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Ok - do i really need to put in a sprinkler system?

(25 Posts)
thegrumpallo Tue 28-Nov-17 17:38:58

we're looking into converting our loft which would turn our house into a 4 storey (ground + 3 floors) building. Apparently in order to comply with current fire safety regs we'd need to either re-partition our recently rennovated (!!!!!) front room to create a totally fire safe escape route or, install a mist/sprinkler system.

wtf. really? can somebody help me please - we are looking at an additional £3-4K here, for work that we actually don't want to do on the house. definitely DO NOT want a wall in my tiny front room. what are our alternatives? are there any??

Sparkle331 Tue 28-Nov-17 17:40:42

Have you actually had any quotes?
Only mist is usually more expensive than sprinklers.

OldWitch00 Tue 28-Nov-17 17:43:33

If it’s the law it’s the law. You have a choice, personally sprinkler sounds nicer.

thegrumpallo Tue 28-Nov-17 17:49:46

yes i've been quoted £4K for a mist system. apparently there's the option of putting a non-permanent partitioning wall through my front room in order to pass building control inspection hmm

AlannaOfTrebond Tue 28-Nov-17 17:55:32

From my understanding of building regs that sounds correct. It is about having a protected escape route, ie the route from the top floor down the stairs to the door should be enclosed and have 30 minute fire resistance.

A domestic sprinkler or mist system is a relatively new way around this and means that you can keep your lovely open plan space and still comply with building regs.

If it's any consolation, just imagine a fire starting in your living room and being unable to escape as you can't get down the stairs safely.

CannotEvenThink Tue 28-Nov-17 17:56:33

Well yes protecting an escape route for those on the upper floor is rather important.

Sparkle331 Tue 28-Nov-17 18:10:16

I wouldn't do the partitioning wall, It would probably invalidate your home insurance if there was a fire, And also can you imagine not being able to escape if you did have a fire 😱
We had to have a sprinkler system, We went with a company called Sprinkler Tech who were really good, and did their best to keep our costs down smile

allegretto Tue 28-Nov-17 18:13:26

After seeing the fire damage to my friend's top floor flat this weekend I would definitely get a sprinkler. The flat under hers caught fire but she lost her roof.

johnd2 Tue 28-Nov-17 20:08:06

Not being funny but why would you not want a safe route out in a fire?.

With all respect to them, even with current building regs, it wasn't enough for the poor grenfell residents. So see the regs as an absolute minimum standard not an obstacle.

SparklyMagpie Tue 28-Nov-17 20:12:00

johnd2 agree with you completely

Couldn't help but think of the Grenfell victims, although this is obviously different

I guess it depends on the price you're willing to pay in the event of a fire OP

venys Tue 28-Nov-17 21:47:12

We are in the same boat. Technically speaking the regs do actually allow you to escape from the first floor as long as you have FD30 doors and windows with the right dimensions. Problem is, the fire regs are just a your building control officer can say he/she wants more. We looked at the sprinkler system, but we simply don't have the space for the pump as we never extended our house. So I have literally had to design the staircase to be enclosed with a door at the bottom of the stairs. I am hoping this is ok as I need this done and dusted. (Building work started 2.5 years ago). It's rubbish from an.aesthetic pov but there you go. Probably best we be Alive should the worst happen.

pomegranita Wed 29-Nov-17 07:29:56

An acquaintance managed to get round this with a fire curtain - which had a sensor to shut part of the house off automatically if a fire was detected. Not a cheap option I suspect, and I’ll bet there are regular (expensive) servicing charges.
I don’t know who they used but for example:

venys Wed 29-Nov-17 10:21:08

I can't remember the price for fire curtain but I think it was at least £7-£8k each. The problem I have with these solutions is that if it is not your forever house and it's quite modest, you will probably never get your money back on it in the current housing climate. Not that you should put a price on your lives, but it is a LOT of money.

VivienneWestwoodsKnickers Wed 29-Nov-17 10:23:34

Another vote for "what part of the Grenfell Tower disaster is unclear"?

The option is literally life or death. For £4k, if you need it it'll seem a very small price to pay.

Angryosaurus Wed 29-Nov-17 10:57:33

Would glass fire doors be an option downstairs at all? Are you working with an architect? They may be able to suggest an acceptable solution.

venys Wed 29-Nov-17 11:14:43

You are lucky in some respects that the loft company will sort it out for you though - and yes there are glass doors available. Fire rated glazing for partitions are also £££. What I have found is that no one wants to help us on a retrospective means of the loft is already there as no fire engineers do single occupancy residential buildings. And no builders want to do the paperwork and a small job. I am disappointed to say that I am not surprised the Grenfell disaster happened. The industry is a bit of a mess on this respect.

venys Wed 29-Nov-17 11:16:06

Sorry sentences read a bit wrong, but there are a few options out there for you . Best get the loft conversion company involved as they should know the regs.

SKIOPPP Thu 30-Nov-17 18:43:18

We had the same issue (4 storey Vic terrace) with open plan everything. Options were (1) build temp partitions or (2) sprinkler system. Took the pill and went with (2) for safety / insurance reasons. Also our doggy is home alone often so can't hurt. Went with a company called watergate sprinklers. 2 floors, 6 nozzles, mains connected sprinkler system came to 2.5k all in...well, plus the 3k Thames Water mains upgrade to 5cm mains (which was needed anyways given old led pipes). They also offered to put a 1000l tank into garden rather than upgrading mains which would have been slightly cheaper. All in all its 2.5k I won't see again but if something ever happens I at least know we'll be insured and fine (well, apart from the 1000l per hour being pumped into the house)

thegrumpallo Thu 30-Nov-17 18:44:45

thanks for replies... didn't mean to do a runner. I do understand that fire risk is something that needs to be priority managed.

Ta1kinPeace Thu 30-Nov-17 18:50:04

Grenfell is frankly not comparable to a single domestic property.

In a house extension, you have to have 30 minute fire doors through the house
but they do not have to be closed
so its all totally irrelevant.

And if there is a safer exit route down the outside of the building they shrug their shoulders

Probably why such a high proportion of UK houses do not have Building Regs sign off

FlameCrestedTanager Fri 01-Dec-17 14:25:22

Can anyone who's done this comment on how destructive the fitting of the system is? We have beautiful cornice and picture rail that I'm worried about damaging but we would also need a sprinkler system if we go for a loft conversion.

dumpylittlepixie Sat 02-Dec-17 17:23:33

Sprinkler systems are normally installed in a similar way to central heating. So no pipework on show just the flat white disk of the head. So a retro fit would mean rolling back the carpets and lifting a few floor boards.

FlameCrestedTanager Sat 02-Dec-17 20:22:50


Thanks! That's very reassuring, means that potential loft conversion is back on the agenda for future plans.

Does it need a pump? If so, where does that go? We had a new kitchen fitted just 18 months ago so would be reluctant to make space there (plus it's a teeny galley kitchen - 1.6m x 3m).

dumpylittlepixie Sat 02-Dec-17 20:51:55

It really will depend if it will work off the mains. If not a tank and pump will be required. Allowing for up to two heads activating for a residential cat 1 system you will need somewhere between 600 -1000 litre tank, depending on what type of sprinkler heads are used. So you would need anywhere between 60 - 100 litres per minute with a pressure of 1.5 -2 bar. Tanks can be put under stairs or more commonly in a small shed outside with a pump that is roughly 400x 250 mm.
If the flow rate to your house is good but the pressure is low just a booster pump could be used wherever the mains comes into the property.

FlameCrestedTanager Sun 03-Dec-17 10:11:33

Thanks so much pixie smile

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