New windows bring several great advantages to any home, like helping you to save well on your energy bills and enhancing the comfort of your home.
One of the most important things you must do when altering or setting up new double glazing is to be sure you adhere to window Building Regulations.
Whether you seek building regulations authorisation yourself or not, it’s worth knowing what Building Regulations are and how they apply to your windows.
What are Building Regulations?
Building regulations are a set of design and construction requirements that a lot of structures need to meet. Their goal is to guarantee the health and safety of everyone around these structures. They’re also designed to make sure that buildings are relatively energy efficient, and meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Do Building Regulations apply to windows?
Building Regulations do apply to windows. Your windows need to meet certain requirements in 4 different areas:
1. Heat Loss
New window glazing and frames need to be good heat insulators. This will reduce the amount of heat that escapes from your home and decrease your energy expenses. If you wish to install new double glazing, they have to be at or below a certain degree of energy efficiency, which is assessed as a U-level. To find out more on this maximum U-level, have a look at Approved Document L-1B, Table 1, of the Building Regulations.
2. Safety Glazing
Double glazing in particular regions of your home need to be fitted with safety glazing. Included in these are any windows that are:
- Below 80cm from floor level
- 30cm or less from a hinged door and up to 150cm from floor level
- Within any glazed door up to 150cm from floor level
So any new windows you install have to be safety glazed in these specific areas.
All available rooms in a house must have sufficient ventilation, and windows are part of ensuring this. In some rooms smaller windows and trickle vents are enough. However in rooms where huge amounts of steam are produced, like bathrooms and kitchens, a specific amount and size of windows and extractor fans are required.
4. Fire Safety
You will find 2 ways in which windows have to promote fire safety. Some windows close to other properties need to have fire resistance and be fixed shut in order to avoid the potential spread of fire between buildings. Which windows these are depends on how close your property is to another building.
New windows also need to be considered as fire exits. If you’re replacing a window that is big enough to be a means of escape, then the new window also has to be big enough for this, even if it might actually be a bit smaller than the original window. Escape windows should have:
- A width and height of at least 45cm
- A clear openable area of at least 33cm square
- A cill no higher than 110cm from the floor
You don’t normally need more than one escape window per room.
How may I adhere to Building Regulations?
You have 2 options when it comes to making sure that you comply with Building Regulations and trying to get approval if required. You can:
1. Hire a ‘competent person’
In the event that you hire a contractor who’s on the Competent Persons Register, they’ll make sure than any double glazing work they are doing complies with Building Regulations. They have the power to self-certify their work, and will contact your local authority if approval is needed. When the work is complete, they will give you a certificate to say all the work complies with Building Regulations.
2. Use a building control body
If you don’t hire a ‘competent person’, you can use a building control body. Building control bodies (BCBs) can be either run by your local authority or privately. If you use a BCB they will check if your planned double glazing work complies with Building Regulations, and apply for authorisation for you if required. When your double glazing work is completed, they’ll supply you with a certificate which proves it’s all consistent with Building Regulations. To find the local authority or private BCB you may use the government’s Planning Portal website.
As with anything you don’t want to fall foul of the statutory legislation. With windows, if you fail to abide by Building Regulations you risk needing to take away the full installation then, which nobody wants. So to be on the safe side, you should make sure you use one of the two options above.
To learn more about regulations that may apply to your window work, take a look at our information on planning permission. Or to find out about possible window options, see our information on uPVC, wood and aluminium frames.