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Party walls and fire barriers: Guide to roofs, walls and lofts

party wall between two homesRunning through the walls of most newer homes are firewalls and fire barriers. Designed to stop the spread of house fires between homes, firewalls protect you if your neighbour’s home sets on fire. Fire barriers on the other hand, are hidden in internal walls and can stop a house fire from spreading between different sections of your home.

This article will help teach you more about fire barriers, fire wall construction, fire stops and more.

Party walls and fire barriers in roofs

When you are living in a terraced or semi-detached house, at least one of your walls is connected to your neighbour’s. This is termed a party wall and can be a bone of contention if you don’t get on well with your neighbour. You will also likely have a fire wall in your loft that protects you against fires from adjacent properties.

Party walls and fire barriers in roofs separate terraced or semi-detached homes from each other to prevent house fires from moving from one home to the next. When it comes to party walls and fire barriers in roofs, you need to ensure your home is up to building regulations for safety and legal reasons.

Having a fire wall or fire barrier will also mean your home doesn’t completely collapse during a house fire, helping you to escape.

Many older terrace homes do not have firewalls as they were often built cheaply to substandard quality. This may flag up issues with your mortgage lender, and they may insist your property is brought up to scratch as a condition of your mortgage.

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roof barrier surveyFirewall regulations

There is a range of firewall regulations in place to keep you safe in your home. These mainly focus on the materials used to build a wall, for example, you will need to use non-combustible materials like concrete and bricks.

The best materials will depend on the existing characteristics of your property. A survey by a trained professional can help identify the right choice and provide plans for construction.

You should also ensure your home has the necessary firewalls in place. This is especially important if your home has one or more party walls. For more information about firewall regulations, please click here.

In addition, any works should be constructed based on plans provided by a competent surveyor and submitted for building control approval. If this is not done you will be held responsible for any injuries or fatalities as a result of any fire. It is also highly recommended the works by done by a competent builder.

Firewall construction

Firewalls are built running from the bottom of a house to the very top to create an impenetrable barrier in the case of fire. If you are curious about firewall construction, it’s interesting to know how they are made.

Most firewalls are built using non-combustible materials to stop fires from growing larger and moving from one building to the next. They are also built to support the structure of your house during a fire, giving you precious seconds to escape.

Fire separation wall construction

Similar to firewalls, fire separation walls also includes doors, internal windows and other fixtures that prevent fire from spreading for a set period of time. Fire separation wall construction refers to the process of building a wall from the bottom to the top of your home that is completely fire safe. It’s important that the right materials are used, and the wall has no gaps.

What is a fire stop?

When it comes to containing house fires, simply installing a firewall may not be enough. In some homes, there are gaps in firewalls, often for pipes or cables to travel through, and these can create an opening for fire to spread.

But what is a fire stop? Fire stopping is the process of filling holes and openings to fully contain any potential fires. These can prevent fire from moving horizontally or vertically and are extremely useful.

residential fire stopping requirementsResidential fire stopping requirements

There is a range of different requirements to make a home completely safe from blazes and smoke. A key residential fire stopping requirement is to compartmentalise the house into different areas. This makes it very difficult for a fire to burn down an entire house as it will be trapped in the compartment where it started.

As well as using firestop materials, residential fire stopping requirements suggest using fire resisting doors, walls and ceilings. This means any gaps should be properly sealed with only the bare minimum of space for essential cables, ventilation systems and pipes.

Professional help

Creating a home that is compliant with fire regulations may be quite tricky due to the extensive works that need to be carried out. Changing current walls to fire barriers or firewalls is not recommended for a DIY project.

Whether you are unsure about how fire resistant your home is or want to install new firewalls or barriers, hiring a professional to do the work is a wise decision. What’s more, our Checkatrade search engine is the perfect way to connect with qualified tradespeople near to your home.

How much do party wall surveys cost?

If you would like to learn more about your home’s party walls, paying for a survey is the best way to do this. A party wall survey takes a thorough look at the wall separating you and your neighbours and is a great way to assess your current situation as well as highlight any issues.

The average cost of a party walls survey is £200 per hour. For more information, please see our party wall surveyor cost guide.

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