A year since Approved Document Q took effect Geoff Wilkinson looks again at the requirements for security to new dwellings
I’m sure by now most architects are aware that Part Q of the Regulations requires that reasonable provision must be made to prevent unauthorised access to any dwelling.This means doors and windows which can be accessed need to be able to resist physical attack, be sufficiently robust, be fitted with appropriate hardware and, most importantly, be proven to have security performance. Since the requirement has come in we have seen a number of issues regularly crop up that architects should be aware of.
Firstly, the regulations apply to all easily accessible doors and windows, not just front doors. So, for example, any window which is within 2m vertically of an accessible level surface such as an access balcony, or a flat roof, or even a shallow sloping roof (with a pitch of less than 30°) within 3.5m of ground level needs to comply with Part Q. This is often forgotten. The regulations also apply to common parts of a building from which access can be gained to a flat within that building, as well as the flat doors themselves.
It costs several thousand pounds to test a door set so a one-off product would be unfeasibly expensive to test
The easiest way to comply with the approved document is to specify products that are listed on the Secured by Design (SBD) New Homes 2014 website, as these meet and often exceed the Building Regulations requirements.
This approach is fine in most cases. However it is quite limiting in terms of choice of product, so what to do in those cases? There are, essentially, three options:
1: Test evidence
Test reports can be obtained which exactly match the specification of the product that the manufacturer is supplying. In most cases the sizes of the doors or windows will vary, so you need test reports for each and every size specified. The certificates from the manufacturer should prove that the products they are purchasing have been proven by test to comply with PAS 24:2012.
Alternatively, another standard that has equivalent or better performance, such as STS 201, LPS 1175, STS 202 or LPS 2081 can be used.
However, keep an eye out for popular imported products which are tested to EN1627. EN 1627 can be used as an alternative route but the products will additionally need to demonstrate compliance with Annexe A of PAS 24. Typically this means they meet category RC2N of burglar resistance. Any glazed area must have laminated glass meeting the requirements of BSEN356:200, class P1A.
2: Third party certification
The second option is for the manufacturer to obtain third party certification on an enhanced security scheme from a recognised United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) body, with a scope of approval that includes the product that is being supplied. Again, SBD New Homes 2014 has lists of these certification bodies, and compliant manufacturers are listed on the SBD website.
Approval is based on the certification body putting its name to the variations from the tested product, to give it the same credibility as test evidence. However, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy and in light of the Department for Communities and Local Government/BRE tests on cladding, it is clear that variations from tested products may result in failures and in future the acceptability of mix-and-match and untested products may be called into question, so it is safer to specify a tested product.
3: Bespoke doors
The Approved Document includes Appendix B, which allows the manufacturer to build doorsets to a pre-determined specification. This is important, as it costs several thousand pounds to test a door set and, if this is a one-off product, it would simply be unfeasibly expensive to test it.
Architects should be aware that going down this route is very limiting on design and that there are a number of requirements that have little flexibility and all of which must be adhered to. These are:
a) This route is only for doors. There is currently no bespoke window option.
b) The door size cannot exceed 1m wide by 2m high, ruling out most patio doors.
c) Where the doors are timber, only hardwood will meet the requirement for density.
d) Dimensions of rails, stiles, rebates and panels – the maximum size is 230mm in one direction, so a typical two or four-panel door will not comply and the minimum thickness of any rebate is 32mm.
e) In terms of the door furniture, multipoint locks are required and hinges should not be exposed.
f) Letterplate size and positioning is limited to prevent people reaching through to steal keys.
g) High-security glazing is required, this includes beading, which should be glued and screwed in place.
While Part Q currently only applies to new dwellings, it includes those newly formed by material alterations and changes of use, such as flat conversions, and it is quite likely that the requirement will in future also be extended to cover extensions to dwellings.
Geoff Wilkinson is managing director of Wilkinson Construction Consultants www.thebuildinginspector.org
This article originally appeared in the December issue of AJ Specification