Part M Access and Use Dwellings

Introduction

It is important to ensure that dwellings are accessible to all users be they visitors or resident within the dwellings themselves.

Approach to Dwellings

Gently sloped access route

Where it is not possible to achieve level access to a dwelling a route that slopes as gently as possible is considered to be acceptable. For the purposes of accessibility, the access route is considered to be gently sloped access route if it is steeper than 1:50 but less steep than 1:20.

Ramped access route

Where the site constraints will not permit a level or gently sloped access route a ramped access route should be provided. A gradient of 1:20 or steeper is considered to be a ramped access route. Where ramped access routes are to be provided they should comply with the following:

a. Level landings should be provided between ramp flights and/or where a change of direction occurs.

b. Level landings should be clear of any door swing and have a minimum length of 1200mm.

c. The maximum going of ramps in between landings should comply with the following:

  • A maximum length of 10m for a gradient between 1:20 and 1:15.

  • A maximum length of 5m for a gradient between 1:15 and 1:12.

It should be noted that a ramp steeper than 1:12 is not considered acceptable for access purposes.

Point of Access

The point of access to a dwelling is considered to be the point at which visitors to the dwelling would exit their car within the site on which the dwelling is located or the entrance at the boundary of the site. The point of access should be taken as the point of entry along the site boundary except where:

  • The site gradient would not allow for the provision of an appropriate access route, either level, gently sloped or ramped from the site boundary, or;

  • The distance between the main entrance of the dwelling and the entry point at the site boundary is greater than 30m.

Access Routes

Access routes should be accessible to users of all abilities having:

  1. A minimum clear width of 900mm with respect to both the point of access and the approach route to the dwelling.

  2. Access routes must have a firm and even surface and should be of a material that will reduce the risk of slipping.

  3. Where the approach route is shared with a driveway the driveway should have a minimum clear width of 3600mm to ensure there is adequate space for both a car and the approach route.

  4. The approach route should have a minimum headroom of 2100mm.

  5. Raised kerbs should be provided along the open side of any approach route if the adjacent ground is not graded to the approach. Raised kerbs should be a minimum of 100mm high.

Stepped access route

A stepped access route is only considered to be acceptable where it is not possible to provide a gently sloped or ramped access route as detailed above. There are a number of reasons where a stepped access route may be the only suitable option:

  1. Specific planning requirement or conditions of the planning grant.

  2. Where the dwelling entrance isn’t located at ground floor level i.e. duplex units.

  3. Where the site does not permit the provision of ramps and associated landings due to existing site space constraints between the point of access and the dwelling entrance.

  4. Where the gradient between the point of access to the site and the building entrance is steeper than 1:15 and it is not possible to relocate the dwelling entrance to enable the provision of a level, gently sloped or ramped access route as detailed above.

Where a stepped access route is to be provided it should comply with the following:

  • There should be a minimum unobstructed width between handrails of 900mm.

  • Level landing should be provided at the top and bottom of all flights having a minimum length of 900mm clear of any door swing.

  • The rise of any flight between landings should not exceed 1.8m.

  • The rise and going of steps should be consistent throughout the flight with a going no less than 280mm and a rise of between 100mm to 150mm.

  • Tapered steps should be avoided where possible.

  • Where three or more risers are provided in a flight a continuous handrail should be provided on both sides of the flights and landings. If the going of steps is at least 750mm handrails need not be provided.

  • Steps should have a suitable profile. Guidance on step profiles is available from Technical Guidance Document M which is available on the Building Regulations app, Diagram 32 has been provided below for convenience.

Diagram HM1- Examples of external step profiles - Extract from TGD M Diagram HM1- Examples of external step profiles - Extract from TGD M

Level access

Where the site permits it is preferable to have level access t dwellings to accommodate people with a wide range of abilities. A gradient of 1:50 or less steep is considered to be level for the purposes of accessibility.

Access to Dwellings

Accessible entrances

The main entrance is the entrance to which someone who was not familiar with the building would approach on arrival and this entrance should be accessible to all users.

Where it is not possible for this entrance to be made fully accessible provision should be made for wheelchair users and persons requiring mobility aids at an alternative entrance. The accessible entrance should be approached via an accessible approach route as detailed in the 'Approach to Dwellings' section of this app.

The main accessible entrance should be provided as follows:

  • A clear level landing a minimum of 1200mm x 1200mm should be provided directly in front of the main entrance.

  • The entrance should be level, a maximum threshold of 15mm is permitted – exposed edges should be chamfered, or pencil rounded.

It may be acceptable to provide one or more steps to the main entrance where site constraints mean it is not practicable to provide level entry or where there are no habitable rooms provided at entry level.

Circulation within dwellings

Vertical circulation within a dwelling

In dwellings where no habitable rooms are to be provided at entry level the stairway should comply with the following:

  1. The stairway should have a minimum clear width of 900mm between handrails.

  2. Clear level landings should be provided at the top and bottom of each flight and should have a minimum length of 1200mm.

  3. The rise of any flight should not exceed 1800mm.

  4. The rise and going of steps should be consistent throughout the flight. The rise of each side should not exceed 175mm and the going should not be less than 280mm.

  5. Tapered treads should not be used.

  6. Where a flight comprises three or more steps a continuous handrail should be provided on each side of the flights and landings.

Horizontal circulation within a dwelling

Corridors within dwellings should be sufficiently wide and free from level changes to allow for easy circulation. Corridors should have a minimum clear width no less than 900mm.

Doors opening off corridors at entry level should be provided as follows:

  1. Where the minimum unobstructed corridor width is 900mm doors opening off the corridor should have a minimum clear opening of 800mm, unless it is entered head on in which case it requires a minimum clear ope of 775mm.

  2. Where the corridor achieves a minimum clear width of 1050mm all doors opening of the corridor should have a minimum clear ope of 775mm.

  3. Doors to rooms only accessible via steps or stairs i.e. first floor level are required to have a minimum clear ope of 750mm.

Door handles should be located at a height of 800mm to 1200mm above finished floor level.

Corridors are permitted to have localised obstructions such as radiators provided that the minimum clear width at this point is no less than 800mm.

Should saddle board be provided they must be bevelled and not exceed 10mm in height.

Where a change in level is unavoidable the dwelling should be designed in such a way that at least one habitable room and one room containing a WC is accessible at entry level without needing to negotiate steps.

Diagram HM2 - Corridors, passageways and internal doors to dwellings (showing measurement of effective clear width)- Extract from TGD M

Diagram HM2 - Corridors, passageways and internal doors to dwellings (showing measurement of effective clear width)- Extract from TGD M

Sanitary facilities within dwellings

Accessible WC

A WC should be provided at access level that can be reached without the need to negotiate steps, from the main accessible entrance and at least on habitable room. Should there be no habitable room at access level then the WC should be provided on the same floor level as the main living room.

The WC should be contained within its own WC compartment and there should be a clear space of 750mm x 1200mm adjacent to the WC to allow transfer of wheelchair users to the WC. The location of the door, layout and location of the WC should be such that a wheelchair can be fully contained within the WC compartment. The door to the WC compartment should have a minimum clear width as detailed in 'Horizontal circulation within a dwelling'. There should be a minimum clear headroom of 2.1m within WC compartments, except for areas where it is permitted to have a lower height.

Technical Guidance Document M, available on the Building Regulations app provides guidance on the provision of WC’s within dwellings, the diagram below is an extract from that document.

Diagram HM3 - Examples of WC cubicles for visitable housing- Extract from TGD M

Smaller dwellings

In dwellings having a floor area of less than 45sqm on the storey in which the WC is provided it is possible to provide a smaller WC compartment. The door should have a minimum clear opening as detailed in 'Horizontal circulation within a dwelling' above although, the use of a larger door, sliding door or folding door may make wheelchair access easier.

The headroom available within the WC compartment should be a minimum if 2.1m when measured from the front of the WC pan.

Technical Guidance Document M, available on the Building Regulations app provides guidance on the provision of WC’s within dwellings, the diagram below is an extract from that document.

Diagram HM4 - Example of WC compartment for small dwellings - Extract from TGD M

*Switches and sockets in dwellings

Light Switches

Light switches within accessible areas should be located between 900mm to 1200mm above finished floor level.

Entry Equipment

Any equipment that is intended for use in gaining access to the dwelling i.e. doorbells, entry phones etc. should be located between 900mm to 1200mm above finished floor level.

Control Devices

The height requirements detailed in 'Light Switches' and 'Entry Equipment' are applicable to all control devices unless otherwise stated within the manufacturer’s installation guidelines.

Sockets

Sockets and associated switches located within accessible areas for lighting and other general use should be located at an appropriate height between 400mm to 1200mm above finished floor level. This requirement does not however apply to sockets that will be used for appliances that are always connected during normal use i.e. fridge, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher etc.