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General guidance notes


The information provided on theses pages is a guideline and not a detailed review of the building regulations. While the information contained herein is believed to be accurate at time of publishing, Clare County Council accepts no responsibility for errors and/or omissions. Persons should always obtain professional advice for their specific situation and should consult the current technical guidance documents and current regulations

The Building Control Act 1990 & Building Control Act 2007 establishes a statutory duty to design and construct in accordance with the Building Regulations. Every building to which the Building Regulations apply should be designed and constructed in accordance with the provisions of such Regulations, and the responsibility for compliance rests with the designers, the constructors and the building owners.

Access for people with disabilities

Part M of the building regulations deals with access for people with disabilities. Part M includes several provisions that apply to new dwellings to ensure that they are visitable by people with disabilities.

Provisions applicable to new housing

The following are the main  provisions applicable to new housing as required by amended Part M of the Building Regulations, 2000:

  1. An accessible entrance to the dwelling site or plot. There should be a gateway or other opening with a clear, unobstructed width of at least 800mm.
  2. A level or gently sloping approach to the main door of the dwelling. The approach should have a firm surface, a clear unobstructed width of at least 900mm and a gradient which is preferably not steeper than 1:20 and in any case not steeper than 1:12. This approach may be from the entrance to the plot or, where the plot entrance is more than 30m from the door, from a suitable parking spot. The approach should be provided with a 75mm kerb where the ground is not graded to it. Where the drop in level to  the adjacent ground is more than 400mm, a handrail should also be provided.
  3. A level entry threshold and an entry door of adequate width. The entrance to the dwelling should be level with a maximum threshold height of 15mm, the entry door should have a clear and unobstructed opening width of 775mm.
  4. Sufficiently wide corridors and doorways to allow for circulation at the entry level. Corridors should have a minimum width of 900mm, which may be reduced to 750mm at obstructions such as radiators. Doorways should have a minimum opening width of 750mm (wider where a right angle turn from a narrow corridor is required).
  5. Doorbells, entry phones, door handles and light switches at an appropriate height of 900mm to 1200mm from the floor level.
  6. A wheelchair accessible WC cubicle at entry level that is sufficiently large to allow a wheelchair user use the WC with reasonable privacy.
  7. Steps suitable for use by the ambulant disabled may be used for both approach and entry in a number of situations.
    These include:
    • Steeply sloping dwelling plots where a level or gently sloping approach cannot be achieved from either the entry point or from a suitable parking spot.
    • Situations, where due to planning requirements or specific site characteristics, there is not sufficient space for a level or gently sloping approach.

Party walls

Fire spread between semi-detached housing must be prevented and in order to restrict the spread of fire, adequate fire stopping at the party wall is required. The party wall should run full height to the underside of the roof and should have a fire resistance of at least 60 minutes.

The gap between the party wall and the roof should not be greater than 50mm and should be filled with a suitable fire stopping material such as mineral fibre quilt, which extends over the full width of the wall. 50mm thick wire reinforced mineral wool should be placed at the fascia/soffit void. No gaps or imperfections should be present in the party wall, which would otherwise facilitate the spread of fire between dwellings.

Timber joists at right angles to a party wall must not be built into it. If possible, joists should span from the front to the back of a house. Where this is not possible and the joists span onto the party wall, single joist hangers must be used. The joist hangers must be tight against the blockwork, be the correct size and the joists must be nailed securely into the hangers.

Further information and details can be found in Technical Guidance Document B - Fire safety to the Building Regulations 1997 - 2006.

Radon gas

What is radon gas?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is odourless, colourless and tasteless. It is formed in the ground by the radioactive decay of small amounts of radium which is itself a radioactive decay product of uranium.

Radon gas can enter buildings from the underlying soil and rocks and in certain cases it can accumulate to such a level as to constitute a potential health hazard. Major entry routes for radon gas into a building are through cracks in walls, through the wall cavity, through the junction between walls and floors, through gaps at service pipes and through cracks in concrete floors.

Radon levels are measured in becquerel per cubic metre (Bq/m3). 1 Bq/m3 means that radon is present at a concentration that emits one particle of radiation per second in a cubic metre of air.

National survey of radon

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has undertaken a national survey of radon in dwellings in Ireland. The national reference level is set at 200Bq/m3. Any areas where the predicted percentage of dwellings with a radon concentration above 200Bq/m3 is 10% or higher, are designated high radon areas.

Building regulations - provisions required for radon gas

Part C - Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture, to the Building Regulations 1997 outlines the provisions required for radon gas. In areas where the predicted percentage of houses with a radon level above the reference level (200Bq/m3) is 10% or more, a fully sealed radon barrier of low permeability and a potential means of extracting radon from the substructure such as a sump or sumps with connecting pipe work are required.

In areas below the 10% level, a radon barrier is not required but a sump or sumps with connecting pipe work are required. Part C of the Building Regulations 1997 also outlines the minimum requirements for LDPE radon barriers.

Further general information on radon and it protection may be got from the British Research Establishment website.

Windows for escape or rescue

On the 1st July, 1998, the current building regulations came into operation. These building regulations were amended  by the 2006 Building Regulations . As part of these regulations, new requirements for windows for escape or rescue were included under Part B - Fire Safety.

Windows suitable for escape or rescue must be provided to all bedrooms in dwellings, including ground floor bedrooms. They should also be provided in any habitable rooms in the upper storey of a dwelling with an open plan arrangement.

All inner rooms should be provided with windows suitable for escape or rescue. An inner room is one where access to that room is through another room.

Windows for escape or rescue should be designed as follows:

  • The window should provide an unobstructed opening not less than 0.33m2 with a minimum width and height of 450.0mm . The opening section of the window should be secured by means of fastenings which are readily openable from the inside.
  • The bottom of the window opening should be not more than 1100mm and not less than 800mm (600mm in the case of a rooflight) above the floor of the room in which it is situated.
  • In the case of a dormer window or rooflight, the distance from the eaves of the roof to the cill or vertical plane of the window or cill of the rooflight should not exceed 1.7m, measured along the roof.

The ground beneath the window should be clear of any obstructions, such as railings or horizontally hung windows, and should be suitable for supporting a ladder safely. The area should be of sufficient size to provide a place of safety from a fire in the house.

Building regulations and dwelling houses

The Building Control Act 1990 establishes a statutory duty to design and construct in accordance with the building regulations. Every building to which the building regulations apply should be designed and constructed in accordance with the provisions of such regulations and the responsibility for compliance rests with the designers, the constructors and the building owners.

The building regulations set out the technical requirements for the design and construction of building works. The building regulations are divided into 12 parts, and for private dwelling houses, the most common areas to be addressed are as follows:

Building regulations for private dwelling houses
Part Description Requirements
A Structure This requires buildings to be designed and constructed so as to ensure that they can withstand the combined loads without impairing the stability of any part of the building.
B Fire Safety Mains powered fire detection and alarm system, windows sizes for escape or rescue. Adequate fire resistance
C Site Preparation and Resistance To Moisture Site preparation, drainage, dangerous substances (e.g. Radon) Resistance to weather and ground moisture.
D Materials and Workmanship Fitness of materials and adequacy of workmanship.
E Sound Resistance of noise pollution from one dwelling to another.
F Ventilation Ventilation of rooms of specific floor area and for condensation in roofs.
G Hygiene Installation of adequate washing and toilet facilities.
H Drainage And Waste Water Disposal Installation of adequate wastewater drainage and septic tanks.
J Heat Producing Appliances Appliances designed to burn solid fuel, oil or gas. Adequate design and installation of air supplies, exhaust gasses, protection of the building and oil storage tanks.
K Stairways, Ladders, Ramps and Guards Safe and adequate design of stairs and protection from falls
L Conservation Of Fuel And Energy Limiting heat loss, maximise heat gains and controlling output
M Access For People With Disabilities Approach to, access into and circulation within a dwelling, access to electrical switches, etc. Also the provision of sanitary accommodation.

The above-tabled information is a guideline and not a detailed review of the building regulations. Persons should seek professional advice for their own specific situations and should consult the current technical guidance documents and the current regulations.

In accordance with the Building Control Regulations 1997, a commencement notice must be submitted to the Building Control Section of Clare County Council, Central Fire Station, Ennis, 14 to 28 days before the commencement of works.

All queries on building control issues and building regulations can be directed to the Clare County Council Building Control Section at (065) 6846302.

Page last reviewed: 09/02/09

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