Safe and Sound with Part Q

Kevin Bonnar of Velfac explains why housebuilders should make a virtue of Part Q of the Building regulations, to underline the security benefits of their developments.

Safety and security are a top priority for most homeowners, especially when it comes to windows and doors. These are a common target for burglars, but police statistics show that most intruders are opportunistic and will give up in under three minutes if they can’t force their way into a property.

With generous glazing being a key feature of many new build homes in the UK, it’s vital that ‘burglar-proof’ products are specified, not just to meet customer needs, but also to comply with Part Q of the Building Regulations. These demand enhanced security for easily accessible doors and windows. So, by specifying Part Q-compliant products from the start, prospective buyers will get the security features they want, while you can be sure that your development will pass a Part Q inspection first time, and get to market as quickly as possible.

Despite being launched with much publicity in 2015, Part Q is often misunderstood or ignored by many housebuilders, especially smaller develop- ers. In the context of glazing, Part Q applies to any window or door that can be accessed easily by opportunistic burglars, so not just those on the ground floor but also units installed 2 metres above a flat or sloping surface such as a balcony, garage or porch. In many low rise housing develop- ments, especially those with communal

balconies or walkways, this could mean that every glazed unit has to be Part Q compli- ant, satisfying the stringent PAS 24 test which is part of the Part Q regulation, and with up to date test evidence to prove it.

To meet these requirements, glazed units should feature at least one pane of strength- ened, laminated 6.8 mm glass – this provides enhanced resistance to forced entry, and breaks safely if shattered. Beading (the seal holding the glass in place) should ideally be placed on the inside to prevent a burglar from removing the glass pane externally. Window units with external glazing beads can pass PAS 24 if the glazed unit is glued inside the window frame. However, if the window unit is damaged – from forced entry or accident – this can result in the whole window unit needing to be replaced, with associated extra costs.

Multi-point locking, together with lockable handles and restrictors, is also essential, especially on patio doors (a traditional weak point when it comes to home security). Multi-point locking secures the window at a variety of points around the frame, also minimising damage if an intruder attempts to force or deform the frame using tools such as crowbars or screw- drivers.

Failing a Part Q inspection can be very costly, as every non-compliant window or door will have to be replaced, adding to costs and putting a brake on final delivery.

The best glazing products will have Part Q compliance ‘built in,’ not only resulting in seamless approvals, but also delivering windows and doors with identical profiles, irrespective of function or performance, allowing housebuilders to create a consistent architectural style. Building Control will also demand test evidence from either the manufacturer or third party certification. If a housebuilder specifies products with test evidence already on file, this ‘due diligence’ can save considerable time both at initial planning stages and when sign off is required from Building Control and warranty suppliers, allowing new homes to go directly on the market, maximising return on investment.

Part Q is also an essential component of Secured by Design (SBD) – an initiative prospective buyers may be more aware of than Part Q, and which can provide important market differentia- tion when promoting a new development. Compliance with a police-approved scheme can only instil greater confidence in your development, and underline the quality of your construction and your values as a housebuilder.

The increased demand for housing — and increased competi- tion — will undoubtedly shine a brighter spotlight on security. Growing recognition of SBD, and as a result Part Q, will encour- age greater scrutiny of regulatory enforcement and the relative safety and security benefits of different products, including composite framed systems and the greater use of triple glazing.

The key message for housebuilders and developers is not to ignore Part Q – consult early when it comes to meeting security regulations as this can save considerable time and money over the build. Promoting Part Q and SBD compliance as early as possible can also deliver important market differentiation, enabling even faster sales when the project is complete.

Kevin Bonnar is housebuilding manager at Velfac