Automist in open plan loft conversions
Homeowners often carry out refurbishment projects in order to create living spaces which 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. It was designed to minimise the risk of leaks and minimise the consequential water damage of activation, without compromising performance.
Approved Document B allows a conversion from a two storey to a three storey house to have an open plan layout on the ground floor (where the staircase passes through the open plan area) as long as four conditions are met:
- The open plan area must be protected by a suppression system
- There must be escape windows on the first floor
- The first floor must be separated from ground level by a fire resisting screen and fire door
so that the escape windows remain viable
- The kitchen needs to be separated from the open plan area by a 'fire resisting construction'
- either a fire door or a wall
These four conditions are not the law - but they are national guidance, so a project that follows them will pass through Building Control more straightforwardly than one that doesn't. A common criticism of this approach is that fire separation between ground and first floor by means of a fire door is ineffective because the door is likely to be propped open. Critics further argue that the use of enhanced detection (i.e. in all rooms of the property) and escape windows are preferable as it requires no human intervention. This layout may be accepted where a fire engineering argument demonstrates that, for a particular property, an appropriate level of safety is achieved.
Unsure whether Automist is suitable for your property? Submit your layout for review to an Accredited Installer
Automist and LABC Registered Detail
To ease approval, Automist was registered for an LABC Registered Detail for use with open plan layouts in loft converted houses. The Registered Details scheme is intended to allow building control officers to approve a project without a long and detailed investigation, in the knowledge that the product has been rigorously checked by LABC members.
Automist gives two critical benefits, whilst reducing cost and disruption:
Homeowners can create real value in their homes without aesthetic trade-offs.
Building Control officers can be assured that a modified home is a safe living environment with no limitations on use that may eventually be circumvented by the occupier.
Published Article from ABC+D Magazine - Dummy walls: dumb idea! (0.642MB)
"In an open plan loft conversion, a retrofittable suppression device offers not only comparable costs to dummy walls: it solves the regulatory problem permanently and also provides permanent fire safety to occupants."