Automist in open plan loft conversions
Homeowners often carry out refurbishment projects to create living spaces that look and feel better. Unfortunately, modern layouts are often at odds with the fire safety requirements of Building Regulations: the guidance encourages either unattractive compartmentation or costly and disruptive sprinkler systems. Automist can be used as a more convenient alternative to sprinklers to meet Building Regulations and is particularly suitable in loft conversions where the ground floor has an open plan layout.
No costly tank or water supply upgrade required
Automist connects to the normal domestic water main
Quick and easy installation with minimal disruption
Automist can usually be installed in a day or two with minimal disruption
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Get your dream layout approved
You’re effectively adding an extra floor to your home by converting your attic. As the windows in your loft conversion would be too high to jump from, the fire safety measures are more stringent.
The escape route from your loft is usually your home's main staircase and hallway. This route needs to be 'protected' as much as possible and offer at least 30 minutes of fire resistance, giving you time to escape or be rescued by your local fire brigade.
Most, if not all, doors that lead off the staircase will need to be upgraded to give this fire resistance or be replaced with fire doors.
If your stairs lead to an open plan living area, they will need to be enclosed with partition walls to keep the escape route protected, or you will need to install Automist in the open plan area.
When it comes to building regulations, there are three main types of open-plan layout:
- Type 1 – this is where your kitchen is combined with another habitable room, such as a living or dining room, but it’s not on the fire escape route, and there are no bedrooms off the open area.
- Type 2 - this is where the staircase or fire escape route is combined with a habitable room, such as a living or dining area, but your kitchen is separate. You see this with flats where bedrooms are accessed via the living room.
- Type 3 – this is where you have a kitchen and possibly other rooms open to the main escape route from the property. An example is when your main staircase passes through a kitchen/diner.
As a rule of thumb, the more open the layout, and the higher the property from the ground floor, the more restrictions there are.
Open Plan layouts can make a massive difference to a property and be relatively straightforward to achieve with the correct guidance. For unusual arrangements, or if your property has four or more storeys, we recommend discussing your plans with building control as early as possible. There are lots of building regulations that apply to attic conversions, especially concerning fire safety. Failure to get sign off for loft works can lead to enforcement against the builder or owner, leaving you uninsured and sometimes unable to sell your home.
Speak to your local building control or an approved inspector for advice. The difference between your local authority and an approved inspector can vary where you live and which inspector you hire. If your project hasn't started and is time-critical, it's worth speaking to both, particularly for complicated Type 3 builds. Although there’s no difference in the rules that both types of inspectors must follow, you can get a different level of service, cost and expertise depending on your choice. Our customers recommend Assent Building Control or London Building Control.
An architect or loft conversion specialist might be the best place to start for more typical projects. Types 2 and 3 will likely require the input of a fire engineer. A fire engineer can help you present your case as a fire engineered solution to your local building control. They can give you a report that details the necessary steps to take to facilitate an open plan design, which may require the installation of Automist and other measures such as an Automatic Opening Vent (AOV) at the top of the stairs. Building control will usually sign-off a project, if a fire engineer has fully assessed the property and the necessary fire protection measures are in place.
Adding a storey to our terrace house
A guide to getting rapid Building Control sign off with Automist - Quick Guide (0.960MB)
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Open plan loft conversions flyer - Enabled by Automist (0.362MB)
"Automist is a discrete, easy to install sprinkler alternative, trusted in over 10,000 installations."