The new Part K of the Building Regulations

by Bregs Blog admin team


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The following contribution was sent by Isabel Barros MRIAI on 16th September 2014. 

The new Part K of the Building Regulations

The new Part K of the Building Regulations will come into effect on 1st of January 2015.

In general, Building Regulations apply to the construction of new buildings and to extensions and material alterations to buildings. In addition, certain parts of the Regulations apply to existing buildings where a material change of use takes place. Otherwise, Building Regulations do not apply to buildings constructed prior to 1 June, 1992.

Part K of the Building Regulations provides technical guidance for Stairways, Ladders, Ramps and Guards and can be downloaded here.

The new Part K does not have major changes, the main one is probably the (small) increase in the handrail height.

The following notes provide an overview of the changes I observed:

  • Par. 1.1.4  – Table 1 – Rise, going and pitch

The Optimum going for Semi-public stairs was increased to 300 mm (Part K, 1997 required 275 mm). The rest of the table remains unchanged.

  •  Par. 1.1.6 – Tapered steps

Method for measuring remains unchanged but the benchmark changed to 1000 mm (from 900 mm in Part K, 1997).

  • Par. 1.1.17 – Handrails

The height of the handrail was increased and the underlined text was added:

“The top surface of the handrail should be between 900 mm and 1000 mm measured vertically above the pitch line, and between 900 mm and 1100 mm above the landing. Handrails should give firm support.”

(Part K, 1997 required a height of between 840 mm and 900 mm).

  • Par. 1.1.19 – Guarding

Horizontal railings are clearly discouraged (also in Par. 2.6).

Note the new (quite restrictive) addition if using cut strings:

“The triangular space formed by the tread and riser is not allowable to stairs in dwellings and common stairs in blocks of flats.”

  • Par. 1.1.20– Diagram 6 – Guarding design

The height of the guarding for stairways and ramps in single family dwellings was increased to 900 mm (Part K, 1997 required a height of 840 mm).

Part K_Fig 1


  • Par. 1.2.1 – Ramps

Length of individual flight of ramp between 1:12 and 1:20 increased to 10 m (Part K, 1997 required 9 m).

  • Par. 1.2.5 – Handrails in ramps

The height of the handrail is now required to be between 900 mm and 1000 mm (Part K, 1997 required handrail height to be between 840 mm and 900 mm).

  • Par. 2.4 – Pedestrian Guarding

A new diagram was included to assist in understanding the requirements.

Part K_Fig 2

  • Par. 2.7 – Prevention of falls from windows (NEW SECTION)

This is a new section and requires the provision of Safety Restrictors in dwellings where a window has an opening section through which a person may fall, and is more than 1400 mm above external ground level.

Part K_Fig 3


The content of this article is provided for information purposes only. It is not a definitive legal interpretation of building control law. For more information, you should consult your technical adviser or Local Authority Building Control. No responsibility for loss or damage caused to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material included in this article can be accepted by the author. Read more by the author on her blog “Isabel Barros Architects – Blog | design + energy + excellence ¦ Wexford Architects

Other posts of interest:

Part J (2014): Carbon monoxide detectors mandatory 1 September

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L…

Practical Post 24: New Part K & J of Building Regulations

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9