Hi there, I've got a bit of a problem with Building Regs and am unsure as to what is required of me.
I live in a 3-storey Victorian terrace conversion, which contains 3 flats, mine being on the ground floor. My top floor neighbour undertook a loft conversion a while back, making it a 4-storey dwelling, and is now seeking a final certificate from Building Control in order to sell.
It turns out that the entire building must now be signed off and my flat is currently not compliant with regard to its fire doors. I am now required to replace the doors to the bedroom and living room with fire doors and fit a fire door between the kitchen and hall where previously there wasn’t one.
My questions are:
1. Is my flat non-compliant only as a direct result of my neighbour’s conversion? It is my understanding that new Building Regs are only applicable to new buildings and the addition of a storey now reclassifies the whole building as new. Without his works, I understand that there would have not been any requirement for me to have fire doors in my flat. Is this correct?
2. If I don’t fit the fire doors and we don’t get sign off, will this be a problem when I come to sell my flat? I.e has his work triggered reclassification of the entire building as a new building, therefore I will not be able to sell without the certificate?
3. Can I agree to his request for the fire doors to be fitted but then replace them with the old doors once the final certificate has been issued? Will this be a problem if I come to sell?
My understanding of the BRegs is that anything over 2 storeys must have a fire protected escape route to the ground floor. I assume the 3 flats (without the loft conversion) have been in existence for many years - all the flats should already have fire doors fitted on the entrance to the common hallway.
The involvement of the BRegs Dept has clearly triggered the requirement to comply with current regulations.
Any lack of BRegs approval to the whole property will affect selling. From your point of view you will have to complete a sellers questionaire where you should admit non-compliance. Whether this affects the sale will depend on your buyer and how much they want your property. The greatest problem is for your top floor neighbour not only for selling but the Council may take action for non-compliance. This is after all a safety issue and the Council will not gain any Brownie Points for not acting swiftly.
I do not see any point in fitting and removing doors, they will have to be modified to fit existing openings with automatic closers.
I think see if your neighbour will agree to paying all or part of your costs.
I am surprised that you find yourself in this situation and I sympathise with your predicament. When the owner of the flat applied for planning permission he would have had to have declared that he was not the sole owner of the building and as such it would have been a requirement of the planning application validation stage that he should have formally notified you of his intentions and signed a certificate on the planning application form.The local planning authority should have also written to you to inform you of the application to give you the chance to comment.
Unfortunately it's often the case that planning departments work completely independently of building control depts and this can cause conflicts. If building control were consulted about the proposal to create an additional floor they would have flagged up the protected stairway requirement issue.
Yout neighbour needs your door onto the stairway to be fire rated to get his certification but you are not actually obliged to do anything. Obviously this will cause difficulties for him so I would be inclined to ask him to pay the full costs of uprating your doors as a minimum, in fact you could reasonably ask for a payment as well as for putting you in a difficult position.
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