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Last edited 03 Apr 2019
Approved Document B
- What qualifies as ‘building work’ and so falls under the control of the regulations.
- What types of buildings are exempt.
- The notification procedures that must be followed when starting, carrying out, and completing building work.
- Requirements for specific aspects of building design and construction.
- Approved Document B (fire safety) volume 1: dwellinghouses.
- Approved Document B (fire safety) volume 2: buildings other than dwellinghouses.
The most recent editions were published in January 2013 and came into effect in April 2013. They replaced Approved Document B (2006) which incorporated 2010 amendments. The main changes brought in by the 2013 edition included:
- The general guidance on materials and workmanship and the Construction Products Directive was revised and a reference to Approved Document 7 included.
- The standard for smoke alarms was updated to BS EN 14604 Smoke alarm devices.
The contents of the Approved Documents includes:
- Section B1: Means of warning and escape. This covers fire detection and fire alarm systems as well as means of escape. Volume 2 also includes means of escape from flats, design for horizontal escape in buildings other than flats, design for vertical escape, and general provisions.
- Section B2: Internal fire spread (linings). Covering the classification of wall and ceiling linings, and thermoplastic materials.
- Section B3: Internal fire spread (structure). Loadbearing elements of structure, compartmentation, concealed spaces (cavities), protection of openings and fire-stopping. Volume 2 also covers special provisions for car parks and shopping complexes.
- Section B4: External fire spread. Construction of external walls, space separation, and roof coverings.
- Section B5: Access and facilities for the fire and rescue service. Volume 2 also covers fire mains and hydrants, and the venting of heat and smoke from basements.
- Appendix A: Performance of materials, products and structures.
- Appendix B: Fire doors.
- Appendix C: Methods of measurement.
- Appendix D: Purpose groups.
- Appendix E: Definitions.
- (Volume 1) Appendix F: Standards and other publications referred to.
- (Volume 2) Appendix F: Fire behavior of insulating core panels used for internal structures.
- (Volume 2) Appendix G: Fire safety information.
- (Volume 2) Appendix H: Standards and other publications referred to.
 Amendments to statutory guidance on assessments in lieu of tests
On 28 July 2017, following the Grenfell Tower fire, then-Communities Secretary Sajid Javid MP announced an independent review of the building regulations and fire safety. For more information, see Independent review of the building regulations and fire safety.
In April 2018, the Ministry of Housing published a consultation paper which is proposing to limit or stop the use of desktop studies for assessing the fire performance of external cladding systems. This is intended to strengthen fire testing for cladding systems on residential buildings.
Views are sought on whether calculations-based desktop studies, as opposed to actual physical tests, are appropriate for all construction products. If they are deemed to be appropriate, the proposed changes include:
- Transparency of assessments.
- Proper scrutiny of test results.
- Ensuring studies can be carried out only by properly accredited bodies.
The revisions contained in the consultation paper 'Amendments to statutory guidance on assessments in lieu of test in Approved Document B (Fire Safety)', are a result of the recommendations made by the interim Hackitt report published in 2017.
In July 2018, the government announced it was to launch a full-scale review of Approved Document B in the autumn of 2018 to clarify and reduce the complexity of fire safety guidance in the Building Regulations following the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt.
The aim of this technical review will be to assess whether, in light of modern building practices, latest understanding of fire risks and scientific innovations, the underlying guidance should be updated.
Communities secretary James Brokenshire said; "Dame Judith’s report sets out the right framework to improve safety but I will not hesitate to go further than the recommendations where I deem it necessary. That is why I am going further than my original commitment to simply clarify the guidelines, by commencing an end-to-end technical review of the fire safety aspects of building regulations in the autumn.”
Changes to the approved document came into force on 21 December 2018 and can be seen at: Changes to approved document B following the Hackitt review.
The government launched a call for evidence for the technical review of approved document B on 18 December. Ref https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/technical-review-of-approved-document-b-of-the-building-regulations-a-call-for-evidence
The consultation closes on 1 March 2019.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- ACM cladding.
- Addressing building failures: Grenfell Tower and Edinburgh schools.
- Approved documents.
- Approved inspector.
- BS 5839-1.
- BS 9999.
- Building regulations.
- Changes to approved document B following the Hackitt review.
- Desktop study.
- External wall insulation.
- Fire and rescue service.
- Fire inspector.
- Fire safety design.
- Material of limited combustibility.
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