Adaptation gone wrong...?
13/07/2011 5:54 pm
My landlord has started a works programme which includes adding a level access ramp to the front of communal flats. For some reason they haven't included handrails.
I'd like to know what people's view are on the absence of handrails to go with the ramp? My understanding is this is contrary to best practice and current regulations.
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13/07/2011 9:10 pm
I notice in your post that you say that your landlord "has started a works programme" - if the ramp has been finished in the last day or so, then it may simply be that the builder is allowing some drying time before fixing the handrails (that is if it is a brickwork ramp).
However, to answer your question, yes, your understanding is correct - ramps should be fitted with handrails on both sides. I suggest you discuss your concerns with your landlord as soon as possible.
In case you need further details, the requirements that need to be observed when constructing a ramp are laid out in Part M (Approved Document M) of schedule 1 of the Building Regulations. If you search on-line, I'm sure you will find out further details, you may even be able to downnload a copy of Part M.
Best of luck
13/07/2011 10:04 pm
Thanks for the info Simon.
We got a schedule of the work and there's no mention of handrails. Plus we asked the contractors and they confirmed there were no rails.
At first glance of the regulations it refers alot to non-domestic dwellings. But I guess the communal entrance area is classed as a shared part of the building, so Part M applies. Would that be the correct interpretation?
22/07/2011 2:48 pm
If the ramp is on a single dwelling / domestic property, there is no handrail required unless specified by the O/T.
On non-domestic properties a handrail would have to be fitted. The handrail would need to be a min of 900mm above surface level, gauge of 42mm, through-hand access (i.e. hand can go round rail), where necessary a lower handrail at 600mm for children and people of short stature (i.e. schools). should not be cold to the touch.
Gradient levels to non-domestic 1:12 for a distance no more than 2mts.
Gradient levels to domestics 1:12 for a distance of no more than 5mts.
22/07/2011 2:51 pm
In Section 1 of the Building Regs Part M 1991 and 2004 it does state handrails should be provided to both sides of any ramps or stairs which are continuous, easy grip and slip resistant. There should also be upstands measuring 100mm on both sides to act as a kerb to ensure wheelchairs/pushchairs don't roll off. In some cases if a ramp is regraded so the slope is a gradual rise you wouldn't necessarily need a handrail.
However, some organisations would always provide handrails to any installed ramp/slope as it is a vulnerable point of access and would therefore regard this as best practise.
The provisions in the regulations "are expected to enable occupants with disabilities to cope better with reducing mobility and to "stay put" longer in their own homes."
If there are no plans to install handrails, I would advise the customer to speak to their landlord and refer to the approved Building Regs Part M guidance published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
23/07/2011 3:01 pm
Building Regs part M is the statutory guidance, but there's plenty of other good practice guidance available.
British Standards BS8300:2009 section 5.8 - provides information and diagrams of external ramped access layouts.
I would always fit an external handrail to a ramp particularly as this is a communal entrance so multiple users will need to access - wheelchair users, scooters, walking equipment - sticks, frames, child buggies / prams, delivery trolleys, staff etc etc and if the facility is well designed then hopefully this will meet the needs of any future residents / users aswell and reduce the need for any further adaptations and retrospective / costly works.
Other good practice things to consider is encorporating a level platform, appropriate gradient of slope, appropriate upstand, slip resistant surfacing, colour contrasting handrail, external lighting - all stated in any inclusive design guidance.
If space and cost allows its good practice to have a couple of access options - external steps and ramped / inclined entrances to give users options and choices. Some people with visual impairments may find steps and a handrail safer than a sloping path.
Tactile paving may also be beneficial - see department of transports - inclusive mobility document, section 5.8 - ramps and steps.
RIBA publishing - also do a very useful booklet called - Access Audit Handbook ISBN 1 85946 177 8 which outlines service providers legal duty under DDA (now the Equality Act 2010). This guidance also contains a really useful DVD which explains why this duty is necessary.
Hope this is useful (and not too complicated!).
26/07/2011 3:36 pm
Thanks for all the advice - it was really useful incase my landlord 'forgets' to install the ramp...
Madj 23/07/2011 3:01pm - I don't suppose you know anything about the regulations relating to front doors, which lead directly onto the communal area of a block of flats? I've read somewhere they should be treated as a component of the block rather than the individual flat. And as such should meet today's standards for fire safety / security etc.
27/07/2011 9:34 am
hi, hope you get your rails provided!
re: regulations to front doors,
Do you mean the front door to each individual flat once you are inside the complex? or the main communal front door?
I would imagine that the main communal front door needs to comply with fire and security regulations as under building regs. Any concerns you may have you could contact your local authority fire safety officer. I've done visits with them to ensure that emergency egress issues are resolved appropriately within certain adaptations schemes.
Regarding security of individual flat doors - i suppose this would need to be discussed with the facilities management team for that building. If the main communal front door and other external doors are all secure then individual flat doors may not require anything particularly sophisticated. You may want to check what your buildings and contents insurance policy stipulates though.
I'm not as informed around security / fire risks and would probably seek further advice. I have however been involved in providing appropriate door opening devices and automatic door openers for people with disabilities unable to operate keys / standard door handles. These types of issues fall under the disability access Part M and local authourity equipment and adaptations services.
The issues I hear from tenants in communal buildings do relate to security particularly when an automatic door opening system has been fitted to the main front communal door which has a timer delay to allow a person with restricted mobility / delivery people etc to get into the property, this sometimes increases security issues by opportunists getting into the building before the timer delay closes the doors. Not sure of the answer to this other than perhaps CCTV / monitor as disability access is also important but security could be compromised.
27/07/2011 12:18 pm
Funnily enough - I have just read a local online story of a lady with access problems very similar to what my previous post talked about
Issues like this need to be properly considered weighing up all the options - providing disability access under the equality act whilst considering security issues aswell.