particular attention should be paid to any risk of fire spread from balconies and other attachments containing combustible materials”. Further advice on design compliance for balconies is detailed in 1.17, 1.18, and section 7 (balconies) including “External walls of buildings, of any height, should not assist the spread of fire, in accordance with the functional Requirement B4 of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations. Balconies made with combustible materials are a potential source of rapid fire spread on the external wall of residential buildings.” This advice note consolidated previous advice notes regarding fire safety.
d. BS EN 13501-1:2018 Fire Classification of Construction Products and Building Elements.
The Combustible Cladding Ban points to this standard to avoid the previously confusing Class 0 fire rating in the outdated BS 476. The 476 measures only surface spread of flame whereas 13501 measures the combustibility of products, a more thorough and relevant test. [Link to combustible cladding ban page]
e. BS9991:2015: Again, as in AD B2, there are many mentions of balconies, but they are in relation to means of escape and are not enumerated here. Clause 5.1 c) 3. A3 deals with private balconies greater than 4.5m above ground level: a), b) and c)1, 2) and d) refers. Informative Annex F (Fire Notice) states ‘if ﬁre breaks out in your house, do not use a balcony unless it is part of the escape suite from the building’.
f. BS 9999:2017 Fire safety in the design, management and use of all buildings – Code of Practice
BS 9999 gives recommendations and guidance on the design, management and use of buildings to achieve reasonable standards of fire safety for all people in and around them. It also provides guidance on the ongoing management of fire safety within a building throughout its entire life cycle, including guidance for designers to ensure that the overall design of a building assists and enhances the management of fire safety.
g. Mandatory Handbook in Scotland. The regulations, set to come into effect on 1st October will bring the threshold of the combustible cladding ban down from 18M and above, to 11M. Additional escape stairs and storey identification signs will also be required to aid fire and rescue services to navigate buildings in the event of an evacuation.
Project Specific Additional Requirements
5. Insurance/Warranty Provider’s Requirements
a. Level thresholds. NHBC states door sills must project a minimum of 45mm along with a maximum upstand of 15mm at the door threshold.
b. Drainage. See NHBC Standards, chapters 7.1 & 7.2. Balconies over 6m2 must be drained. Water management should be considered for all balconies. – Learn more about drainage.
c. Decking. Minimum 10mm gaps hould be provided between individual units of decking or paving. Spacers and supports which raise decking or paving should not obstruct the flow of rainwater to outlets. – Learn more about decking materials.
Learn more about NHBC & Premier Guarantee
6. London Housing Design Guide
Balconies should be a Min 5 sq m for 2 people + 1 sq m per additional occupant. Min 1500x1500mm space. Level, watertight threshold at max 15mm height. Consider privacy, shelter and “Secured By Design”.
Learn more about the London Housing Design Guide
7. Lifetime Homes
16 Lifetime Homes design criteria. Meeting Lifetime Homes ensure Part M compliance. Criterion 15 glazing & window handle heights. Principle glazing to have 400mm min height difference between balustrades and cills, etc.
A clear width of 1500mm for turning circle is required.
Learn more about Lifetime Homes
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