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Flat conversion - Protected lobby's/hallways


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Hi there, wondering if anyone could give me any advice, I recently converted my studio flat into a 1 bed which involved putting up a stud wall, replacing an existing window that was covered up with a new double glazed one, I also removed a doorway and door to create a more open plan hallway area/lounge. Have recently sold the flat, somehow throughout this whole process no one told me that I needed to get building regs approval (don't ask..), so have paid for regularisation/retrospective approval with my local council building control. Have been speaking to one of their people over the last few weeks sending pics of stuff etc and have an inspection in a few days time. Although it has been a bit of a fight have and I think I was assigned quite a new/junior person have managed to get their approval on most things eventually. One thing they seem adamant on is replacing the archway into a door again. They want a protected lobby/ hallway area which I think is written in ADBV1. My flat is a very small first floor flat in a converted Victorian building which has 2 storeys and 4 flats in total. One ground floor flat which has its own entrance at the front and is completely separate, and 3 flats (2 first floor and 1 second floor) with an entrance to the side sharing a communal staircase. My flats floor level is less than 4.5 metres, roughly measured was 3.6 metres from ground level.

1. My flat is in a building that was converted into flats in the early 80s - does it definitely come under a block of flats or can it be classed as a dwelling? (as the building was converted into flats) being classed as a dwelling would seem to allow me to have the open plan layout but the building control seem to class it as a block of flats - its not really your standard purpose built block of flats.

2. I am basically looking for ways around putting in a door/doorway again where the arch is now, as this will create a very small impractical hallway around 3ftx4ft in size, where doors will open onto each other etc - if anything I would class it as more of a fire risk/trap but that's my opinion... I do understand the reasons behind protected lobby's. The flat front door opens directly onto the shared communal staircase. Is there any reason I could not class the living room area as the protected hallway as essentially you access all rooms from it as it's now open plan. Have attached the floorplans of the flat before and after the work.

Also if installed one of those permanent fold out fire escape ladders on the outside of the building going from the bedroom window (which is a fire escape window and goes down to a shared secure alleyway) thus creating 2 means of escape from the flat would this change anything? I also thought of replacing the kitchen door to a fire door with smoke seals, front door to a new fire door with smoke seals and all the mains connected smoke/ heat alarms which building control want installed anyways...surely in a flat so small this is suffice? It just seems like there is a slight lack of common sense when it comes to my local building control.

Any help or ideas would be much appreciated! Cheers 

 

 

 

 

 

Floorplan after works.jpg

Floorplan before works.jpg

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  • alex199 changed the title to Flat conversion - Protected lobby's/hallways

The kitchen is still separate and not part of the open plan so that's one possible issue put to one side. The flat looks like it just meets the 9m travel distance from the furthest part of habitable rooms to the front door which would have been a problem to overcome too.

Putting the doorway back in would actually not make the flat any more compliant as it would not solve the bedroom being an inner room so it's daft of them to suggest it (it makes it worse really).

The bedroom inner room has two solutions available:
- Separate Means of Escape: The bedroom needs an alternative exit, which means this can only be used for the ground and first floor by having escape windows (which if it's been reglazed by a proper windows company in the last 30 years should already be present) as upper floor windows are only suitable for rescue windows due to the drop stopping self escape (portable escape ladders aren't accepted under Building Regulations); or

- Protecting the whole flat with a residential sprinkler system and a Grade D LD1 fire detection system (interlinked mains powered residential smoke and heat alarms to all rooms other than the bathroom)

Based on your information it seems you actually meet Building Regs for this situation already other than improving the smoke alarm provision.

You can't use semantics either - it's a flat. It may well have been a dwelling once, but was converted to flats, so that's what they are now - be thankful it's not been classed as a HMO as the requirements would be far more onerous than for flats.

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