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Balustrade Regulations UK: Important Regs to Understand

Building regulations, no matter how strict, should always be followed to protect the users from any injury, and to keep your home or business space safe.

What are the building regulations for balustrades in the UK?

The important building regulations to be aware of in the UK for balustrades are height requirements, strength requirements, balustrade spacing, guard rails, and handrails. You may also need to consider getting it signed off by building control.

One of the important building regulation documents can be found in document K of the UK Gov website here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/996860/Approved_Document_K.pdf

Guarding also has to resist at least the loads given in BS EN 1991-1-1 with its UK National Annex and PD 6688-1-1.

Commercial buildings will often have greater required provisions than single family dwellings.

What is the regulation for balustrade height in the UK?

For a single-family dwelling, the height of your balustrade on an internal structure must be at least 900mm, if it’s protecting a drop of 600mm or more (such as internal staircases or mezzanine balconies). On an external structure, it must be at least 1100mm in height (such as balconies or outdoor stairs).

For other buildings (residential, institutional, educational, office, public buildings, and retail), the drop protection limit decreases to 380mm, as it has to mitigate the increased risk that comes with people being less familiar with the area, and the increase in the number of people. The minimum height of balustrade for these buildings is 900mm for flights, and 1100mm for all other locations – this applies to both internal and external barriers.

What is the maximum gap between balustrades?

The 100mm gap rule stated in document K (linked above) is that a 100mm sphere should not be able to fit through any opening in the balustrade or stairs guarding. This is to prevent anyone (particularly small children) from becoming stuck. Horizontal rails should also be avoided to discourage climbing.

Document K does state that this is for when a building may be used by children under 5 years of age.

Is it illegal not to have a banister in the UK?

A banister is not necessarily required in the UK, and frameless glass balustrades are very popular. The only requirement is that it meets building regulations, and so it does not necessarily have to have a continuous handrail. The key here is the glass type, you require laminated glass to have a frameless balustrade system, whereas toughened glass requires a handrail.

Do I need planning permission to install railings?

In most cases, you won’t need planning permission to install railings on your own property. There will be a 1m total boundary height requirement for railings within 3m of the road, or a 2m height limit if over 3m from the road. Listed buildings and conservation areas have different rules.

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