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 house.
One of the most crucial things you must do when altering or setting up new double glazing is to be sure you adhere to double glazing Building Regulations.
Whether you seek building regulations approval 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 most buildings need to meet. Their goal is to ensure the health and safety of everyone in and around these buildings. 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 standards in 4 different areas:
1. Heat Loss
New window glazing and frames need to be good heat insulators. This will certainly reduce the quantity of warmth that escapes out of your home and decrease your energy expenses. If you wish to install new double glazing, they have to be at or below a certain level of energy efficiency, which is measured as a U-level. For more information on this maximum U-level, take a look at Approved Document L-1B, Table 1, of the Building Regulations.
2. Safety Glazing
Windows in certain areas of your home have 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 need to be safety glazed in these specific areas.
All available rooms in a property should 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 that double glazing has to promote fire safety. Some windows near to other properties have to have fire resistance and be fixed shut to avoid the spread of fire between structures. 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 can I comply with Building Regulations?
You have 2 options when it comes to complying with Building Regulations and applying for approval if necessary. You can:
1. Hire a ‘competent person’
If 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 can contact your neighbourhood authority if authorisation is needed. When the task is complete, they will give you a certificate to say all the ongoing work complies with Building Regulations.
2. Make use of a building control body
If you don’t hire a ‘competent person’, you may use a building control body. Building control bodies (BCBs) can be either run by your local authority or privately. If you are using a BCB they’ll check if your prepared window work complies with Building Regulations, and make an application for authorisation for you if necessary. When your window work is finished, they’ll provide you with a certificate which proves it’s all in line with Building Regulations. To find either a local authority or private BCB you can use the government’s Planning Portal website.
As with anything you don’t want to fall foul of the law. With windows, if you fail to abide by Building Regulations then you risk having to remove the full set up, which no one wants. To be on the safe side, you should be sure you use one of both options above.
To find out more about rules that may apply to your double glazing work, check out our information on planning permission. Or to discover possible double glazing options, see our information on uPVC, aluminium and wood frames.