Porth Cynllunio

  1. Building Regulations (cy)
  2. Approved documents
  3. Approved Document M (Access to and Use of Buildings)
  4. Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Dim ar gael Cyfieithu Cymraeg

Dim ond yn Saesneg y mae’r adran hon o’r wefan ar gael ar hyn o bryd. Hoffem ymddiheuro am unrhyw drafferth y mae hynny’n ei beri.

Approved Document M - Volume 1: Dwellings (Coming into Force October 1 2015)


Q. Why is there a 300mm nib shown adjacent to the door on the right hand side?

A. This meets requirement 2.3 d) where a door opens inwards (shown dotted).



Q. Must ramps be at a gradient of 1:12?

A. It is possible that some ramped approaches may incorporate gradients of 1:12, but in general a ramped approach should have gradients in accordance with lengths and rise shown in diagram 2.1.



Q. Must ramps be at a gradient of 1:12?

A. No – this is an error. A ramped approach should have gradients in accordance with lengths and rise shown in the diagram 3.1, and gradients of 1:12 are not permissible in approach routes to Category 3 dwellings.



Q. Note 2 suggests that the turning circle should be ‘clear of the top step’ – what does this mean?

A. There is a risk that when a wheelchair user exits the lift they could manoeuvre dangerously close to the top step of a flight of stairs depending on the layout of the landing area. Consideration needs to be given to ensuring a reasonable distance between the top step and the edge of the manoeuvring circle.



Q. Are semi-pedestal basins permissible in bathrooms?

A. The intent is that wheelchair users are able to approach and use the basin. Typically this requires some space at low level below the basins for an approach to be made and for full pedestal basins to be avoided. Semi pedestal basins types are permissible, and providing that it can be demonstrated that a wheelchair user can approach the basin, the lower extent of the basin may be lower than the typical range of 400-600mm above finished floor level.



Q. Does the 1000x100mm zone adjacent to the WC shown in diagram 3.11 need to be outside or inside the 450-500mm dimension from wall to centre line of WC?

A. Preferably this should be within the 450-500mm zone.



Q. Paragraph 3.41 Note 3 sets out that a bath may reasonably be positioned over the level access shower in properties up to 4 bedrooms. Is this acceptable in wheelchair accessible properties or only in wheelchair adaptable properties?

A. Wheelchair accessible properties must always provide an accessible shower as a minimum at the point that the properties are complete.



Q. Paragraph 3.43 d sets out that a shower should be positioned in the corner of a room to enable easy access to controls – but diagram 3.17 shows the shower adjacent to the bath. Which is correct?

A. It is always preferable for a shower to be positioned in the corner of the bathroom, and this should be the case wherever possible. It is permissible for a shower to be away from the corner as shown in diagram 3.17, but only where both a bath and a shower are in the same room and the shower can be increased in area at a later date.



Q. Must a single bedroom include a 1200x600mm wardrobe?

A. As set out in the furniture schedule a 1200x600mm double wardrobe is preferable to accommodate additional storage required for assistive aids , but where the circulation requirements cannot be met within the minimum bedroom area, a 600x600mm wardrobe would be reasonable as an alternative in demonstrating a compliant layout.



Q. Do grab rails and drop-down rails need to be fitted in new dwellings?

A. Reasonable provision should be made in the layout and structure of dwellings to make it easy to fit these features later, to suit any specific needs of the householder.

Note that in buildings other than dwellings, Approved Document M (Access to and use of buildings) specifies where grab rails and drop down rails should be fitted that meet the most common needs of disabled people.

Approved Document M - Access to and Use of Buildings (incorporating 2010 and 2013 amendments)


Q. What are the current regulations regarding access for disabled people to retail premises?

A. The new Part M and Approved Document M apply not only to new buildings but to existing non-domestic buildings which are undergoing extension, alteration or a change of use. Please see sections 0.1, 0.5 - 0.14 of Approved Document 2004.

However, it may not always be possible in existing buildings to follow the guidance in Approved Document M in every detail. Sections 0.20 to 0.28 cover Access Statements which can be used to explain the extent to which it has been possible to comply with the guidance in the Approved Document, and what alternative measures may have been provided.

The GOV.UK website provides information about the DDA.

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) closed on 28 September 2007. Its responsibility for helping secure civil rights for disabled people has now transferred to the new Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) archived website is still available and has plenty of information, including additional guidance about the DDA including a guide for service providers, booklets to help retailers make their premises more accessible, and the 'Creating an inclusive environment' a report on improving the built environment.


BS 8300:2001

Q. Is the guidance in BS 8300, where it differs from the guidance in AD M, an acceptable alternative?

A. AD M currently states : "Approved Documents are intended to provide guidance for some of the more common building situations. However, there may well be alternative ways of achieving compliance with the requirements. Thus there is no obligation to adopt any particular solution contained in an Approved Document if you prefer to meet the relevant requirement in some other way.

BS 8300:2001 'Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people - Code of Practice' supersedes BS 5619:1978 and BS 5810:1979. BS 8300 provides guidance on good practice in the design of domestic and non-domestic buildings and their approaches so that they are convenient to use by disabled people. The design recommendations are based on user trials and validated desk studies which formed part of a research project commissioned in 1997 and 2001 by DETR.

The guidance in Approved Document M is based on and is complementary to the BS, although the BS contains much additional material that is not apt for, or not considered appropriate for, inclusion in guidance accompanying regulation. Also, in a few cases, the guidance in AD M differs from the recommendation in BS 8300. Compliance with the recommendations in the BS, therefore, while ensuring good practice, is not necessarily equivalent to compliance with the guidance in AD M."

Where the recommendation in BS 8300 implies a higher standard than that recommended in AD M, clearly that would be acceptable. Also, where the BS recommendations post-date the publication of AD M and are based on new or re-evaluated research, such as described below, those recommendations too may be considered acceptable alternatives to the guidance in AD M.

The BSI committee responsible for BS 8300:2001 published a consolidated amendment (Amendment 1:2005) to the BS in June 2005, prior to commencing work on the major quinquennial review of BS 8300. This amendment addressed a number of issues, some of which relate only to BS 8300, and some common to BS 8300 and AD M.

Two or three issues, in particular, are known to have caused some difficulty to industry and the design and building control professions. In order to assist in resolving these concerns, the BS committee has undertaken a review of the research on which the recommendations in both BS 8300 and AD M were based. Where appropriate, guidance based on consideration of the BS amendment is included in the FAQs below, as indicated by a link to this note.



Q. Will work carried out to a public building to comply with the DDA, but which will benefit non-disabled people as well as disabled people, be exempt from a building control fee?

A. Even if users - other than disabled people - may benefit from building work carried out to comply with the DDA, provided that the sole purpose is to benefit disabled persons, the work should be exempt from a charge assuming that it falls within the criteria in Regulation 9 of the Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998 No 3129).

Whether or not the building work to the public building in question is being carried out to comply with the DDA, if it falls within the criteria relating to disabled persons specified in Regulation 9 of the above Charges Regulations, a charge should not be levied by a local authority. If it does not, a charge should be levied. The recent amendments to Part M and Approved Document M have not altered this position.


Q. What type of building work is exempt from building control charges because it falls within Regulation 9 of The Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998 (SI 1998 No 3129)?

A. The building work which is exempt from charges is:

  1. any alteration to an existing public building or home occupied by a disabled person which is solely for the purpose of enabling a disabled person to get in or out, or to provide better facilities for a disabled person.
  2. the provision or extension of a room in a home where the sole use of the room will be:
    • to carry out medical treatment of a disabled person which cannot be carried out in another room, or
    • to store medical equipment used by a disabled person, or
    • to replace or adapt accommodation or a facility in a building which already existed but which a disabled person could not use without assistance.



Q. Does the new Approved Document M apply in full to a change of use of a building to flats?

A. Sections 0.10 to 0.12 of AD M 2004 aim to define what Part M requires when a building undergoes a change of use. Not all the requirements in Approved Document M apply where there is a change of use of a building to flats.



Q. Where a building is extended to create an additional upper storey would the access from the street to these floors be required to meet Part M?

A. Yes, to the extent possible within the constraints of the existing building, as set out in the Access Statement.



Q. Is a kitchen a "habitable room"?

A. "Habitable rooms" are defined in Approved Document M as "... for the purpose of defining the principal storey [habitable room] … a room used, or intended to be used, for dwelling purposes, including a kitchen but not a bathroom or a utility room.



Q. What are the regulations concerning access for disabled people to a building which is over 100 years old?

A. Part M of the Building Regulations covers access to, and use of, buildings, by everyone, including disabled people. Approved Document M provides guidance on how building designers can comply with the legal requirements of Part M. Both have been revised, and the new editions came into effect on 1 May 2004.

Part M applies to new buildings. It also applies to existing non-domestic buildings, but only if they are undergoing extension, material alteration or a change of use (see Section 0 of Approved Document M). However, Part M of the Building Regulations does not itself require any work to be undertaken to upgrade existing buildings. In England and Wales an organisation that provides a service to the pubic, wishing to meet its obligations under the DDA, may conclude that it would be appropriate to carry out building work in order to tackle physical features that are acting as barriers to access for disabled customers. In that situation, the work to the extent that it constitutes a "material alteration" will need to comply with the relevant requirements of Part M.



Q. Where a hotel is being refurbished and refitted to comply with the DDA, would the hotel be in breach of the Building Regulations if existing rooms do not comply with some of the guidance in AD M 2004? How many accessible, Part M compliant rooms, should there be for 100 letting rooms?

A. Part M of the Building Regulations does not require any work to be undertaken to upgrade existing buildings. In England and Wales an organisation that provides a service to the public, wishing to meet its obligations under the DDA, may conclude that it would be appropriate to carry out building work in order to tackle physical features that are acting as barriers to access for disabled customers. In that situation, the work to the extent that it constitutes a "material alteration" will need to comply with the relevant requirements of Part M.

In that context, wheelchair-accessible bedrooms should comply with the guidance in Part M and Approved Document M, and people using these bedrooms should also be able to gain access to all the facilities in the hotel, and to visit family and friends in other hotel bedrooms. Bedrooms which are not wheelchair-accessible do not need to allow the1500mm turning space referred to. At least one wheelchair-accessible bedroom should be provided for every twenty bedrooms (Approved Document M, paragraph 4.24g.)



Q. Is there any additional guidance on Access Statements?

A. The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) closed on 28 September 2007. Its responsibility for helping secure civil rights for disabled people has now transferred to the new Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The Disability Rights Commission had prepared a guide: 'Access Statements: Achieving an inclusive environment by ensuring continuity throughout the planning, design and management of buildings and spaces', which is still available on the DRC archived website.



Q. The definition of visual contrast in Approved Document M para. 0.29 refers to a difference in light reflectance values of 30 points - what does this mean and how is it measured?

A. The guidance that follows is based on consideration of Amendment 1:2005 to BS 8300:2001 (see BS 8300:2001)

Light reflectance value (LRV) is the total quantity of visible light reflected by a surface at all wavelengths and directions when illuminated by a light source.

Visual contrast is the perception of a difference visually between one element of a building and another by reference to their light reflectance values

Differences in LRV should be used to assess the degree of visual contrast between surfaces such as floors, walls, doors and ceilings and between key fittings/fixtures and surrounding surfaces.

For people with adequate vision, differences in hue (the nature of the colour) or chroma (the intensity of the colour) will provide adequate visual contrast. Unfortunately, this is not so for all people who are visually impaired. The main feature of a surface, which appears to be strongly correlated with the ability of visually impaired people to identify differences in colour, is the amount of light the surface reflects, or its light reflectance value (LRV).

The LRV scale runs from 0, which is a perfectly absorbing surface that could be assumed to be totally black, up to 100, which is a perfectly reflective surface that could be considered to be the perfect white. Because of practical influences in any application, black is always greater than 0 and white never equals 100.

The evidence-based research available to date allows a degree of variability concerning the minimum LRV difference that is required to provide adequate visual contrast for people who are visually impaired. Whilst there is considerable confidence in recommending a difference in LRV of 30 points or more, there is also much anecdotal evidence to suggest that a difference of around 20 points may still be acceptable. Differences less than about 20 points may not give adequate contrast.

It is thought that LRV differences are less important between two large areas, e.g. between wall and floor, than between a small object on a larger background surface, e.g. a lever handle on a door.

In addition, there is very little research-based evidence concerning the influence of surface textures, e.g. differences in gloss levels of surfaces, on the visual contrast required by visually impaired people. High gloss finishes should, however, be avoided for large areas, e.g. floor, wall, door and ceiling surfaces.

The BSI Committee responsible for BS 8300 is undertaking further work in this area.



Q. Does the 'opening force' of doors in Part M 2004 equate to 'closing force' in BS 8300:2001?

A. The guidance that follows is based on consideration of Amendment 1:2005 to BS 8300:2001 (see BS 8300:2001)

The guidance relates to doors to accessible entrances, manually operated non-powered entrance doors and internal doors (see AD M 2.13, 2.17, 2.26, 3.7 and 3.10), and means that with careful selection of components, door closers may be specified that will meet the requirements of both Part B and Part M.

For disabled people to have independent access through single or double swing doors, the opening force, when measured at the leading edge of the door, should be not more than 30 N from 0° (the door in the closed position) to 30° open, and not more than 22.5 N from 30° to 60° of the opening cycle.

Where, in order to meet the above opening force limits, the door-closing device is insufficient to keep an entrance door closed against external conditions, consideration should be given to installing one of the following door closing systems:

  1. a power operated (automatic) door - sliding, balanced or swing;
  2. a low energy swing door;
  3. a power operated revolving door assembly; [but note the caveats about use of revolving door assemblies in BS 8300 paragraph 6.3.5]
  4. an entrance lobby or air lock system of inner and outer doors; or
  5. for the purposes of Building Regulations in England and Wales, a low power rated door closer on a door fitted with a suitable latch.

Where hinged or pivoted fire resisting doors need to be accessible by disabled people, the door closing devices fitted should have 'controlled' action, conforming to the requirements of BS EN 1154:1997, Annex A, be of a variable power type and conform to the recommendations above.

Annex A to BS EN 1154 states that controlled door closing devices with a power size less than 3 are not considered suitable for use on fire/smoke door assemblies. This means that, in general, only high efficiency door closers mounted on doors with a width greater than 900 mm are likely to meet fire door requirements as well as the opening force limits described above. Controlled door closing devices of a lower power size and with relatively low efficiencies, with a lower power size and/or of a width less than 900mm may only be suitable for non-fire resisting doors.

Where the force required to open a fire resisting door on a circulation route exceeds the limits described above, an electrically powered hold open device, either stand-alone or integral in the body of the closer, which conforms to the requirements of BS EN 1155, should be installed.

The use of "swing free" controlled door closing devices should be limited to applications where doors are located for access to rooms or similar locations and not part of a circulation route.

The use of "delayed action" controlled door closing devices should similarly be avoided in circulation areas.

For non-fire resisting doors which have a requirement to self close for reasons of privacy, acoustics or energy control, controlled door closing devices should be selected, fitted and adjusted so that the opening forces are well below the limits set out above, consistent with the doors functioning as intended. It is emphasized that, for non-fire doors, door closing devices of a power size less than 3 will normally be acceptable.

The opening force should be checked using a plunger-type force measuring instrument. Where measurements cannot be taken at the leading edge, they may be taken at a point on the face of the door up to 60 mm from the leading edge, a position approximately in-line vertically with the spindle of a lever handle or the centre line of a pull handle or push plate, in which case the opening force limits can be increased by approximately 2 N.

The accuracy of force measuring instruments available on the market varies and there are inherent difficulties in measuring forces on site. It is recognized, therefore, that any measurements will be subject to a degree of imprecision which could give rise to variations of between 2 and 3 N.

The ability of a controlled door closing device to close effectively while keeping within the opening force limits depends on its efficiency and the resistances from edge seals, hinge friction, latch resistance and differential air pressure. The effect of using a low efficiency controlled door closing device is to reduce the closing force to a point where, coupled with the other resistances to closing, the door may not latch, or stay closed if unlatched. The use of high efficiency closers can reduce the force required to open the door and increase the proportion of the disabled population who can pass through independently.

In some locations in a building, a controlled door closing device incorporating a backcheck is sometimes used to prevent damage to adjacent walls or furniture and to the closer mechanism if a door is flung open with some force. However, when the door is opened slowly, the resistance effect is minimal. With some controlled door closing devices, the backcheck starts to become effective when the door is open at 70°. Care should be taken to ensure that controlled door closing devices, with or without the backcheck, allow the door to open to provide the required effective clear width.

The maximum closing force exerted by a controlled self-closing device should be within 0° and 15° of final closure. Controlled door closing devices that do not have this characteristic should be avoided.

Without regular maintenance of all door fittings, the resistances to opening and closing can increase to an extent that the ability of disabled people to pass through the door may be affected. The opening force at the door opening angles described above should therefore be checked at regular intervals.



Q. Is it reasonable to have to provide lifts in small two-storey buildings in Planning Use Class B1 (office/light industrial use) where there is no provision for access for the general public?

A. The Design Considerations in AD M 3.17 make it clear that "...a passenger lift is the most suitable means of vertical access and should be provided wherever possible. However, given the space constraints in some buildings, it may not always be possible to install the type and size of passenger lift that would be suitable for use by all, and other options may need to be considered to provide for users with mobility impairments."

AD M 3.21 and 3.22 add that "...For all buildings, a passenger lift is the most suitable form of access for people moving from one storey to another..." but emphasise that "...in exceptional circumstances for new developments with particular constraints (e.g. a listed building, or an infill site in a historic town centre), where a passenger lift cannot be accommodated, a vertical lifting platform (platform lift), although not equivalent to a passenger lift, may be considered as an alternative option to provide access for persons with impaired mobility."

The Provisions at AD M 3.24 state that "...The provision of lifting devices will satisfy Requirement M1 or M2 if ... new developments have a passenger lift serving all storeys [or] new developments, where due to site constraints a passenger lift cannot be accommodated to provide access to persons with impaired mobility, have a lifting platform, of a type designed for the vertical height to be traveled"

The guidance is clear therefore that the normal expectation would be for a lift to be provided in new developments, with justifiable exceptions where a lifting platform may be acceptable. It should be noted that the situations mentioned (e.g. a listed building or an infill site in a historic town centre) are examples only. Each situation should be judged on its merits.

The aforesaid does not however mean that there will be no exceptions to these principles. The legal requirement of the Regulations is that there shall be reasonable provision for access. What is reasonable must be judged on the circumstances of the individual case, and there will almost certainly be cases where the provision of any kind of lifting device may be unreasonable.

The onus must, however, be on the applicant to justify such exceptions in an Access Statement. As an indication of the sort of factors that might be relevant to such a justification, applicants may wish to demonstrate for example that no members of the general public are accommodated, that all facilities are replicated on each floor, that the space demand of the lift and associated landings is disproportionate to the accommodation provided, that adequate provision is made for installation of a lift at a later date should it be required, and so forth.

It would not be reasonable to set out in guidance such as this exactly what combination of circumstances would justify omission of a lift, but nor would it be reasonable for a building control body to state in advance of consideration of an application that provision of a lift would not be required.



Q. Should I follow the guidance on stairs in AD M or AD K

A. The general guidance on stair design is contained in Approved Document K, although Approved Document M provides guidance on the design of stairs so that they are more accessible for disabled people.

The following sections of AD M deal with stairs, including stair nosings, and provide guidance on external and internal stairs and on stairs in non-domestic and domestic buildings: 1.30, 1.31, 1.33, 3.50, 3.51, 6.17, 7.7 and diagrams 27 and 30.

The design considerations for vertical circulation within a building suggest (para. 3.19) that "...whatever lifting device is chosen, internal stairs should always be provided as an alternative means of vertical access, and designed to suit ambulant disabled people and those with impaired sight." The provision of a flight, or successive flights, of stairs which follow the provisions at paragraph 3.51 will be one way in which this can be achieved.

AD M does not however apply to means of escape. The Notes to the Requirements on page 9 state that "...the scope of Part M and AD M is limited to matters of access to, into, and use of, a building. It does not extend to means of escape in the event of fire, for which reference should be made to Approved Document B - 'Fire safety'.

AD B advises (B1.xvi) that "...it may not be necessary to incorporate special structural measures to aid means of escape for [disabled people]. Management arrangements to provide assisted escape may be all that is necessary. BS 5588: Part 8 ... introduces the concept of refuges and the use of an evacuation lift..."; and (6.20) "...dimensional constraints on the design of stairs generally, to meet requirements for safety in use, are given in [AD] K..."

Thus, the question of whether all stairs in a building should be designed in accordance with the criteria in AD M may depend on a number of factors; a building control professional may need to ask relevant questions, such as:

  • Is one stair self-evidently the principal circulation stair or are all the stairs given equal prominence in the design?
  • If the former, are the secondary stairs for escape only?
  • If the latter, might an ambulant disabled person reasonably expect to use any of the available alternatives, or, to put it another way, might it be unreasonable to expect such a person to traverse whatever distance would be required to reach a sole accessible stair?
  • If secondary stairs are for escape only, is there adequate provision for assistance for disabled people?
  • Does the means of escape strategy involve the use of evacuation lifts?

And so on. Depending on the answers to these sorts of questions, it might be concluded that it would be reasonable for a principal stair in an accessible location to be designed in accordance with AD M while a secondary stair designed primarily for escape may be satisfactory if designed in accordance with AD K.



Q. Is "contrasting material" visually contrasting material or a different type of material?

A. Contrasting material means material with a visual contrast.


Q. If you have continuous flights does the continuous handrail have to extend at least 300mm beyond the first and last nosing at the central well of the staircase, as it would for a single flight staircase?

A. An ambulant disabled person should be able to hold a handrail for support either before taking a first step up or down, or after reaching the landing from the last step in a flight. That should normally be possible where the handrail continues around the central well of a stair without further extension onto the landing, particularly if the handrail continues in an unbroken radius.


Q. The guidance on handrail dimensions in BS 8300 differs from that in AD M. Is the BS guidance an acceptable alternative?

A. The guidance that follows is based on consideration of Amendment 1:2005 to BS 8300:2001 (see BS 8300:2001)

A handrail should be:

  1. of an oval or circular profile;
  2. finished so as to provide visual contrast with the surroundings against which it is seen;
  3. easy and comfortable to grip with no sharp edges, smooth and not cold to the touch.

A circular handrail should have a diameter of at least 40 mm but not greater than 50 mm.

A handrail with an oval profile should have dimensions of 50 mm wide and 38 mm deep. The profile should have rounded edges with a radius of at least 15 mm.

There should be a clearance of between 50 mm and 60 mm between a handrail and any adjacent wall surface and any handrail support should meet the handrail, centrally, on its underside. The clearance between the bottom of the rail and any cranked support, or continuous balustrade, should be at least 50 mm to minimize the risk of the handrail supports interrupting the smooth running of a person's hand along the rail.



Q. What are the requirements under Part M for a mezzanine floor within an existing building which is not being extended or undergoing a change of use?

A. The mezzanine floor should not make the building less accessible than it is at the moment. In general, a new mezzanine floor would need to be accessible either by passenger lift or a lifting platform, as recommended in sections 3.22 to 3.24 of the 2004 edition of Approved Document M, unless a fully justified case could be made in an Access Statement that, in the particular circumstances of the case, this would be unreasonable.

For new mezzanine floors in existing buildings providing office accommodation for ten or fewer people it may be reasonable to make provision for the installation of a lifting platform at a later date.



Q. If an office in an existing building is being refurbished, will the clear opening door widths have to comply with Table 2 in the 2004 edition of Part M?

A. Part M of the Building Regulations does not require work to be undertaken to upgrade existing buildings. It is for the individual "service provider" to determine what, if any, action is necessary to meet any obligations arising from Part III of the DDA, taking account of relevant guidance on justification of discrimination, and the effect of the exemption from the requirement to alter features of buildings provided by the The Disability Discrimination (Service Providers and Public Authorities Carrying Out Functions) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005 No. 2901). Where the service provider concludes that it would be appropriate to carry out building work, that work, to the extent that it constitutes a "material alteration" will need to comply with the relevant requirements of Part M.

If the wider doors for "new buildings" can be easily provided in the course of refurbishment work, that would obviously be preferable and would make access for wheelchair users more convenient. Where structural constraints prevent this, the more narrow widths for "existing buildings" should be used.



Q. Should the heights of sockets and switches in Section 8 (i.e. 450mm to 1200mm above the finished floor level) apply throughout the house or to ground floor rooms only?

A. The heights of sockets and switches in Section 8 should apply throughout the house since many wheelchair users have some limited mobility, and can move around an upper floor if another family member carries their wheelchair upstairs. Others may choose to install stairlifts to give them access to upper floors.

Section 10.5 of BS 8300:2001, 'Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people - code of practice' states that "It is important that outlets, switches and controls are positioned consistently within a building and meet the needs of a variety of disabled people, e.g. wheelchair users, visually impaired people and people with impaired hearing or dexterity."


Q. Should the height of trip switches and consumer units (fuse boxes), which are normally positioned at least 1200mm above floor level to avoid tampering by children, be within the 450mm to 1200mm height range specified in Section 8?

A. AD M does not offer guidance on the positioning of trip switches and fuse boxes. A new Part of the Building Regulations, Part P 'Electrical safety', with accompanying guidance in an Approved Document, came into force on 1 January 2005. Part P 'Electrical safety' can be found on the Planning Portal.

Section 10.5.2 of BS 8300:2001, 'Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people - code of practice' states that:

  • electrical socket outlets, telephone points and TV sockets should be located between 400mm and 1000mm above the floor.
  • Switches for permanently wired appliances should be mounted between 750mm and 1200mm above the floor.
  • Meters should be mounted between 1200mm and 1400mm from the floor so that the readings can be viewed by a person standing or sitting. Pre-pay meters should be accessible but protected from tampering by children.
  • All switches and controls that require manual dexterity should be between 750mm and 1000mm from the floor, and
  • the maximum height of simple push button controls which require limited dexterity should be 1200mm.


Q. If a light switch is remote controllable (by handset) - designed specifically to help disabled people - does this remote controllable light switch still have to be mounted below a certain height, or can it be exempt in this instance?

A. A remote control may be an acceptable alternative to permit a light switch to be positioned higher than the guidance in AD M, as the remote control can be operated by a person in a wheelchair with limited reach.



Q. Are split level floors with steps allowed in the entrance storey of a home?

A. According to paragraphs 7.6 and 7.7 of AD M, split levels are only recommended in exceptional cases where the plot gradient is more than 1 in 15, and that any split level steps should conform to paragraph 7.7.



Q. Is there any published guidance on transitional arrangements for the introduction of the 2004 edition of Part M and the Approved Document M?

A. The transitional arrangements for the introduction of the new AD M and Part M 2004 can be found in Section 3 of the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003 No 2692) and in Annex C of ODPM Circular 11/2003.



Q. Approved Document M, at 4.16.(c) and Diagram 16, refers to a ‘shared’ refreshment facility : what is meant by ‘shared’ in this context?

A. As with much of the guidance in AD M, this is based on the recommendations of BS 8300. For brevity, much of the descriptive text in the BS has had to be omitted from the AD. However, much of the context for the guidance in AD M can best be understood by reference to the BS.

BS 8300 clause 12.1 provides recommendations for “…self-catering kitchen facilities in non-residential buildings (such as shared refreshment facilities in commercial buildings or offices, self-catering accommodation or hospital accommodation for relatives of in-patients, premises for hire and day centres)…”

Sub-clause states “Single height work surface for a kitchenette or refreshment area shared by wheelchair users and people standing

Where a facility is provided for making refreshments and heating pre-cooked meals only, for example in employment buildings and catering facilities for hire by the general public or catering firms, a single work surface height of 850 mm, which allows use by both wheelchair users and ambulant people, should be provided”

By implication, therefore, a ‘shared’ facility is any facility that might be expected to be shared by people with varying abilities.