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Part M Access and Use Dwellings

M3: Access and Use of dwellings

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Section 3 Access and Use of dwellings

The guidance in Section 3 applies to dwellings and their environs. This includes individual dwelling houses and individual apartments. It does not apply to the common areas of apartment blocks. Guidance on these areas is provided in Section 1.

The guidance in Section 3 also applies to the common areas of duplex buildings.

Section 3.1 Approach to dwellings

Section 3.1 Approach to dwellings

3.1.1 Objective

The objective is to provide an adequate means of approach to the main entrance of a dwelling to facilitate visitors from a point of access.

1.2 Access route to a dwelling

The point of access is:

(a) the entrance at the boundary of a dwelling plot, or

(b) the point at which a person visiting a dwelling would normally alight from a vehicle within the dwelling plot, prior to approaching the dwelling where:

(i) the distance between the point of access along the boundary
and the main entrance, is greater than 30 m, or

(ii) the site gradient is such that the relative finished levels at
the dwelling entrance and the point of access along the
boundary do not allow for the provision of the appropriate
level gently sloped or ramped approach.

At least one approach route from a point of access to the main entrance should be an access route in accordance with 3.1.2.1 to 3.1.2.5. Guidance on the approach to apartment blocks is given in Section 1.1.

3.1.2.1 General

The following guidance applies to all access routes, whether level, gently sloped, ramped or stepped. Additional specific guidance on the above four types of access route is given in 3.1.2.2 to 3.1.2.5.

Where an access route is provided

(a) the clear opening width of at least one point of access should be a minimum of 900 mm. The access route, leading from this, should maintain a clear width of at least 900 mm and have a firm and even surface, which is suitable for people using wheelchairs or other mobility aids and reduces the risk of slipping;

(b) the approach may, in whole or in part, form part of an on site
driveway. Where this occurs, the driveway should be at least 3600 mm wide so as to allow adequate access width beside parked cars;

(c) a raised kerb, at least 100 mm high, should be provided on any open side of an approach where the adjacent ground is not graded to the approach. Refer to TGD K for guidance on the provision of guarding;

(d) the minimum headroom provided on an approach route should be 2100 mm. The underside of stairs, ramps or similar features that restrict headroom below this level should be enclosed.

Section 3.1 Approach to dwellings

3.1.2.2 Level access route The dwelling should be designed, within the overall constraints of space, so that the difference in level between the entrance to the dwelling and the dwelling
plots point of access is minimised. A level approach route accommodates the widest range of abilities. For the purpose of this guidance document a gradient of 1:50 or less steep is considered to be level. For background information on approaches refer to Section 1.1.

3.1.2.3 Gently sloped access route

Where site gradients do not allow a level access route, the flattest gradient achievable should be used. Access routes of 1:20 or less steep are preferred.

For the purpose of this guidance document a gradient steeper than 1:50 (but less steep than 1:20) is considered to be gently sloped.

3.1.2.4 Ramped access route

Where a ramped access route is necessary due to site constraints it should be designed to have the shallowest gradient practicable. For the purpose of this guidance document a gradient of 1:20 or steeper (but not exceeding 1:12) is considered to be a ramp.

In addition to the general guidance given in 3.1.2.1 where a ramped access route is provided:

(a) level landings should be provided between ramp flights or wherever a change in direction occurs. A level landing is considered to include gradients of 1:50 or less steep;

(b) the length of all landings should be not less than 1200 mm exclusive of the swing of any door or gate, which opens onto it;

(c) where the gradient is between 1:20 and not exceeding 1:15 the length between level landings should be a maximum 10 m;

(d) where the gradient is between 1:15 and 1:12 the length between level landings should be maximum 5 m.

3.1.2.5 Stepped access route

Where it is not practicable to provide the required level, gently sloped or ramped approach to the dwelling entrance from the point of access, a stepped approach may be used. This may arise:

(i) where the gradient between the point of access and the main
entrance of the dwelling is steeper than 1:15 and it is not practicable to locate the dwelling entrance in a location to achieve a level, gently sloped or ramped access;

(ii) where there is insufficient space between the point of access and the main entrance of the dwelling to provide for ramps and landings because of the need to conform to the existing building line and levels;

(iii) where planning requirements exist e.g. in relation to flood plains; or

(iv) where the dwelling entrance is at other than the ground floor level of the building, e.g. duplex buildings.

Note: The ground floor level of a duplex building should not use a
stepped approach.

Where a stepped approach is used, it should be suitable for use by ambulant disabled people and in addition to the general guidance given in 3.1.2.1 should comply with the following:

(a) it should have a minimum unobstructed width of not less than 900 mm between handrails;

(b) the rise of a flight between landings should be not more than 1800 mm;

(c) it should have top and bottom landings and, if necessary,
intermediate level landings, each of which should be at least 900 mm long, clear of any door swings or other obstructions;

(d) steps should have suitable tread/nosing profiles in accordance
with Diagram 32 and the rise of each step should be uniform and be between 100 mm and 150 mm;

(e) the going of each step should be uniform and not less than 280 mm;

(f) the use of tapered steps should be avoided as the varying tread width of a tapered step can cause people to misjudge distances and can lead to falls. If it is necessary to use them,
they should be situated at the bottom of the stairs and the going should not be less than 280 mm, measured at a point 270 mm from the inside (narrowest edge) of the flight, and

(g) there should be a suitable continuous handrail, as detailed in Section 1.1, on both sides of the flights and intermediate landings, if the flight comprises three or more risers. Where a shallow stepped approach with goings at least 750 mm long is used, handrails need not be provided.

Refer to TGD K for guidance on the provision of guarding.

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Diagram 32 Examples of external step profiles

Section 3.2 Access to dwellings

3.2.1 Objective

The objective is to provide a main entrance to a dwelling that is accessible to visitors.

3.2.2 Accessible entrance

The main entrance is the entrance, which a visitor not familiar with the dwelling would normally expect to approach.

Where it is not practicable for the main entrance to a dwelling to be accessible, an alternative entrance should be accessible. The alternative accessible entrance should be approached via an access route, conforming to Section 3.1, and be within the public realm of the dwelling plot e.g. the external area accessible to a visitor, unfamiliar with the dwelling. The accessible entrance should be suitable for use by wheelchair users.

External steps should comply with the guidance given in Section 3.1.

Internal steps should comply with the guidance in Section 3.3.

Where an accessible entrance is provided:

(a) there should be a clear level area at least 1200 mm wide and at least 1200 mm deep in front of every accessible entrance. Where a level entry is provided, regard should be had to the requirements of the Building Regulations generally, particularly in relation to resistance to weather and ground moisture.

Guidance on the issues involved in the provision of level entry can be found in the publication ‘Accessible thresholds in new housing’;

(b) the entrance should be provided with a level entry i.e. with maximum threshold height of 15 mm with exposed edges chamfered or pencil rounded;

(c) the minimum effective clear opening width of the entrance door should be 800 mm;

(d) in exceptional circumstances, where it is not practicable to provide a level entry to a dwelling, one or more steps may be used. This may arise where there is insufficient space between the point of access and the entrance of the dwelling to provide a suitable level landing because of the need to conform to the existing building line or where the entrance storey does not contain at least one habitable room.

Section 3.3 Circulation within dwellings

3.3.1 Objective

The objective is to facilitate circulation of visitors within the entrance storey, or where there is no habitable room at this level, in the storey containing the main living room.

3.3.2 Circulation within a dwelling

3.3.2.1 Horizontal circulation within a dwelling

Corridors, passageways and doors to habitable rooms in the entrance storey or, where there is no habitable room at this
level, in the storey containing the main living room, should be sufficiently wide and free of stepped changes of level so
as to allow convenient circulation.

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Table 4 Doors to accessible habitable rooms

Corridors and passageways should have a minimum unobstructed width of not less than 900 mm to facilitate circulation of people using wheelchairs. Localised permanent obstructions, such as radiators, may be allowed, provided that the unobstructed width in those areas is at least 800 mm and the obstruction does not occur opposite a door.

Doors to accessible habitable rooms should be designed and constructed so that the minimum effective clear width, in
relation to the adjacent unobstructed corridor width, complies with Table 4.

The length of unobstructed corridor complying with the minimum width requirement specified should be at least 1200 mm approaching any door (refer to Diagram 33).

Saddle boards, where provided, should be bevelled, with a maximum upstand of 10 mm.

Doors to rooms (other than cloak rooms, hot presses, etc), which can only be accessed by the use of steps or stairs, may have a minimum effective clear width of 750 mm.

Diagram 33 illustrates the guidance on internal doors, corridors and passageways for convenient wheelchair use in the entrance storey or, where there is no habitable room at this level, in the storey containing the main living room.

Door handles should be located at a height of between 800 mm and 1200 mm (900 mm preferred) above floor level.

Where a stepped change of level is provided within the storey, e.g. because of the slope of the site, it should be located so that at least one habitable room and a room containing a WC can be accessed from the accessible entrance without the need to negotiate the step(s).

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Diagram 33 Corridors, passageways and internal doors to dwellings (showing measurement of effective clear width)

3.3.2.2 Vertical circulation within a dwelling

Where there is no habitable room at the entry level, the stairway providing access to the storey containing the main living room should comply with the following:

(a) It should have a minimum unobstructed width of not less than 900 mm between handrails;

(b) The rise of a flight between landings should be not more than 1800 mm;

(c) It should have top and bottom landings and if necessary,
intermediate landings, each of which should be at least 900 mm long;

(d) The rise of each step should be uniform and not more than 175 mm; (e) The going of each step should be uniform and not less than 280 mm;

(f) The use of tapered steps should be avoided as the varying tread width of a tapered step can cause people to misjudge distances and can lead to falls. If it is necessary to use them,
they should be situated at the bottom of the stairs and the going should not be less than 280 mm, measured at a point 270 mm from the inside (narrowest edge) of the flight, and

(g) There should be a suitable continuous handrail, in accordance with 1.1.3.6 on each side of the flights and intermediate landings, if the flight comprises of three or more risers.

Section 3.4 Sanitary facilities for dwellings

3.4.1 Objective

The objective is to provide a WC that is accessible to visitors.

3.4.2 Accessible WC

A WC should be provided at entry level or, where there is no habitable room at this level, in the storey containing the main living room. At entry level, the WC should be so located that it can be accessed from the accessible entrance and from at least one habitable room without the need to negotiate steps. The approach route to the WC should be in accordance with Section 3.3.

The WC should be located in a bathroom or separate WC compartment, the layout of which should be designed to facilitate access to, and use of, the WC by persons with a range of abilities. A clear space of 750 mm by 1200 mm, accessible by people using wheelchairs, should be available adjacent to the WC so as to facilitate sideways transfer from the wheelchair to the WC.

The size and layout of the bathroom or WC compartment, and the positioning of the door, should be such that a wheelchair can be fully contained within the compartment and the door closed with the wheelchair inside. Diagram 34 shows two examples of alternative layouts for WC compartments, which illustrate the level of provision which is generally considered acceptable.

The general headroom available in the WC compartment should be 2100 mm minimum. Local areas with head height less than 2100 mm are acceptable subject to the limits set out in Diagram 34.

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Diagram 34 Examples of WC cubicles for visitable housing

3.4.3 WC in smaller dwellings

In the case of certain smaller dwellings, WC compartments in accordance with Diagram 35 are acceptable. This level of
provision should only be considered where the area of the storey where the WC is located is less than 45 m2.

Diagram 35 shows an example of a possible layout for such a compartment. The minimum effective clear width of a WC door should be in accordance with Table 4. However, the use of a door opening wider than the minimum, an outward opening door, a folding door or a sliding door will generally assist in facilitating wheelchair access. The choice of door type and location should be such as not to pose undue hazard on a circulation route or be otherwise dangerous in use.

The minimum headroom available in the WC compartment should be 2100 mm measured from the front of the pan.

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Diagram 35 Example of WC compartment for small dwellings

Section 3.5 Switches and sockets in dwellings

3.5.1 Objective

The objective is that switches and socket outlets should be located at accessible heights and are easy to operate in the accessible areas of a dwelling.

3.5.2 Switches and sockets

Electric light switches in accessible areas should be located at a height between 900 mm to 1200 mm above floor level.

Equipment adjacent to the entry intended to assist in gaining entry, e.g. doorbells, entry phones, intercoms, should be located at a height between 900 mm and 1200 mm above floor level.

Switches and socket outlets for lighting and other equipment in accessible areas should be located at appropriate heights between 400 mm and 1200 mm from finished floor level.

These requirements are restricted to convenience socket-outlets used for general purposes and do not apply to dedicated socket outlets not readily accessible and used for appliances that are intended to be continuously connected in normal use.

The height requirements apply for all control devices in accessible areas except where the manufacturer’s
instructions specify otherwise.

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