What is the building regulation height for balustrades in residential applications?

Please note information in this article particularly relates to single-family dwellings, different regulations apply to buildings with other uses.

It is important to remember that the safety of the occupants of the building is paramount and in some instances it is better to go beyond what building regulations actually require!

Residential Curved Balcony

Introduction

When assessing the need for a barrier, the type of barrier to be provided or the design criteria for a barrier, you should remember to not only take into account building regulation requirements but to also give due consideration to the likely hazards, the building use and the risks to building users.
If more than one use of the building is anticipated it is generally recommended that the barrier design should be chosen to suit the worst case scenario.

Where are balustrades required?

Document K and BS6180 require all flights, landings and raised areas in single-family dwellings where the difference in adjacent levels is greater than 600mm to be guarded. This would include any part of a floor, gallery, balcony, roof (including roof lights and other openings),any light well, basement or similar sunken area next to a building or any other place to which people have access.
It is important to note that in buildings other than dwellings, guarding is required where there is a difference greater than 380mm. This is to take into account the greater number of building users and their possible lack of familiarity with the layout.

Curved Residential

With this in mind many customers prefer to install balustrades wherever there is a difference greater than 380mm, even in single-family dwellings. After all, 600mm is a considerable distance to fall, particularly for a child or elderly person!

So what is the regulation balustrade height for residential applications?

The regulation minimum heights are specified in table 1 of BS6180 and also in building regulation Document K. It is important to note that the height is dependent on the location within the building as follows:

Building Use Balustrade Position Min. height from finished floor level
Single-Family Dwelling a) barriers in front of a window 800mm
b) stairs, landings, ramps, edges of internal floors 900mm
c) external balconies including Juliette balconies, edges of roofs 1100mm

Many customers find that although a 900mm balustrading guarding an internal landing or void meets regulations it doesn’t feel or seem safe. We find in most instances our customers prefer the balustrade to be 1000mm to 1100mm high on internal landings and around internal voids.

Wall handrail heights on the raking part of stairs should be between 900mm to 1000mm, measured from the pitch line of the stairs to the top of the handrail.

Important point to note!

The height of barriers installed on top of low parapet walls (or similar application) should be measured from the top of the parapet and not from the finished floor level. This is because the low parapet wall could constitute a step therefore reducing the effectiveness of the barrier.

A possible work around to this application is to mount the balustrade to the inside of the wall rather than the top. We call this a side mounted balustrade.

Information is given as a guide and is not intended to be exhaustive. It remains the reader’s responsibility to take specific independent advice and to comply with local legislation. Taken from BSS5395, EN1991, BS6180, BS8300, Doc. K

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