Do you give thought to compliance with the regulations concerning commercial doors, are you breaking the law?
Approved Document M and BS8300 are part of the current Building Regulations therefore doors must meet the design considerations laid down in these documents. In this article we explain how different regulations apply to the specification and installation of commercial doors.
Therefore if you are manufacturing or installing commercial aluminium doors that are being installed in any building that is not a dwelling you have an obligation to ensure entrance doors meet certain criteria. Once the doors are installed and the shop or office building is in use then the building owner, occupier or “service provider” has an obligation to comply with the Equality Act 2010.
What do you need to be compliant with?
Equality law and the Building Regulations apply to every business that provides a service, goods or any facilities to the public. These Building Regulations clearly state that doors to buildings that are not dwellings must avoid creating access difficulties for disabled people whilst taking all steps possible to provide effective barriers against smoke and fire.
It is actually very simple. You as the door installer are providing an entrance door to a building that must meet these legal obligations. This means the door must not be difficult to use by wheelchair users, people with guide dogs, low upper body strength, dexterity problems or any other disability whether physical or mental.
In most cases it is the opening and closing strength of the door, the handles and hardware fitted and the size of the door that will make it difficult to use.
Who has the responsibility for ensuring compliance with commercial doors regulations?
You as the manufacturer or installer must comply with the current regulations. If you are also involved in the specification of commercial doors are you meeting your obligations in specifying these so they are compliant? In this article we are discussing replacement doors to existing buildings rather than new doors to new buildings.
In the case of a new building the architect will normally be aware of building regulations and have specified new doors accordingly. But what about if you are one of the many window companies in the business of replacing old doors to old buildings with new ones?
Where are you currently installing your commercial doors?
If you are typical of thousands of window companies that buy in commercial aluminium doors from one of the many trade manufacturers in the door and window industry, where are you fitting your doors?
It is already accepted by professional window companies that in non dwelling or “commercial” applications only a commercial door is the fit for purpose and the most reliable product.
But in specifying a commercial door are you forgetting to take into consideration Approved Document M and BS8300 of the Building Regulations? Chances are that you have recently provided doors that are non compliant.
If you have recently fitted a commercial door in any of the business premises below it must have met the current Building Regulations.
- Local newsagent or other local shop
- A door to a bank, post office or other financial services provider
- A door to an estate agent, a gym, a health club, a church or a community centre
- A new door to a hairdressers, tanning shop or barber shop
- New single or double front doors to a hotel or restaurant, cafe or public house
- A door to a school, doctors surgery, nursery or kindergarten
The law still applies even a type of business is not listed above.
Why your door supplier is not responsible but you are.
Most professional trade manufacturers of commercial doors will have an order form whereby they need specific information from you in order to manufacture your doors correctly. This is no different from the way you currently complete window order forms and detail the sizes, specification, hardware requirement, colour and design.
You may ask, if the trade manufacturer knows commercial doors will in virtually all cases be fitted in a commercial building, why don’t they just provide a compliant product? The answer is that it is up to you to provide the correct specification for a product not your trade manufacturer. This is no different to your trade manufacturer of windows never guessing if your windows must have a trickle vent or egress hinges or guessing the window handle colour you need.
You may argue that if the hardware changes to a commercial door to help it comply are so small why don’t commercial door manufacturers simply provide a legally compliant door as standard? After all they will automatically assume a glazed commercial door must have toughened or laminated glass, why not just provide a door closer such as the RTS87 or TS93 as well as contrasting colour handles? Many commercial door suppliers already provide doors with an anti-finger trap as standard even though this is not a legal requirement so why can’t they extend this to hardware?
If you are a trade manufacturer reading this then this is something you may wish to consider. Simple changes to the type of door closer and the type of door handles you provide as standard would ensure you are selling a door that will help it meet the current Regulations. But like most trade manufacturers you will believe it is up to your customers to specify a product, not you.
Price, lack of information, bad salespeople and lack of education are the reasons.
The reason why so many non compliant doors are being supplied is down to how they are sold, lack of knowledge and lack of awareness.
The door and window industry is a very competitive one and frequently governed by price. For years customers have been told to “get more than one window and door quotation” or “get a local recommendation”. Therefore are they contacting window companies that simply don’t know or aren’t aware?
We know of many cases where a professional window company is asked to quote for a new door to a local shop and has rightly made their customer aware of their obligations to provide a compliant door and priced for one accordingly. Yet the next window company that also provides a quote will either say nothing about compliance or when asked about it may even respond that the other window company “doesn’t know what it’s talking about”. They will invariably provide a cheaper quotation as they have not allowed for the necessary hardware and will probably get the order on the basis of a lower price alone.
The business owner paying for a new shop door invariably won’t know either. After all, they come to you for your expertise when they required new doors and windows for their house. And don’t forget how many local double glazing firms are commercially unaware of what the right product is for a commercial installation judging by how many PVCu residential doors have been supplied to commercial premises. Next time you walk though a PVCu door to a shop you can be certain it was installed by a window company that didn’t know what it was doing.
How did you order and install your most recent commercial door?
If your most recent installation of a commercial door consisted of:
- The door and framing all in the same colour
- Door handles the same colour as the door leaf
- A budget door closer
- No final testing of the opening and closing forces of the door
then the chances are it was a non compliant product. Was your most recent installation like this?
Let us help you provide the right commercial door.
Simple hardware changes such as the right door closer, the right type and colour of door handles can all work together to help your door comply. If you install commercial doors to any shop, commercial building or simply any building that is not a dwelling you are welcome to contact us for advice.
We can help you specify your next commercial aluminium door with the right door closer, the right hardware and handles as well as give you information that will help your door to comply with current Building Regulations. Getting this right will help your customers comply with the Equality Act. We can even put you in touch with the right manufacturers to supply it.
You must remember though that it is the complete door that must comply and this will take into account factors such as weather seals, gaskets, weight of glass, size of the door and much more. But these need not be complicated and we can offer advice about this too.
Obviously this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. If you have any concerns about how the law affects your business you should consult your own legal advisers.