10 Jul 2018

Discover what Part Q means for those who want to build their dream home

With more people than ever before planning a new build or self-build, making sure you stay the right side of Building Regulations is vital if you want to avoid any potentially expensive and time-consuming problems with building inspectors.

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Whilst many of the current Building Regulations have been in place for many years, one of the latest – the introduction of Part Q – remains in its infancy. Here Matt Chambers, National Sales Manager for timber window and door specialist Dale Joinery, looks at Part Q and the requirements placed upon those wanting to build their dream home.

In October 2015, Building Regulations for England were changed, introducing the Part Q classification to help increase the security performance of windows and doors being installed in new-build properties. Phased in over the following 12 months, they became compulsory on 1st October 2016.

The new mandatory Part Q classification, seeks to ensure high security standards for new-build homes including homes created by change of use such as barn conversions.

So what does that mean for builders, developers and self-builders? For any new build you are working on, the windows and doorsets being used must be manufactured to a design that has been successfully tested to meet the security requirements of PAS 24:2012.

Approved Document Q is designed to ensure the prevention of unauthorised access to dwellings (including flats). As part of this, doors and windows or rooflights which could be accessed need to resist physical attack by a casual or opportunist burglar.

They, therefore, must be sufficiently robust, fitted with appropriate hardware and, most importantly, be proven to have security performance.

The requirement set out by the Government is that: “Reasonable provision must be made to resist unauthorised access to any dwelling and other buildings exposed to comparable risk”.

Simply put, anyone building a new home must install windows and doors which are shown by test to meet the required performance as detailed in PAS 24: 2012. This will mean proving to building inspectors that the windows and doors selected for the project are fully certified and that you are able to provide full product details for each design and construction with full supporting test reports for each product in the range supplied and installed.

Products meeting the requirements of the Secured by Design scheme will be deemed to meet the recommendations.

Where does Part Q apply?

Part Q does not apply to any building work started before 1st October 2016. Specifically, it looks at windows and doors that could be easily accessed such as:

a) A doorset or window, any part of which is within 2m vertically of an accessible surface such as the ground or basement level, or an access balcony.

b) A window within 2m vertically of a flat or sloping roof (with a pitch of less than 30°) that is within 3.5m of ground level.

In addition, doorset letter plates should have a maximum aperture of 260 x 40mm and be designed to hinder anyone from removing keys with a stick or by inserting their hand, by incorporating a flap or other feature to restrict access.

The main door into a dwelling should have a viewer or other means to see callers, such as clear glass either in the door or adjacent window, and be fitted with a door chain or door limiter.

In practice, building control inspectors may apply their own judgement to which doorsets and windows will be considered vulnerable, but it is worth knowing what the guidelines set out.

Ultimately, the building inspector will judge whether a project meets the requirements of the regulation. If you are in any doubt, it is vitally important that you discuss this with the relevant building control body.

As with all Building Regulations, this will be policed by the building control inspector and there are examples of self-builders not adhering to Part Q and being asked to remove the existing windows and doors and replace them with Part Q-certified ones – a very costly issue to have to deal with.

Compliance with Part Q

All aspects of the window and door system selected needs to be tested for Part Q Building Regulations, so it’s vitally important that you use a window and door manufacturer whose products are fully Part Q certified.

Whilst many self-builders may like the idea of using a joinery firm that is small and local to them, you must ensure that the joinery firm you are looking at using are Part Q certified for all of the products you are looking to install. Different window and door styles must all be tested and certified to the new standard.

Clearly, the classification is designed to have a positive impact on the security of windows and doors for new-build properties and for leading window and door companies like ourselves, testing existing product ranges is a major undertaking.

For smaller joinery firms, the combination of time and cost has prohibited them from testing their products against Part Q – so it is very much buyer beware.

If you are thinking of buying door and window sets from abroad, again, be careful to ensure that the manufacturer or supplier you are sourcing from is compliant with Part Q Building Regulations.

One of the most effective ways to ensure Part Q compliance is to:

i) Use a door and window supplier that is fully Part Q compliant and ask to see their certification and evidence for any, and all, of the door and window styles you are looking at.

ii) Select a supplier that can deliver the door and window products to site fully factory-finished-ready and ready to fit, ensuring you are in no doubt your windows and doors are Part Q compliant.

Further information....

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