Changes to four of the Building Regulations mean that internal envelopes must be built to tougher specifications. Andy Pearson offers a rundown of what specifiers need to do to stay on the right side of the rules
Part B
Fire safety
  • Interior measures Changes to the fire safety regulations, which came into effect on 1 July, call for fire compartmentalisation and/or the installation of sprinklers in single-storey retail buildings with a floor area greater than 2000 m2.
  • Materials testing The adoption of a harmonised European system of testing how materials react to fire will mean that the current method of classification – classes 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 – will be superseded. The changes will affect the specification of materials, including those used to line fire escape routes, which are currently required to be class 0.

Part E
Sound insulation

  • Between WCs and habitable rooms Proposed revisions to the acoustic regulations for dwellings, due to come into effect 1 July 2003, call for sound insulation to be provided between a WC and other habitable rooms in a home.
  • Between bedrooms and other rooms Under the proposed revision, sound insulation will also have to be provided between bedrooms and other habitable rooms for the first time.
  • Corridors and stairwells Noise control measures will have to be installed in the corridors and stairwells of flats for the first time – this could mean acoustic tiles will need to be used for corridor ceilings or an acoustic treatment added to the walls or floor.

Part L
Energy efficiency

  • Exterior elements Under the elemental U-value approach to calculating heat loss, wall elements next to unheated spaces must have a minimum U-value of 0.35 W/m2K.
  • Insulation The new regulations call for the building fabric to be constructed so that there are no significant thermal bridges or gaps in the insulation layer.

Part M
Disability access
Revisions to the regulation covering building access and facilities for the disabled will affect the way designers specify interiors. The consultation paper on the changes is due to be published any day now.

Amendments will include elements of the recently introduced standard, BS 8300:2001 Design of Buildings and their Approaches to Meet the Needs of Disabled People. The standard shows how architects can comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and explains how buildings can be designed to overcome restrictions that prevent disabled people making full use of premises and their surroundings.