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Building Regulations for Windows and Doors

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 15 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
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The building regulations that apply to windows and doors are numerous but many of them can be adhered to simply by buying what you need from a mainstream supplier. Look for companies that can prove compliance and registration with a recognised scheme such as BSI, CERTAS or FENSA as they can deal with the certification and the Local Authority approval on your behalf.

The areas covered by the regulations are:

  • Thermal performance
  • Safety
  • Means of escape
  • Air supply and ventilation

Some of the regulations, such as ventilation, thermal efficiency apply to how the windows and doors are constructed, while means of escape and fire safety are more about how and where the windows and doors are fitted. General safety can fit in either category.

Thermal Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a hot potato at the moment and the government has tightened up many regulations in this area in recent years. The regulations regarding the U-Value, the amount of heat allowed to pass through the glass and framework of a window or door, are complex. There are also different ratings depending on whether the windows and doors are to be used in an extension or as replacements in an existing dwelling.

Most manufacturers will be aware of these ratings and their use, and will be able to sell you compliant units. If they don't seem to understand the question or gloss over it then it's safer to walk away.

Air Supply and Ventilation

It's the existence of air supply and ventilation regulations that account for the little vents with closable covers that began to appear on double glazing units a decade or so back. It was discovered that having completely airtight rooms, something that was quite possible with modern double-glazing and the focus on draught-proofing that we have today, brought its own hazards.

The amount of ventilation required will differ depending on the way a room is being used, with bathrooms and utility rooms, for example, requiring more ventilation capability than bedrooms or lounges.

Safety Issues

Safety is a widespread issue too. Firstly there is the use of safety glazing, which must be used when the glass is installed in what the regulations refer to as a 'critical area'. This is defined in the regulations as:

  • Any glazed area within a window below 800mm from floor level
  • Any glazed area within a window that is 300mm or less from a door and up to 1500mm from floor level
  • Within any glazed door up to 1500mm from floor level

Again the manufacturer should be able to comply with this without any problem.

Other safety issues regard the placement of the doors and windows within the extension, usually with regard to escape from fire. It is regarded as good practice to install escape windows, i.e. those that can open wide enough for people to easily pass through, on the first floor and any higher than that. Fire regulations also govern the thickness and fire resistant nature of internal doors.

Bay Windows

Finally one tricky one to note is that adding a bay window to an existing home will be treated in planning and building regulation terms, as an extension. So if your extension has bay windows and you want to convert some in the current house to balance the overall design, you will have to get building regulation approval for that as well as the main extension.

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[Add a Comment]
brew85 - Your Question:
Hi, I'm planning a Side Return kitchen extension and would like to re-use the original victorian french doors that would have led out previously to the empty space we are now filling with the extension. Would we simply be able to have the (2) doors resituated into the new extension? They're currently single glazed doors and have fanlights above each door.

Our Response:
We don't see what not as long as they comply with Building Regulations. You might want to look into how you can improve the insulation qualities of the doors.
ExtensionBuild - 17-May-17 @ 11:00 AM
Hi, I'm planning a Side Return kitchen extension and would like to re-use the original victorian french doors that would have led out previously to the empty space we are now filling with the extension.Would we simply be able to have the (2) doors resituated into the new extension?They're currently single glazed doors and have fanlights above each door.
brew85 - 15-May-17 @ 5:22 PM
I have had upvc windows and French doors fitted. The installer has not fitted a sill with the French doors and said I don't need one.Is this true. Thanks
Dave - 20-Apr-17 @ 7:45 PM
Bridgy - Your Question:
Building inspector says that I need a non glazed door from my hallway to the kitchen. Currently it is a 4 panel timber door with the two upper arched panels glass. Can you advise please

Our Response:
We're not sure about this as the regulations seem to suggest that fire safety glazed doors are acceptable. You need to ask for a second opinion on this...or ask your building inspector to provide a copy of the regulations he/she's referring to.
ExtensionBuild - 14-Feb-17 @ 2:33 PM
Building inspector says that i need a non glazed door from my hallway to the kitchen. Currently it is a 4 panel timber door with the two upper arched panels glass. Can you advise please
Bridgy - 13-Feb-17 @ 2:28 PM
BILL - Your Question:
Hi all. I am doing a garage convertion.( lounge/small kitchen for my dougter /baby ( Rents to high for her outside ) Budgets tight for heras well. Can I use good quality up to date ( USED ) upvc Windows and doors as per plans ??!! Help

Our Response:
We can't advise on this kind of thing as we don't have full details of your situation. Your council's building regulation officer will be happy to advise you.
ExtensionBuild - 15-Dec-16 @ 12:22 PM
Hi all. I am doing a garage convertion.( lounge/small kitchen for my dougter /baby ( Rents to high for her outside ) Budgets tight for heras well. Can I use good quality up to date ( USED ) upvc Windows and doors as per plans ??!! Help
BILL - 14-Dec-16 @ 1:28 PM
Looking at removing back door and having upvc french doors instead with each door opening independently. Are there any pitfalls to this?
Jen - 30-Oct-16 @ 4:10 PM
Patsy - Your Question:
Hi, I have a 3 bed bungalow with a 2 bed bungalow attached. There is a rear door in one bedroom and in the small kitchen. I would like to remove the kitchen door is this permitted?Many thanks Pat

Our Response:
The internal door or the external one>?
ExtensionBuild - 11-Oct-16 @ 2:29 PM
Hi, I have a 3 bed bungalow with a 2 bed bungalow attached. There is a rear door in one bedroom and in the small kitchen. I would like to remove the kitchen door is this permitted? Many thanks Pat
Patsy - 10-Oct-16 @ 7:31 PM
I have a rear door to my house that only opens 45% it opens in to an allie I have a disabled wife how would find it hard to use in an emergence dose this comforme with building regs
none - 7-Oct-16 @ 3:09 PM
Bob - Your Question:
Hi,We are looking to extend into the loft and want to maximise the space where we can. We are considering putting sliding doors into the bedroom so we don't have a door in the way all the time. Do you know whether this would pass building control? Would the door need to be fire rated? Is there anything else we need to consider?Thanks

Our Response:
We see no reason why a sliding door would not pass building control regs, yes it would need to be fire rated, but you can buy fire rated internal sliding doors. Give your building control officer a call, they're normally happy to advise on these issues before you go ahead and submit plans.
ExtensionBuild - 5-Oct-16 @ 10:48 AM
Hi, We are looking to extend into the loft and want to maximise the space where we can. We are considering putting sliding doors into the bedroom so we don't have a door in the way all the time. Do you know whether this would pass building control? Would the door need to be fire rated? Is there anything else we need to consider? Thanks
Bob - 4-Oct-16 @ 7:52 AM
Hi . Moving house soon and would like to put in sliding upvc double doors where the bedroom window is onto the garden. Would I need planning permission to convert ?Thanks
crankysan - 16-Sep-16 @ 10:26 PM
We have a Georgian house with existing up floor side windows, that were obviously put there when the house was built 120 years ago.They do overlook the next door, so do they need obscured glass.
SteveO - 26-Jul-16 @ 10:58 AM
Thonitoes - Your Question:
HelloI want to import my own windows and doors PVC /Alu direct from the manufacture from Romania - I have a great contact working in the industry and the savings are huge.They have certifications but not ones here in the UK - will I be able to use them - they are European certificates?Thanks

Our Response:
It might be useful to ask your local building control team, in general we think it should be fine as long as they bear the CE Mark and you know that they will comply with British Standards.
ExtensionBuild - 6-May-16 @ 10:36 AM
Hello I want to import my own windows and doorsPVC /Alu direct from the manufacture from Romania - I have a great contact working in the industry and the savings are huge. They have certifications but not ones here in the UK - will I be able to use them - they are European certificates? Thanks
Thonitoes - 4-May-16 @ 2:41 PM
Can you tell me please what is the current minimum external and internal door height required by building regulations for all dewlings. I'm interested to know if it caters for the growing, in height, population, or are the building regulations being "heightest"(being prejudice against the tall ones) by not have enough head clearance for them. ART
ART - 11-Jan-16 @ 8:19 PM
Matt - Your Question:
Hello, I have recently bought a house and the neighbouring detached house has two large ground floor windows (side elevation) which are fixed but not frosted. These windows overlook my garden and rear back door and kitchen. There is also a single storey extension with a single frosted window which is not fixed. When open the window oversails the boundary line into my property. After enquiring with the planning department they have no planning history on this neighbouring house. Am I within my rights to tell them the windows need changing to fixed, frosted windows?

Our Response:
What did your planning department advise? It's usually a condition of planning for new builds/extensions but this one may have been in place for some time? Was there any information provided in the seller's pack etc?
ExtensionBuild - 11-Dec-15 @ 2:38 PM
Hello, I have recently bought a house and the neighbouring detached house has two large ground floor windows (side elevation) which are fixed but not frosted. These windows overlook my garden and rear back door and kitchen. There is also a single storey extension with a single frosted window which is not fixed. When open the window oversails the boundary line into my property. After enquiring with the planning department they have no planning history on this neighbouring house. Am I within my rights to tell them the windows need changing to fixed, frosted windows?
Matt - 11-Dec-15 @ 9:54 AM
Jenlee - Your Question:
We have just replaced a utility room on the end of our house. We have made it twice the width and had plans drawn up. Our builder has filled the building regs to the letter. Half way through an inspector came to check if the drains were ok. They were. At the finnish of construction an inspector came and said we may need to higher the outer door leading into the extention. The building is 130 years old with a huge stone lintel above the door. Nobody mentioned this. Not the architect, the builder or the first inspector. I wounded have even attempted to replace the out building if I had known. Is there a legal height for existing outer doors in old buildings. Regards

Our Response:
We can't find any information about minimum door heights on existing buildings. We'd expect your builder and architect to be aware of this. Why not give your building control office a call and ask for general advice on door heights to be sure.
ExtensionBuild - 13-Oct-15 @ 2:49 PM
We have an old storehouse with very thick walls. We have just finished replacing a utility room at the end of the house. In the same place but wider. All the regs have been followed in the rebuild. But when an inspector came out he said the adjoining door may need to be highered. It has a huge stone lintel and would be a big job. Nobody mentioned this. Not the architect or the builder.
Jenlee - 12-Oct-15 @ 3:07 PM
We have just replaced a utility room on the end of our house. We have made it twice the width and had plans drawn up. Our builder has filled the building regs to the letter. Half way through an inspector came to check if the drains were ok. They were. At the finnish of construction an inspector came and said we may need to higher the outer door leading into the extention. Thebuilding is 130 years old with a huge stone lintel above the door. Nobody mentioned this. Not the architect, the builder or the first inspector. I wounded have even attempted to replace the out building if I had known. Is there a legal height for existing outer doors in old buildings. Regards
Jenlee - 12-Oct-15 @ 2:55 PM
Are there regulations around how much weight a steel window well cover should hold? Our builders just fitted one and it has fallen in on itself after i stepped on it lightly. he did warn me not to stand on it, but the fittings he put in place to hold it up were just screws, not the giant bolts with o ring ends as before. Have i been robbed or is there no weight threshold? Building regulations said we needed to a minimum width round the grid, so someone could trap thier leg down the side, but someone standing on it and it falling in on itself seems like more of a risk. Advice would be greatly appreciated.
adam - 11-Sep-15 @ 7:32 PM
Good afternoon, We recently engaged with a company to install a catflap into a sliding glass door in the rear of our house (a kitchen extension). The installation was not as we expected as the cat flap sticks out too far to permit clearance of the fixed part of the window/door. As such, the glass door now slides open only roughly half as far as it used to. (I cannot get through without turning sideways -- and I am not sure we'll be able to get patio furniture through the doorway). A real nuisance and not to our expectations. Is there a minimum size of opening for a back door? I am concerned that not only has he botched the job, but he has also introduced an alteration which might not meet building regulations. Thanks, JT
BristolBoy - 4-Sep-15 @ 1:38 PM
Beano - Your Question:
We are purchasing a new build property by a local developer The bathroom and ensuite windows, that will be at ground level due to the split level nature of the building, has no privacy / frosted glass installed. Is this against building regulations?

Our Response:
We don't think there are building regulations relating to obscure/frosted glass in downstairs windows, it's just something people prefer for privacy. Contact your local planning office to be sure.
ExtensionBuild - 27-Aug-15 @ 10:57 AM
smallboybob - Your Question:
I've just become aware of the new building regs Part L for doors/windows which came into force in 2013/14. I have just had planning permission approved for a new porch and side extension but intended to use my current uPVC front and back doors and some of my uPVC windows (all approx. 10 years old) on the new porch and side extension. Will I now have to factor in the cost of purchasing new uPVC double glazed doors and windows instead?

Our Response:
Your building control officer should be able to tell you whether your existing door/windows meet the relevant criteria. Give him/her a call for advice.
ExtensionBuild - 27-Aug-15 @ 9:31 AM
We are purchasing a new build property by a local developer The bathroom and ensuite windows, that will be at ground level due to the split level nature of the building, has no privacy / frosted glass installed. Is this against building regulations?
Beano - 25-Aug-15 @ 8:33 AM
I've just become aware of the new building regs Part L for doors/windows which came into force in 2013/14. I have just had planning permission approved for a new porch and side extension but intended to use my current uPVC front and back doors and some of my uPVC windows (all approx. 10 years old) on the new porch and side extension. Will I now have to factor in the cost of purchasing new uPVC double glazed doors and windowsinstead?
smallboybob - 24-Aug-15 @ 7:24 PM
we wish to put a conservatory on the back of our bungalow. To achieve this we would need to create a corridor by making one bedroom smaller and the put in a new door out of the rear wall into the conservatory. Would we need building regs for this?? Thanks
Simon - 21-Jul-15 @ 2:16 PM
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