Loft conversions are not difficult projects to complete and they can add significant value to any home. A converted attic can be used for many purposes: extra bedroom, bathroom, study, play area, home office or a guest room. Whatever your intended use for the loft, safety must always be the primary concern, fire safety in particular.
Before proceeding with any loft conversion work, whether carried out by you or a professional company, it is essential that you seek advice from the local council to ensure you are adhering to building regulations. On many occasions, loft conversions can be completed without the need for planning permission, but it is always recommended that you contact your local authority. They will also be able to provide you with help and advice on loft fire safety.
The floorboards used in a loft conversion must not only be strong enough to support loading from furniture, bathroom fittings and the like, they must also provide at least 30 minutes of fire resistance. This will give enough time for occupants to escape in the event of the fire.
Plasterboard is used to cover all roof joists and any stud walls that have been erected. It is important that fire resistant plasterboard is used. These boards are generally pink in colour; Gyproc Fireline, GTEC Lafarge Fire Board and Knauf Fireshield are all recommended choices.
It is always recommended that an escape window is installed in the roof of the house; this will provide a route out of the property in the event of a fire. Velux manufacture large escape windows designed specifically for loft conversions. An escape window should always be easy to get to and be located at eaves level, this will aided in rescue from outside.
Whether you have an escape window installed in the loft or not, fire doors are essential. All doors should provide 20 minutes fire resistance and be of at least FD20 grade. FD30 doors are also available should you want extra security. Intumescent strips which are fitted to the door and on the inside of the door frame are also essential in preventing smoke from filling a room.
Probably the most obvious piece of equipment in fire safety, smoke detectors are essential to meet building regulations. Rooms that are above ground level carry an increased risk of fire and a properly fitted smoke alarm can be the difference between life and death.