Whatever kind of project you’re planning, the chances are you’ll be affected by the UK Building Regulations at some point. We’ve already covered one of the most notable regulations Part F in our previous blog post and today we’re going to take a look at another key: Part M.
What is Building Regulation Part M focused on?
Part M is based around the importance of access to and the use of buildings, and under the regulations it’s a legal requirement to provide easy access to all parts of the building for all visitors, including anyone who’s disabled.
The documentation is split into three main areas:
- M4(1) – Visitable dwellings
- M4(2) – Accessible and adaptable dwellings
- M4(3) – Wheelchair user dwelling
M4(1) is considered to be met when any new dwelling makes reasonable provision for most people – wheelchair users included – to enter the building, and to access all the habitable rooms and sanitary facilities on the entrance storey.
What classes as ‘reasonable’?
- When it is possible to approach and gain access to the dwelling within its curtilage.
- When the dwelling can be accessed from the most likely point of alighting a car.
- When a disabled person capable of walking can visit any of the dwellings within a building containing multiple (i.e. when they can access every flat in a block).
- When visitors can access and use the habitable rooms and a WC within the entrance storey of the dwelling.
- When the habitable rooms and the WC are located on the entrance storey and the access between them is step free.
- When all wall-mounted switches and socket outlets in habitable rooms are reasonably accessible to anyone with reduced reach.
Approach routes represent a key part of Part M, and the following key requirements are currently in place:
- The approach route to the dwelling should be both safe and convenient for any visitors, including older and disabled people as well as some wheelchair users. Where possible, the approach should be step-fee and adopt the shallowest gradient.
- Where necessary, the approach should also be ramped, and set to be level or gently sloping. If the plot itself is steeply sloping, then a stepped approach can be used.
- If these provisions cannot be applied to the main entrance, then access should be provided to a suitable alternate entrance.
- All external parts of the route must have a suitable ground surface.
- The approach route must be a minimum of 900mm wide with a maximum cross fall of 1 in 40.
- If a driveway forms all – or part of – the approach route, an additional allowance of at least 900mm must be provided to allow any wheelchair users to pass a parked car.
The principal communal entrance door of the building containing the dwelling needs to comply with the following:
- It must have a clear opening width of 775mm
- Any threshold will be considered an accessibly threshold
- The ground surface (or entrance flooring) must not impede wheelchairs.
M4(2) and M4(3)
Though these are ‘optional’ requirements, we’ll cover the basics of both here:
M4(2) – Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings
This requirement will be met when a new dwelling makes reasonable provision for most people to access it, and incorporates features to make it suitable to a wide range of occupants.
‘Reasonable’ provision will be classed as having adhered to the following requirements:
- If it is possible to access and also gain step-free access to the dwelling, any associated parking space and any communal facilities.
- If there is step-free access to the WV and any other accommodation within the entrance storey, and to any associated private outdoors space directly connected to the entrance storey.
- If a wide range of people – including older people, disabled visitors or wheelchair users – can use the accommodation and its sanitary facilities.
- If features are provided that enable common adaptations to be carried out in future, so as to increase the accessibility and functionality of the building.
- If wall-mounted switches, socket outlets and other controls are reasonable accessibly to people with reduced reach.
M4(3) – Wheelchair User Dwellings
Under Part M, this optional requirement will be met when the dwelling makes reasonable provision for wheelchair users to live in the dwelling and make use of any parking facilities, private outdoor space or communal spaces.
Under this regulation, ‘reasonable’ provision will be classed as the following:
- A wheelchair user can approach and gain step-free access to every private entrance to the dwelling, and to every associated private outdoor and parking space, as well as any communal areas.
- Access to the WC and other accommodation within the entrance storey is step-free, and the dwelling is designed to provide step-free access to all other parts
- There is sufficient internal space to make accommodation for any wheelchair user.
- The dwelling is wheelchair adaptable, and key parts of the accommodation – including sanitary facilities and kitchens – can easily be altered to meet the needs of a wheelchair user.
- Wall-mounted switches, controls and socket outlets are accessible to people with reduced reach.
Building Regulations Part M – how to find out more
The key documents relating to building regulations part M covers these areas – as well as others – in more detail, and you should take the time to familiarise yourself with it here.